The end….for now

Route: Mataró, Spain – Home
Route details:
737 miles (1105km)
Overnight stop: Logroño (free aire)

Camping Virgen del mar ACSI (43.474701, -3.87401)

Overnight costs: €20
(Mobile 4G+)
Diesel / litre: €1.66 (€1.86 – 20c) (£1.41)
Exchange rate: 1.17
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We set off from Barcelona just as the clouds cleared and the heat started to bite again.  I say that, but if we were honest, we would loved to have been staying for longer to enjoy the summer heat for longer.  But work calls and we need to make our way back home.

A quick stop into Carrefour to buy our last bits of groceries that we were bringing home, along with a few gifts for friends, and we were off.

Other then passing under the Greenwich Meridian again (would anything awkward happen if you drove over it??), the drive was uneventful.

We had been planning to stop just after Zaragoza but with the intense heat decided that we would continue in air-conditioned comfort (and with the gorgeous Mr T feeling fairly fresh) headed further north and back to Logroño again – the siren call of suckling pig was calling Mr T!!!

As it was 23 June, it was actually the celebration of San Juan or summer solstice everywhere in Spain.  A great excuse for a fiesta and party.  We had experienced this previously in Tarragona in 2018 when we were kept awake all night by not just fireworks but thunderflashes …. all night…..because this is how it rolls!!!  San Juan’s, or St John’s, feast day falls on the 24th of June every year, but it’s on St John’s eve, the 23rd of June, that the celebrations take place.  Just a few short days after midsummer, it’s a Spanish festival celebrated on beaches all over the country that welcomes the summer ahead.  Most Spanish people consider it to mark the true beginning of summer, which is the season when Spain comes into its own. So, as you can imagine, it’s a fantastic excuse for a party.  This is very much a fire-focused celebration and the bonfires of St John that burn on the country’s beaches are legendary. The bonfires of San Juan are said to purify and protect, warding off evil spirits.  Some people celebrate with family, some with friends, and some make new friends on the beach, but there’s always food, drink and music involved.

And as we were walking through Logroño we noticed the bonfire being built in the central square along with a table with paper and pencils for people to write down their year’s wishes to burn on the fire.  Queues of Spaniards were waiting their turn…. Oops watch out for that ladder, Mr T, don’t walk under it!! So off we went for pre-dinner drinks and supper (no sucking pig but some milk-feb lamb and a new recipe for roasted red peppers with fresh sardines!)

   

and by the time we came out, this was our fabulous view of the bonfire….

…aah well, next time!!

So the only thing left to do was to console ourselves with our last solo and cognac.

 

It was an early start for Santander the next day with us hoping that we could find some space in the local free aire next to the port but with heavy Friday traffic, we didn’t reach Santander till 3pm and by that time the aire was full, so off we went to the closest ACSI campsite just 10 minutes away.  We have so often been surprised by amazing experiences as a result of a failed plan.  Same thing happened here, and boy, was it a lovely surprise.

We checked into the campsite, had a quick snooze in the afternoon sun and then off for an explore to the beach.  With the sun still out but the predicted clouds rolling in the beach views were dramatic and beautiful.

 

 

After a refreshing walk with the damp, cold sand squishing between our toes, we decided to pop into the local restaurant for a coffee and afternoon cake.  Jeez, you never can tell what you’re going to be presented with….and here we were transported into a British African Colonial timewarp!!  Someone has obviously spent time and money (lots of both!) to gather together memorabilia and photos with an African colonial theme.  You could lose yourself in the artworks.  And to top it all, a fabulous coffee and cake and, yes, they sell a wonderful leaf-brewed tea!!!  Wow, blown away.

 

 

   

And to anyone with a motorhome reading this – there’s a parking lot with plenty of space to park up and no signs to prevent overnight stays (43.476501, -3.877460  ; Park4Night: 27425, Santander, 160 Avenida Virgen del Mar).  The parking lot is not flat but there are spots that you could absolutely sleep on.  There’s the fabulous colonial restaurant and pub, public portaloos and a tap for fresh water at the church across the bridge.  We believe that dogs are allowed on the beach but not on the island across the bridge.  We wouldn’t stop over a weekend as it can get busy (wouldn’t rule it out though as the beach users will eventually go home!) but next time, waiting for a ferry, this’ll definitely be top of our list.

By Saturday, the sky was weeping to see us leave (Ed: really?!) and the predicted cold front had hit.  During a dry spell a 4km walk into the village centre called but the rest of the day was spent relaxing and cooking our supper of Lancashire Hotpot for Monday night so we could stop for something nourishing on the way home.  We are soooooo tired of crap but easy food at services and after 30 hours on the ferry, with crap (but included in ticket price, so not refused) food at the onboard restaurants, we’d be looking for a comforting, homemade and tasty meal with some veggies on the way home.  The gorgeous one had decided that we were going to drive off the ferry and set off for home straight away giving us a day of rest before having to start work on Wednesday to tie up the current contract so we had to be prepared.

 

A final push off the ferry through UK Customs and Passport Control and with the Instant Pot running off the inverter to warm up our hotpot, we were on our way.

And we are home; tanned, rested, having had a fantastic start to summer, 1 contract finished and another waiting to start next week.

See ya soon, Spain x

Final thoughts:

An ACSI campsite away from the port with no risk of stowaways, €20

A beautiful, dramatic coastline and beach with free parking, €0

A surprise British African colonial pub stuffed with amazing memorabilia in Spain, priceless!

M6 toll at 9pm shared with 1 other car!

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