Sunday, 29 November 2015

Road to Spain

Now our Italian adventure is done we look forward to a winter of sun and lazy days on the Iberian Peninsula so we set off across the Med coast of France
The first night is spent near Aix en Provence up in the hills in a quite picturesque region. The downside is when we awake its shockingly cold and the heating goes on for the first time since last winter



We pull up at a lovely marina near Bellegarde next day and 'Fozz' it to nearby Arles
How we made it I'm not sure as its blowing a hooligan although quite warm in the sun bizarrely


Its not compulsory to enter my dear...


The bull ring at Arles


2 chocolat chauds in the nearby cafe just about thawed us out


So cold here we felt it could snow..

Next morning its bitterly cold although clear skies and a diminished wind means it will be another sunny cloudless day but things are not well in battery world..
The leisure battery status is so poor I have to switch to the vehicle battery to run the on board systems. In motorhome world this is a bad thing and signifies serious issues as normally we can go up to 5 nights without the need to hook up to electric or break out the genny for an extended run
Its reared its head several times this past few weeks and finally I have to admit perhaps the time has come to replace the original leisure batteries.
Given that they are nearly 4 years old and have had a lot of use on a daily basis we decide to travel to Beziers to a dealer who can check them over.
This is duly done and the tech's battery tester confirmed not only were the original batteries shot but also the extra one I'd had fitted 18 months ago was also duff (probably due to it having supported the other two for so long)
We have a technical discussion and I come up with the idea of binning all three but just replacing the two external batteries. This is warmly received by both the French tech lad and Nina who has suddenly discovered a knowledge of on board power management and agrees that the two solars up on top would serve just two batteries in winter sun far better than three
In hindsight the third battery (fitted before I had the second solar panel) was a folly but they have served us well.
€468.00 later and we headed for a really nice private Aire near Beziers for what was to be two days of battery charging via site hook up


Beziers 




Not to be confused with the successful Montech water slope this one here at Fonserannes suffered big technical issues. It was abandoned in 2001 and today looks quite sad and neglected
It was a means of pushing larger barges, too big for the canal du Midi, up a water slope, thus bypassing the locks. The machinery spewed hydraulic oil under the tyres removing traction but think that was one of several issues at the time


Next day we stay near Perpignan and nervously monitor those new batteries
The Aire is quite superb for facilities but my God its cold at night here in the wind


We enter Spain next day and things are very different. Beauty and the Beast above is the view from the van as we pull up for a buffet lunch Spanish style at a restaurant/stopover just over the border in Catalonia
This was a real bargain here. The restaurant was run by a guy who spoke good English and we tucked in to a buffet style 3 course menu with large choice of dishes, a litre of red wine, and all for the princely sum of €9.50 each….
We even had servicing facilities for the van next morning….


All that food needed walking off so we head in to the village



Blue skies are the backdrop to the local church adorned with the Catalonian colours



Being kind to the batteries becomes a priority this week so we move off reluctantly to the coast in search of a hook up and end up staying for a very pleasant two days at Palam├│s on a multi tiered Aire not far from the two marinas. There's a washing machine here too so that was half a day gone for 'wash boy'





After a nice glass or two at the marina bar we stroll in to town



Not too picturesque but they have harbour side views



Its a functioning small port with some nifty cranes….



The harbour starboard entrance sculpture


Our journey so far this trip...









Sunday, 22 November 2015

San Remo & Menton

A shortish trip along to San Remo next day saw us in a Riviera town but with that Italian feel and very different to that of Monaco


Still some great old architecture and reminders of its affluent past


Bond was on at the town's cinema


Cheaper mooring costs I suspect than its French neighbours


Oh dear there could be trouble ahead..




'Sea food selection' near the front in San Remo. Wish I'd had the Pizza..


A twisty ride back past the site and in to France again as we visit Menton, thankfully in the dry




We took the short hike up to the church and followed the narrow walkways down in to the bustling interior, brimming with shops of course!
Nina found the Pandora one, again...






A taste of things to come with walks at sunset along the shorelines hopefully of Spain & Portugal





'Beam me up Scotty'




Saturday, 21 November 2015

Monaco

We decide to bite the bullet and take the Autostrada as far as we can to get nearer to the French border without any hillside dramas. Its fortunate we did as it more than halved the journey times over the next two days. Quite amusing really as each time we paid a toll fee it had us down in a different class rating of vehicle than before. Arriving in Latte, (literally milk due to its prehistoric river deposits) quite relaxed after a pleasant drive both days we locate ourselves in a modest campsite 


Looking over Grimaldi to Menton



Monaco in the distance through the haze


Fozz needs Kangajuice so after we fill up (€11.00) I pull the bike forward to let the eighty-something guy in the black ferrari out. Thats a maserati parked up on the kerb BTW


Fozz is parked with the jet set for a few hours


Been here many times but still love the place...


If only Nina...



Not all glamourous here I'm afraid. There's a huge building project going on harbour side that has your ears humming



Too much fibreglass here but we discover a carpenter's dream of a boat



The 'Lady Moura', moved 20m since our last visit...




My wallet stayed firmly where it was..




The Hotel de Paris 


Some nice motors parked out front too


As far as we got


A ferrari in camouflage


Nina was quite upset that it was too early for the Xmas switch on, the council guys were busying themselves decorating Monte Carlo as we strolled along its walkways


A rather famous gambling den...


12 cylinder Merc



Not quite Meadowhall is it?


Some Real Estate up for grabs if you have the wonga



Fozzie's French counterpart...


Nina said any of the cream ones would do


A sexy Citroen


Manuel Fangio immortalised in Bronze and weighing more than 3 tonnes



Billionaires in our own way….


A walk up to the Prince's Palace and more shops to discover and some great views over both bays



Changing of the Guard




and its beautiful interior


The Port de Fontvielle 


Any apartment dear, just choose


The Palace at dusk




We had a few failed attempts at 'Menton' turn offs on our way home which resulted in a couple of laps of the F1 circuit, albeit at 50kph…..