14th November 2016. Sitges, Spain.

(This morning is an important occasion I’ve just squeezed the very last possible drop of toothpaste out of Mandy’s £5 tube she bought in Eichstatt Germany, I had to get our moneys worth!)

Today we’re moving to Sitges which has been recommended by a few people, we’ve no idea what it’s like other than we’ve been told it’s pretty.  Darren mapped a route through Barcelona so we could follow the road along beside the sea.

The first task was to get out of the aire which proved a lot harder than we’d expected.

A van had parked opposite the exit and another car had parked right on the corner of the one way street beside the gate the way we needed to turn.  Sod’s Law says that as Darren pulled out of the aire and blocked the street a car came up behind him.  I started directing him out between the vehicles which was proving to be rather tricky when out of the blue a good Samaritan appeared, he was brilliant, did all the hand signals for turning the steering wheel the way it needed to go (Darren said I flap my hands around and he has no idea what I’m trying to tell him) and Darren was able to manoeuvre the van through the small gap within a couple of minutes, I thanked the man, he smiled back and carried on his way.

Darren had programmed the SAT NAV to take us to Sitges along the coast road although it kept trying to take us all over the place so he had to add way points along the coast road to get it to take us that way.  I’m glad he chose that route, the views were stunning, although I’m not sure how much he managed to see on the twisty, turny road.

We stopped to pump the tyres up half way to Sitges.  It proved to be quite entertaining.  As Darren manoeuvred the van up beside the tyre inflator a taxi driver pulled round in front of him with the intention of squeezing his vehicle in between the van and the pump to do his own tyres.  He looked really cheesed off to discover Darren wasn’t leaving a gap and when he saw him get out of the van and start using the air he drove off with an air of resignation, parked round the corner then wandered past Darren and into the shop.

The route Darren had chosen took us through Barcelona.  We were a bit nervous about this after our previous nerve wracking unintentional sorjourn through Marseille but he thought it would be interesting to pass through it (he’d already visited it twice so we didn’t feel the need to go there on this trip {once with Mandy}).  It was a good choice, it was fantastic seeing modern buildings popping up in the distance and the mix of modern and historical buildings along the route but the best bit were the tunnels, they were lovely.  The wall between the carriageways had arches in them of varying designs and those that didn’t have arches had vertical stips of different colours.  The roofs were all different and there were interesting things to see on the roads above as we exited the tunnels, the best of which we were thrilled to see as we exited a tunnel via a big helix.  Darren likened it to going up a helter skelter as we were driving up it, as we popped out at top of the helix we were greeted by an unexpected sight, first we saw a large steel modern sculpture, the ramp spat us out in the middle of a roundabout and around the outside were huge historical buildings.  It was very exciting driving through Barcelona and looking at the architecture, I’m not sure Darren saw anything other than the traffic milling around him.

The rest of the drive along the coast road was beautiful and reminisant of yet another fair ground ride, The Cat and Mouse ride.  Darren pulled into a lay-by to let the cars behind go past and a short while later another motorhome pulled out in front of us having done the same thing.  We followed him the rest of the way into Sitges and were hoping he would lead us to somewhere to camp but Darren diverted when he saw a camping sign pointing to the beach, our friends had camped beside the beach but we had no idea where.

There ensued an hour of driving around Sitges looking for somewhere to stay.  We drove down along the beach to begin with but we weren’t sure whether we were allowed to park there.  There were meters all along the road but there were no buttons on them, just a slot for a credit card, curiouser and curiouser.  It later transpired that they had been locked and the buttons were under a metal cover.  We drove to the other end of the narrow seafront road past the beach front restaurants and fervently hoped there would be somewhere to turn around easily considering the large audience we had.  Luckily the road looped round and we drove straight past them all again.  Sitges did look beautiful and we were looking forward to exploring it.

Our next port of call was the aire Darren had programmed in on the outskirts of the town.  We drove through an industrial estate and then as with a lot of the aires we’ve stayed in the road narrowed considerably and we ended up on a dirt track which involved a 100 point turn (a slight exaggeration perhaps).  We eventually found the way in, the Spanish seem to have raised sloped curbs at a lot of their entrances (always scary for us in case we knock the spare wheel off yet again) and this was no exception.  However just to make it a little more of a challenge there was a lorry parked opposite the entrance with its side propped open but Darren took it all in his stride and squeezed the van into the ‘aire’ or scabby hole, the latter being a more apt description.  It was truly horrible, it was on a slope and doubled up as the recycling area, there were large oily patches all over the concrete and we were the only ones there.  We pulled over to regroup and have a very quick bite to eat (a handful of nuts and a Twix as it turned out) as we hadn’t eaten since 8.30 that morning and it was now late afternoon.  A couple of French vans turned up but they weren’t stopping either, they were just filling up with water.   Darren had seen a review which mentioned people camped in a car park by the golf course, he took a look at the map, found the car park beside the sea and we set off to look for that.  Yet again the SAT NAV tried to send us on a wild goose chase but Darren was on to it this time (as documented in ‘SAT NAV Hiccups’ below)

We drove down another narrow road, passing a huge flock of sheep grazing on the golf course, and finally driving along a rough old ‘road’ if it could be called that until we came to a building where the road narrowed even more, we could see a caravan parked in the car park but nothing else and as we got closer we noticed the entrance had a barrier leaning across it!  A couple of men had been standing chatting and one of them came over smiling at us and through a combination of miming and pigeon English said he’d move the barrier so we could swing round and go back the way we’d come, which is precisely what we did.  It was very kind of him to do that for us.

We decided that Sitges obviously didn’t want us to stay so we pulled over beside the beach and got the book of Aires out.  We found one 45 minutes away and decided we were leaving, however as we were waiting to pull on to the main road Darren suddenly spotted a huge RV parked in the distance so we decided to see if we could find the road.

Our first attempt was a fail, there was a height restriction stopping us from going down the road we thought he was in so we turned around and went in from a different road.  We eventually tracked him down with Darren’s words still ringing in my ears, “That’s it if he’s not down here we’re off!”  There was a sign by the entrance saying this was a new aire!  How did the German van find it and thank goodness they did!

I wasn’t too sure about stopping here at first, it’s not a residential area and it’s right beside the railway line but Sitges looked so pretty that it would be a shame not to visit now that we had found somewhere to stay so we parked up.

Apart from the trains going past every once in a while (it was great, I saw a double decker train!) it was a very quiet spot with the view of a cute caravan.

SAT NAV Hiccups

Our SAT NAV has started doing the most extraordinary things.

Darren was checking to see how long it would take to get to our friend Beki’s house.  He was a bit confused when the SAT NAV informed him it would take 18 hours particularly as it had been half that amount of time when we were back on the Spanish border.  On closer inspection he discovered how our journey had lengthened so dramatically, the SAT NAV had decided that the most sensible route would be to drive a distance down the main road then hop on to a ferry over to Palma, Majorca and then back over to the mainland then continue along the main road!  What IS going on with our SAT NAV?  Darren tried adding a way point but it was still very keen to take us on a ferry ride even though he has the NO FERRIES box ticked.

Our SAT NAV is doing that more and more, it has refused point blank to take us along the coast road since we started driving it in France, instead it takes us on the most convoluted route quite often retracing its steps along the way.  It has been rather worrying because each time we’ve wondered whether it’s doing that because the van can’t go down there for some reason but then we look back to the steps and the tiny bridge incidents it seems that it’s just out to make our lives as difficult as possible! (Conspiracy theory No. 124!).

On the journey to the beach in Sitges it told Darren to drive 200 metres along the road, do a ‘U’ turn and come back then turn right.  Luckily he’d already noticed that it had two purple lines on the screen and made the map bigger so he could see what was going on and managed to take the left turning with seconds to spare.  It’s alright when you’ve got to be wary of your SAT NAV’s advice.

Leave a Reply