27th January 2022 – 4th February 2022
We cannot believe it, we have finally crossed the Channel into France after 2 years. We took the plunge and decided to go for it, I was stressing with all the paperwork and the 6 sausages that I had in the fridge but we got through, all relatively stress free and our mouths watering over the sausage sandwiches to come. It is so wonderful to be back in the van and heading to some sun, (oh how we all took travelling for granted). We stopped off just an hour or so from the tunnel in France, in our usual spot and then did a long 8 hours of driving to reach our friends near Limoges to stay for a couple of days. We stopped for lunch on the way down, tasted our first french baguette in a long time, I wish they made them like this in the U.K. and were greeted by 5 very pretty chickens and a handsome cockerel at our door wanting to share the baguette. I would have traded it for some eggs but alas no, so afew crumbs for the chickens and then off we went again. After a couple of nights with our lovely friends, made even more special by an 8pm dip in their outside hot tub – looking at the stars (well I would have, if it wasn’t cloudy !). The next day we packed up and were off again. France seems a long drive to reach the Spanish border and we have seen very few British cars or vans on this trip so far. We got tooted by a British Motorhome also heading South when we stopped for lunch yesterday, which is always nice.
We have been this route afew times now and rather than stopping in the same places we are keen to explore some new ones. The first one being Palencia, just North of Valladolid and it did not disappoint. We parked in a dedicated Motorhome stop for the town, which to be honest are just car parks, but perfect for one or two nights to explore. We have got use to the Spanish 3 hours Siestas and had a stroll in the evening when the shops (hurrah shops!) opened. What really struck us was that everyone and I mean everyone were wearing masks, from the small kindergarten children and teenagers, to the elderly. Masks were being worn outside and they even had a whole designated shop for selling masks. We found the market and the next morning popped back for supplies, the bread lady was so excited to try her English out on us and the lovely man selling us the most gorgeous mushrooms filled our bag with some free fresh herbs. I sound like an old record, but I wish we had these markets in the U.K. still.
After coffee and my first and if I am good my last Churros (long thin doughnuts that you dip in chocolate), we headed off in the van to continue our journey South. An overnight stop in rural Canaveral and the countryside views, we were up and away to reach Merida. The city is one of the most important in the Roman Hispania and the archeological site in the city has now been given UNESCO World Heritage Status. Parking up just before lunch in the Bus Station for the night and believe it or not surprisingly quiet, we ventured out to find lunch. We stopped at a small cafe and were trying to guess the little menu as our Spanish is rubbish, when the lady came to take our order. I thought we were ordering tapas and I was pointing to this and that and this and that, however the lady was shaking her finger going too much food. Anyway, of course we ended up with too much food, we ate what we could and staggered back to the van for a Spanish siesta. The City has the most beautiful of Squares, with a very posh hotel in the centre and we enjoyed a vino tinto outside in one of the many bars. I wish we had longer to explore, but we were up and off the next day travelling South West into Portugal. We had a long drive and filled up with fuel and food before we crossed the border into Portugal as Spain is so much cheaper.
Our final destination for the next few weeks is near Praia Du Luz, we stayed our first night with friends who have settled here and were welcomed with a wonderful Christmas Dinner, that was meant to have been for their family at Christmas but got cancelled. It was wonderful, Turkey Christmas Pudding and a bath, just perfect !