2010 – frAnCE-sPAin-pOrTuGAl

3 months long we worked like crazy to prepare the bus and it was ready just the day before we left..
With an insecure feeling we left southwards.. why, because the bus had not done many miles since I had the bus on the road ( it had also been stored for 30 years), I had done 95% of the work myself and there were a few leaks..

Anyway, heavily loaded we left on Friday the 13th ..?!  at 5pm for 3 weeks.

I quickly reaslised that the bus and I had to get to know each other and like all experienced VW bus drivers know, they have a soul and so later on during our holiday I could feel when she had good days and bad.

It’s Saturday 5pm, after a full day drive and 1100km further we finally arrived on a campsite in Capbreton to pickup my daughter who was staying with her Mum on a surf camp .
The next day we took off to Bidart at a campsite named Oyam were we stayed for a week, at first we were happy we found this campsite as due to a national holiday (15th) in France all campsites were packed! It’s when we moved out of the campsite we got presented a bill at a were I got really pissed off, specially knowing it was just a regular 3 star camping with nothing special and a stinking sanitair !! 43€/day rate ??!!

1 week later we dropped Sam back in Capbreton with her mum and headed a little bit back up north for a local show in Soustons, once we paid and arrived on the field we realised this was not our cup of tea, the location was great (at a lake) but the combination of their 25th show and the amazing weather made it to a completely packed field, we didn’t find a spot and at some point ended on a dead end, the road was very bumpy and driving backwards wasn’t a possibility so I took a right in the grass between a few busses and some tents and all of a sudden it goes .. BANG.. I tried first gear but no movement I tried reverse but with no result.. Luckily the bus got some attention and some Spanish people came up to help us. After a few Chinese hand signals the guys lifted the van up front and I moved backwards.

Apparently it was the leftover from a sawn tree that was hidden in the grass.. A few mins later and no result for a spot we just had it, turned around and left! Later on I checked the underneath and noticed I got some serious chassis damage that didn’t make me happy..

Anyway from there on we decided to go back south and drove past San Sebastian where we spent the night on a parking. The next day we got up started driving further south and swapped Spain for Portugal
It’s not untill 11pm before we stopped in Belmonte Portugal after a frick’n hot day driving, at some points so hot that I had to shut the safari’s as it felt like a hairdryer blowing in my face.. 😀
Through a guy from the ssvc forum I received some info (cheers for that mate!!) about spots which were worth a visit and so we did Tomar which was beautiful with it’s old town and amazing (big) castle.

The next day we took off to Antonio from Vintagevans who is based just under Lisbon. He’s the man who found my Hi-top and ever since I got it the plan was to meet up and so this became reality. We arrived there at lunch time and received a huge welcome from Antonio, his team and Matt (the cool hippie!) . After a big tour in the shop, Antonio took us out for lunch!
I told Antonio I wanted to do a check up on the van and so he put it on the bridge.. I noticed that my gearing wasn’t going properly and was right about my feeling as one bolt on the nose was loose and apart from ½ litre gearbox oil and the left front wheel bearing that needed a bit of tightening everything was fine.. We also adjusted the springplates a bit more as there was hardly any space for them with all the weight..

Antonio realized he had something left for me and all of a sudden he showed up with 1 litre green and 1 litre white of the exact matching paint so I can blend in all the welded areas perfectly.. Wow what a nice surprise (Antonio if you read this I’m still very thankfull of what you did for me, you are a great man!)

Matt, kind as he is, offered us a nice hot shower at his place and later on that evening we all went out for a lovely dinner.
We stayed around Matt’s for 2 nights and slept on his parking lot, we made a visit with the ferry to Lisbon and did the climb (with the buggy not very easy, believe me :-D) to the castle which was more than worth it .
Later on the day we headed back up north to a place called Obidos which was beautiful.

Over the next days we did a few more places and ended up by the river in Porto were we met a young Spanish couple in a brand new VW T5 “California beach”.
Funny was that the guy (Walter) showed me a rolling shot of the Highroof when passing a few hours earlier on the highway.
The next day we visited Porto and after that we went further north to a place Walter recommended, after a bit of searching we came to a very very cool and quiet bay, absolutely lovely and hardly any tourists (mainly locals).

We parked right on the beach and had a nice dinner under a beautiful starry sky ..

The next morning we got up early and did a nice long beach walk over the different bays, at lunch time we realized there wasn’t any food left and so I went on the hunt for mussels, half an hour later they were served with fresh garlic, black pepper and some toast and they tasted great.. however our tummies didn’t agreed with this and so we had a few toilet moments over the next days.. 😀
A few days later when driving near to Santander I noticed there was something not right with the engine, I felt a lot less power and when going into a higher rpm she was protesting..

I called my mechanic Leslie in Belgium to see if he knew what could be wrong and his first guess was that the contact points needed to be changed, since the engine had been placed in the car they were never replaced (at the last check they were still fine) and so far we had done around 4000km’s, I took the bus to the next big village because I didn’t had the right tools and because I’m not experienced enough with this fine-tuning and thought I’d look for a garage the next day.. After another call with Leslie where I specified my problem better he answered “nope, it’s not the points but there’s probably some dirt in your carbs”!
After a horrible night on the loo (those mussels needed to come out 😉 ) and a great cold morning shower on the beach I decided to check the carbs and as usual Leslie is right (with these things), I cleaned the carbs, and put it all together and took her for a spin.. yup she was even going better than before!!

We decided to drive further north and passed Bilboa, which is, apart from a cool name, very boring. Continued to San Sebastian (for the 2nd time, this is simply nothing for us, loads of tourists and no parking spot after 45 min!) and ended up late in Biscarosse (France). I did a road trip 3 years ago and had a great time there and so we decided to spent our last days here for some surf and relaxing at the Lake..

We were witnesses of a massive forest fire opposite the lake, apparently a campsite and 200 ha of forest were on fire in just a few hours, we saw how “canadairs” were working the whole day to fight the fire..

Saturday 5pm we started driving back home and arrived sunday afternoon tired but very satisfied from our holliday/roadtrip..
We had an amazing time with some lovely memories, the van who officially became a member of the familly now carries the name Stella and has never let us down not even when the thermometer reached 40° ..
We’ve been away for 24 day’s and the speedo counted 4383 miles or 7053miles, however due to the smaller tires it’s not that much and with a more precise calculation we came out on 5700km which I think is good for a first roadtrip and after 30 years being stored…

Anyway enough talking it’s time for pictures now!!!

For those who don’t know us (yet):
Lucy

Me

Sam&Lowie

And stElla!

Just before leaving..

Stopped after Paris to get some sleep.

The next day @ Bordeaux where we came of the highway due to traffic jam and because my knee’s were sore so I needed a bit of exercising..

Arrived on the campsite in Capbreton to pick up my lovely girl and stayed here for the night, this was the only time we’ve seen a bit of rain.

This campsite (Oyam) in Bidart was awfully expensive!! We spent a week here at a rate of 43€/day ??

Anyway, quite happy that I brought the old awning as sleeping with 4 in the bus made the highroof still very small and we were very happy to chuck all the crap in the tent 😉

The sea just behind the hill was very close to the campsite..

Sam loves climbing and so I abused that a bit whenever we needed to fill up the fridge with some Beers or getting the empty ones back in the crate 😀

While Daddy was doing the BBQ and Mum was feeding little Lowie, Sam found the camera and enjoyed it a lot .. 70 pics taken in 5 mins 😀

A few impressions of how much fun she had..

Little Lowie getting a nice fresh bath every morning

and as usual the safari windows came in handy for the laundry 😉

A little trip through the Pyrenees..

Where we eventually stopped at a River that had a nice current and so Sam had a very good time in there.

Compared to our last roadtrip in the UK, where we saw a lot of splitty’s, we only saw 3 in France..

Even Sam says that a Holiday in the bus Rocks!!

And when the kids are off to bed… ..

Daddy&the kids on the last day before Same goes back ..

From this point on it was road trippin and so no more campings! On our way to Soustons for a local show we stopped at Hossegor lake to cool down a bit as it was very hot.

By the amount of pics i’ve taken (2) I know how much I liked the show (not even a splitty  pic..) ??  You can see here that it’s a cosy field but it was way too packed for us..

As said this is the damage I got from getting stuck.

On our way too San Sebastian

This is probably why it’s so touristy (in combination with the old bit which we never saw..)

This is where we spent the night after passing San Sebastian.

A quick stop to stretch our legs before we do the long drive to Portugal.

The evidence we’ve been in Spain 😉

On our way we stopped for lunch and for those who ask themselves how we showered this year, well.. 😉

And because it was so extremely hot, we decided to give the bus a bit of a rest as I noticed she was struggling in this heat. Very noticeable was the price for the cheap petrol in Spain! (1.10/L compared to the most expensive in France 1.51/L, a big difference!!)

And back on track.. well with a chick on the back seat I wasn’t always focused on the road  😛

Sunset cruising..

Eventually we arrived at 11pm in Belmonte next to the castle where we went to bed after a few beers.

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