Just leaving France now…

2018 14

(Tourist Office in Palencia)

We’re still on our journey home but only just. As I write we’re sitting in a supermarket car park in Cherbourg, less than twenty minutes from the ferry and almost the last bit of the journey home. We’ll soon be moving over there to get into the queue. Lots of things, nice things have been happening since I last wrote to you. We stayed an extra day in Palencia, which was lovely, but it meant we had to drive longer between sleepovers. I suppose that’s another difference between the outward journey and the return… the consequences.

2018 1

(Old stationery shop)

So I got another chance to walk the streets of the old town and I even visited a very old original looking stationery shop. The owner was a young man, maybe it had been his grandfather’s shop. He was chatting to a friend when I came in looking for blank cards (you remember I ran out of them in Portugal?) Neither of them spoke English but they did everything they could to understand me. The friend guided me to a computer behind the counter and brought up Google Translate for me. I typed, I want to make greeting cards, do you have any blank cards? (Maybe I could have been more eloquent or possibly clearer?) Or maybe no one in Spain makes cards or “blank card” means something completely different. Google couldn’t help. The friend was explaining he would go and get someone who speaks English when I decided maybe this is how my stationery addiction ends. I thanked him multiple times and left empty-handed but kinda joyful.

2018 8

(Where are we?)

Next day we drove to another city we hadn’t been in previously, Vitoria Gasteiz. The brochure from the tourist office says it holds the sustainable tourism certification Biosphere… and it has 42 square meters of green space per person who lives here! We were only here for one night but I would love to visit again and see some of the seven parks dotted around the city.

2018 7

(The tram runs on grass)

They also have a free motorhome parking and it’s very near their tram system, making the journey into the old part of the city easy peasy. The tram line is set in grass which is surprisingly nostalgic. I think there’s something similar in Krakow. Can’t help saying, Aww isn’t that lovely, even to yourself.

2018 9

(Made in Cork!)

I wandered around for hours in the very quiet afternoon and found some Irish pubs. Parts of the city looked like Temple Bar on a sunny Sunday with people sitting outside pubs on the narrow streets. The I found a little cake and coffee shop crying out to me. There were empty tables outside and when I opened the door there was no one inside but the smell was amazing. You remember the smell… you are little, you arrive home from school and there’s a sponge cake baking in the oven?  No? Ok, if your Mammy didn’t bake (my Mammy did – thanks Mammy!) then it’s worth your while finding an easy recipe, bake a sponge cake and give yourself the treat of the smell. You don’t even have to eat it!

2018 10

(One of the squares in Vitoria Gasteiz)

There was a cake baking. Eventually a young man in an apron came out of the kitchen, he and his girlfriend love to bake and decorate cakes and they run the shop together and bake. Yes the cake and coffee shop was indeed open. I had green tea and lemon drizzle cake (the sponge was still in the oven.)

2018 11

(One of the pieces in the Artium, Vitoria Gasteiz)

I wandered some more and found the Modern Art Museum, Artium. Very interesting with a bonus …the names and description of the art was only in Spanish and Basque. This is a bonus because then you can only enjoy the pieces you like and ignore the pieces you don’t with no need to understand someone else’s interpretation. I’ll tell you about our journey through France tomorrow. In the meantime…

…see you in 17 hours, Ireland! Mairead.

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