Monday, 29 February 2016

Sunday 28 February – Palencia (Spain) and Urrugne (France)

Where’s Colin? He’s at a campsite! Our first in 15 nights! It’s just outside Urrugne at N43º22.225’, W1º41.184’. It’s €17 a night, including a paltry 5A electricity supply.

There were two reasons why we went for a walk around Palencia before we left this morning. One was because we are slaves to our Fitbits, the other was because, to my mind, if a town has gone to the trouble of providing a free motorhome Aire, then it’s only polite to look around the town and, perhaps, to spend a few pennies there.

To the Plaza Mayor we headed first, which was a nice space, but not as impressive as other squares we’ve seen, then onwards (via a panaderia) to the cathedral – our third in three days. We didn’t get a clear view of the main face of the cathedral as in front of it was the finish line for a running event - something of a flashback to last Sunday when we came across the Seville Marathon. Whether this one was a marathon or some other distance we know not, as I’ve been unable to find any information online.

We hadn’t actually intended to go into the cathedral, for fear of bursting in on a service (what with it being a Sunday morning), but when we came upon another entrance on the other side, I put my ear to the door, heard nothing, so we cautiously stepped inside. No service was in progress, but our visit was a bit of a dim one, as only one section (where preparations were being made for morning service) had any lights on.

A walk back along the muddy, swollen river (much flooding was seen slightly further north in our journey today) took us back to Colin:

We were soon heading north. Having got ahead of ourselves yesterday it seemed realistic to reach France today, which got me quite excited at the thought of being somewhere I’ve a fighting chance of understanding what people are saying to me and being understood in turn.

It must have been about two hours into our drive when we overtook a lorry and saw this vehicle ahead of us:

Nothing remarkable, you might think, but this is the same van that we parked next to in Caceres three nights ago, again in El Encina two nights ago, drove past in Salamanca, and would have parked next to in the Aire at Villadolid last night, if there had been space. We followed it along this road for long enough to know that our usual speed is 4kmph faster than this driver, and we had started our day half an hour further north than him, so what were the chances of seeing him again? Although we were half expecting to find him on tonight’s campsite, the last we saw of him was as he sailed past when we stopped for lunch. I bet he’s at San Sebastian…

The overhead matrix signs on the roads have been telling us for the last two days to expect snow, and although none fell on us today, we did drive a considerable distance through a winter wonderland:

The only other notable point of the afternoon occurred* just after 4pm when we crossed a river and in the process passed from Spain to France.  Twenty minutes later we arrived at our campsite where I booked in without a single word of English being spoken. After six weeks in a country where I can’t understand a word of what is being said, it was a pleasing moment!

With tonight being our first campsite in over 2 weeks, the top priority (after plugging everything in to charge) was to sample the showers. We do (occasionally) shower when not on campsites, but Colin’s hot water tank only holds 10 litres, and both Mick and I can manage to get a shower each out of a single tank, so being able to stand under powerful running water for a few minutes was a positive joy.  

(*About 20km before we crossed the border we dived into a fuel station to top Colin up, because 88.9c/litre is likely 12c/litre cheaper than we’ll find fuel on our drive through France. A few minutes later we passed a station selling it at 81.9c/litre. Hey ho.)

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