T passed through here a few years ago, just a fleeting stop and it’s a must see destination on the North Coast of spain, and within spitting distance of France. The camper stop was full up to the nines, so we did an emergency google for local campsites and found one only a couple of km away down a very narrow & windy rural lane. We didn’t know what to expect although the photos on google looked good. It turned out that we aced it. It’s the end of season so the campsite was almost deserted. There were three other campervans and the rest of the campsite was pretty empty. We got the swimming pool to ourselves too!
The 15€ discounted ACSI rate per night included a minibus into the town, so it worked out cheaper than many stopovers that we have done in the last month. Throw in the pool, sauna and it was a bargain.
We spent the next day exploring San Sebastian, going up the funicular to enjoy the view and promenading along the seafront with the locals. Lunch by the sea.
That night and following day we had proper rain for almost the first time since we left home and howling wind, so it a was a maintenance day – probably well needed!
A couple of nights almost in the centre of Pamplona at the foothills of the western Pyrenees. 10€ per night for all facilities in a dedicated Campervan park opposite the Mayor’s home and next to the fire station. Mayor’s palace would be a better description.
We did the standard tourist things and had a great time: Pamplona has an awesome five sided citadel and we learned of the chequered history of the fortifications in a long visit to one of the forts still standing. A great sculpture park and great views out from the top of the hill that the old city sits on.
We visited the bull ring and regardless of what our views were, it was really interesting – it’s a big part of the local culture. Although the bull always loses, there are often human casualties, so we guess that evens things up a bit.
The bikes didn’t really work out – Pamplona is very hilly and it is tricky to navigate. There are a couple of cycle tracks marked, but neither goes into the old town so we were foot powered for the couple of days.
When we bought our first camper in 2015, we were really surprised that our most expensive vehicle ever was also the cheapest to insure. It was less than £200 with Staveley Head (https://www.staveleyhead.co.uk/personal-vehicle/motorhome-insurance). That’s fully comp for both of us to drive etc and even allowed for us to add another driver (thanks Richard!) when Toby broke his ankle. Fast forward to 2018 and the limitations of this policy became clear as we were trying to arrange insurance for the new beast and for our big adventure.
There are two things that are critical for long tours – unlimited foreign trips and unlimited mileage. Our Staveley Head policy had neither – a pretty strict mileage limit and limited days abroad per insurance year.
Julie and Jason (http://ourtour.co.uk/home/) had a blog post about insurance and we went to their company, Safeguard (https://www.safeguarduk.co.uk/motorhome-insurance/). Safeguard have been great although we should say that the cover is really expensive (over £800) and they are also very funny about any form of communication via email – even the simplest query will get a terse “please call us to discuss this” even for a yes no question. But on the phone they are really helpful. Perhaps thay are not quite up to speed on the internet age yet!
The insurance ‘ace card’ is keeping the house – this is a grey gap not a permanent lifestyle change – and it seems that this is the key difference between being ‘on tour’ and ‘living in the van’. We were clear with the new insurance company that this would be a one year tour with possible trips home, but that we would be maintaining a UK address. No problem they said. We recorded the phone call in case there are any difficulties later!
The insurance comes with Europe wide breakdown cover including accommodation, relay and repatriation, which was an expensive bolt-on from the RAC. They also cover the genny (if we end up needing to buy one to help over the winter) and have a new for old clause (but this only applies for 15000 miles). So that £800 whopper for the insurance offsets the £300 RAC membership by quite a chunk.
We’ve had no issues with Staveley Head and guess we’ll be back with them once we don’t need the extra European cover features.
Travel insurance has been another kettle of fish now we are 50, but we’ll leave that subject for another day!
One night in the town of Tudela. We spent a fine afternoon exploring the cobbled alleys and climbing the hill to look at the large statue of Jesus (Corazon de Jesus). We didn’t get to see the cathedral as the only way in was to pay 4€ for the museum!
The overnight stop was free and in the corner of a car park and included sewage disposal. FYI, In a motorhome there is not such thing as TMI, sorry!
After leaving Tudela the main thing to sight-see on the road to Pamplona is the Las Bardenas Reales National Park.
For us it was a 35 km gravel track adventure – proving that you can go offroad even in a 5 ton motor-home. Hiking routes and cycling routes are also available.
It was fine, the gravel tracks were well graded and we managed a constant 12kmh. Plenty of places to park. The Park was wonderful – it’s a very unusual sedimentary formation with more robust rock over the top. It makes for some fantastic scenery.
T had an idea for an awesome drone shot chasing mothership across the semi-desert, but the park has a military base and bombing range in the middle and it’s a no fly zone for drones.
We stopped for lunch and right over the top of us came a pair of jets and they proceeded to carry out practice bombing runs. It was bloody loud! Good job for the safe flying app really – the jets were only at about 400 feet over the top of us.
We had a wonderful four days in Zaragoza. We stayed on a proper campsite (Ooo!) but for 30€ per night, we are not sure if it was worth it – close to end of season, so the pool was empty etc! The site was 6km out of town, so we have thoroughly got the hang of the intricacies of Spanish cycle paths. Bloody confusing would be a good description – they tend to meander from one side of the road to the other, so often you are cycling towards oncoming traffic. It’s also hairy when the cycle path is between to tram lines, but on the whole cycling was a great experience. Over the four days we cycled over a hundred km visiting the various sights!
During our stay there was a food festival and it started off very similar to a typical food fair in the UK with lots of free samples, but it rapidly got excellent when they started handing out paella in festival sized portions!
A large part of the town was rejuvenated in 2008 for an expo and this year for the tenth anniversary of the expo they were all spruced up again so there were some tip-top buildings to look at.
In the town there are many churches and fine architectural sights, a great park and also an aquarium. Home made Pizza in the van and some more R&R. A few times we had military jets overhead – we later discovered that they were doing exercises over a nearby National park that we visit in a few days time.
There are a few photos here – we didn’t get to photo the inside of the fantastic Basilica as the church was in full swing on the Saturday when we visited with a wedding, many blessings and even confessions taking place all out in the open.
A brief stop-off near Barbastro to the Sommos vineyard – well basically to take a picture of the amazing HQ building, and then onto Huesca via a restaurant that has recently installed greywater & blackwater dropoff – The restaurant was closed so we couldn’t pay them back by having a meal!
Then 50km to Huesca and another free stopover – this time in the middle of town and a lovely spot with space for about twenty ‘vans and with waste facilities.
We’ve not got the hang of Spanish water yet – the water says ‘untreated’ and yet seems to be what everyone is filling their tanks with. More research needed but in the meantime we have a full tank and will stop filling our drinking bottles and start boiling until we work out whether it’s potable!
We spent day two in R&R mode cleaning the inside of the mothership which has got pretty mucky over the last month plus researching the next two or three stopovers now that we have data again!
LPG in Spain is not common and by pure chance only half a kilometer from the stopover, the local Repsol has a new LPG pump! We’ve not yet used half a tank in the month we’ve been travelling but T is keen to make sure the tank adaptors work! Less than 10 Euros to run the fridge and cooking for a month is not bad!
Just wow, really. The 5 ton(ish) mothership struggled up some >10% inclines, but we got up to the ski resort of La Mongie deep in the Pyrenees.
Being out of season is a little eerie – everything is shut up tight like a drum and there are just us and the few other tourists here for the same reason as us.
And the reason for this trip through the mountains at this particular crossing point – aside from the wonderful views – was the famous ‘Pic Du Midi’, which is an observatory at 10,000 feet and accessible from cable car (two cable cars actually!) from La Mongie.
This was our most expensive day out at 40€ each, but blimey, the views from 3000 meters were amazing. We came back down to La Mongie at a mere 5000 feet to find that the clouds had closed in around us and cows and llamas were walking around the resort in considerably greater numbers than people.
We waited for about an hour and it lifted about fifty feet. Sounds like a little, but it meant that we could see down the mountain and safely drive the 30km to our overnight stop at Campan with the clouds *just* above us.
We descended a couple of thousand feet and the mothership brakes smelled pretty warm, even with engine braking and hill descent mode!
Payolle near Campan was a free overnight stop with fresh water and waste disposal. It’s rural and is nestled among the mountains in a pine forest with warnings about bears! A brisk walk around the lake making plenty of noise and retire.