Orf to Find The Sun 2008
Peter and Family Search for The Sun
How time flies, is it really 10 months
since I wrote “ORF TO FIND THE SUN”. Its now time to pack
the old kit bag and start on the adventure to be known as “ORF
TO FIND THE SUN 2008”
The weather so far this year has not been to good here in blighty,
so once again we need to cross the channel and head as far south as
we can get, but with the low pound/euro rate and the high cost of
fuel it may not be as far as we would like, but time will tell.
Tuesday 15th July is the date set to depart, we are booked on the
20:50 Euro tunnel, so leaving home at 6pm for the hours drive down
to Folkestone, stopping at Ashford Tesco’s for last minute fresh
food and a bite to eat, arriving in plenty of time to catch the train.
Once in France its then the long drive down to camping La Blanchie,
Suris where the van is stored, stopping on the way for a couple of
hours sleep, breakfast and lunch, arriving during Wednesday afternoon.
Keith has plugged the electric in, and turned the fridge on. We leave
Thursday lunchtime to take the van to the Hobby dealer in Angouleme,
where it is booked in for a service. Staying overnight in a tourist
hotel gives us a chance to visit Angouleme centre ville. The magnificent
Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is a beautiful old castle surrounded by
Angouleme Hotel de Ville
We also have a walk round the the very popular old town which is a
magnet for all around to come and pass away the hours as dusk begins
Rockers outside the Blues Rock Café, Angouleme
After a good nights sleep, and a hearty breakfast(rock hard French
stick and stale croissant), we have a few hours to spare and decide
to go to the plan d’eau “Grand Prairie” for an hour.
It’s a boating lake with part cordoned off for swimming and
makes for a nice setting for a picnic. Another good point with France
is that most parking is free, other than the busy city centres.
Plan d’eau “grand Prairie” Angouleme
It is then time to go and collect the van before lunch, and then the
two hour trundle down to Chris’s place (camping La Motte).
We arrive at La Motte about 2pm, where Chris made us feel really welcome,
It was also nice to meet Trudi(Wombling 2006), who was also there.
“leave the van there and come and have a cup of tea,”
didn’t need asking twice. Chris says to treat his house as ours,
and just come and go as we please. The best welcome we have had on
any campsite anywhere. Unfortunately we will only be staying two nights,
just to sort the van out before heading off to Spain. Chris has to
put up a tipi(pronuc. Teepee) for some youngsters on a horse riding
week at the local equestrian centre. On the third time of trying the
sky isn’t the only thing that’s blue, but after putting
a feather in his hat he gets the knack.
HOW!!! Is the way to do it
It’s a nice warm friendly campsite where anyone would soon settle
in, a nice touch was the shower gel in the showers, which were spotless.
Lake at La Motte
Pitch at La Motte
Chris tells us of a lake at Brossac, with a man made beach which we
decide to take a picnic to on Saturday. Fortunately there were plenty
of trees to sit under in the shade as it was approaching 30deg.
Lake at Brossac
We also had a stroll round the old, clean, town, and took a few snaps.
and high st. Where are all the people in rural France?
Typical French cottage adorned with flowers.
Sunday 20th July arrives and it is time to move on, as there are more
places to go, people to see, and things to do, but I’m sure
we will return in the not too distant future. We have a 260 mile drive
in front of us as we pull out the gate just before 10am, but it is
mainly dual carriageway and motorway. As we head south towards Bordeaux
white fluffy clouds soon appear, and the further south we go, the
more cloudy it gets. As we pass Biarritz it starts to drizzle, and
continues until after we cross the border and head for San Sebastian,
where we turn left and head upwards into the foothills of the Pyrenees
towards Pamplona. During the ascent, we are in the clouds and it becomes
very misty, bit of a novelty using fog lights in Spain during summer.
As we descend the clouds disperse and it looks a lot brighter. Just
past Pamplona we come to Mendigorria, and camping Errota-El Molino,
about 5pm, where we plan to spend 3 nights, nothing is booked. Picture
the scene, we drive down the single track road towards the campsite,
where there are cars parked everywhere. The caravan in front that
has just arrived can’t enter due to the parked cars. There is
a coach just arrived which is shedding its load of 40 teenagers. I’m
now blocking the entrance, and there is a car and caravan trying to
get out. Barbara turns to me and says “we’re not stopping
here,” but what could I do, I couldn’t go forward, and
I couldn’t go back, the receptionist was more interested in
chatting on the phone, than dealing with the ever increasing queue
of people, utter chaos, but this is Spain!!!
Camping El Molino, Mendigorria, Navarra, Spain.
Once we got booked in and allocated a pitch, Pedro gets on his bike
to show us to our pitch, but alas the Spanish weekenders haven’t
left yet so we just go on the next one. First impressions were good
as it was a lush green, and fairly large pitches (for Spain). The
site looks reasonably full, but by 8pm all the weekenders had gone,
and there appears to be acres of space.
Pitches at El Molino
The site is split into three distinct areas, the touring field, the
mobile home area and the Spanish shanty town.
Spanish shanty town at El Molino
The site is on the banks of a river, and has a park like area with
picnic tables under the trees and makes for a pleasant stroll round
in the evening, going up to the bar overlooking the river and crazy
golf course. There is also a ducking stool for errant campers.
There is another bar and small shop, and also a swimming pool with
the village of Mendigorria, within walking distance, behind it.
El Molino pool with village behind
The one toilet block was kept clean. We were very impressed with the
site, and it must be amongst the top sites we have been to in Spain.
But if you want to go don’t arrive at a weekend, or during the
bull running fiesta in Pamplona.
Things to do in the area:-
With only 3 nights/2days we do not have long for a good look around,
but do our best. There are some nice drives to be had round the country
lanes, and old hilltop villages. In this hilly terrain the view changes
with every twist in the road. There does not seem to be much of any
interest, unless you have a day out to Pamplona with its museums and
other tourist attractions (we didn’t). 30 miles away is the
town of Olite with its fairytale castle, which we visited in “ORF
TO FIND THE SUN” last year. The best we could come up with was
the roman bridge “Puente de Reina” in the village of the
Puente de Reina
It is where two roads meet on the pilgrims route from France to Santiago
de Compostela. The old village made for an interesting stroll round
in the coolness of the evening sun, with its churches and narrow streets.
Church and narrow street in Puente de Reina
During our stay here there was a constant, strong, unpleasant wind,
although we were assured this wasn’t normal, else you could
spend a few days just relaxing on the site with all it had to offer.
Wed 23rd July arrives and its time to hitch up and move off, today
we have 300 miles to travel on mainly autopista’s, and autovia’s
via Zaragoza and Teruel and down to the Mediterranean at Moncofa,
30 miles north of Valencia. A word of warning here, we went for nearly
200 miles without seeing a garage or rest area, without turning off
the road. We did pull off the main road to find a picnic area to have
our lunch at.
Ideal spot for picnic lunch
After leaving at 9am we did well to arrive at camping Mon-Mar about
4:30, for our 8 night stay that is the only site pre-booked due to
our daughter flying out to join us for 10 days.
Camping Mon-Mar, Moncofa, Valencia.
The site has about 200 pitches (small by comparison to some Spanish
sites), they are all marked by trees, and a bit on the small side.
It has a small shop where you can order bread for “manana”,
a bar doing cheap “platos combinados”, three small, clean,
toilet blocks and a nice pool. The site itself looks clean and tidy
with tarmaced roads and gravel pitches. There is also a sink between
every two pitches. They have rules and regulations which are strictly
enforced, such as no parking on the roadways, and silence after midnight.
It is about 200 yards from the shingle beach, and a mile walk along
the prom to the village centre.
Pitch at camping Mon-Mar
Pool with bar on left and toilet block on right
What to do in the area:-
Saturday is market day, time for the women to spend hours looking
at bags and dresses.
Hustle and bustle of the Saturday market
Being a coastal site the main thing in the area are the beaches, although
Moncofa is sand/shingle/pebbles, there are some lovely sandy beaches
in the vicinity.
Beach at Moncofa
Beach at Benicassim
Beach at Castellon
Beach at Chilches (our favourite)
Moncofa is about 30 miles north of Valencia, where our daughter flies
into for 10 nights, is well worth a visit. What we usually do is drive
down to Sagunto and then catch the train in to the city centre. We
went in on Sun 27th July, the day they were having “The battle
of flowers”, a procession of about 60 horse drawn floats.
Float in “The battle of flowers”
One of Valencia’s plaza’s
Thur 31st July, its time to move on again, this time the short 50
mile drive inland to camping Villa de Viver in the Alto Palancia region
Camping Villa de Viver, I wrote a lot about this site in “ORF
TO FIND THE SUN” last year, which I will not repeat here so
if interested please see TOPIC…..http://www.caravanning4u.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6856
But here are a couple of pictures
Pitch at Villa de Viver
Pool at Villa de Viver
Here we met up with Terry & Shirley (FM02MZO), who we saw at Twinlakes
last year. I was pleased to hear they were enjoying themselves as
they were generally following in the footsteps of our travels last
Things to do in the area:- There are lots of villages in the area
which all have their fiestas in July/August, and you never know what
you might come across. Whilst we were there Viver had its crowning
of their Queen.
Crowning of the 2008 Queen of Viver
After the ceremony, it was time for the fireworks, which didn’t
start till 01:15, no good if you want to be in bed by ten.
Fireworks in the middle of the night
There is some nice scenery in the area, rivers, gorges, waterfalls,
all which make for pleasant drives in all directions. We had a day
out to Montenejos, a spa town with swimming in the river.
Swimming in the river at Montenejos
Picturesque village on bank of the dammed lake
Old walled village of Mora de Rubelios
I hope this has given you a taste of the area, and why it is one of
our favourite places in Spain.
Mon 4th Aug, and its time to take our daughter down to Valencia, for
her flight home.
She’s leaving, on a jet plane
Don’t know when we’ll see her again
Wed 6th Aug, its time to move on again. Today we intend making the
250 mile drive south to the thermal spa town of Fortuna, and an English
owned campsite that we found in the caravan clubs’ Touring Europe
Vol 1. After doing about 200 miles by 2pm, we decided to pull into
a service area for a bit of lunch. This is where our problems began,
as we were robbed before we had even got out of the car. I won’t
go into it now, but you can read about the incident in Topic……http://www.caravanning4u.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11317………..
We decided to stick to our plans, and carried on to Fortuna but couldn’t
find the campsite. By this time we were feeling pretty low and just
wanted to go home. We didn’t know what to do, we felt that in
the circumstances we would prefer a predominately English site. The
only one we knew of in the area was Florantilles at Torrevieja, but
knew it was only bookable through the Caravan Club as they do not
accept passing trade. We rang the Caravan club at 4:55 UK time and
fortunately were able to book 7 nights, starting immediately. This
was not in our original plans, and having the feeling of insecurity
we hardly left the site for the whole 7 days.
Camping Florantilles, Torrevieja
Its quite a nice site that is mainly used for long term winter stays
by Brits with permanently pitched vans, and is fairly deserted during
the summer months. It has a bar/café, a shop, tennis court,
and pool. The pitches are all fully serviced, and on the large size
for Spain. English is the language of the site, with quiz nights,
bingo and raffles, and also fitness sessions and Spanish lessons.
A few pictures of the site:-
Pitches at Florantilles
Pool at Floantilles
Just to show banana’s don’t grow in Tesco’s
Wed 13th Aug, we had originally planned on going further south to
Mojacar, but due to being robbed we just wanted to get to an area
we knew well. We amended our plans to travel the 180 miles back to
Moncofa, and camping Mon-Mar. We made sure the car was full of diesel,
and we made sandwiches and put them and drinks in the car. We would
not be stopping for anything on this journey. We made it in record
time. We were now beginning to feel a bit more relaxed back in an
area where we have been many times before. Whilst on this second visit,
this year, we found a beach that we haven’t been to before at
Beach at Burriana
I spy with my little eye !!!
We stay for six nights, we would have liked to stay longer but we
wanted to avoid arriving at sites at the weekend.
Tue 19th Aug. Today we make the 140 mile drive up the A23 to Teruel,
then on national roads to Albaracin. Its an old walled town in the
hills that people have told us about and decided it was worth a visit.
There are not many campsites in the area and settled on camping Cuidad
de Albaracin, - was this a mistake! We only want to stay 2 nights.
At reception they tell us to go on any empty pitch, if you can find
Camping Cuidad de Albaracin is a smallish site with pitches to match.
It has a bar/restaurant, the toilet block was adequate and kept clean
but there was no pool. The site was well lit, in fact one of the brightest
we’ve been to. The pitches were not much more than 10ft wide,
we were glad we had a motor mover, no chance of putting an awning
up here. Everyone seemed to be on top of each other, it might be OK
out of the high season but not ideal in July/August. It will not be
high on our list to re-visit. There were some nice views to be had
from the back of our pitch though.
Pitches at Cuidad de Albaracin
View of the walled town from our pitch
Things to do in the area:- As a hilly area the main thing is the hill
villages and the scenery. We had a pleasant days drive out around
the hills and a look at some of the villages, as well as some unusual
rock colours and formations.
One of the pretty villages
Meandering mountain stream
Unusual rock formations
Thur 21st Aug. It was a nice picturesque area, but we weren’t
sorry to be leaving the site after just two nights, as today we head
north to the Spanish Pyrenees. Its mainly on the fast A23 to Zaragoza,
and Huesca then on to Sabinanigo. On the way we do go on the national
roads to pass through Daroca, where you can see hams at the roadside
curing in the sunshine.
Hams curing in the sun at Daroca
At Sabinanigo, we book into camping Valle de Tena ideally situated
just off the main road.
Camping Valle de Tena:- Is a gently sloping, grassed site with tarmac
roads. It is a clean/tidy looking site with 75% permanently pitched
tourers/chalets. The permanently sited tourers were not the unsightly
jumble that you get on some Spanish sites. It has a bar/restaurant,
shop, TV/games room, swimming pool and, as an added bonus, mountain
views on three sides. It also had free wifi, I could get it on the
pitch but not in the van, although they told me that I would only
be able to access it in the TV room.
Pitches at Valle de Tena
Sunset at Valle de Tena
Things to do in the area:- as its in the Pyrenees the main thing is
the sightseeing. We like to go down the small lanes to see things
off the beaten track, although we had no surprises here. A word of
warning here, there are a lot of campsites in the area, but some of
the access roads are twisty and hilly, so choose wisely. The stone
built villages are kept remarkably clean, and are nice for stroll
round, and a drink in the evening Here’s a few shots to give
you an idea.
The highlight of our stay here was to be a 30 mile drive into France,
over the pass of Col de Portalet, to go on “Le petit train Artouste”,
what a disaster. As I understand it, it is the highest public railway
in Europe at 6000ft. You go up to it in a cable car, then take the
50 minute narrow gauge journey to the dammed lake at Artouste. We
arrived at the bottom in bright sunshine, although it was a bit chilly
due to the altitude. We each bought our €21 ticket. We had an
uneventful journey up in the cable car, but whilst waiting for the
train it started to cloud over. We boarded the train and set off on
the journey of unforgettable scenery, (or so it should be). But what
did we see? We saw the clouds, it was cold, it was damp, it was bloody
miserable. At the far end we had an hour to explore while waiting
for the return journey. We had a cup of coffee, and huddled together
to keep warm, all the time the cloud was getting thicker, and couldn’t
see a thing. The return journey seemed worse as we were cold to begin
with, and just wanted to get to the other end. Once we got back to
the car we put the heater on and soon thawed out. We would love to
make the journey again, as the scenery must be incredible, but only
on a very clear day.
We had planned to stay for 4 nights, but as the weather was so good
we decided to stay for 6. Having looked on the internet at the weather,
we decided to go to the coast for our last few days, instead of staying
Wed 27th Aug and back on the road, today we head for France and have
to get over (or through) the Pyrenees. We decide to cross at Col de
Somport, this involves going through the 6 mile tunnel de somport.
It is an easy drive but have to wait for 15mins to go through the
We have decided to go to camping Eurosol at St Girons Plage, midway
between Bordeaux and Biarritz. We arrive about 3pm and book in and
are told to choose any empty pitch, as its getting near the end of
the season there are quite a few.
Waiting to go through 6 mile tunnel de somport
Last view of Spain for this year
Camping Eurosol:- is a large commercial site with fair size pitches.
It has bar/restaurant, take away, cycle hire, shop, newsagent, childrens
club, mini golf and 3 pools. There are 4/5 mixed toilet blocks, which
are kept clean with ample hot water. It is also only 700 metre’s
from the sand beach and the atlantic rollers.
Pitches at Eurosol
One of the pools
Another of the pools
Things to do in the area:- There is not a lot to do in the local area
unless you are into surfboarding or cycling. The lifeguards at the
beach take their job very seriously, and do not take their eyes off
the people in the sea, although the area for swimming is very restricted
due to the power of the waves.
Most just stand and watch, swimming permitted between blue flags only
Nice sunset over the atlantic
There are some lakes in the area, with man made beaches which are
a safer bet, especially for the children.
Lac de Leon
One evening we went up to the small town of Mimizan, which had some
sort of festivities going on, we saw a childrens stilt race
Pink bus at Mimizan
Had one more trip to the beach, to have our last view of the sea,
Final PEAR for this year
Sunday 31st Aug, and its back on the road, to camping La Blanchie
where it all started. We have three nights there to clean the van
and get it ready for its winter lay up. Our last day on the Wednesday,
it rains all day, virtually the first rain we’ve seen since
the 15th July. Then it’s the 450 mile drive up to Calais, eurotunnel
crossing, and get home to Chatham by midnight Thursday 4th Sept.
A total distance of 4300 miles, and £630 worth of diesel.
If anyone has any questions, or would like more info or pictures on
sites visited, just ask.
Next year there will be another trip in search of ……………………………