Some of the best village ramparts in France
We are on the Costa Brava. Well actually I am not sure about that as the borders of the costas seem a bit vague. I think the Costa Brava strictly is the rocky bit from the French border to Lloret de Mar. We are in Pineda de Mar between Callela and Malgrat de Mar on the straight sandy beach that runs from Lloret to Barcelona and beyond – nothing “brava” about this at all.
It was quite a cold night at Cabanes last night – the temperature was 2.8C when I got up at 8am! Defintely a porridge morning. We were on hookup so could have the mains electric fire on and that warmed us up. It was still only just over 3C as I was filling the fresh water and emptying the grey water ready for us to leave around 9:30. The sun was shining brightly and that made us feel warmer and as we drove south down the main road the sun through the windscreen was really quite hot.
Our first job today was to get LPG. We tried to get some the day we arrived in Spain but the garage we went to had closed their LPG pumps. I have identified two LPG stations for today and programmed them in to the satnav. It turned out the first one I chose was on a motorway service area on a toll motorway and there was some confusion south of Figueres where the sat nav wanted me to go on the Autopista and I was too mean to do so as I thought it was just taking me that way for speed. Anyway in the end we removed that stop from the itinerary and headed for my back up LPG station near Girona. Just as we approached Girona there were all these signs about the new motorway that had just opened and it was very smooth and nice. It also soon became clear that this was so new the satnav had never heard of it! There we were bowling down the new motorway and we could see the N11 that we should have been on just to our right. Then came the inevitable peage sign. EEK they are going to want some money. We slowed right down and crept up to the booths trying to see what options there were – none. We resigned ourselves to a short toll road hop – it can’t be that expensive can it? As we rolled in to a toll booth behind another Dutch motorhome it became clear he was panicking even more than we were. He had failed to make the gate open and was trying to reverse out of the booth – in to us. I backed up as much as I could but I can’t see properly behind me and do not want to go too far. Dutchman keeps on coming and weaves around a bit too. I stand on my newly repaired horn and Dutchman stops inches from us!! That allows me to pull around him and enter the toll booth myself. I glanced across as we went past and he did look rather stressed so I resisted the temptation to wave and shout and wave my arms in a manner that might suggest that he was deficient in certain areas! Last I saw of him as I went through the booth was that he was actually turning around – yes on a motorway. I suspect he might have some explaining to do soon.
Anyway all we had to do in that toll booth was take a ticket. Clearly we would have to present that ticket and pay the toll when we left the motorway. That opportunity came just 6 miles later when we did turn off on a minor road for our chosen LPG station. I duly presented my ticket at the automated toll booth and then tried to give it my credit card. However the card slot remained closed and the gate opened – I am guessing that our trip on the toll road was so short it was not charged for! Very confusing and all in Spanish which I do not speak or understand at all.
We found our LPG station OK and they had LPG at the right price. However that is where it started to go wrong again. The LPG pump had hoses on both sides but the space to the right of the pump was too tight to squeeze Bertie through safely so I had to go to the left of the pump and that meant I was filling Bertie on the wrong side. The hose was just long enough so that was OK but it still meant I was working the pump without being able to see the connection. Then we had to work out which adapter to use. I have never filled up LPG in Spain before and the gun looked very different from both the French ones and the UK ones. I got my little pouch of adapters out and checked them against the gun and found one that looked right. I duly screwed that tightly in to the end of filling point and attached the gun. It seemed to make a nice firm connection. Tick that off. Then around Bertie to the pump to read the instructions. This pump only had very basic diagrams and they seemed to suggest I was OK. However this pump did not look at all like any LPG I had used before – it two big buttons a red one on the front and a green one on the end. All LPG pumps have a big button that you have to keep pressed to make the pump work. Anyway I pressed this button and then I pressed that button and then I pressed both buttons. Still no LPG. The very nice chap eventually came out of the kiosk and showed me which button to press. It seems I had pressed the emergency stop button (the red one on the front) when I should have just pressed the green one hidden around the side. Once all that was sorted out we filled up with 20 litres of LPG at the princely cost of 15 Euros and I toddled in and presented my card to the very nice man and tried to apologise for getting it so wrong!
Back on the road we turned out of the garage and continued on our way – well we thought we did but satnav had actually brought us out of our way to get to this garage and actually we should have retraced our steps back to the N11. Much debate as we headed in to the little town of Celva whether we should continue in this direction and let the sat nav get us back on course or whether we should turn around as she was insisting. In the end I gave in to the sat nav and took her suggestion of turning right up a side street and then right again. It was a tight squeeze but we made it and after a few minutes exploring a small Spanish town we were back on the right road. It is good job Bertie is a placid, clam, laid back, unflappable van as we do ask some pretty demanding things of him from time to time!
So there we were back on the N11 and heading south and starting to think that perhaps we could do with a break and a coffee stop. In France that is not a problem as every few kms there is a rest area (aire de repos) complete with picnic tables and some times a nice view too. So far we have not seen many of these in Spain. It seems that if you want to pull off a main road then you need a filling station and there is usually some parking space at the back. We found just such a gas station on a cut off bit of old road on the edge of the town of Tordera. It was quiet and there was a bit of a view. We were barely 15 miles from our destination but we had had so much excitement in the last 30 miles we needed a break!
After coffee it was an easy run down to the coast and in to our campsite. We had chosen this site as it is the only one on this stretch of coast that is open all year. The reception was good and the chap spoke good English. We presented our documents and he gave us a map of the site with the free pitches marked in highlighter. We could choose whichever we fancied and then go back and let him know. I have just realised that I have rattled on for 1400 words and also it is time I stopped this and got tea for us. I will fill you in on our first Spanish campsite tomorrow as we plan to stay for a couple of nights at least.