Travelling in France and Spain – part 1 – English version

Summer 2019 is almost over, it’s the end of August. Last week we gave our last scubadiving lessons and not only Soof and Martijn but also my sister Hannah and her husband Henk succeeded and are open water divers. So it’s time to hit the road again with the RV. We are going to L’Escala, Spain, where we hope to arrive on September 13th. Other club members from our scubadiving club Aqualis will join us for a diving vacation. Originally we would leave later because we first wanted to visit the caravan salon in Düsseldorf. But now that makes no sense because we bought another RV. Unfortunately it was impossible to take this RV, a Frankia Titan, so we now make a final trip with our 8-year-old Niesmann Bischoff.

Camperplace Vianen

On Wednesday morning August 28th, Dick board the bus early to get the RV out of the storage. In the meantime, I carry things to our living room we have to have in the RV. It takes some time but at two pm is the RV loaded and filled up with water and we can leave. We need a stopover in Rotterdam because the propane tank is still empty. After filling there is coffee at Lucky Dive Center but end afternoon we arrive at our beloved RV parking in Vianen. It is great to spend the night in the center of this nice old town. For Holland it’s warm, 85 degrees, but dark clouds appear. Although there is no rainfall, we hear a continuous rumble and every now and then lightflashes can be seen.

The next morning I buy fresh bread from the store less than 200 yards and after a good breakfast we continue our trip. We stop in Eindhoven. Dick has forgotten his e-reader and because his old one needs replacement, we do not drive back home but decide to get a new one. There is not much choice so we buy and the road leads us further south through Belgium to Redange in Luxembourg. There is enough space to park and we can even connect the camper to the electricity. After a cup of coffee we go for a walk.

Kropeman monster in Redange

We have to find a geocache and one is hidden at the Kropeman, a water monster in this region. Unfortunately, there are not many other caches, most of them we already found on previous visits. But we have a nice walk through the woods and along grain fields before we are back at the RV. It is 83 degrees and the sun is still shining so we sit outside, enjoy a glass of wine and read a good book. There are no restaurants in the area so we cook in the RV.

After refueling water on Friday morning and dumping our gray –and black water, we drive further on through Luxembourg to the southeast. Not really a logical road to Spain but we want to visit a fort on the Maginot line, close to Wissembourg, France. Of course we refuel at the Luxembourg border before we drive through the more expensive countries (in terms of fuel) of Germany and France.
It is a beautiful trip in the countryside of Germany and later France. We pass the place where the first idea of an United European became a fact and arrive on time at Fortress Schoenenbourg. We are not the only visitors because there are several RV’s and passenger cars waiting in front of the fort. It will not be open before 2 pm. We are in France and the lunchtime is sacred.

Everything is closed between half past twelve and two pm. When we see any movement at the entrance, just before 2 pm, we walk towards it. Of course we are the first in line that is growing fast because a tourist bus arrived. Exactly at two pm the cashier opens and after buying a ticket we walk into the underground vaults of the fort.

Fortress Schoenenbourg

It is large and vast and we wander through the enormous corridors, descend hundreds of steps deeper into the earth and see how the French soldiers lived here during WW II. The distances are enormous and there is at least 0,7 mile between the first and second part of the fort where the canons are situated. No wonder there used to be trains underground. Fortunately we brought our down jacket. In contrary to the outside, where it is 83 degrees, the temperature here does not exceed  52 degrees. After walking underground for 2,5 hours we are back at our starting point and leave this special place.

 

Diner in Wissembourg

Instead of spending the night at a winery in Hunspach, we drive a little further to Wissembourg. Fortunately we find a parking spot next to the crowded swimming pool.
This parking spot is in the full sun so no one wanted to park here. After having a drink we walk to this beautiful village in search of a restaurant. And yes in the center we find a nice terrace and take a seat.
The weather is lovely. it’s really an evening to have dinner outside.
Around 9.30 pm we are back in the RV, it is already getting dark and we go to bed. All our windows stay wide open because until late at night it is very hot inside.

On Saturday we get up at 8 a.m. It seems that we sleep longer when it is hot.
Of course I buy a fresh baguette in the village. Today we don’t have to drive far, only  92 miles and because there are less smaller roads we arrive in Eguisheim at 11.30 am. Again a picturesque town in the middle of the Alsace wines. We find a nice spot at a winery and after connecting the RV with electricity (sometimes we have that luxury) we walk into the town. What a beautiful old houses and how wonderful to wander through the narrow streets. Unfortunately it is not possible to find the cache that brings us to different places in Eguisheim but that doesn’t spoil the fun because the streets are a treat for the eyes. After walking around for a few hours we return to the winery, where all the parking spots are taken. It is too hot to sit next to the RV (in the full sun) so everyone has a chair in the shade of the shed and enjoy the coolness. It is very sociable, all of us sitting in a row.

 

Motto Wineyard Banwarth

But we stay at a winery so we also want to taste some wines and end of the afternoon we enter the tasting room where the owner of the winery let us try the different white and red wines. Some are horrible, very sweet, other wines are very flat and have little taste, but a pinot noir that has matured in the barrel for more than a year is very tasty and so we leave the room, somewhat unstable on our legs (caused by the many and full tasting glasses) with a box of these wines. The motto here is: “A meal without wine is like a day without sun”. In one of the picturesque streets we saw this afternoon a nice restaurant and when we return at 7 pm we find a free table where we have a good dinner and enjoy the falling night.

We are the first to leave on Sunday morning at 8 am. After the opening of the entrance gate. Of course we first had breakfast with a fresh baguette, I bought in the village. It’s really nice to walk in a quiet town early in the morning when there is nobody else. We drive further south on quiet and small roads. The Hakuna, our navigation, is clearly upset because we arrive at the Swiss border (my phone welcomes me in Switserland) before turning west. It is a large detour. The number of driven miles is considerably more than we calculated. In Flavigny sur Ozerain we stop to take a look at this medieval town, one of the most beautiful in France. Whether it is dead-alive or the heavy weather with some rain, I do not know, but this town does not really appeal to us. Of course we visit the abbey and the age-long factory of anise candy.

Lots of anises sweets

We see a movie where the process from aniseed to candy is shown and of course taste these anise sweets. They remind me a lot of the pink and blue anise sugar-grains we sprinkle on a (Dutch) rusk when a child is born. But Dick really likes anise so we buy a bag, now Dick can snoop. It is 4 pm when we are back at the parking lot near the abbey and after getting some berries from the bushes we decide to drive further on. We look at different  places and arrive at 6.30 pm in Moux  Along a football field are some nice places with electricity. There is still room for us. Unfortunately it is Sunday evening and everything is closed in this village. It means we have to cook and I make a simple snack. We don’t stick to our travel schedule anymore. But we normally do that after some days and tomorrow, while having breakfast we will look for a new destination.

After some searching we find Oingt, a medieval town built with “Pierres Dorees” (golden stones). After the gloomy day yesterday, the weather is much better. A cool breeze is blowing and the temperature does not rise above 70 degrees despite the shining sun. After buying a lot of groceries in the local supermarket (anyway we contribute to a continued existence of this dying shop in this extinct village) we drive along narrow winding roads through beautiful mountain valleys. There are many roadblocks so we drive miles and miles but the landscape is beautiful. We are in the middle of the Burgundy and Beaujolais region.

Views around in Oingt

Eventually we arrive at the top of a mountain. 360 degrees around us we have a beautiful view at the winehouses of the Beaujolais, standing amidst vine-tendrils. All the houses are made of yellow golden stones. At the end of a dead end road, again near a soccer field, we find a nice parking.

We are the only RV so we can choose. After having some coffee we walk into the village of Oingt. Here too it is extinct but there is a beautiful old church where we light a candle. We also walk through narrow medieval streets. Everything looks beautiful because of the golden stones. Of course we also walk into a winery to taste some of the Beaujolais wine. However, it is not our taste and soon we leave. Since there is neither a restaurant nor a shop nearby, we have a meal of leftover food. Dick has a wonderful evening. First he can view the training of the pupils while sitting in the RV and later in the evening the training and football match of the adults. We have football entertainment until 10 pm. The next morning we eat “pain depannage”. (Bread you eat when your car is broken down) That’s what the lady from the shop in Moux called the long-life bread I bought there. We have to, because, just like in Moux , this village has no bakery nor supermarket.

The bread does not taste bad and the cheese on it does wonders so we can start a new travel day with a full stomach. From this place, high in the mountains, we drive over narrow mountain roads to Le Puy. It’s time to do laundry and in Le Puy en Velay, famous for its pointed rocks with a statue of Mary and a church, we find a laverie (laundromat) next to the supermarket. It’s busy because some homeless people with huge dogs are gathering while doing laundry. After having a machine available we are busy for two hours but then our laundry bag is empty and all clothing and bedding is stored and clean again. We decide not to stay in Le Puy and continue to Pradelles, where next to the Route Nationale, the N88, a butcher shop owns a nice place where we can spend the night. In 15 minutes we walk to the town of Pradelles, also a place on the list of beautiful French towns.

Beautiful church in Pradelles

There are narrow streets and because we are in the mountains, at 4165 feet, we have a magnificent view over the surrounding plains. We are in the forecourt of a large church that, painted white on the inside, radiates nothing. This in contrast to the old chapel further down in the village which is actually closed but where we can have a look inside. The centuries can be clearly seen on the walls and the chapel needs restoration, but it is picturesque and the Virgin Mary statue carved from cedar is beautiful to look at. Slowly walking back through the small steep streets we return to our parking along the N88. It is now 6 pm, the traffic is considerably less and therefore the traffic noise is reduced. We don’t have any problems with it during the night. Because it cools down quite a lot at night (for Europe we are high up in the mountains and during the night it’s only 42 degrees) we have to put a duvet on our bed, so we will not bothered by the cold. Wednesday morning. September 4th , the sky is steel blue and the sun shines. The temperature soon raises. We buy a fresh baguette from the butcher. He has a “pain depot” (bread branch) so I don’t have to walk to town. After breakfast we dump and fill up with water, then we drive over roads meandering through the mountains. Sometimes the roads are so narrow that we are happy that there is no oncoming traffic.

Because we only  drive 61 miles, we arrive at 11 am in La Canourgue, also called “little Venice of France”. It is a nice town with narrow streets and a small stream winding through. Nice because in unexpected places you have an underpass of the river or a shallow stream flows through a street. After exploring the town we look for caches.

Hiking in La Canourge

We soon find out that all caches are hidden on a hiking trail and after climbing a steep hill (where we can look out over town), we decide to split our roads. Dick will look for caches on the lower path, a little more comfortable for his knee, and I will climb up the hill. The path winds up but is easy to climb and the view of the highest point next to three large crosses is beautiful. I call Dick who returned to the RV and with my telelens I see him standing in front of the RV. The narrow path down costs more headaches, it is steep and full of loose stones. It’s good that Dick doesn’t have to walk this path.

Finally, at 4 pm, I ‘m also back at the RV. I’m tired and satisfied because we did find all the caches we wanted to do. Because the restaurants in town do not really have an attractive menu, we only drink something on a terrace at the waterfront. Dick has an ice cream and I have a milkshake. It is tasty but does not match the milkshakes in America, consisting of ice cream and not milk, like this one. The temperature is pleasant, 77 degrees, so we can still sit outside. The next morning there are quite a few clouds but luckily there is also some blue sky. Of course we buy a fresh baguette in town and leave at 9.30 am. The clouds in front of us change to black. The nice weather will not hold. Fortunately, after crossing a mountain pass, the clouds disappear and the sky is again steel blue. Great, we feel the sun warming us. After a drive through some beautiful villages we arrive in Albi. Narrow streets lead us to a large bumpy lawn with some parked RV’s at the river.

 

Cathédrale in Albi

 

However, we see a Frenchman drive on and follow him. Around the corner with a view of the Cathedrale of Albi we find a beautifully landscaped site specially for motorhomes. There are no facilities, but we do not need them. We park our RV here and take our bikes to explore the area. After cycling for 7 miles we find out that it’s better to explore this city on foot, so we cycle back and walk to town. The center of Albi is designated as a world heritage site and great to see. It consists of the buildings around the huge cathedrale.

 

 

Albi cathédrale inside

We are amazed when we walk into this fully painted cathedral. Every piece of the church’s wall is covered with paintings and under the organ is a enormous painting of the Last Judgment. It is very impressive. After admiring the church we walk through the city center with cozy shops and look for a restaurant.

But it is 5 pm and we are in France. Everywhere we can drink wine and beer but eating: no. This is only possible at 7 p.m. Since we don’t like walking around town for another 2 hours, we return to the RV and cook a meal. Despite the fact that there are at least 20 RV’s on this RV parking, it is very quiet and we enjoy a good night’s sleep.

The next day, Friday, September 6th , we wake up before seven am as we don’t want arrive too late in Blagnac. If we have a chance to book a tour to the Airbus factory, we have to arrive in time. We arrive at Aeroscopia in Blagnac, before 10 am. And yes there are two places left on the French speaking tour at 4 pm. There is also some place on the English speaking tour but that starts at 5 pm. After a short discussion (Dick wants English speaking and I French) we decide, against the will of Dick, to do the French tour. But first we walk around in the museum. Here we find the history of aviation but also various aircrafts on a scale and in real. It’s great you can board a Concorde.

Although the seats are shielded so we cannot sit down in this plane, you feel the narrowness of this aircraft. It must have been fantastic to fly with this plane. There is a world of difference with the neighbouring airbus A 300. Not only rows of seats are here, but also a suite, bedroom and shower can be admired. However, we will never fly in such luxury.

De Concorde in museum Aeroscopia

Slowly we walk past planes placed everywhere, and find the Super Guppy, next to the Concorde, also very impressive. After 2, 5 hours we leave this beautiful museum and walk, filled with impressions, back to the RV. We have a cup of soup and a sandwich and walk back to the museum Aeroscopia at 3pm. There we wait in the central hall among crowds of people. At 4 pm we are escorted to a bus and board. The ride to the Airbus site does not take long and takes us past parked aircrafts. There are different types of Airbus, almost ready to be delivered.

After this tour we arrive at a factory hall and take the elevator to the fourth floor. From here we have a good view of an almost empty factory hall with an airbus 380 in the distance. There is no activity at all in the entire hall. It is dead and our guide says that people work in two shifts. When I ask why there is no activity at all, the guide answer that, because of our language problem, we missed that the production of the Airbus 380 will finish in 2021. Only a few planes are still manufactured. But Not Now. The fact that it is Friday afternoon possible plays a role. What a disappointment. How different it was when we visited the Boeing factories where we saw planes at different stages of manufacture and where people were crawling everywhere.

The Beluga made by Airbus in Blagnac

After this deception we take a last look at the factory with the parked aircrafts and then walk back to the waiting bus that drive us back to the museum. There we can have a look inside at an Airbus 400, a military aircraft, and while we are inside we look at a movie showing how the Army use the various military vehicles. Outside we also see the Beluga. It’s the successor of the Super Guppy. The last is no longer in production and Airbus built its own super transport aircraft and named it Beluga. If you look at the picture of a Beluga there is a very large similarity with the real beluga.  Unfortunately this plane is standing behind the fence of the airport and we cannot get close to it.

Finally at 5pm we walk back to the RV. From now on we will never attend a French speaking tour to avoid missing such essential information as the end of a production line.

Night falls and we take a final look at the Concorde, also parked outside like us, before we go to sleep. On Saturday morning we have breakfast with pain depannage because in the far distance around these airport-grounds is not any  shop, nor bakery. After breakfast we drive further south. Soon we spot in the distance the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees looming in front of us and we drive into the valley of the Ariege. The place in Europe where bears still existed. Unfortunately we don’t see them.

“Gilettes Jaune” in protest

In the town of Foix is a demonstration of the “gilettes jaune” (yellow safety vest). Dick waves with his yellow vest and I talk to the demonstrators through our open window. Immediately we get applause from the people walking in rows through town.  In contrast to the demonstrations in Paris, this one is peacefully and we can drive on after some waiting. At the RV parking in Foix we stop to fill up with water and dump. There are still some (short) places available but unfortunately our RV (longer than the most European RV’s) does not fit in so we drive on to the village of Les Cabannes. There is a nice big parking lot with a lot of space.

From here you have a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and this place is worth its money (5 euros for 24 hours and at this moment our first paid RV parking). We walk through the small village, which is a bit disappointing because everything is closed. It is 1 pm and only the restaurant (terrace in the shade) is open and full with people. Fortunately we can get a pastry from the bakery that is still open. We enjoy this pastry outside at the RV. Then I want to write again. I am sitting in the sun in an inspiring place with a view of mighty rock walls towering above me. Around 6.30 pm we walk back to the village, but soon we notice that the restaurants are still closed. We are now in an area where you really can’t eat until 8 pm. So we walk to the only supermarket in this village, get some meat, rösti, tomatoes and lettuce and prepare a meal in the RV. We eat inside because the sun disappeared behind the mountains and then it immediately cools down.  It is now 58 degrees.

During the night it cools down even further and on Sunday morning it is 52 degrees, so with my hoodie on, I get bread at the boulangerie in the village. After a nice breakfast we continue through the narrow valley until we reach the mountain-pass to Andorra. Here we start a steep and above all long climb which finally leads us to 8000 feet. It is busy on the road, especially on the opposite roadway.

Pas de La Casa in Andorra

The traffic driving to Andorra is significantly less. Although we have already driven up this mountain several times, it remains awesome. The clouds are completely gone and we see before and above us a steel blue sky with a bright sun. Bend after bend we climb higher and higher and the view is getting nicer. But that’s because I love the high mountains. Dick is more of the grassy meadows with cows. In between the rocks I am pointing them to him. There are tiny grassy spots and you have to guess for the cows. Just above Pas de la Casa, Andorra’s frontier town, our RV says that it is time to refuel (did not know that it also could speak). Because the entire road through Andorra, about 25 miles long, only consists of hotels, shops with alcohol, tabac and chocolate and gas stations we stop at the next gas station and refuel the RV. The prices here are 38 eurocents per liter cheaper than in France.

Just after refueling we take the exit to Grau Roig. Here we will spend the night on the huge parking lot at the ski-run. At least 15 RV’s are parked here. What a difference with other years when we slept here completely alone. We find a place away from the hustle and park the RV. We are now at an altitude of 7100 feet. After admiring the rugged mountain environment for some time I cannot longer sit here. “The mountains are calling and I have to go” so I decide to look for a few caches in the mountains above us. Two are not so far away.

Cache at mountain lake near Grau Roig

However, when I climb up through the woods in the direction of the first cache, the area seems familiar to me and yes, after finding the cache I look at the logbook and discover that we already found this cache on August 30th 2016. That means that this RV already visited Andorra. Because it is disappointing to climb without finding a cache, I decide to climb a little further and close to a mountain lake, high in the mountains at over 8000 feet, I find another cache.

Jumping over the river from stone to stone feels also familiar and yes, we also found this cache in August 2016. So I climb a little further to the top. But first I send a picture of the beautiful mountain lake. Minutes later my niece Inge send me the same picture. She and her husband Paul walked here a few weeks ago. It’s a small world. After returning to the mountain restaurant next to the high lake I climb further up. This route is completely unknown to me and leads me through a herd of cows higher and higher up the ski slope. And then, in the sight of our RV, far below me, I find a cache on a rockpoint, we haven’t found yet. I am happy and call Dick. Also to let him know that if he looks up to the mountain top he will see me. After all, I see him through the telelens of my camera. Unfortunately, whatever directions I give, Dick is unable to distinguish my figure against the massive mountain.

But now Dick knows that I am alive and walk high above him on the rocks. Slowly I climb down the steep ski slope. Fortunately I find a snow pole that I use to descend this slope. Of course I stop for a moment amid a herd of cows. The little ones look at me in astonishment. I get up quickly when mother cow  has had enough of me and walks to me, mooing.  Her impressive horns look dangerous so I walk on. After 6 miles of climbing and descending I am back at the hotels at the ski lifts where Dick is waiting for me and together we walk back to the RV. While I was doing nothing and walked around in the mountains  Dick cleaned the RV, it’s shining. The windows in particular are so clear, they were filthy and dirty. We sit outside in the sun for over an hour. Even though it is not really warm, out of the wind and sitting in the sun the temperature rises to 70 degrees. The moment the sun disappears behind the mountain ridge, the temperature drops quickly and now it’s more pleasant to sit inside. When we wake up on Monday September 9th it is only 38 degrees and the fields are covered with a white haze.

On the ground it has clearly frozen. Temperature drops really at this altitude. Again we have pain depannage for breakfast we drive along the 25 miles road through Andorra until we arrive in Sant Julia de Loria. Here, behind the super Mercado is a large parking area where we can spend the night. It is still early, 10.15 am, so there are many empty spots, although there are more RV’s than I have ever seen. We walk around a bit, of course search a cache but also look around in the stores. However, having no need for liquor and cigarettes (the stores are filled with them) we are quickly bored.

Old and new RV in St. Julia

In the afternoon I return to the stores to get some toiletries and toilet paper. To our surprise, on our return, a Frankia Titan RV is parked next to ours. This is the one we bought and get delivered half October. Now we can compare the old and new RV. Great! Because we had some lunch in the cafeteria of the supermarket, we don’t have dinner until 8 p.m. Nothing for me, having dinner so late because our bedtime is usually around 9.30 pm so we dive into bed with a full stomach.

Despite the fact that we stay in a busy parking lot, we sleep like roses and don’t wake up before 8 am on Tuesday September 10th.  It is raining and every now and then we see some lightning and hear the thundering. What a difference with the past few days. In the rain I walk to the supermercado and later again to do some final shopping before we fill the camper with clean water and depart. At the border with Spain, only a few hundred yards away, customs only pay attention to smoking goods and after opening our garage showing that we do not have any cigarettes or cigars nor carrying crates with alcohol, we may entry Spain.

La Seu d’Urgell

The weather is still gloomy and we drive to La Seu d’Urgell, a town 10 miles south of Andorra. Dick drives through the narrow streets in search of a parking spot at one of the laundromats. Unfortunately, there is no parking available, but not far away next to a beautiful old church we find a large area where RV’s can spend the night.

It is close to one of the laundromats so we park the RV there and while Dick takes the bikes from the camper I get all our laundry. After loading the laundry-bags on the bike we cycle to the laverie. There is nobody here and we can choose from the available machines. I need a 37 pound and an 18 pound washing machine. While Dick cycles back to the camper, I wait at the machines and when Dick returns, after two hours, we fold the clean clothes and bedding together and with our bicycles fully loaded we cycle home. Since we are parked in the center Dick secures the bikes on the RV while I store our clothes. At the same time we are ready and we walk towards the center. It is an old town with narrow streets and arcades. A small cafe looks attractive and we have a sandwich with lots of ham and cheese and very tasty. The Spaniards can also make coffee, because it tastes delicious. Unfortunately, all other shops are closed and unlike France where shops open at 2 pm. in Spain everything is closed until 5 pm.

Wild water in La Seu d’Urgell

After walking 5 miles and looking in all the corners of this beautiful town, Dick goes back to the RV while I take a look at the whitewater course in the Olympic park. The world championships take place there in two weeks and the town is already busy. This whitewater course is indeed very spectacular and I would like to take a canoe, but now that is prohibited territory. Only participants flash by over the turbulent waters of this whitewater track. For a long time I watch and enjoy a new sport. Then, at 5 pm, I return to the RV.  It is  too cold, 58 degrees, to sit outside so we spend the rest of the evening indoors. We also cook inside because the minced meat we bought a few days ago really needs to be prepared. Fortunately the bad weather has blown away. After lots of rain this morning no more drops have fallen and the mountains turn red in the sunset.
Wednesday September 11th we wake up at 8 am and it takes some effort to find an open boulangerie in the town. Most bakery’s do not open until 9 am.
But after wandering around the arcades, I find a store with fresh bread and finally we can have breakfast.

View on Martinet from the camperplace

We decided not to drive far because we do not need to be in L’Escala before Friday, so we stop in Martinet, a small town 20 miles to the east with a beautiful parking spot. For 1 euro we have 8 hours of electricity and if we want we also can have a free shower with ice cold mountain water. The latter is less tempting. After having our usual cup of coffee we walk around town. It is small, but a few caches are hidden. They take us through the old town and also high up in the surrounding mountains. Great for me because in the mountains I always need a climb to the top.  During the morning the clouds disappear and the sky becomes more and more blue and after walking and climbing 5 miles we have a coffee on a terrace in town with a delicious baguette. After getting back at the RV we sit outside in the sun. Writing behind my laptop does not always work so well because the sun is actually too bright to look properly at the screen of my laptop.
But the errors I have in my writings are good for Dick. He loves to remove them. In the evening it cools down immediately and we sit inside. Today is September 11th , the National Day of Catalunya, and everything is closed so we cook in the RV and enjoy our books in the evening. Thursday September 12th we wake up at 8 am, normal life seems to have resumed in this part of Spain. We see children attend school again and all the shops are open. So it is no problem to find a bakery with fresh bread nearby. After breakfast and the dumping of gray and black water we drive on. We have the choice between the mountains or the tunnel. Of course we take the mountain-pass and so we climb up on a steep narrow mountain road, at first 8% but after some time less steep. It is a nice trip that takes us through a beautiful valley higher and higher up to Col de la Torre at 6000 feet altitude.

Around us we see mountain slopes with ski lifts.  I would love to ski here in the winter. Unfortunately, after a long descent we leave the high mountains and arrive at 2900 feet. We are in Sant Joan de les Abadesses. Next to a water source and an old arch bridge is a parking where we can spend the night. We choose a spot along the canyon where the river flows deep below us. It is beautiful here and of course we walk around.

Waterfall during geocaching in St. Joan de Les Abadesses

Geocaching take us to a picturesque lake among the mountains with a waterfall. This is amazing. Only a few ruins of houses show that there has been life here in ancient times. In the afternoon we walk through the extinct town. The centerpiece is the old church with its inner gardens. This has been a monastery since the 9th century and it’s the first women’s monastery in Spain. Unfortunately it is closed but when we return at the end of the afternoon we can go inside and enjoy the silence around us and the really old relics.

Unfortunately, the film in rattling French does not really add much to our understanding of history. Around 6 pm we arrive at a kebab restaurant. Great smells are here and we don’t have to think twice about going inside. Even though it is Spain and the restaurants don’t open until 8 pm, we can sit there and after the flames have been set on, the lettuce cut and delicious French fries fried, we enjoy an excellent meal.

Bridge St.Joan de les Abadesses

In the evening the old bridge is lit by the full moon (and some lights) and therefore needs to be photographed before we go into bed. Friday after having breakfast with fresh baguette, we really leave the mountains and head for the Mediterranean Sea. We arrive at the campground in L’Escala at 11am.

Although we had this morning a blue sky and sun, the clouds have increased during our trip and there is only a small piece of blue sky left. The seawater is apparently warm because when we drive along the bay we see many people in the water. On the campground we are expected tomorrow but with a day of extra payment we can enter. However, our reserved spot is taken and it does not look like the current residents are leaving today. So we walk back to the reception and after several walks up and down (our spot is on the top of a hill) we hear that the current residents will stay another week. A mistake of the campground because this special spot was reserved for us since March.

Camping L’Escala

Because we do not want a fight, we look for another place that we find close to the old one. Here we also have a good place allthough unfortunately there are no trees so we cannot attach clotheslines. We walk around in the area, do some shopping in the supermercado and work on our administration.

In the meantime Rob has informed us that he will arrive at 6pm, so by that time we walk to the reception of the campground. But first we have a nice long talk with Femmi and Gert from Zwolle who chased us away from our reserved spot. We are joking about our new spot and theirs. Rob was also expected to arrive at the campground tomorrow but it’s no problem, one bungalow is already cleaned so he can move in. In the evening we sit outside, have a BBQ and talk about anything. The temperature is pleasant because we can stay outside until 11pm. Unfortunately, Rob’s safety belt broke during the drive to Spain so he has to make some phone calls with insurance and roadside assistance. Fortunately a carshop nearby may help out. Tomorrow he will visit them. Important because driving with a beeping tone and flashing red light is not everything.

During the night it rains every now and then but when we wake up on Saturday morning, September 14th , the rain stops and during the morning the clouds disappear and the sun appears. Great weather and pleasant temperature around 74 degrees. You get used to the sun and blue sky very quickly. Really a good time to wash again. Unfortunately we cannot have washing lines at our place and Dick does not think it is a good idea that I fix lines on an opposite terrain so in addition to a washing coin I also have to buy a drying coin. But the result is that around 1 pm everything is clean and almost dry and I can finally sit with my laptop. After all, writing has to be done again.

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