Transition: Spain to France

Friday 8th March 2024

Skipping breakfast we had a trip to the park before heading off, our first stop was La Jonquera, the Spanish border town where one has their last chance for cheaper fuel, fags, booze and other essentials.   In fact after breakfast I nipped into one of the supermarkets and it was full of French, they drive over the border to get their groceries and save money!!!

Rain, hailstone, welcome to France

Our journey today is on French motorways, and that means tolls, ugh, still we want to get there ASAP so I had to “pay up” and “swallow hard”; all a bit of a shock to the system🥶

We arrived at the house in reasonable time.    Because Andrew generally only uses the house in the summer, everything has been turned off so our first task was to “try” and “suss” things out; easier said than done knowing the history of the building, a small converted block of flats with random electrics to match.  Eventually we had the essentials working so un-packed and settled in.   We had sufficient food so no need to rush to the supermarket tonight. 

Little innocents

As there are wide spaces all around the house, and with careful aim, we could send the ball, using the ball thrower of course, at the inside of the outside perimeter wall.   This wall is set at an angle so when the ball hit the wall, it would head round the corner giving the dogs a good run each time.

Another bedroom in another place, the poor dogs must be wondering what’s going on, still yet again after some rigorous exercise they settled down and we all went to sleep.

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Thursday 7th March 2024

“Up-n-out” this morning, but not too early!!!  Our time in Spain is nearly over, today we head towards Frejus to stay at Andrew”s “iconic”, but “quirky” house, but will do an overnight stop in Gerona; we’ve never been there, so it will be good.

Fortunately we had started to pack the car yesterday evening; the 36-steps takes it out of us these days so we spread the “job” over two timescales!!!

After breakfast we completed packing the car and helped Martin get things back to normal as he leaves tomorrow after his short visit.

Massive park across the road, that was lucky

Christine had pre-booked the hotel in Gerona, reasonably close to the old town and by a large park and naturally they took dogs.  We hit the road mid morning, motorway all the way so the 5-hour drive will be easy.   It’s so nice to drive in Spain, well in this region as all the toll booths have been removed, all the motorways are free, why can’t France do the same???

Pretty houses lining the river bank

Arriving in Gerona early afternoon was fine, but getting to the hotel was a different story.  Waze kept telling us to go up a certain road but it was closed and we drove around in circles until Christine spotted a very small side street, so we headed down it and low and behold the hotel’s garage entrance appeared on our left, so parked and Christine walked round to the front and booked in, at which point they opened the garage door and we were in.   Ouch, a steep narrow ramp  into the “bowls of the earth” under the building.   But if that was not enough, the hotel receptionist was waiting and told us to go down again to a lower floor.   All I can say is it’s a good job we have a small car as the corner was sharp and the width was very narrow, as evident by the chunks out of the wall!!!   And if that wasn’t enough, they must have recently had their carpark floors re-resigned as each time the front wheels turned, the screeching sound was very loud.   Anyway, without mishap we parked and extracted our overnight cases and headed to the lift but then it happened, Tom-Tom had terrible diarrhoea on this smart new shiny surface👹👹👹, but with limited resources we managed to sort it all out!!!

Lots of little side streets, very pretty

After settling into our room we headed out towards the old town and Jewish quarter.

From our hotel and to get to the old walled town we had to cross the river, and as we did, we were admiring all the old buildings lining the river, all decorated in numerous vivid colours.  

Eiffel bridge

There are a total of eleven bridges that cross the river in Gerona, One of which is the “Eiffel Bridge” constructed by Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Girona is the capital of the Girona province in the Catalonian region in North-eastern Spain.  It lies on the Oñar River in the foothills of the Los Ángeles Mountains, a short distance inland from a Mediterranean Costa Brava.   The city comprises of three zones: the interior, which includes the old quarter; the modern section; and a residential area.


The history of this place is impressive because of its position on the coastal route from Gaul to the Iberian Peninsula.   Girona was a fortified site whose ruined walls date back to the 4th and 5th centuries, and historically this city has been the subject of many wars, sieges and take-overs including the Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Franks and at one stage it was part of the Kingdom of Aragon.   Until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. There was a thriving Jewish quarter and much of the original labyrinth of narrow passageways are preserved in the old town and can be walked around today.

A lot of steps leading to the cathedral

We did try to visit the Cathedral that stands high up on the hill, with its broad steps approaching an imposing entrance but alas, it was closed but not too disappointed as we did visit one church but I fear this was the poor relation!!!

Lots of entrances leading to houses

There is much to see here but a few short hours doesn’t do the place justice; back for a longer visit sometime I think.

Stopped for a glass or two!

Wandering along the “hilly” cobbled narrow streets we decided to have a drink and take in the atmosphere but apart from a few students, there was none.  Our timing was wrong, a Thursday with dusk approaching and too early for the evening to begin, we headed out of the old town, over another bridge and into the more modern “traditional Spanish square”, and by now restaurants were opening and folk were coming out to play!!

Packed restaurant in the square

We decided on which lucky restaurant we would donate to and this evening made do with several Tapas and naturally vino!!! 

The Ramblers

Our hotel was just around the corner but diverted to the very big municipal park close to the hotel for the dogs to have a jolly good run before settling in for our last night in Spain🥵🥵: France tomorrow.

The square
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Fabulous last two days

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Nothing happened today other than lounging, sun bathing, remotely exercising the dogs and some alcohol interspersed with food😂😂😂

Wednesday 6th March 2024

Views on walk


This morning Martin has meetings, after which we are all heading to the Mandala Beach Bar, the restaurant at the Mandala beach, in Benissa, in fact right on the edge of the beach who also specialise in fish dishes, naturally!!!   So whilst Martin has his conference call, Christine wanted to do her walk one last time so I dropped her off and headed to the car park where the walk ended, and waited.  Settling down for a 45-minute wait, I watched tv on my phone but to my surprise and delight, the 45-minute walk only lasted about 25-minutes.  Christine had no knowledge why it was so quick but at least we saved time so headed back to the bike shop for a coffee and a cake.   The good news is, they had topped up their stock of Soberano😁😁

Olive and orange trees en-route

Arriving back at the villa just as Martin was finishing his business call; good timing or what?

The bay we are having lunch

A quick wash and brush-up and we were off.   When we booked we enquired if we could bring the dogs, no problem so they jumped into Martin’s car as well.

Lovely sunny day

We had been here before and Christine was adamant she wanted to go back, so here we are again, and everything looks just the same in fact we could well have been at the same table!!    A good job we booked as they were very busy as it was such a nice, warm day and all their tables faced the sun and overlooked the beach.

Last time we were here we enjoyed tapas, but today we decided we’d go further and have a full meal, good decision, and as expected the food was fabulous and enjoyed all the more because the white wine we chose was unusually good, too “moooor-ish” in fact, and we weren’t satisfied with just one bottle!!!

Be careful Martin you might get wet!

Sitting at the table enjoying ambience, watching the world go by enjoying our drinks brought back a lot of memories about our time in Spain, and though they were very good, we made the right decision to come back, though we will return for more visits in the future.

Oops soaking wet!

After lunch Christine and Martin went for a walk.  At the end of the beach one can walk around the cliff climbing over the rocks, so off they went.   They returned about 20-minutes later, Martin was dripping wet whilst Christine was bone dry so after a hearty laugh I was amazed.  Apparently they were both stood on the same rock, on the waters edge, close to each other when a wave broke, Martin cop’d the lot!!!

Fabulous bay, lovely food, good way to end our trip in Spain

After an uneventful drive home we decided to start the car packing process as tomorrow we leave and we don’t want to have to do everything in the morning.  

After such a big meal earlier, no one was hungry so just settled down and watched some tv.

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Back to Campoverde!!!

Monday 4th March 2024

After receiving confirmation that my glasses were in, we were on the road again and the bonus is:- I can collect my bottle of Grey Goose😂😂.  We spoke to Marcos to see if he would be able to unlock the house for a couple of minutes to collect to which he was kind enough to agree, yeah!!! 

As I walked into Sonia’s she had the glasses in her hand and after much apologising fitted them. We did have a laugh about the factory and their issues!!!   I paid and walked out into the bright sun and how nice it was to have my reactolite’s back.

One happy bunny! Glasses and vodka collected

Whilst I was collecting my new glasses, Christine headed to the vets and sorted out the passports etc., in preparation for our return to U.K.  

We also took the opportunity to pop into Hazel’s for coffee, Jim was out on the golf course naturally!! Whilst there, Hazel gave us another big bag of oranges, thank you very much Hazel, they are superb oranges.

A quick bacon bap snack at Portobello’s and then headed straight back to Alcalali having achieved everything we needed to do, and more, win-win.

Arrived back in time for dinner followed by a film.

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Bicycle Shop

Saturday & Sunday 2nd & 3rd March 2024

A weekend of lounging about, enjoying the blue skies and warm weather just sitting around doing nothing much, though poor Martin did carry out some routine maintenance work on our computers/tablets/‘phones, so sorry Martin we are so thick when it comes to technology, our excuse, were “dinosaurs”. 

Bicycle and coffee shop

The one thing we didn’t neglect was exercising the dogs, not only were they taken down to the road with the ball thrower, the also had a ball thrown down the outside 36 steps that lead up to the top floor of the villa; poor buggers will be totally knackered after this weekend, whilst we on the other hand will be totally relaxed!!!

Nice and sunny whilst having coffee

We did venture out Saturday morning for coffee.   Martin had shown Christine a dog friendly walk amongst the vines through an attractive valley heading towards Parcent.   Christine planned to be walking for about 45-minutes making a change from ball throwing for the dogs. In the mean time we went to wait at a newly opened cafe next to Blanca Bikes* in Parcent, but it turned out to be part of Blanca bikes and was “heaving” with cyclists; something very popular in Spain and especially around here, locals and cyclist holidaymakers.    We enjoyed nice coffee, beans roasted on site!! And their speciality, individual carrot cakes that look on the outside like cream covered muffins.; naturally all this washed down with Soberano!!!    We then got the call, Christine needed collecting as the last part of her walk was along the narrow busy road.   Martin headed off and returned a few minutes later with two dogs and their handler!!  We all sat in the sun, had another drink before heading home.

Setting off on our walk

Martin knew about the post office scandal but hadn’t watched the ITV serries that set everything off, so the three of us settled down and binge-watched the 4-episodes, it was an eye opener to Martin and we picked up many interesting things we’d missed the first time we watched it.

On Sunday morning Christine said she’d like to do the same walk again, but this time in reverse.   So we dropped her off at the place she was collected from yesterday and returned to our cafe for a re-run of yesterday but to our dismay, they’d run out of Soberano, obviously we’d hit them too hard on Saturday!!!    

We meandered through orange and olive trees

Yesterday the place was full of cyclists, all the bike racks were full and other bikes rested on the walls, but today very few cyclists, virtually empty bike racks, only folk who just came out for coffee and sunshine. 

Think he has been to far!

When the call came, we were both ready so left and met up at the agreed car park and headed home.

If I pased the church I was on the right road!

Tonight we watched the follow up documentary to the serries “Mr Bates V The Post Office” this opened up everyone’s eyes even more than the 4-episodes as it interviewed the actual postmasters involved in the scandal.


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Day of Rest!!!

Friday 1st March 2024

The plan for today is a “do nothing” day, however the three of us did go out, Martin wanted to introduce us to a restaurant that has recently opened, the plan was for a coffee, scan the menus, lunch and dinner, and decide which we fancied.   Unfortunately we got hooked into their tapas with wine naturally, so our quick coffee turned into a bit of an extended lunch, but it was very nice.  With the sun shining and blue sky everywhere, we sat outside in very amenable surroundings watching a gardener going about his duties enjoying the ambience and getting “stuck-in” to everything.

We will just go for a coffee!

I also heard from Sonia this morning; bad news, my new lenses had failed their quality inspection and a new re-manufactured ones wouldn’t be available ‘til, after we’d left for France so at this point I cancelled them.

Perhaps a couple of tapas!

Martins Villa is up a dead end road and no other buildings past his, it is ideal for using the ball thrower to wear out the dogs, an by-Jove we did, several times!!   The rest of the day was set aside to sit on the upstairs terrace and take in the sun, yes we sunbathed it was so hot up here.   Sundowners were also served on the terrace prior do dinner inside.  Though it is nice and warm when the sun is out in the day, it soon gets cold once it goes down in the late afternoon🥶🥶.

Late this afternoon I also got another message from Sonia saying there had been a “cock-up” and the lenses that failed their quality test belong to someone else!!!!!   Mine will be in on Monday and this will be confirmed first thing Monday🤞🤞🤞The cynic in me wonders if the cancellation had anything to do with it🤔🤔🤔

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