Notre retour en France!!!

 

Our first few days and nights at Camping Ametlla were good, we enjoyed some lovely weather and relaxed in the sun, got all the washing up to date etc, and managed to get some nice walks in, the nearest beach is not far from the campsite and through a wooded area where Toffi got to enjoy some wandering about time and also got to enjoy the beach all to herself, although it was a pebble beach which isn’t actually her favourite (but she’s not one to say no to a romp in the sea whatever the case), we then found a car park down the road on another of our walks, we were tempted to wild camp after our stay at the campsite, it had an amazing view from there looking right out to sea…

we also found yet another unfinished housing project on the outskirts of town where all the pavements were laid, drainage, lampposts and electric points installed, sadly now trashed and overgrown, long forgotten by the failed developers… apparently there are over 3.5 million empty, part built estates, or unfinished houses in Spain… mind you looking at some of the build quality of the unfinished and abandoned houses here, I am really not surprised they failed!!!  but these areas make great places for dog walking!!!

Sadly the once peaceful campsite turned into something similar to Butlins as soon as the weekend approached, we stayed from Monday 30th April 2008 and Pete had booked us in for 7 nights, but on the Friday it started to get pretty busy on site and in the evening at a whopping 11pm a campervan turned up next to us, ok, we thought, fair enough, perhaps a long journey had made them run late etc, but taking Toffi for a walk or even trying to sit outside of the motorhome turned into an adventure from hell from then on in, as the campers that had turned up late Friday also had a Staffordshire bull terrier with them, not a problem in itself, but they were not overly willing to keep an eye on it or even put it on a lead or keep proper control of it… and Toffi reacts badly with other Staffy’s!!! Although I must admit once they saw Toffi was 3 times the size of their dog and not a force to be taken lightly they did start show a token effort of control by grabbing hold of theirs… occasionally…

Well after the Friday night things just went from bad to worse… the campsite went from having approx 10-15 motorhomes on it to being almost completely full including most of the once empty hundreds of cabins, so from maybe having 30 people on site it then went to having many hundreds of people on site!!!  We came back from a leisurely stroll with the dog on the Saturday morning to find people queuing up outside the reception to book in, Not really my idea of a peaceful place to stay once it got busy, although the site would be great for families as there were tonnes of activities for them and 3 swimming pools, I think it was the equivalent of a bank holiday weekend in Spain… and the Spanish as we now know love to gather at a good old campsite!!! As is usual on bank holidays in the UK the poor Spanish unfortunately had thunderstorms and rain mostly throughout their holiday weekend too!!!

Our Journey to this campsite was pretty off putting as well to be fair, when the sat nav took us through streets we had no real business even driving down at all (some marked as 3 tonne max, our motorhome is 3.5 tonne!!!) and streets with no entry signs or that are now one way only forcing us down yet more less suitable streets again and again, and once in the town it was far too late to even attempt to turn around or go back, (plus there seemed no other way through it!!!) and it was pretty much the same experience on the outbound journey right back through the town and back down through the narrow and unforgiving streets with overhead balconies perilously sticking out, electric and telephone cables hanging down overhead between buildings and with parked cars either side of the already very narrow roads, this continued virtually all the way through until we finally escaped the madness… then there are the other type of spanish roads, the dirt track roads that run adjacent to the motorways here, which we found on our walks these are used plenty by the locals to get to their houses… apparently these are marked up and signed posted as suitable for 12 tonne trucks, yeah these signs did make me chuckle… I guess the pot holed dirt tracks are brilliant if you’re driving a tank, tractor or four wheel drive vehicle, but as you can see even a tank or tractor would struggle getting through the 2nd tunnel pictured below due to its height which they fail to give mention off or sign post along the road (not sure I know of any 12 tonne vehicle that could possibly fit under and through that 2nd tunnel, just in behind the first tunnel you can just make out in the picture)

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I have to also mention the road noise we endured while on the site which although wasn’t very apparent during the daytime it was extremely apparent in the quiet of night, and heavily present on at least five nights out of the seven nights of our stay, I presume this is down to wind direction and also the fact that the motorway was just a mere 300 metres away!!! even though you have to take a massive vehicle back through the nearest town to get back onto it… would we go back… no chance, would we recommend you to go??? well it depends what you want of a site, the facilities were fine and the staff pleasant so if you wish a family holiday with plenty for the kids to do, then fine… but sadly I wouldn’t recommend the site if you are after a quiet stay over…

As mentioned earlier we did look at doing a couple of nights wild camping in a park up just down the road from the camp, but by then I was mentally and physically exhausted and really needed to find some peace and tranquility to recharge, and we both needed a good night’s sleep without worrying if we may be disturbed or get moved on so we decided in the end to just not bother!!!

We had planned to stop one more time in Spain near Barcelona but again by this time we both just wanted out… someone had said to me in conversation over the last few weeks that “if the days grow long and tiring you know it’s time to move on” this really rang true for me by now… so we made our escape through the Pyrenees and back into France it was a good 4-5 hr drive when we finally arrived at our planned destination… Campsite Les Casteillets in the South of France… We found a great plot and pitched up, the facilities here are basic but clean, with hot water for showers, we are booked in here for a week, and so far it has been so very quiet, the view from our pitch is one of the Pyrenees Mountains in the background where again we are watching as the different weather systems move in around us… here there is total peace and silence with no road noise or people noise at night… with just 4 donkeys enjoying the lush green grass in the adjacent field, birdsong in the trees and the sound of crickets in the long grass…

Along our journey we saw plenty of other motorhomes, but sadly we saw one of them who had failed to put down their satellite dish going along the motorway without even realising, I did laugh as it is probably something I would do… we now check things before moving off (fridge doors locked? aerial down? cupboard doors locked? outside hab/garage doors locked? electric cable away? gas turned off? electrics turned over to 12 volt? trailer locked, secured and lights working? skylights down and locked? well the list goes on and on… but well I hope they made it safely to their destination without the thing flying off the roof and causing an accident… although I doubt very much it will ever work again by the time they get to wherever they were going!!!

Well enough of my ramblings for this week, I’m off to enjoy what France has to offer us… I’d forgotten just how much friendlier the French people seem compared to the sometimes seemingly impatient and brash Spanish, and so far I have had so many French trying to chat politely with me, it’s embarrassing that my French is still so poor… but it’s always humorous when my first words are “Pardon my French” and they seem to forgive me for at least making an effort with them and always being friendly back… even the children and teenagers are polite and respectful towards others here… always with a friendly “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” in passing…some British kids could definitely benefit from being taught this way of life!!!

Au revoir pour le moment,

Donna x

Campsite Las Casteillets, France GPS N42°30’36”  E2°46’59”   €13 per night €5 per week for wifi

Camping Ametlla, Spain GPS N40°51’54”  E0°46’43” €15 per night total spent €105 free wifi