Last ‘Winter’ I gave a breakdown of our travel expenditure at the end of the trip. I thought this time that it may be useful to show what our allocated budgets are for the whole trip right at the outset. Everyone has their own way of ‘fulltiming’ so individual budgets will undoubtedly vary, this is just ours and we have allocated ourselves the same Daily, Weekly and Monthly allowances as the previous year. We have purchased all our Euro in advance and so the rate we are working to is £1 = €1.216
Our trip duration from the day we dock in Northern Spain to the day we depart is a total of 164 days, roughly 23 weeks.
Aires/Campsites £1,640 which is £10 per night (€12)
Personal Expenses £2,460 which is £15 per day (€18)
Groceries £1,840 which is £80 per week (€97)
Laundry £230 which is £10 per week (€12)
Diesel £1,500 which is £250 per month (€304) Note: This is based on anticipated increase on mileage due to Morocco trip
LPG £240 which is £40 per month (€48)
Tolls (Roads, Tunnels, Bridges) £100 total for trip (€121)
So, let the adventures commence !!
Santander – Cabarceno (16 miles)
We had used this ferry route from the UK to Northern Spain on a number of occasions over the years so we settled into the relaxed routine straight away. We had plenty of time to enjoy the trip as it was a Twenty-three hour crossing but once we had located our cabin and ‘ditched’ our overnight bags we needed to familiarise ourselves with our position on the ship and the stairways and corridors that led us to the main areas. We were sailing to our ‘Winter’ travelling grounds a month earlier than last year and it was quite noticeable how quiet the ship was, in respect of the lack of people !! There was plenty of seating available in ‘all’ of the public areas and the most noticeable difference was the lack of noise from loud conversations. The sun was still shining, it was extremely warm and with only a slight sea breeze it made it pleasant to walk around outside on the decks. There was only a light swell and the ship moved calmly and effortlessly through the water.
After taking an early Dinner in the restaurant we returned to our twin bed cabin, it was only then that I noticed how quiet it was, on previous journeys the drumming and vibration of the propeller shafts were constant, however, on this occasion there were no such intrusive noises or vibrations. I have to admit that it took me a short while to work out why, on this journey we were eight decks up but more significantly our cabin was positioned at the ‘sharp’ end, the front !! We both slept really well without those intrusive noises and with a calm sea there was no ‘pitching’ or ‘rolling’ and even without the presence of an alarm clock we awoke at just after 07:00am. Unlike hotel rooms these cabins did not afford the luxury of tea & coffee-making facilities and we hadn’t had the forethought to bring our own travel kettle and ‘makings’ on board with us, although we did remember to bring the travel plug adapters this time as all the on-board sockets are of the round ‘two-pin’ variety and so we could ensure that before we disembarked our iPhones, iPads and Kindles would be fully charged. It would have been nice to have just laid in bed looking out of our large window onto the seascape outside with a hot mug of coffee and gazing upon the ships on the horizon, but it was not to be, so we got ourselves washed and dressed and made our way to the restaurant for a leisurely breakfast of Fruit Juice, Cereal, full ‘English’, Croissants, Bread Rolls with honey & assorted jams and Coffee, yes all very civilised !!
The rest of the day we just idled away either walking around the decks or sitting in one of the many lounge areas reading. In general conversation earlier on in the morning I had commented on the fact that on all of our crossings we had seen no marine life, apart from a couple of dolphins on our first crossing many years ago, but even then it was at night, I had only caught a glimpse of them so it wasn’t one of those ‘Wow’ moments. Today, I had been reading a magazine but got bored and said to Shazza that I was going to take a stroll around the decks again, at that moment as we both looked out of the large windows we saw the first jet of water, no my eyes were deceiving me, the sea was so calm there were no waves so no reason for the water to rise so high. Then we saw it again and as we stared in the direction of this strange sight we saw them, three whales had risen to the surface, some distance away from the ship and passing in the opposite direction, I knew I should have brought my ‘Canon’ camera on board, with its high quality zoom I could have had some magnificent photo’s, another of those ‘not to be’ moments.
We sailed slowly into Santander harbour, it was a hot almost cloudless evening but there were lots of people out on the water in craft of varying sizes, motorised and non-motorised, some sailed close by and shouted up and waved as we passed majestically by. We went down to the garage deck and was sat inside ‘Big Momma’ ready to go at 5.15pm, but we just sat and waited, and waited until crew members came by and informed us that we could not disembark as the doors would not open !! Eventually, at 6:45pm we finally disembarked and followed the long queue through the passport control. Fortunately our first destination at the ‘Naturepark Cabarceno’ was a short drive of only 16 miles. I cannot explain the feeling, we felt ‘free’ again, back on our nomadic wanderings and apart from this night stop we had no idea of where the next would be. As we entered the very small village it felt like coming home, strange but I remembered this place so vividly from our last visit here. What was different about this return visit was the amount of Motorhomes already parked up, last time we were one of only three or four but on this wonderful warm and sunny evening there were Fifteen !!
Nick & Cath were already parked up and quite conveniently there was a space for ‘Big Momma’ right next to them. We had only met them once, a year ago at a weekend meet at Wisbech in the UK, just prior to us leaving on our first ‘Winter’ adventure. At that time Nick & Cath were still in full-time employment and a year away from commencing their own ‘Fulltiming’ adventures in ‘Aurora’, now however they too had commenced their own lifestyle change and had spent the summer working on a campsite in France. We had kept in touch via phone and Skype and of course the ‘blogs’, so meeting them again wasn’t like meeting strangers but good friends. After getting sorted we got out the sun chairs and spent the rest of the night chatting and generally catching up with each other’s adventures. It really is thirsty work all this catching up M’larky and before we knew it we had consumed a bottle of Rose Port, bottle of Tawny Port and a bottle of Vino Tinto. It was pitch black and we could hear each other but couldn’t see one another !! We could have stayed outside for much longer but realised that perhaps we were more than a little inebriated so we made one of those ‘Because We Can‘ decisions and decided that instead of a one night halt we would stay for another day and night.
Very many years ago when we had decent incomes and a Five star lifestyle and would take luxury Caribbean ‘All Inclusive’ holidays, Shazza was known to ‘occasionally‘ indulge in the odd cocktail or six !! On one such occasion after enjoying a ‘few’ she had announced that she was a ‘White Rhino‘ which when actually interpreted meant that she was ‘A Right Wino‘ !! It would not be stating a falsehood to say that the ‘White Rhino’ has been reincarnated !!
We awoke at the ungodly time of 05:30am, I think it was Shazza getting up for a glass of water in an effort to try to re-hydrate, that actually awoke me, but then I heard the sounds of nature outside the van, not someone answering the call of nature I hasten to add, but the sound of an owl and it’s constant hooting, then the sounds of cows in a nearby field I guess it was better than what we sure to experience a little later on our travels South. I have lots of very good memories of our last trip but one of the not so good ones was the constant barking of dogs. I doubt if the authorities had, in the time we had been away, passed a law to cull such annoying beasts !! We did manage to doze off again and awoke to lovely warm sunshine at 09:10am. It didn’t take long to get back into my favourite morning routine, the mandatory weather check, so dressed in shorts and my ‘hoody’ top and armed with a hot mug of coffee I ventured outside and walked down to the lakeside. It was just as beautiful as I had remembered it and I was pleased to have to report that today was a Shorts and Tee-Shirt sort of day. Nick and Cath were also awake and up and we just spent the whole day sat in our reclining chairs on the grass outside the vans, overlooking the lake and just ‘chewing the fat’, as you do. Another tradition that was resurrected was the 4pm aperitif and snacks and this passed another few hours. We were not alone in this little piece of Spanish paradise for as well as the occupants of the numerous brood of International Motorhomers this lakeside spot was a popular location for the locals and their families. After a brief interlude to partake of our evening meals we then re-assembled in what had become our lakeside garden, underneath an array of trees, some which bore Figs and others that had some sort of nuts but we didn’t know of what variety. We drank our after dinner coffee with a very pleasant cheesecake provided by Cath followed by a glass of ‘Amarula‘, a gift my daughter had brought back for us from a recent ‘work’ trip to South Africa. We continued chatting away in the warmth of the night air until once again it got dark and then a little after 10pm decided that as we were both moving on in the morning that an early night was in order.
This had been an excellent start to our latest adventure and in these surroundings, with warm lazy days, and evenings, in the company of good friends, it would have been easy to have stayed just a little while longer. However, before we made our way down to the Algarve their were new explorations for us here in Northern Spain so the decision was taken, albeit with a little bit of reluctance, to wend our way just a little bit further South. Nick and Cath were heading into the ‘Picos de Europa’ then to the North West Coast of Spain before dropping down into Portugal. One thing was certain, we would be sure to see them again during our travels and by then we would have more tales to share with each other on places visited and night stops utilised, so best we ensure that our wine and beer stocks are suitably replenished as all this catching up is certainly very thirsty work !!
We received a text message from Tom & Karen, travelling companions we met last year, they had just crossed from UK to France and were making their way down to the Algarve, another re-union to look forward to…………………………