On the road home to Ireland – II

Cabo de Ajo, between Santander and Bilbao

Costa de Ajo (2) 

03.06. Zaratan, Castilla Y Leon, beside Valladolid

Our next sleep-over was 400 kms north in the Castilla Y Leon region further north, in Zaratan, beside Valladolid.

We stayed in the pink bedroom of the 5-year old daughter of our host, another find on Airbnb. The new pull-out single bed was amazingly comfortable. Nigel went to the bar to watch yet another football match, this time Real Madrid and Juventus, while I tried to make headways with the blog. So he is getting into the spirit of living in Spain by eventually following the Spanish football.

IMG_20170603_145341fields of barley with cornflowers

The next day we drove towards Cantabria, on the coast. As soon as we climbed the Cordilleras, the climate changed dramatically. The clouds hung low and rain greeted our journey north. The temperature went down to nine degrees. This was the end of our lovely warm, sunny journey through Spain and the start of acclimatising again to the Atlantic weather torments.

We would have liked to see the pre-historic cave paintings in Altamira, west of Santander. These are at least 14,000 years old. But as the museum closes at 15.00 on a Sunday we would not have made it this time around. [http://en.museodealtamira.mcu.es/Prehistoria_y_Arte/la_cueva.html], http://en.museodealtamira.mcu.es/web/docs/Conoceelmuseo/Mda_Brochure_Museum_of_Altamira.pdf%5D

I had a small hotel booked at the sea in Cabo de Ajo. At least the next morning brought some clearer weather.


France 04.06 – 06.06.17

Through France it became briefly warm again around Bordeaux. But going towards the Normandy there was no denying pullovers and jackets were needed again, at least for me. We allowed ourselves two stops in France, north of Nantes in Niort and 30 minutes from Cherbourg, Barneville-Carteret.

06.06.17    Barneville-Carteret, Hotel de Paris

We were a day late for some festivity, which meant that everybody recovered and most premises were closed, including restaurants. The local restaurant bar only served pizza, no doubt the frozen version.

So we had to take the menu in the hotel; which wasn’t bad, with three choices of starters, mains and desserts, all for €17.90 per person. But we were told in no uncertain terms not to be earlier than 7 pm and to reserve a table. But what surprise it was to me to realise that the food was ok but not up to standards of the famous French Cuisine. My baked courgette starter was good but Nigel’s fish cakes were dry and had little hint of fish. Our duck legs were ok but as is normal in France there wasn’t much with them so we had to order a portion of chips, to the consternation of the front desk lady, who was also doing all other duties, except the actual cooking. She said that this was not part of the menu (our neighbouring eater also had chips) and it would confuse the chef.

Well, Nigel insisted, so they came eventually. Unfortunately the desert was evidentially pre-cooked the day before and consisted of cold and dried-out fruit crumble in a ramekin, served without custard or cream and lacking in sweetness.

What a great disappointment! So we didn’t chance the breakfast for €8 each the next morning and drove the 4 miles to Carteret. This is the actual seaside town, boasting a harbour and 4 star hotel. There you can have breakfast for €17.95 per person. Suffice to say we declined and went to a small shop, that offered breakfast and stocked an amazing amount of teas in pretty Chinese tea chests. It also stocked kitchenware and accessories, all with gorgeous designs. No wonder, as it was run by three women. I ordered two fresh orange juices, green and black tea, all selected from the extensive tea menu. Then I hoped for baguette with ham and cheese respectively. Only to be told ham and cheese were not on the breakfast menu.

In France, the country of delicious varieties of cows, sheep and goats cheeses, no cheese for breakfast? And I even went through the embarrassment in trying to order in French. They could if we insisted but of course I didn’t want to cause too much hassle so we had our freshly baked baguettes with home-made jam and honey. I also bought 200g of the delicious fresh vanilla flavoured green tea I had for breakfast. Then we went to pay and saw behind us – a counter with cheese and ham! We were incredulous.

So now you know why we prefer Spain over France!

           Image result for port of carteret

The Carteret lobster.                              Port of Carteret.

Wikipedia tells us that Carteret is located facing the Channel Islands (Écréhous 12 km, Jersey 22 km, Sark 40 km, Herm 45 km, Alderney 45 km, Minquiers 45 km, Guernsey 55 km), and Chausey 55 km). There are 1578 second homes, a hotel capacity of 151 rooms and 600 campsites. The summer population is estimated at 12000. Tourists are attracted by, among others, the marina (311 berths inside, 60 visitor berths, and 95 anchorages) and for fishing, mostly for crustaceans. Together with Portbail and Denneville, Barneville-Carteret is part of the Coast of the Isles.

Leaving Cherbourg with Irish Ferries on the Oscar Wilde.

And that is the end of our first part of finding a new home in Spain.




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