Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Wild Camping & a Pintxos Tour

Our last week has been a complete contrast and needed break from the hectic city-going of Barcelona. We spent 5 days travelling across the Spanish Pyrenees, on various windy roads (some rather high up) to a couple of national parks and past many a lake, river and waterfall. It's been bliss and made all the better by the opportunity to park up and 'wild camp' – much needed after the 30 euro a night car park in Barcelona. At the start of our trip I was a bit wary of camping free (we're not exactly a discreet van) but I've soon realised that with the right spot, a couple of other campers near by and a bit of careful parking behind the right tree or bush you can get away with sleeping almost anywhere.

Our first spot was on the way up to the mountains at a beautiful look out point not far from the small town of Sort. Initially we just stopped for a brew but it soon became clear that it was the perfect place to rest our weary heads, & with a couple of other campers near by that is what we did. It was such a peaceful spot in the middle of nowhere with so many stars overhead – we slept the best we'd done in weeks & felt all the better for it the next day.

We then headed up to the mountains for our first of not 1 but 2 (yes that's right 2!) hikes. We don't like to be smug but we don't normally walk anywhere that doesn't have a pub at the end so we felt pretty pleased with ourselves after the first 7 hour trek. Our dads would have been proud! It was absolutely idyllic with the most amazing views the whole way along, and our half way stop was rewarded with a very expensive mars bar at the mountain refuge.

Since then we've done a somewhat smaller hike (2 hours – more of a stroll) & slept in a picnic area next to some playing fields as well as next to a lake with 2 other VW's, 3 motorhomes and a lorry. Our best camping spots so far and all free! On Saturday we left the hills and headed west to the coast and beautiful small city of San Sebastian. Having been there for 3 days it became clear that the city revolves around beach-going, eating & drinking so obviously wanting to fit in we made the best of all three.

We'd been very kindly treated to a meal out by our friends Claire & Steve, which we've had earmarked for San Sebastian (argued the food capital of the world!) the whole way along & we weren't dissapointed. Unfortunately the 200 euro a head 3 Michelin starred restaurant was fully booked that evening so we opted for a Pintxos tour instead – the Basque version of tapas & the local speciality. According to our guide book the old town of San Sebastian has more watering holes per square metre than anywhere in the world, the bars of which were all covered in huge varieties of tasty treats.

On Saturday night we made 5 stops in total, and would have happily carried on had we not been drinking a beer with every pintxos. Everything we tried was delicious and really creative, & as a vegetarian it's definitely been the best food I've eaten in Spain.

 We've loved San Sebastian & it's been the perfect end to an amazing trip. Our ferry home has finally come around - we leave Santander tomorrow!  We can't believe it and are sad this part of our journey is coming to an end, but are really looking forward to seeing friends & family again, as well as our upcoming adventures in Asia!