Monday 7th November 2016
This morning in Huesca it was chilly but nice and bright. How can a city as large as this one have no geocaches?
After a lazy morning we decided to explore the city which we briefly saw yesterday evening. On the way into the city we stopped at the local Mercadonna Supermarket, a huge store stuffed with all manner of goodies. So with our arms full of purchases we had to return to the motorhome.
We then had a lovely walk into the city, although most of the shops were closed. We decided to head for a bar to have a meal. We came across La Rebotica which seemed very busy - always a good sign. Inside there was a wait for tables and when the next one became vacant a very nice young man permitted us to share this table with him. After a little conversation in Spanish, English and the translator on the phone, we found that he was a functionary (his word) to the legal courts. We took it to mean an administration job as he used the computer. We learned that this man was called Jose and he lives in Zaragoza. He commutes every day by bus and as with other people here, his day starts very early. He gets up at 5.30 am to be ready to catch the bus and be in Huseca for work. After a long siesta and working well into the late evening he will not get home until 9.30 at night. He eats around 10 o'clock at night and then goes to bed, ready to do it all again in the morning. And he will have to do this for the next 18 years! We really don't think we could get used to this way of life.
We had a lovely meal of fresh Salmon, salad and frites with a couple of vino tinto each.
Most of the shops here open at 9am until noon or one o'clock and have an evening opening period from five pm until eight. They have an exceptionally long lunch break and they don't get home until at least nine. They have dinner at ten or eleven o'clock. To be ready for work the next day they probably start at 6 or 7am. Especially as there doesn't seem to be a lot of public transport. When Allan was working, lunch break was as short as possible to get off home as quick as possible.
We left the restaurant and walked
back through the main streets which were by now beginning to come alive with
Then, as the sun started to sink lower in the sky, we started to head back towards the motorhome. Through one of the plazas
and then on through one of the parks.
When we went back to the motorhome we noticed that the street signs say "No Parking on Tuesdays". It is Market day tomorrow, wonder if it will be as bad as Chaunay where only two flower stalls turned up?
And finally, with only 3 vehicles in the large parking area, we are in for another "cosy" night!!! Needless to say the one so very close to us is French.
We were very concerned to receive
a message from Dorothy's brother to say that Mum had received unplanned laser
surgery on her eye today and can now see!! We phoned to check on Mum and fortunately
all is well, although her eye is rather sore.
We made a call to Mum this morning to check how she was and she seems to be doing fine.
After visiting the Mercadonna Supermarket again this morning for a few more things, we went to the street market. We found it to be mostly household linens and a lot of clothing. A lot of the clothing seemed to be more worthy of a jumble sale so we didn't stay too long.
Returning to the motorhome and hearing that heavy snow is forecast again for the higher mountains, we decided to get started on the journey through the Pyrenees towards Jaca which is a little mountain town and will be our final stop in Spain.
Leaving Huesca, the land around us
was a fairly flat plateau. But even now the mountains were lurking eerily in
And then we started to climb and climb and climb!
All along our route work was being carried out, either necessary maintenance or in some cases road upgrading and new stretches of road.
All of these photos have been taken through the windscreen or side window so our apologies if you see reflections etc.
So there we were, up through the first set of very dramatic mountains past Sabinanigo to Jaca (Hah ka).
We found the aire without any problem. It was quite large but the notice boards regarding the rules of what could and couldn't be done were quite daunting, two nights only, not allowed to open windows or put out the awning, no tables, no chairs, no noise, no smells, no corner steadies, no levelling blocks on and on it went. Either they want us here or they don't. We can't be fussed really as there are many, more welcoming places for us to go to.
After settling ourselves in we had a walk up (and we really do mean UP) to the town and found it very lively and full of shops. Not something we were expecting but in hindsight it is also a snow resort so equally as busy in the winter as in the summer. However, the weather in this mountain village was just too cold for us to stay very long.
We checked with the Tourist Information Office for the weather forecast during the next few days and if the Somport Tunnel is likely to have any issues with SNOW. We were assured that it will be rain in the next week, the snow would only be high up on the tops of the mountains and so there should be no problem for our journey but we could come back tomorrow for an update on the weather if we wanted to before starting our journey. We made our way back in the cold, frosty, windy evening to the motorhome. brrrrrr.
Dorothy's back has taken another setback with this cold weather and Allan's poor old back is feeling cold and damp as well.
We think that we would like to return to this town as there are a lot of shops and things of interest here but it would need to be in the summer time when the weather would hopefully be better and of course only for a short visit, perhaps long enough to visit the Citadel.
During the night it rained heavily, constantly. Let's hope that it doesn't turn to snow on the higher mountain roads or we will be having some problems.
0.4 degrees this morning. What will the roads be like up in the mountains?
We left Jaca in the Pyrenees in the middle of the morning and after filling with diesel at the cheaper Spanish price (90 UK pence a litre) we were on our way to France. It had been raining almost constantly overnight and although the forecast is for heavy snow on the mountain tops we hope that, at the altitude of the mountain pass at 1632m, the most that we get is rain.
For a comparison the Welsh Mount Snowdon is 1085m and the Scottish Ben Nevis is 1345 m high. Our own Beachy Head in East Sussex rises to a mere 162 metres but sometimes even that road to Eastbourne is blocked for a morning with snow drifts.
It did rain, on and off for most of the journey, mostly just light showers but sometimes it was quite heavy. Again, these photos of our journey were taken from inside the motorhome.
The long climb up into the higher
mountains was sunny with a lot of cloud building up.
It is hard to see in this size photos but a lovely rainbow was in front of us for most of the way
and then the rain came. We were pleased it was only rain.
Finally we had climbed so high that the snow was now visible on the tops of the mountains.
And then it was into the 5.3 mile long tunnel, on and on, mile after mile, this is a long hole through the mountain.
Then suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel!
Out into the sunshine of France we would like to have written here but no, it was even more heavy rain.
We weren't called over to stop at the Gendarmarie!
On the descent from the Pyrenees,
Somport Tunnel and the mountain pass into France, the road was much more twisty
and narrow than the Spanish side. It is as if the French do not want the Spanish
or anyone else to use it. This would seem such a waste as this tunnel cost them
91 million Euros and the Spanish paid 160 million Euros for it. The roads are
definitely much safer on the Spanish side.
This is where Allan apparently said he closed his eyes!!
Luckily the road widened a bit and we started to come into small hamlets and villages.
This journey would have been so much nicer if the sun had been shining.
Down and down we kept going and when we stopped in this little town at some traffic lights we were amazed to see these pretty little cottages had tubs outside filled with geraniums and bedding plants in full flower!!
Finally about half past four we reached Villeneuve-de-Marsan with its population of 2500 in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the south western corner of France. Quickly the electricity was connected up, almost before another downpour of rain drenched Allan. Now with this electricity the time has come to catch up on our blog, E-mail's and online banking.
So ended the last day of our first visit to Spain. We are sure to be going back, it was a bit rushed but absolutely fabulous. (Or was that a TV show?)
"Sí si por favor"
No excuse today. Electricity, for the computer and its either raining or just about to rain. So today we will work on the blog.
We phoned Frankie and James to check how Scarlett was today as she was rather poorly last night. She seems better today, bless her.
Ah, today is another bank holiday. We wish we had all these bank holidays when we were working!
More rain and so more blog writing today. Allan's bad back has definitely taken a turn for the worse. A prolapsed disc from years ago is starting to cause problems. Allan is getting worried that this can't easily be sorted relatively quickly, especially with the restricted floorspace in the motorhome. Usually light exercise, stretching and heat will sort it out but this is the worst it has been for a very long time.
More and more motohomes pulled into the aire for the free electricity. As there are only two electricity points here everyone tried to help each other. With plugs and cables going in all directions.
Here are the sums - If each motorhome took 2 Watts for the heating, 1 Watt for hot water and another 0.8 Watt for batteries TV and fridge, that equals 16 Amps. There are only two 16 Amp sockets but 8 motorhomes. So everyone had to be very, very cautious with their use of power and hopefully mostly only used it for TV and battery charging.
Today finds us still in Villeneuve-de-Marsan.
Allan is suffering badly with his back and is certainly not up to travelling.
Fortunately or should we say miraculously! all was well on the electricity front!
The blog was finally uploaded. Two huge pages and a lot of photos. We have another week to do and also some work on another private website which is something completely different.
We need to have some printing done from the computer today so we popped over to the Media Centre to see about getting it done. We found that it was closed for an exceptional day and in fact so exceptional that they will not be open until Tuesday evening, so that will have to wait. Why is it that some companies that do most things online want forms to be filled in and posted to them by snail mail. This is a form that we have to fill in each year regarding our house and our tenants and they want to have a new form each year, bah!
Still more rain this morning. Dorothy has found a website that said that there are not many rainy days during the winter in southern France but when it does rain it throws it down, and it hasn't really stopped raining for more than a few hours since we were in Spain a few days ago. During the morning we decided that, we should be on our way back north. Perhaps even to Chaunay where we were on 17th October nearly four weeks ago. It will mean a long journey but at least that is more central to France and the weather may be a little dryer. Dorothy drove and we arrived safely in Chaunay at about 4pm.
All the parking places on the Aire were taken up by cars. The locals from miles around have come here for Sunday BINGO and we had to wait for it to finish at about 6pm before we could park up and settle in for the evening.
So, that was the end of our last week in Spain and our return to France.
We only went to two Autonomous communities
in Spain, Navarra and Aragon. Spain is made up of self governing Autonomous
Communities, each separate to each other.
All that Allan knew about these two before was that the King of Aragon was the father of Catherine who was the first wife of Henry VIII. (And she survived)
Now that is a bit of a history lesson to finish this week.
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