I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday, 4 April 2022

Spain 2022 - Return Journey

Thursday 31st March

We woke up to a lovely morning, how typical with it being our last day.  We were straight into the last of the packing and the cleaning.  My job was to fill the crates etc and Richard would then put it in the car.  He had certainly drawn the short straw as he had to go up and down the steps goodness know how many times.  It was hot work too as it was almost 20 degrees.  We had finished by 11.15am but had to wait for Dee and Chris to come to “march us out” (an Army term!)

We left Casa Noott just after midday having been told that we had left it very clean and tidy 😃

As we drove along the Paseo the temperature readout in the car said 21 degrees. 

I went to set Google Maps on my phone only to find that I had no internet. I was panicking a bit as we rely on Google for our route.  The only thing I could think was that my internet quota was up though I hadn’t had any messages to say that I was getting close to the 12gb limit that I’m allowed when roaming.  Richard decided he was hungry, so we stopped just before getting on the motorway to eat the rolls I had prepared.  Suddenly the phone burst into life – goodness knows what had been wrong.

We hadn’t been on the road long before I fell asleep.  I have slept really badly for the last few weeks and guess I needed to recharge a bit.

Google told us that there had been a crash outside Valencia and that we were going to be delayed for over an hour, we did not need that.  As we got nearer to Valencia, I had maps up on the iPad too and could see a long red line on our road.  In fact, Google rerouted us right through the middle of the city.  If there is one thing that Richard hates, it’s city driving but it was either that or sitting in a queue for an hour.  It all went very well and from what I could see Valencia is a lovely city.  I managed to take one photo from the car. 


The road to the north of the city runs right beside the sea – I bet it is chaotic in the summer!!


When we rejoined our original road there was the odd car, so I guess most people had deviated through Valencia.

Dinner was McDonalds in Reus again!  I really don’t know why we, in the UK, have to put up with McDonalds boring menu when it Spain it is so much more varied and interesting.

We stayed at Brea’s Hotel as we did on our way down. It’s a great hotel, we had two 3 foot 6 inch beds, a sumptuous bathroom and continental breakfast which cost us £85.  We stayed in Tarragona on our first few visits to Spain but Reus is much easier to get too and not as far off the motorway.

 

Friday 1st April

I slept well last night, maybe the answer to my insomnia is a 3 foot 6 inch bed all to myself!!

We had breakfast and then left the hotel. It was sooooo cold with a nasty wind which must have had a chill factor of about zero degrees!   Our journey today was 492 miles to La Chapelle-de-Guinchay which is just south of Macon.

As we approached the Barcelona area there was an extremely long traffic jam coming the other way (thank goodness), Richard reckons it was about 15 miles long!  I felt so sorry for the people stuck in it.

As we headed north the wind got stronger and stronger.  I checked on a weather app which reckoned that it was blowing about 66mph! 

I love it when, as you get further north, you can see the snow on the mountains.


France seemed to be a long time in coming but we eventually got to the border. 

We stopped at the first service area in France to make coffee however it was so windy that we gave up on that idea and went into the café.  It was interesting to see that masks were not being worn in the cafe – in Spain they are still very hot on mask wearing when inside. 

We kept trying to find somewhere to stop for lunch.  We had given up the idea of a picnic and were looking for an aire with a café.  We found two but due to the driver taking the wrong turning in the aire we ended up back on the motorway again.  I’m not saying who the driver was, but it wasn’t me!!  We ended up stopping in an ordinary aire which had little areas for people to park in and each area had its own picnic table.  I made our rolls, and we ate them in the car.


Friday 1st April

I slept well last night, maybe the answer to my insomnia is a 3 foot 6 inch bed all to myself!!

We had breakfast and then left the hotel. It was sooooo cold with a nasty wind which must have had a chill factor of about zero degrees!   Our journey today was 492 miles to La Chapelle-de-Guinchay which is just south of Macon.

As we approached the Barcelona area there was an extremely long traffic jam coming the other way (thank goodness), Richard reckons it was about 15 miles long!  I felt so sorry for the people stuck in it.

As we headed north the wind got stronger and stronger.  I checked on a weather app which reckoned that it was blowing about 66mph! 

I love it when, as you get further north, you can see the snow on the mountains.


France seemed to be a long time in coming but we eventually got to the border.

 

We stopped at the first service area in France to make coffee however it was so windy that we gave up on that idea and went into the café.  It was interesting to see that masks were not being worn in the cafe – in Spain they are still very hot on mask wearing when inside.

We kept trying to find somewhere to stop for lunch.  We had given up the idea of a picnic and were looking for an aire with a café.  We found two but due to the driver taking the wrong turning in the aire we ended up back on the motorway again.  I’m not saying who the driver was, but it wasn’t me!!  We ended up stopping in an ordinary aire which had little areas for people to park in and each area had its own picnic table.  I made our rolls, and we ate them in the car.

We noticed that in Spain all the toll booths are being demolished – we didn’t pay any tolls at all.

There was a bit of a traffic jam around Lyon but that was mainly because of four lanes of traffic going into two then another lane merging a bit further on.  However, it appears that poor old Lyon hasn’t for much choice in having the traffic going right through the middle as there are mountains either side so nowhere to route a bypass – maybe a tunnel?

We arrived at our guest house, Le Domaine about 5pm.  We were warmly welcomed by our host, Sophie, and shown to our lovely boutique style room and given a glass of wine.  

Le Domaine is a lovely small chateau/large farmhouse which has been renovated beautifully.  In the garden there were twelve Falabella horses, one of which, Caramel, was loose and wandering around the place as if she owned it!  There was also a chateau dog, Google, and a two month old baby goat, Lily, – the cutest thing I have ever seen 😊  Lily is an inside, “extra toy” pygmy goat. 

We had booked dinner which was excellent.  We shared the small dining room with two Belgian families who were off skiing for a week.  Sophie and her husband, Gary, were fantastic hosts and made sure our wine glasses were never empty!  The wine was a local one and we could see the vines from our room. 


These are just a few of the photos I took of Le Domaine. 








Saturday 4th April

We woke up to snow!  Nothing too serious but snow, nevertheless.   

We had a lovely breakfast, it made such a difference from Brea’s hotel which was a typical hotel continental breakfast.  There was fruit, yogurt and granola, croissants and eggs done however you wanted.  I tried an herbal infusion tea which was actually quite nice!

We had really enjoyed our brief stay at Le Domaine.  It was a real find!  We only went there as it appeared that all the chain hotels in Macon were booked out for the weekend.  I really can’t recommend it enough.

We said our farewells to Sophie and Gary and set off for Calais in the snow.  We had been expecting rain, so this was different.

The traffic streaming south was very heavy, I reckoned that about 25% of the cars had roof boxes on them.  We pulled off to go and get a coffee, but the café was on the other side of the motorway.  The queue for fuel was almost back onto the motorway, thank goodness we didn’t want any.  We gave up on the idea of coffee too.

The snow stopped after we had been driving for about an hour and it just became a bit grey with the odd little bit of sunshine.

We continued north and pulled into an aire for lunch.  We both needed the loo but the queue for that was long!  We had a sandwich and coffee and carried on.

As we approached Calais, we hit snow again but this time it had already stopped and was settled.  Suddenly there was thick black smoke billowing across the motorway, I looked across and could see a car on fire at one of the peages off the motorway.   

We found our hotel for the night.  The Holiday Inn Coquelles Calais.  I chose it as it is in its own grounds both for Muffin and the security of the car.  We had a good room with a US sized King bed 😊  We were allowed to take Muffin into the bar so that we could have a meal.  The menu wasn’t very exciting to say the least but we both had a burger which had a potato cake instead of a bun, much nicer.

 

Sunday 5th April

We were both awake about 7.30am and went down for breakfast.  We didn’t really know what we were going to find at Eurotunnel as the news was full of stories of queues around Dover because of the P & O Ferries debacle and we wondered if more people would try and use the tunnel.  

When we got to the Eurotunnel, we checked in with Muffin and then continued to our own check-in.  There were no queues, and in fact, there were very few cars around.  We were booked on the 11.20am train but were able to get on the 10.50am one.  We actually left France at 10.38am and got onto the motorway in Folkestone at 10.20am (UK time).  


 


It’s great coming into the UK on Eurotunnel as within two minutes we were on the M20. The queue on the M20 to go over to France was pretty long and I felt sorry for people starting their holiday with such a long wait.  For a good mile there were lorries parked on our side of the motorway, obviously part of the queuing system.

We then noticed the lorries parked up on the other side of the motorway, heading south.  The queue went on for 20 miles.  It was really quite depressing thinking of all those lorry drivers waiting to go home. 

Another two hours later we arrived home.  Victoria, James and Bilbo were here to welcome us home.  I love going away but I also like coming home 😊

We had a good time in Mojacar though the weather didn't really play it's part!  The Ex-pats were saying that it was the worst winter they have had for around 20 years!  Still it hasn't put us off as we are going again next year and, for once, back to the same villa 😀

I am going to do one more bonus blot post tomorrow!!


I had finished this blog and was about to post it when I saw something on Facebook from Spectrum Radio in Spain.  I know many of you must have wondered if I was just complaining about the rain, but here is the truth that I wasn't!

March registered the historical maximum of rains in Almería in the last century
The month of March 2022 will go down in history as having been the wettest in the last century, according to the records achieved, especially in the last two weeks of the month, with records exceeding 350 liters per square meter in some parts of Almería .







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