Farewell Benidorm, Hello France
May 31, 2014
We have farewelled Benidorm (for a few months anyway!). It was hugs all around from our friends and neighbours as they waved us adieu.
During our last days in Benidorm we hired a car, a mustard coloured bubble called a Fiat 500 and took a drive up and down the coast and up into the mountains that surround the town. We ate freshly cooked sardines and mussels by the port in Calpe, walked the narrow lanes of Villajoysa with its delightful coloured houses, enjoyed coffee on the beach at Javea and walked up the steep incline into Guadalest, a medieval town perched high in the mountains.
As we drove we could see the brown stumps of the grape vines had sprung into life as bright green leaves and trailing tendrils sprouted out all over. Hard little dark green nubs festooned the olive trees and it will be some time before the olives have grown plump and juicy ready to harvest.
Thank you to Gordon and Irene for joining us on our last foray around Benidorm. The 5pm start and 3am finish, with visits to four tapas bars, an ice cream parlour, coffee and brandy by the beach and dancing in Morgan’s Nightclub in the intervening hours, it was a fantastic night. Mind you I don’t think any of us were firing on all cylinders the following day. I think it’s called a hangover!
We are now back on the road and took ourselves diagonally across northern Spain to cross the border into west France. We were driving over a wide flat plain, 1000m above sea level, for mile after mile. It’s a dun coloured landscape and the villages we passed barely noticeable as they merged with the scenery. The one bright splash of colour was the bobbing heads of brilliant red poppies along the road sides.
Driving from the flat plains up into the Pyrenees Mountains the land became lush and green and snow could be seen on the highest of peaks. We camped in an oak wood nestled amongst the mountains and could hear the unmistakeable sound of cuckoos’.
Crossing the border into France and the change we saw was immediate. The countryside is far better cared for; crops were sprouting in well ploughed fields, homes and gardens are beautifully tended. It was an amazing transformation after Spain.
Our first stop in France was in Pau. We found free overnight parking right in the centre of town, just a short walk to the Henry IV of France Château. And can you believe it; on the edge of town we found an Aussie pub with the most fantastic views across to the Pyrenees Mountains.
We spent one night camped alongside a canal an hour east of Bordeaux. It was a delightful spot with plane trees lining the canal casting their dappled shade over the water, the twitter of many birds and the gentle splash of oars as a canoe glided past. Paul tried to catch his dinner by throwing out a line but after an hour waiting patiently for a bite he had to make do with a tin of beans!
The town of Andernos-les-bains on the eastern bank of the Bassin d’Arcachon (a large bay) is well known for its oysters. There are colourful cabins all along the shore selling the fresh molluscs by the dozen. Paul and I couldn’t resist, so a dozen freshly shucked oysters were ordered (for 16 Euros ~ $25) and washed down with a glass of chilled white wine while watching the tide flow in over the mud flats. It’s certainly a town we will visit again.
We are driving back in-land to see friends Pete and Paulene who live in the Dordogne. We’re looking forward to catching up over a few glasses of red with some marvellous smelly French cheese.
Hope all is well.
Liz and Paul x