Ahhh, where back in Continental Europe. Back driving on the “right” side of the road & living like bums. We are so use to driving on the right now, that when we where back in UK, driving on the left felt strange. When we hit UK again, I really had to concentrate and keep telling myself to keep left. As we where trying to find our campsite, I entered the road in the right hand lane with a car coming towards me in the same lane. It now seems so natural to drive on the right and when I saw the car coming towards me, I slowed, looked around for the no entry signs and instantly blamed TOM TOM. After all, he often does give us bum steers! So I just sat there, for 20 seconds or so, me staring at the other drive, the other driver staring at me, me trying find the one way sign. Then finally it kicked in “I’m on the wrong side of the road!!!!” Crikey!!!! – sorry fella! I’ve no idea what the other driver must have thought (probably that i’m on drugs or drunk)…..he might have forgiven me if I had been in a left hand drive car from Europe, but I was in a UK car, so right hand drive…..if only he’d known that I quite literally got off the boat an 1hr ago. Watch out Aussie drivers when I’m back on home soil.
Driving through France was a breeze. The road system is great and as always very scenic. Originally we where dreading the drive south and thought it would be really taxing, but it wasn’t and before we knew it we where in Bordeaux. 5 days earlier than we anticipated. France is beautiful and such a great road trip country, it’s always a pleasure to visit. France like England has so many beautiful places to investigate. You could spend a year there and not see it all or get bored. The one big difference between the 2 is the lack of traffic compared to UK. We’d forgotten just how over populated the UK is. The roads are a nightmare, parking is virtually impossible and 1/2 the country is covered by one lane wide lanes with occasional passing places and too many cars using them….but really there seems to be just too many people, especially compared to other EU countries, I’d hate to think what it is going to be like in 20 years and can understand why they are trying to curb immigration.
We’d seen quite a bit of the French side of Basque Country in previous years, so this time we headed straight for the Spanish side and stayed on the beach that boarders France and Spain at Hondarribia We also finally hit the sunshine so broke out the togs, Paul his spearfishing gear and started working on the tans.
The Basque Country
The Basque Country is the name given to the home of the Basque people in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast. Its an Autonomous Community with their own language, cuisine & culture. If you ask a person if they are French or Spanish, they will say ‘no’ I am Bazkia. They are also very proud of their country and it is super clean. Everyone is aware of the impact they have on their environment, its really fabulous and I wish a lot more countries shared the same view.
We had 10 days exploring approx 150km of coast line between Hondarribia and Bilbao before my brother Daniel arrived to spend a week with us. What a fantastic part of the world this is, really truly beautiful, rugged and not over populated or over touristy. The coastline is amazing and also forms part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which thousands of people walk each year. Actually without realizing it we virtually followed this route all the way to Portugal.
We’ve also been meeting a lot more people on this section of our trip. Plenty of English and a few other nationalities, so its been wonderful. We met a fellow motorhomer from Belgium, who was impressed we’d just recently been through Scandinavia and as well as his own country. He was such a nice man and you could tell he really enjoyed talking to others. He also had some amazing travel stories to tell of his time spent in the Arctic Circle on a Ice Breaker he took from Russia. He was a Professor of Mathematics but we never asked his name, how rude of us, so he has became known to us as Mr Alphabet (numbers was to obvious a choice to name him).
We again have been wild camping or using Aires ever since we left UK. This section of Basque was wonderful and we found some fabulous villages and beaches to stay at. The wonderful surf beach of Gorliz, beautiful bay of Lekeitio, and Armintza. The other thing which is a bonus of this section of Spain is that the most scenic and accessible road hugs the coastline for hundreds of KM’s and affords you the most wonderful views from the road, just like Greece.
We had another “mini vacation” from “wher’dmadaygo” and stayed in a hotel with Daniel for 5 nights in Bilbao. Bilbao is a great city, with the uba modern Guggenheim museum and a fantastic old town. Basque region is home of the pintxos, aka Tapas, and the streets of Bilbao and San Sebastian are lined with wonderful establishments. With an abundant of pintxos, pilled high above the bar tops & great local wines to boot. In the end we did get a little tired of all the tapas and craved just normal food like pizza, pasta and burgers.
A day trip to La Rioja wine region
We also did a day trip to La Rioja wine region and discovered some wonderful wines and villages. Vania was the highlight where we had a great lunch at a restaurant recommended by a local. The drive made for a very scenic day and great escape from the city. We ate, drank, talked….ate, drank and talk some more that our time with Daniel came to a half all too quickly. It was soooo great to have him with us and hard once more to say good bye at the airport. But we’ll be back in Australia before we know it and are looking forward to spending quality time with our loved ones.
“The rain in Spain falls mainly in” Basque and when the weather started to turn bad we decided to skip North Western region of Spain. This is the section just above Portugal and must admit we are a little disappointed as this was the area we most wanted to visit, but with a 10 day forecast of wind, rain and more wind and with a LOOOONG winter just behind us, we weren’t ready to pack away the togs just yet.
So, South, South and further south it is for us…..watch out Portugal and Southern Spain…..here we come.
More Travel Blogs: