Monday 8th August. This was moving day. Dad had pushed his sugar up the night before so he could drive. He drove all the way because it was very windy and Mum wasn’t confident. When we arrived we realised we had made a big mistake! Le Bacarès was just like Burnham-on-Sea. Now don’t get me wrong – Burnham-on-Sea is very nice to some people; it is just NOT our cup of tea and Dad realised we were stuck here for 10 days. The initial welcome left a lot to be desired as well. We were kept waiting for ages because they only had one person on reception in the busiest time of day! First we were told to move the caravan to a specific place which Dad did. Then Security came and said he couldn’t leave it there! That was red rag to a bull and Dad exploded (in English, of course!). Well they eventually got sorted and we were on our pitch which was a quiet pitch as requested. Then Mum & Dad had to put the awning up by themselves in strong winds which led to a specific type of challenge! Well eventually they got it up and we came out into the awning to view our new location. To add insult to injury, the wifi wasn’t working mon evening – probably because the dopey girl on reception had turned the router off when she went home!
Tuesday 9th August. We woke to a fine sunny and warm day but still with a strong wind. Mum & Dad had a shower so we were late going out and we popped down the local supermarket and then went to Le Bacarès old port. It was actually quite nice by the old port with loads of expensive looking yachts and Motor Cruisers moored there. We went back to the caravan for lunch and then went to a nearby village called Canet en Rousillon. This was a lovely old Catalan village with a nice church, some parts of the old town wall and, of course, a bar! After a quick drink we drove on down the coast to Argeles sur Mer which was just as horrible as where we stayed; Collioure which was just like an old Cornish fishing village – quaint but absolutely nowhere to park!; and Port Vendres. Port Vendres was a bit like another Cornish town with a bigger harbour with lots of expensive boats in it! We got parked here and then had a stroll around the harbour and the local church before settling down for another Beer!
Wednesday 10th August. This was Perpignan Day! We found a good Park & Ride and took the bus into the city centre. Perpignan is a lovely old town with loads of history. We got a map from the Office de Tourisme and managed to get around most of it seeing numerous historic sites and churches. Late in the afternoon we found a bar where Dad really felt in need of a large Beer and, for once, actually got a half litre! He really enjoyed that and then we got the bus back to the car and went home.
Thursday 11th August. We started this day after our usual breakfast of French Bread and cheeses, by going shopping to the local Carrefour. Mum actually went in while Dad stayed in the car with me and Syd. Then we headed north towards the Pyrenees and went to a village called Vinca. Here we had a drink and then found a nice cool park to have our lunch in. After lunch we went on to Prades which is a nice town with a very good tourist map which “sold up” every building there including most of the schools!. However, it did have an absolutely beautiful church which we really enjoyed looking around before making a hasty retreat as a coffin was brought in for a funeral service. Then we sat in a cool bar outside overlooking the Mairie and the Church. Finally after a couple of beers we headed home.
Friday 12th August. This was our day of the Mountains when we went deep into the Pyrenees on Le Petit Train Jaune (the little yellow train) – actually a tourist train which was very expensive but did take in some stunning scenery and very steep climbs. We actually travelled to our destination of Fort Romeu in an open coach with wooden benches and Mum found it quite ironic that we had paid so much for our tickets in such a basic coach! I should point out that we actually chose to sit in the open coaches and had we sat inside with less of a view, we would have had more comfortable seats. On arrival in Fort Romeu we took the Navette (shuttle bus) through the town some 5km away and up to a Hermitage beyond which had shelters signalling the 12 stations of the cross and at the top, the most incredible views possible in every direction of the Pyrenees. After we left Fort Romeu we went back on the train, through the highest railway station in France not served by rack and pinion trains and then back to our starting point near Villefranche de Conflent. We then drove into the village itself which sits within a completely intact town wall and was a beautiful village. WE liked it so much and spent so much time there that we decided to have our evening meal out and return home very late for me and Syd who were promised a lie-in Sat morning!
Saturday 13th August. We were indeed given a long lie-in made even longer by Mum & Dad going off for a shower! When we eventually left we went straight to Banyuls-sur-Mer which is the first place south of Port Vendres which we visited Tuesday. Banyuls-sur-Mer is built on a small headland and benefits by having a small beach on the north side and a larger beach on the south side. Being much smaller, the north side is much less commercialised – just our sort of place!We grabbed a parking place on the way through so went to the edge of the beach to have our lunch. It was a lovely spot for a lunch break. After lunch we drove to the southern, more commercialised part but didn’t stop until we had left the town, climbed up a little and could take a photograph looking down on the town. Then we moved onto to Cerbère, Cerbère is a lovely totally uncommercialised place – right up our street! One thing we did notice and so too did Kenny & Sydney, was that there was a different language being spoken here. Yes, we were very near to the Spanish Border and there were a lot of Spaniards about. Dad can cope quite well in French with all the questions he gets asked about Me & Syd but, Dad does NOT speak any Spanish. It was quite amazing though to see him get by with a bit of French, a bit of English and a lot of sign language he was able to cope with most questions (though we don’t know if the Spaniards actually understood, do we?!!), The railway is very important to this town and not only did it have a big station, it also had a huge goods yard as well! We, of course, found a bar run by a very amicable Spaniard who made me & Syd very very welcome and even brought out flaked almonds and a dish of water for us. Syd jumped straight in to the flaked almonds but I wasn’t keen – I mean it was something new and just because Syd ate it…..Syd eats anything!!! After we left here we drove the long and tortuous route across the border into Spain. The road was incredibly bendy with some tortuous bends but we did eventually get to the border. It had all the border crossing offices in the road with Stop signs but there was no-one around and several of the windows had been broken! We stopped on the border and me, Syd and Dad had our photo taken under the European Stars sign marked Espana (like we have for most of the countries we visited last year). After the photostop we went down into Portbou which is the first settlement over the border. Dad was pleased to be in Spain, if for no other reason than, he could order una Coke Light et una Cerveza Pressioni por favour! Dad was even more pleased when he actually got a pint glass and the bill was less than it would have been with a small beer in France. Yes, the bar prices were much cheaper in Spain than in France! After our drinks we climbed the hill to the local church as Spanish churches are often very beautiful but on this occasion it was closed. When we got back to the car we left Spain behind and retraced our steps back home!