Linda's Tour of Spain 2006 travel blog

10 mins before I took this picture, the mountain was hidden by...

Pyrenees

More Pyrenees

Another lovely scene

Glacial looking river, Pyrenees valley

River in Pyrenees, lovely tumbling water

Changing landscape

Ainsa village

Sheep and goat farming - the only thing to survive in Belchite

Belchite - almost flattened

Lovely rainbow in an angry sky

Sculpture 'Mama' outside Guggenheim museum, Bilbao

Guggenheim museum


Hi there

Well I have had more than my fair share of scary moments lately. I guess it all started when I first pulled onto the site near Barcelona airport, where I was going to leave Ducky while I stayed with Jon in the city. Whenever I get onto a site, one of the things I have to do link Ducky up to the mains, and most sites keep the sockets inside a metal box. So being an old hand at all this now, I nonchalantly opened the door to the box to see something ather large and long and dark scuttle away behind a piece of metal. I very gingerley plugged my connection in and got on with the other 'chores', but as I thought about it I felt sure it had been a scorpion type thing - do they have them in Spain. Anyway when time came to leave the site, I opened the dorr VERY carefully and heard the same scuttling, not a silent spider run but a hard shell against metal noise. There was also a fair bit of unrecognisable poo in there - eek maybe it really was a scorpion. Then, on the day when I visted the castle Dali bought for his wife, I was driving back down out of the hills, concentrating on not hitting one of the too numerous serious cyclists that love the narrow windy raods, when I spotted this thing in the road, I swerved to avoid it, realising at the same time that it was a snake winding its way across the road - double eek. When I visted Andorra, the access road into the shopping centre I visited was very steep, fairly narrow and with a sharp bend in it, going in was fine but coming out was not. As I got close to the top of this road a huge lorry blocked the way wanting to come in, I had no choice but to back out and tried to get out of his way which I did, sadly he wanted to drive down the dirt track that led off from the bend in the road, and that was where I was. So it was time for quite some hill start and I gave Ducky a major rev, off with the handbrake and it stalled. I repeated this maybe three times, each time rolling back a bit more. The hill was just too steep for the engine to move the weight forward, WORSE the handbrake could not hold me, I couldn't drive forward and I daren't slip back or I would go off the edge of maybe a 12ft drop. Luckily the lorry got round me and I turned the engine back on to get the power steering back so I could reverse back down the slope - I'm not sure how close I was to the edge and not sure I want to know either!! So on the lower part of the slope which was less steep Ducky got rolling and I was almost at the most steep bit when another damn lorry pulled in, there was no way I was going to stop again so I drove onto the wrong side of the road so the lorry and I could pass without stopping - triple eek!!!

I decided to visit Huesca, a pretty town where I had a nice wander around. Leaving , and using Jane to take me out I found myself in a one way system with a narrow raod to negotiate, I stopped looked it and drove on slowly - no problem but at the end of that narrow road was a more narrow one and no other way to go. This was horribly tight and I am afraid that poor Ducky has got some minor damage on each side, part of which was because when I got to the end of that road, the one I had to turn into was so narrow that a five point turn was necessary. It is all minor but I am annoyed at having damaged the Duckmobile after all these miles (over 5,500 now). After that vist I headed to Belchite - well what is left of the original town of Belchite. It was bombed to almost nothing during the civil war and it was a very humbling experience to imagine so many ordinary people trying to protect their families during such a terrible onslaught. There wasn't a single house left whole and even the churches were roofless, yet the people had to carry on living there for over 15 years until a replacement village was built.

Next day I went to visit Pamplona and wished I hadn't. The town was nothing special and the day I was there was a national holiday to celebrate the Virgen del Pilar - thats the day when a vision of the virgin appeared to someone on top of a pillar (see what I meant before about the mushrooms!). Anyway if they want to have holidays for that kind of myth fair enough but this was now in the region of Navarra, closely allied to the Basque country in the radical independence stakes. I thought the atmosphere in a couple of the squares was odd, and as I walked into one and saw a big pro ETA (terrorist group) banner being unfurled and the young crowd start chanting I decided to leave. I had been on my way back to Ducky anyway, using Jane on the walking function. As soon as I left the square and walked into a road she started her 'turn around when possible'nonsense, luckily I had paid enough attention to the map she'd been showing two seconds before to ignore her and make my own way towards Ducky. Of course as soon as I got close, she started trying to tell me which way to go like she'd always been in charge and she nearly ended up in the river. I've often thought that Jane's failures put me in some danger, never worse than this time though. In all honesty, that experience unnerved me. The holiday would carry on all weekend, I am in one of the less friendly parts of the country and I wasnt sure I wanted to be there at all. I went off to sleep at a campsite in the heart of the La Rioja wine region and decided to get some photos onto my USB stick as they were only on the computer and nowhere else and well after my run of luck you can guess what happened, my pathetic laptop simply died, no warning no nothing. That night was truly very cold and the next day I lingered in my bed because I couldnt bear to get out. I was watching people outside and had thought they were all smoking but realised they were just breathing - it was that cold!! Anyway eventually I got up and away from the site, my mission for the day being to buy some wine. But of course many businesses were still on holiday and all the places I could normally have tasted before buying were shut, so I restricted myself to 12 bottles of red,and six of white. I opened a red last night and it isnt great :-(

But from La Rioja I made my way back onto the coast and stayed in a small seaside town which is a surfers paradise on this coast. Having done a supermarket shop on the way, I had found a couple of extra long sleeved tops to keep me warm. but by the time I parked up the sun had come out and it was warm. I sunbathed, read my book, sat outside after dark and made the most of the warmth. Next day had been intended to be my visit to San Sebastian, but the lovely warmth of the day, combined with sounds of more protest from down in the town made me decide to stay put and I had a wonderful lazy day. This was the first time in a week that I had stopped anywhere for 2 nights and in all honesty I needed the rest.

So today is Sunday and I am parked in Santillana del Mar which I wrote about in the first or second entry. I am close to Santander ready to drive back to the port. So this is the last really newsy update there will be. It's hard to believe I have been here for two months but I will be so glad to be around my family and friends again. I'll aim to get all the other photos on here before my account closes at the end of the week, and will write one more little summary entry then.

Hope you are all well, and I really will see you all very soon now

Linda

xx

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