Some days don’t always turn out how you expect them to. On leaving the chateâu our plan had been to get south of Bordeaux for our first stop. Unfortunately, the sat nav seemed to be having an ‘off’ day. After lack of use over several months during the summer I was thinking she was a tad rusty. She just didn’t want to take us the way I thought she should be taking us. And she was being really stubborn about it by trying to get us back to where she wanted us to go after I’d over ruled her. Again. And again. And again. So anyway, after a diversion following a road closure and what seemed like forever we arrived in Cognac well short of our intended first stop.
Still, Cognac isn’t the worst place we could have ended up in and the aire is just a few metres from the river. I had thought the quickest route to get us south of Bordeaux avoiding tolls would be via Niort but the sat nav was trying to take us via Poitiers. On hindsight I should have kept my nose out really and left her to get on with it. Long story short, and though it pains me to admit it, I think her route via Poitiers would have been better. Ah well. I didn’t admit that to Tim until a few days later. It was baking hot when we arrived in Cognac though so we enjoyed a stroll around the town in the evening.
The following day we did manage to get south of Bordeaux and arrived in the seaside town of Capbreton just before a massive storm. The sky had been looking ominous for several hours and the heavens opened just as we got parked up at the intermarche.
We’d been to Capbreton last year and, as it’s just a short detour from the motorway, it made an ideal stop for the night. The aire (read: carpark) is directly behind the beach, has electric hook up, water and services and a bread van that visits in the mornings. €10 a night is all they ask.
Fortunately, the aire is fairly sheltered behind the dunes as it lashed down nearly all night.
Faced with more rain in the morning we were on the road early heading for San Sebastián just over the border into Spain. The aire in San Sabastián is easy to get to, cheap, quiet and a fifteen minute walk from the seafront. After visiting for the first time last year we really love it.
The town has a really nice vibe to it and we were happy to pass the evening sampling various different Pinxtos, the Basque regions answer to Tapas, in one of the bars.
Even though we only do about four hours or so of driving per day when we are on the move it does feel like enough. Having nearly three weeks to get to where we need to be in Southern Portugal we do have time to linger so after four days of driving we pitched up at a campsite twenty kilometres outside Burgos close to a via verde (cycle route on a disused railway) which looked interesting. Tim could swap the driving seat for the saddle for a day. I’m sure he was thrilled. No excuses now we have the magic of electric bikes. Alas, electric bikes don’t shelter you from the rain. And it was raining again in the morning. The via verde would have to wait for another time.
We are both fair weather cyclists. I don’t mind walking in the rain but I hate cycling in the rain. We like to think we are quite the ‘outdoorsy’ kind of couple but, in truth, we are quite the ‘indoorsy’ kind of couple when it comes to inclement weather. We were southern softies before we started our trip and now we are even worse. We don’t venture out unless it’s dry and at least twenty degrees! It can be a bit of a hindrance as we have shied away from countries where the temperature is likely to drop into single digits. I’m looking at you Norway.
So anyway, the bikes didn’t see the light of day and we were back on the road again heading for Salamanca.
It never ceases to amaze me how inexpensive public transport seems to be everywhere except the UK. We pitched up for a couple of nights at Don Quijote campsite several kilometres to the east of Salamanca and took the bus into town. At €2.90 return each it was a bargain.
There is a cycleway from the campsite into the city but dodgy weather and the thought in the back of our heads that the bikes might disappear in a large city put paid to that idea. It’s always in the back of my mind that our bikes are likely to be stolen when left for a few hours in a large city but it doesn’t usually put us off leaving them. However, knowing that we will be spending four months in Portugal in one place in a couple of weeks time with the bikes as our only form of transport did make me feel a bit precious about them. It was either that or the fact that I’ve been reading several things about the ‘law of attraction’ recently that made me think if I keep thinking that the bikes are going to be stolen then they probably will be!
Salamanca is worth a visit. It’s quite compact and easy to navigate and explore on foot. Most of the interesting bits are traffic free giving it a big tick from me.
The 18th Century square is ‘wow’ inducing even with a book festival being set up in the middle of it.
We stopped in at Cáceres for the night before heading for the border into Portugal.
Oh it’s attractive enough but I thought we would be seeing a bit of drama with ‘hanging houses’ perched on rocky outcrops which I’d read about sometime in the dark and distant past. Obviously if I’d done some research before we arrived I would have realised I’d mixed it up with Cuenca. Ah well, it’s an easy mistake to make……….maybe.
Anyway, Portugal was on our radar and couldn’t be ignored any longer.