Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Tuesday 12 January–San Sebastian

(Oh dear! It’s only day 3 of the trip and we just had a lengthy and indecisive conversation about which day of the week it is today – a discussion which was only resolved when I resorted to technology to tell me.)

Where is Colin? Colin is sitting in an Aire (with free service point) next to the university in San Sebastian at N43°18.481 W2°0.867. Cost per 24 hours: €3.25.

We were up bright and early this morning, determined to get away at a sensible hour. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t have similar ideas (and we hadn’t put sufficient thought into sunrise times (0848 in Bordeaux)) so we found ourselves sitting around waiting for enough daylight to creep into the day. It was, however, on the very stroke of ‘yep, that’s enough daylight to drive on side-lights’ that we pulled out of the Aire and back onto the N10.

A bit of playing around with route finding tools last night had told me that taking non-toll roads down into Spain was going to take just over 2 hours longer than taking the toll roads, and would be tiresome in terms of roundabouts, traffic lights and hundreds of changes of speed limit. The toll roads would cost €14.40 if we were in a car (I couldn’t (and still can’t) find any info online as to the cost of a van), which seemed a reasonable price to pay for the conveniene of arriving at our destination with enough of the day left to go and see something.

So, down to Spain we headed, paying tolls as we went (thankfully these toll booths accepted Mastercard; yesterday’s didn’t), which worked out at just short of €23 (a €3.40 car toll came in at €5.30 for our Class 2 vehicle).

It was as we were approaching the toll gates at the French/Spanish border that we saw a distinctive hill ahead of us and immediately recognised it as La Rhune – the hill on which we spent part of our first night on the GR10 last July, until horses chased us away for a midnight walk down to the nearest town. Funnily enough we spent that night in a motorhome aire too; all we were missing on that occasion was a motorhome…


The distinctive shape of La Rhune ahead of us (it may not look that distinctive in the photo, but it is a poor shot, taken through the windscreen, in the rain)

After just a small amount of navigational confusion when we arrived in Spain (“I shouldn’t be allowed to navigate. I’m crap at it!” I stropped, perhaps a little too melodramatically, all things considered. Turned out we were on the right road after all.), we were soon pulling into the Aire in San Sebastian and consulting a weather forecast so as to inform our plans. If tomorrow was to be good weather, then we would stay here for 2 nights and spend a day exploring. If it was going to remain poor (it was lashing it down as we sat here having lunch), then we would take a walk in the rain this afternoon and save most of San Seb until our return journey, in the hope of better conditions then.

Fourteen degrees and dry said the forecast, so a ticket was bought for 2 nights and off we headed to see ‘El Peine de los Vientos’ which our guidebook describes as a remarkable and unmissable sculpture. Alas, it was missable for us, because the authorities had decided it should be so:


Being rained on by this point, after a promising sunny interval, it was a moody view over to the Isla de Santa Clara and the old town beyond:


We probably would have wandered over to the old town if the next dry spell had lasted, even though that’s the main event for tomorrow, except that half way there the skies turned very ominous and once again we were getting wet. By the time we’d walked back we were positively dripping, and a cafe seemed like a good location to dry out a bit. It would have been a good plan too, if we hadn’t sat out an entire sunny interval and set back out in the next shower. Hey ho…

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