In August 2011 we spent a few days in our campervan in Hendaye; a pretty little seaside town on the border between France and Spain. Gerry had a yearning to find a fish restaurant beside the sea somewhere in Northern Spain so we headed off in search of lunch.
First we stopped for fuel on the outskirts of San Sebastian before looking on the map and choosing the area around Getaria. These were the days before google maps and smartphones so a map and a rather basic Garmin GPS were our only travel aids. I’m not sure if you remember the old GPS systems but they really weren’t great!
We followed the GPS out of San Sebastian and headed off in what we thought was the direction of the motorway. But alas no. Our GPS lead us along the narrowest of narrow roads where our van just about managed to sit on the tarmac so goodness only know what would have happened if we met something coming the other way. Onwards we travelled along this ridiculously small road until we could see the autoroute! Phew! What a relief. Except there was no relief. We travelled along our tiny road alongside the motorway for a short distance before heading back inland. (images curtesy of google streetview).
Our little road became more and more narrow and more and more rustic as we drove up higher and higher away from the motorway. It became less like a road and more of a track along a ridge. Either side of the track fell away with steep sides to the left and the right of us.
Up we went and our campervan slowly edged it’s way along with us all holding our breath, watching in silence and I suspect all praying the same prayer… please let this end and let us find a road! Finally a house came into view and then a real road and then a road with a white line down the middle and finally a junction. An old chap watched us approach and I suspect he was wondering how on earth a campervan got there! As we turned onto this proper road we were rewarded with stunning views of the coast. All of our worries melted away and we sat there, looking, stunned by the beauty of this coastline that was laid out ahead of us.
We ended up in Zarautz but there were no places to park our old campervan so we continued on to Getaria and as we drove through the town we found a little car park that was just perfect for the van. That drive along the coast was the start of a love affair that is as strong today as ever.
It was this love that brought us back today to Gerry’s beloved Getaria. We walked part of the Northern Camino in 2018 and our mini-break was planned to end here, repeating that stunning coastal walk. Except it didn’t happen.
We know that we’re lucky to be able to travel during these difficult days. We take precautions by renting apartments, driving everywhere in our own car and bringing our own food and bedding. We’re walking in nature and we’ve seen very few others, and of course we walk with mask, gel and wipes. Today as we arrived we could see that half the population of the area must have had the same idea as us. The path was really busy. People walking shoulder to shoulder with couples and families with children, all enjoying this beautiful sunny Sunday.
It was too busy. We sadly accepted that there would be no walking today. Instead we drove on and found a parking space right on the seafront which was the perfect spot for a picnic.
We sat and watched snorkellers dive around the rocks, (one came in with an octopus) and fishermen lined up along the rocks trying to catch their lunch. The sea was calm and so so blue and pleasure boats bobbed around on the horizon. It was a beautiful setting and we were so sad that our plans had been scuppered but this coast will be here for us when we next visit.
We ate our fill and finished off with a cup of hot tea before turning the car around and heading home.
It wasn’t the ending that we’d been looking forward to but as we drove home along the motorway towards Bordeaux we both decided that we’d had an amazing few days. We agreed that being in one place and going off to walk and explore was a good way to travel. It won’t ever replace walking point to point for me but it’s a wonderful way to create adventures. We also talked about our future. COVID-19 has changed our world; who knows when it will be really safe for us to travel again? Retirement is just around the corner and by next way May we’ll have much more flexibility to travel and we can only hope that it becomes easier. In the meantime we’ll spend our days working at home, decorating, sorting and working in the garden and of course, walking around the glorious hills in our corner of France.
Stay well dear friends… we’ll see you on the next adventure!