Monday 17th October 2016

Market day today. The town square is all marked out for market stalls, a really huge, massive market. It was raining when we got up but these market types are hardy people. We won't be disappointed. The rain had stopped early on and so after breakfast we stepped outside the motorhome to find...........................
two stalls selling flowers and a third came later in the morning selling work clothes. Not really what we had expected!

There and then our minds were made up................ Let's go to Spain!!!

And so, we set off on the long journey south. Spain here we come.

Autoroute says the journey to Spain is just under 4 hours but we don't drive fast so let's say about 5 hours. The flower trader in the market said it was more likely about six hours. After 5 and a half hours on the road, not including refuelling, lunch and shopping at a Noz shop,we decided to spend the night, south of Bordeaux just off the A10 motorway at Morcenx. This was a functional aire but was quiet and had everything we needed for a night stopover.

Tuesday

In the morning we set off for Spain. Driving through Morcenx we discovered it was quite a large place and it really warranted a look around but we didn't want to delay our trip.

Autoroute now said 1 hour 15 minutes to Spain.

After buying bread at E. Leclerc in Urrugne, which is close to the border and having lunch there in the Supermarket carpark, we continued on our way, until Allan realised that he had forgotten the motorhome step. Oh dear said Allan, "Ø©X¥X" said Dorothy. So we had to return to Urrugne for the step. Luckily it was still there and we were quickly on our way again.

Three hours driving. Most of which was on some of the smallest country lanes and some thorough village's and towns to try to avoid the toll roads, there must be an easier route to Spain.

Eventually we arrived in Spain, at about 3 pm. ***************** Hola España*******************

The border was nothing more than a bridge over a river. Not at all exciting or different and quite a disappointment really, just a short bridge and nothing to say that you had crossed an International Frontier. There was no Border Control - not even a welcome to Spain sign!

Dorothy got the phone out and snapped some of our first views in Spain, travelling along the Northern Coast.

We then we drove many miles through the Pyrenees mountain range and through many tunnels.
Dorothy's photos will try to show how fabulous the mountain scenery was.





We stopped for a short break at one of the pull-ins and Allan was able to get some photos.


On our way again.

One of the tunnels we went through was nearly two miles long!

Then we finally reached our destination of Pamplona in the Navarre region of Spain.

On arrival at Pamplona we decided not to stay on the Aire de Campingcar as it is a good 2 miles out of the city.
(Guess we will need to change that to "Area de Servicios para Autocaravanas" but will stick with Aire for now as everyone does)
We went to a large carpark, which is listed in our parking spots for motorhomes, which was opposite a park and closer to the city centre.
We took a short stroll around this new part of one of the city suburbs to stretch our legs and then settled in for the night.

Wednesday

Happy Birthday wishes go to our friend Zelie today.

We woke to a beautiful blue sky but the temperature outside was a chilly 6 C°. However, much better than the minus temperatures we had experienced latterly in France!
Since we arrived here our barometer has said that it is going to rain!! We wonder if it is because we are 1463 feet (446 metres) above sea level and the barometer is set for the costa del Newhaven, East Sussex. Our barometer, a wedding present from Allan's brother Roy and his wife Jean, goes with us everywhere and is well travelled!

After a cooked breakfast (Lots of love to Dorothy) we set off to explore the old city. To get there we found we could go up to the city via the funicular.
This pleased Dorothy a lot!
It was quite strange because we left the modern city via a modern mode of transport
and stepped out into this..................

We first went to look out over the city wall behind the funicular. What a splendid view. Unfortunately the photos do not show how dramatic the mountains looked.

We then walked on through the narrow streets full of small independent shops, mainly eating and drinking, together with boutiques, tourism, ethnic and curiosity shops.
There must be another area somewhere else for the big national chainstores.

Finally we come across the Tourist Information Office next to the City Hall and the covered market hall.

Having picked up the necessary street map we carried on our journey which, of course, included some geocaches situated in the old city!
Up past the Cathedral of Santa Maria

and out onto another part of the city wall with yet more splendid views.



During the afternoon the temperature warmed up to a more respectable 18 C° and we wandered back into the Plaza del Castillo for a rest.

It was lovely, sitting there on a park bench, listening to a man playing his accordion and watching the world go by. Bliss.

By now it was the middle of the afternoon and people were still sitting outside eating and drinking. Temptation got the better of us!
We chose a very nice looking restaurant and settled ourselves at a table in the afternoon sunshine.
The restaurant was the grey and white one in the middle of this photo.
We were served by a lovely waiter (Dorothy's words) who brought us English menus. Three courses including a bottle of good wine for only €14.60 each. This was truly amazing value and Allan had to check with the waiter that we had interpreted this correctly. He explained that yes it was extremely good value because there is a lot of competition between the restaurants. We were even serenaded by the accordion player began to stroll amongst the restaurant tables.

After a very leisurely two hour late lunch we strolled back to the funicular to make our descent down from the old city, returning to the motorhome at about 6 p.m. for a well earned rest in the evening after a very enjoyable but extremely tiring day.

Thursday

After a good night's sleep, surprisingly quiet despite it being only a car park and feeling fully refreshed, we made our way back up to Pamplona old city again.

Today we did another geocaching walk heading out of the city where we found "The Family".

We then looked around the Citadel, a walled fortification built between 1571 and 1645.



Whilst at the citadel we noticed that there were rings screwed on to the tops of the walls. Dorothy wanted to know what they were for and Allan had no idea. Perhaps they were for a tented roof but why? Perhaps they were for flags, but how? Perhaps they hang banners from the walls but why all the way round?

We are liking this area of Spain very much but one of the downsides is the huge amount of graffiti everywhere. And we mean everywhere.
How can people do this, even to the walls of the Citadel, such an important part of their history?

If you can look past that it is a lovely city to be in and there is so much to see.

Moving on, we were heading back to the centre of the old city.

Pamplona is famous for the Encierro (the Bull Run). In July each year, men come to "Run with the Bulls". There is a monument to the young and not so young, brave or more likely stupid and drunk people who are killed in the Bull Runs each July. The sculpture by Rafael Huerta freezes the runningmozos being pursued by the bulls and is so large that it it was difficult to photograph, especially in the bright sunlight but we tried our best to capture it.





Feeling like we are on holiday, we left the sculpture and walked down one of the Avenues with beautiful coloured planting

and found ourselves back in the Plaza del Castillo. We both looked at each other, smiled and went to the same pavement Restaurant again to sample more of their menu for the same price meal and again, we were not disappointed. But as the GB pound is crashing to ever lower rates the second meal cost us 17 pence more. That's in just one day. Daily we are getting less and less Euros for our money.

Friday

This morning we did another geocaching walk but this time around the lower part of the city walls. We then made our way back up into the old city via the Portal de Francia.

This fortified entrance is still in working order and is closed once a year.

Back up on top of the city walls we eventually found out what the metal rings were for. They are for the groundsmen to latch onto so that they can cut the grass in safety.


Not a job either of us would want!

Walking back along the city wall to the funicular we stopped to take one last photo. Our motorhome is parked behind the red trees!

It was now time for us to move out of the city to the Aire which is at a suburb town called Berriozar, about 4 km away from the centre of Pamplona, as we needed to do all the services on the motorhome.

We then spent the rest of the day relaxing, walking to the local supermarket for a few groceries and then chatting with fellow motorhomers.

Today James sent us a lovely video of our Grandaughter Scarlett walking across the room and later in the evening Allan phoned Frankie.

Saturday

It was a lovely bright morning and the decision was made to travel about 30 miles south to Olite (Oil ee tha) a small hilltop town with a long history. The Aire was just outside the village centre.

On arrival we decided that we would have a look around and pick up some bread whilst we were there. It is a small town but the Tourist Office said that all the shops are closed now. There is a shop back along the road at Tafalla. As we needed some bread this is what we had to do. Three and a half miles for bread. Is this what Spain is going to be like? We have already been told that Spanish shops are only open when they feel like it. After shopping we went back to the Aire and had a late, very late lunch.

In the evening just as Dorothy was about to get the dinner on Allan said let's go up into the town and sample some of the local colour. The village was practically deserted in the afternoon so what could be different tonight. Dorothy was against it but reluctantly agreed.

The hill top town had people everywhere, tourist shops were open, bars were open and we had a good walk around seeing the sights in the early evening.

On the way back we decided to sit at a pavement bar and just "people watch". In these parts everyone seems to drink the local red wine so that's what we did. When in Rome as they say.
Yes, 2 glasses again Martin P. One really is Allan's!!
We just sat there and watched the world, or this small part of it, go by. Very relaxing and interesting it was too.

People here seem to wave their arms about wildly and instead of the French shrug with open hands to show "oh well, never mind, I don't care" the locals here seem to have an elbows out expression for the same "lo que sea será"

Sunday

Today we took a good look around the town, doing a spot of Geocaching along the way.


In the afternoon, just as we found the last one, it started to rain. Only light rain but it continued throughout the rest of the afternoon so we made our way back to the Aire.

Dorothy did a bit of her rug whilst Allan prepared this week's photos and then Dorothy started her input on the Blog. Wow, we are up-to-date this week! A little more to do tomorrow morning and then it should be ready to upload.

We went up into the town again during the evening as the weather had dried up and had a nice evening there.

 

Calls were made to James, Frankie and Mum and that was the end of our first week in Spain.

 

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This week we took loads of photos, spare ones not used in the blog are here