Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer Holiday 2009

Forgot to post a blog entry about our Summer Holiday, noticed it when reviewing my Blogger profile!

In July 2009 we traveled in our motorhome through Europe from Glasgow, Scotland to Malaga, Spain. We seemed to have brought rain with us throughout the journey with the rain cloud eventually disappearing in Madrid! Along the journey we decided to spend a day in the Somme battlefields, Normandy beaches and journey through the Ossau valley in the Pyrenees.

We followed the Circuit of Remembrance (somme-battlefields.com). The very first thing we saw was the Lochnager Crater which was awe inspiring - even after seeing aerial photographs of this, nothing could have prepared us for seeing a crater of this magnitude. The rest of the route was quite somber and sorry, a horrific feeling when crossing the frontlines which were signposted and realising how little they moved at so much cost. One memorial we saw was for a body found in 1998 making us wonder how many more are undiscovered and under our feet.

Somme Battlefield Photos on Flickr

After this we headed west for the beaches in Normandy. The first stop was at Pegasus Bridge where I went around the museum, I found this very interesting. Along with the gliders they also highlighted the use of Bailey bridges - including a Christmas Card from Adolf Hitler indicating his interest in this technology. From here we travelled west along the seafront to each of Sword, Gold, Juno and Omaha beaches and finally Pointe du Hoc. We didn't visit Utah beach and the surrounding area due to time constraints.

Normandy Photos on Flickr

We then spent a day heading toward the Pyrenees. I had plotted a route through the Ossau Valley and since this was close to Lourdes we thought we'd drive through the town to see what it was like - we were very surprised at the cheesy tacky shops littering the town, quite distasteful and cheapening. I'm sure the caverns are spectacular, but the rest of Lourdes most definitely isn't. Here was our first sight of Lourdes on Google Streetview. We didn't bother to stop (or take photos) and carried on to the start of the D918 cross valley drive.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't great, it was a little cloudy so the visibility was poorer than we hoped, but the views were still spectacular! We stopped at a campsite in Gourette, a ski resort with cliffs towering above us an three sides. Overnight the cloud slowly lowered engulfing us. I opened the window before we went to bed to have a look outside with my torch, I couldn't see a thing. Then Louise mentioned the thought of something from a horror film of someone jumping out of the cloud and through the window. Needless to say, I shut the window and we didn't go out again until morning...

Thankfully the next morning was a lot clearer for the drive through the Ossau valley toward the Spanish border. This was a high climb and was a very clear and sunny day. Spectacular views from the border post were to be found. We stopped at the border for lunch where I had the interesting experience of walking across the border from Spain into France for a loaf of bread. I didn't have my passport with me either which could have been interesting if the post was active. "I walked all the way to France to get this loaf of bread" I said to Louise on return!

The Pyrenees, D918 and Ossau Valley Photos on Flickr

After this we decided to head straight for Malaga, we were planning an extra day in the Pyrenees but decided to surprise Louise's Mum and Dad by arriving a day early. It takes just over a day to drive from the Pyrenees to Malaga so we stopped for the night near Valdepenas, the following morning we drove around Valdepenas on the lookout for some cheap wine, this town seemed really depressing and we didn't find anywhere to buy wine either. We decided to continue on and a few hours later we arrived at Louise's Mum and Dad's house only to find they weren't in! Imagine after driving 2000 miles to discover they were out... luckily we had a key so we could get in and crack open some wine.

During this trip we did some more work to our own house in Olvera and spent time relaxing. I read George Orwell's 1984 which I found fascinating.

All the photos I took from this holiday can be found on Flickr:
July 2009 Roadtrip through Europe on Flickr

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