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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Barcelona

Made the journey from Narbonne to the outskirts of Barcelona in good time with no mishaps :) Stayed on a double pitch on a site http://www.campingbarcelona.com/alojaminetos_parcela_doble.asp?idlengua=3 in Mataro which is about as close as you can get. We could see the sea albeit over a main road, railway line and the camp's petting zoo! The mosquitoes had followed us into Spain and they had brought swarms of flies as backup!! Despite this we made use of the camp's shuttle service most days to travel in to Mataro whilst we waited for our visitors to arrive. We were able to cycle to the local beaches easily and the sea was warm enough to have a dip or two. Mr H adopted his favoured pose of horizontal more than once in the Mediterranean.


Our family flew in as planned and stayed in a bungalow on the site, so lovely to see my daughter and two sisters again and share the big B experience with them. Having visited Barcelona previously with Mr H we had a manic sight-seeing day for Janette, Kathryn, Mandy and Rosy (number three sister). For those who have not experienced Barcelona it is a massive city of many different districts. We found the best way to see it all in a short time is to hop on and off the tourist buses and just marvel at the sights. There is something of interest around every corner. Mr H approached the planning and implementation of the see-all-requested-sights-in-a-day expedition with his usual non-flappable cool-dudeness! We had the most enjoyable and exhausting day, we may well be the only tourist group of the day that literally ran through the famous La Rambla to catch the next designated tourist bus! Thank you honey, you allowed me to just enjoy being with the most important people in my life for four magic days X


The architecture is beautiful around both the old and new city areas.


The most famous unfinished cathedral ever! just stunning and rather big!


A request from Kathryn to visit Gaudi Park was granted and never disappoints. He was a gifted man who left us the most amazing and bizarre tiled creations, famous world wide and the park provided a magnificent view of Barcelona from the roof top plaza.


These are just a few of my favourite sights in Barcelona, I took hundreds of photos and will not bore anyone with them.






 
Once again Barcelona has provided me with memories to treasure, I will be back again for more. xxx



Sunday, 21 October 2012

Narbonne, France

After a fabulous time in Port Grimaud we decided to make some progress toward Spain were we are booked in for the winter. This site http://www.campinglanautique.com/index.php?lang=en was a convenient place to stop for a few days. It was right on L'etang De Gages and close to Narbonne.


The access to the site was OK and as we crawled along to our allocated pitch a young boy out on his bike followed us dangerously close at times. He  appeared unconcerned about my polite warnings to stay clear of the RV and trailer (all given while I'm hanging out the window to check his position yet again) and carried on following us to our pitch.  When we got out of the RV to park up he greeted us with the following statement "all the mozzies are around here, my sister was bitten 73 times you know" (said he'd counted them!). Despite his message of doom we smiled and set up camp anyway while Rosie and Big Nige did the same on the next pitch. I have become painfully aware throughout our travels that many big pitches are next to the black (toilet ) and grey (sink ) waste disposal facilities on camp sites. As we unloaded the trailer and set up camp our first encounter with the neighbouring dump ( hidden from our view by a tall hedge) unfolded. A motorhome drove up, stopped to stare at us and our RV a while, gave us a jolly wave and proceeded to unload what smelled like a years worth of rotting sewage! All just 2 feet away. Please note that this dump also housed the local snake population, the off-cast skins everywhere were a big clue that they were present and growing!! (wise kid on a bike didn't know or want us to know about that one eh!).

Our pitch had it's own toilet and shower brick hut that required chemical warfare before attempting to strip off and using the dam thing! Rosie and I blitzed them, resulting in the phrase "CLEAR I think!" The water pressure was so weak but at least we could get clean.... ish.

Supporting the resident mossie population were these buggers,



they were jet black, big and noisy, but non-biters and we came to love them! Due to a combination of the proximity of the dump, increasing number of cast-off snakeskins and Mr H and Big Nige being bitten to death by mosquitoes on these pitches we moved. Our next pitches were more level with no nearby dump but once again Rosie and I had to scrub and sterilize our facilities!

Despite our few niggles we found the surrounding area to be very flat for cycling, picturesque, clean and mozzie free (always a bonus). We happily explored the area both on cycle and scooter with a long canal


that reached the sea eventually

 
and Grisson was just lovely;

 
although the locals were armed to the hilt


As luck would have it the mossies followed us to our new pitch so following an emergency planning meeting with Rosie and Big Nige we decided to move on to Barcelona a little earlier were we had arranged to meet up with family.







Sunday, 7 October 2012

Port Grimaud, France

We arrived at http://www.holiday-marina.com/index.php?lg=en&PHPSESSID=t87vrie4a06bhandt37ljdaev7 a site on the  fabulous French Riviera. As advised we entered this site through the rear gates 'reserved for the big boys' and as usual it was extremely tight access. Mr H eventually managed to tuck the bus onto a corner pitch after a crystal maze-type challenge! He looks so impressive in the driving seat, wearing his Ray Bans, sucking on a selection of boiled sweets whilst calculating and monitoring the width, height and length of the bus and trailer! So proud!!! We scared a sun-bathing Brit on our approach who spilled her wine as she jumped out of her seat convinced the bus was about to go through her windbreak! I reassured her we had a full quarter of an inch to play with and not to worry. The next challenge was a row of  well established trees on both sides of the barely RV-wide path to the pitch.  How Mr H drove through without taking out both the wing mirrors, a few parked cars and the many overhanging branches I will never know, couldn't even look half the time! 
We established base camp H in the sunshine with the usual sweating, swearing, trailer-shifting and the relief to be here in one piece.


We were impressed by the site facilities here, each pitch has its own neat chalet with a toilet, shower, and built-in sink/vanity unit. The smaller pitches had an outside washing up sink with a fridge in the wall but we splashed out and paid for a larger pitch with room for our RV and trailer with a separate fully-equipped holiday chalet and a paved patio (just loved the bright blue grass parasol once I had extracted the breeding snails and spiders from it!). So we had another kitchen/diner, bathroom and double bedroom during our stay, it was like organising and cleaning two houses but we enjoyed the space. We spent days trying to find where we had put things between the two. All of which provided many opportunities for our endless f*****g about! On the site we enjoyed the sun, a lovely marina, new heated outdoor swimming pool and the new bar and restaurant. Close by we found the sparkling sea, sandy coves, shops-a-plenty and lots of cycle paths! Oh yes this is more like it, so much to see and explore here although.......
 
It does rain occasionally!

The campsite is just outside Port Grimaud which was built in the 1960's in a Venetian style and is known as little Venice. We visited the port and its very good food market regularly to stock up and have the odd coffee and beer in the sunshine.
 




 
We visited the stunning Verdon Gorge in style, Mr H on his new scooter and I was a passenger on a Honda Goldwing driven by Julien our new-found Belgian friend.
 
 
He is a well-travelled gent and we shared many laughs during our trips out and about. "Today we will take a tour" was his favourite phrase!! He showed us the Gorge and it's breathtaking sights, then persuaded a chef to stay open for our late lunch overlooking a mountain lake. He and his wife Liliane took us out to an excellent Vietnamese restaurant for his birthday, introduced us to ruby beer (wonderful!), told us many funny tales and jokes and he cooked mussels for Mr H and soup for me! Julien we thank and salute you.

Mr H hanging about in the gorge





Just outside Port Grimaud are a number of older villages including Grimaud and Gassin



 

We took our lives into our hands whilst crossing the busy coast road each day, but once across there were dedicated cycle paths to St Maxime and St Tropez. Sometimes we travelled in by scooter but when Mr H started weaving through the queues of cars into St Tropez I screamed like a girl!!
 






Shortly after arriving it was great to catch up with Chris and Chris from the ARV rally who were down for a holiday in their Winnie and as we were walking around the local hypermarket one day we were accosted by Mark and Elaine our friends from Marjal who were on a beach site just up the road, what a coincidence!! Fabulous to see them all again for eats, drinks and catch up and to cap it all, after three weeks, we were joined by Big Nige, Rosie Whizz and family who had braved wind and rain to travel through France.

Start of the big race

Big Nige practising his moves!

Oscar

Siouxsie
Towards the end of our stay was the St tropez Regatta when all the proper yachts arrive for a week's f**king about on the sea :)




 
So we travelled across on the ferry to see the yachts and visited St Tropez Citadel with spectaclear views across the bay.





Ah well, time to think about moving on.