So here we are in Alberite de San Juan in Spain. We’ve been here approximately twenty minutes, which is all it took to explore the tiny village. It felt like a spaghetti western – not a soul to be seen or heard in the deserted, sun baked streets. I kept expecting Clint Eastwood to ride in ready for a shoot out with the bad guys.
Bizarrely this little empty village has a brand new state-of-the-art motorhome aire. It has a free service point for water filling and emptying as well as a toilet and shower. Even the mobile signal is full strength. Amazing!
We’re not too stressed about the lack of entertainment; it’s clean, quiet and was always intended to be a one night stopover on our way to Spain’s east coast, an area we’ve never explored. So we’re well inland now, between the north and east coasts, a short distance from Zaragoza. Sitting outside with a beer, a nibble and a portion of sunshine means I can bring you up to date with what we’ve been up to for the last few days.
We’ve travelled a looong way since we last spoke back in France, in Cognac. Our route took us south to two contrasting towns: Saint Romain le Virvée in Bordeaux vineyard country, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a grand old seaside town near the French-Spanish border. Although the towns couldn’t be more different, one a rural idyll, and the other a bustling holiday destination, we had er… interesting excursions in both.
Consulting Mr Google’s fine map of Saint Romain le Virvée we could see we weren’t far from the Dordogne River. We strolled through the lanes separating the vineyards, admiring the yellow and orange vine leaves at the end of their season, the grapes long since harvested. Arriving at the broad sweep of the river we were greeted by a sight that so far, I’ve only ever seen on the River Severn. The tide must have turned in the estuary, and a tidal surge was running upstream from the sea. We could see five hardy surfers in wetsuits waiting for the tide to reach them. As it did, up they stood, surfing the tidal bore until they were out of sight round the next bend.
I should really stop the story there, but I suppose I did promise you a warts and all picture of motorhome life when I started this thing a few years ago. So just imagine you’re watching an Attenborough documentary – and we’re at that bit in the last ten minutes when he shows you how the magic happens.
<David Attenborough voice>
“And here we see intrepid cameraman Ken, going for the best possible shot of the surfers. Ah, I see he’s very wisely avoided the slipway as it’s covered in mud deposited by the tide. He’s now walking up the embankment beside the slipway to get more height and… oh no! The embankment seems to be waterlogged and yes, yes I can see from here that it too has a generous layer of mud below the grass.
AND HE’S DOWN!
Both feet have failed to find purchase on the slippery slope and he’s gone a*se over t*t in a spectacular cartwheeling motion. Wait a minute… he’s trying to get up…
AND HE’S DOWN AGAIN!
Those townie shoes are totally unsuitable in this environment. I’m reminded of those enormous walruses trying to get up the beach – in fact he’s now a very similar colour…”
I think we’ll roll the credits now, and never speak of this again. Luckily there was a (very cold) shower on site for the surfers so most of the mud was rinsed off before a very soggy walk back to Vince.
Our walk in Saint-Jean-de-Luz had no such drama, fortunately. On our first day there we walked along the cliff tops and round the headland to be greeted by a cheery “Bonjour” and a wave from a gentleman going the other way. The odd thing about it was that he was suspended from a large parachute and below his feet the cliff dropped several hundred feet to the sea below.
Conditions weren’t great for the handful of paragliders we met, there was very little wind so they were hugging the cliff to get as much lift as they could. Most of them managed fifteen minutes or so before descending to the beach for the long climb back to the top, but the chap we greeted must have been an expert. He soared and swayed along the cliffs, forwards and backwards, sometimes gaining height, sometimes dropping dramatically. It looked so serene.
From the campsite at Saint-Jean-de-Luz we headed for the Spanish border and one of our favourite stopovers, San Sebastián. There’s a fantastic aire by the university with services for a measly €3.60 a night. Bargain! We’ve been here a couple of times before, our previous adventures are here and here if you’re interested. Suffice to say that this place has everything you could want from a holiday; beaches, great food and views to die for from the tall slopes at either end of the town. Get there if you can!
Our plans after leaving Alberite de San Juan tomorrow are to head for Morella, near the coast as our guide reckons it’s a quality stopover so worth checking out. We’ll then head for a beachside campsite in Peñiscola for a few days of R&R in the sunshine. It’s a tough gig, I know 😉
PS As always, a tap or a click on any photo will enlarge it in a new tab.