Thursday, 24 November 2016

Thursday 24 November – Port-Vendres

Where’s Colin? He’s at the Municipal Aire at Port-Vendres, which the signage indicates is €6 per night at this time of year, not the €10 we expected. We won’t know for sure though until someone arrives to collect our money.

Yesterday afternoon’s rain may not have materialised, but the overnight thunderstorm certainly did and it was impressive enough to have us both sitting up in bed, watching it out of the window. There was no chance of sleep anyway, not with monsoonal rain battering Colin’s roof and the intensity of the flashes and bangs. It didn’t last awfully long, and this morning dawned clear and bright.

After a jogette along the canal and back, splashing through big puddles on the tow path, followed by breakfast and showers, we were soon packing away, ready to move further south. First, however, we needed to spend €2 to gain entry to the toilet emptying point. Or not, as a chap had just filled up his water bottles, and left with 1 minute 48 seconds remaining on his 10 minute slot.

Well, what an awful design of service point that is! In a small cupboard there sits a toilet emptying point (fitted in such a way that it’s really awkward to empty your cassette cleanly), then immediately above it a petrol pump style dispensing hose/nozzle for drinking water. If the nozzle should fall out of its holster (and I struggled to get it to stay there) then it falls down into the toilet emptying point. It was only because a man had just finished filling his bottles that I adjudged that the hoze had just had a good enough rinse to use it, although even then I did deploy some bleach around the nozzle itself. By the time I’d done that I was down to a few seconds remaining on the clock and only managed to fill half a bottle. I wasn’t sorry. There are better places to get water. (There’s a flaw at the Aire we’re at now too; you need a token from the money-collector to obtain water, and the money-collector doesn’t come around until the morning).

Anyways, after some very thorough hand washing, we were off, and just about lunch time we arrived at Port-Vendres, having driven through the centre of Perpignan (not a painful experience) and having marvelled at driving along with the Mediterreanean on one side of us, bright warm sunshine directly ahead, and snow-topped hills to our right.

Port-Vendres was chosen as our next stop, rather than any one of a number of options along this stretch of coast, on the basis that I have on my phone IGN 1:25k mapping for the Pyrenees, which covers this area, and I saw that there were multiple walking options right from the Aire. We were impressed with our choice even on the drive in, as the view from the approach road down showed us an attractive bay surrounded by lumpy bits. After a week or so in flat lands, some contour lines are welcome.

I had intended to take Mick on a 10km circuit this afternoon to explore some of those contour lines, as well as a bit of coast, but with the days being as short as they now are (light about 0730, dark around 1730) and with the weather forecast telling me that tomorrow is due to be fine, we opted to postpone the longer outing and to simply walk into town instead.

That took us past the large port…

… and to the harbour, from where a walk up to the fort we could see on a nearby hill (in fact, it’s visible in the photo above) seemed like as good a place to go as any.
The walk up through the town gave us good views back across the town to the port, and of the clouds bubbling up out to sea:

I knew nothing about the fort as we approached, and still don’t as there were no information signs other than one giving opening hours. The latter didn’t seem overly accurate as to all appearances the place was shut up:

As much as the fort was a focal point up there, we were also rather taken with the vista to the east, looking down on Collioure…

…, and a quick look at the map suggested that if we dropped down to its attractive harbour...

... then we could pick up another path to form a circuit to take us back to Port Vendres. So, that’s what we did, with the verdict that it was a good choice, particularly on such a lovely (and warm!) blue-skied day.

Tomorrow we will go and explore in the other direction.

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