July, August and September, the absolute summer months in Spain and those months most dreaded by many for being the busiest, hottest and costly.
Were they? Yes, in answer to all 3. Did we manage? Yes, of course and we, like all the other months, have thoroughly enjoyed them.
For the best part the 2nd quarter of our trip passed relatively smoothly apart from a very poor Spring, weather-wise. So we assumed that - apart from the odd incident like tripe tapa coming back to haunt us - that the next 3 months would be the same. How wrong we were, did we or had we fallen in to some sense of false security with it all as these months proved to be where our most ‘disasters’ happened.
We moved into the summer months heading north-west to the Galician coast passing through Castilla y Leon and with tales of woe about the weather, I was expecting the worse for what the northern part of Spain could throw at us weather wise. ‘Weather’ we were lucky or not, the weather has been very kind to us all along the northern coast line. Sunny, hot, but not with the extreme temperatures of the south, nor with the rain that everyone predicted and often happens especially in Asturias and the Picos mountains. Yes we did have some bad days but overall the weather has been a delight.
What was a shock to us was just how busy the north was during August and on a couple of occasions we were very nearly caught out for both camp sites and Aires alike. Campsites were already booked and must have been booked months ahead. We were put on waiting lists and/or told to come back. There seemed to be no wrong or right time to turn up during the day. You just had to hope that someone was pulling off site and you were there just at that opportune moment.
During the months of July & August the camping discount cards didn’t apply and some sites in prime locations were between €40 and €50, a huge amount out of your daily budget and so Aires came into their own. However, every motorhomer has the same idea and so quite often you would join the trail of vans trawling around the popular areas.
During these last hot months we left windows and doors open, but we never felt under any threat at all. As per previous blogs, we never leave anything on show if we are away from NiKi and will close the front driving window blinds when we park up for two reasons a) keeping the sun out and b) so people can’t see the layout of the van.
Barcelona, as ever, was a tale of horror stories with vans being broken into whilst the owners were doing their shopping etc. Again we treated this with caution and ate out there all the time!! Usually we stayed outside the main city and stocked up outside the city before arriving. Unfortunately for David’s weekend golf party, the tales of Barcelonan pick pockets did come true with 2 of them being robbed late at night on Las Ramblas. Only once during these months on an Aire have we thought about moving on late at night and in the end the only real threat was the locals’ terrible flamenco singing.
Again only once during these summer months or in fact any months have we been moved on– on this occasion from a beautiful seaside car park. But to be fair it was inevitable as more vans arrived and then instead of being sensible given it was a public car-park, out came awnings, gazebos, barbeques, tables, chairs, all and sundry. So by midnight on that Saturday evening along came the police and off we all had to go. Fortunately we were able to move but again would have had to have said no if we both had drunk too much, some Spanish vans did brazen it out but for the most part we all left.
Disasters came slowly to begin with and a few ‘learning about the van’ facts rather than disasters. It took us 6 months to realise - by accident - that if you hold the light switches down for a time the lights drop to a lovely romantic dim - a very nice effect.
Next – a more major one - is that you have to double push the fridge door for it not to open when you are driving and making turns. For the first 6 months although the door often opened and contents flew out we thought it was just us overloading the fridge and a bit of a poor design maybe. However at some point during July we weren’t so lucky and the plastic door shelves one by one got broken as the door and contents flew open and out. A bit of a Google on the internet and we found out about the double click to close. With friends visiting replacement shelves were sourced and are now in place.
Then onto the real issues which came in the usual three: breaking the left hand wing mirror in a side to side tap with another motorhome; leaving the awning out in a storm; and me tripping over an unmarked awning peg at full pace resulting in a fractured wrist. The one I would most liked to have avoided obviously was the last. The wing mirror following a very close second though! All have been resolved more or less and I have just 2-3 weeks to wait before the cast comes off.
Driving without a wing mirror had become more than difficult and for the last few weeks there has been only David driving, but overall despite the wing mirror it’s still has been great to drive. We search out the cheap diesel and have reduced the cost per mile. According to David’s app it’s costing us on average 23 cent per mile –much cheaper than what my MG costs me at home for fuel.
As the summer months have hit we have done more outside living when and wherever possible and the awning really has come into its own shade-wise, plus also the solar panel. Both are such a good addition. The inside of our lovely Elddis Encore 254 still looks just great even with all our clutter. The fridge has been the only let down to some degree and that has been our fault as much as anything for not really using some sense as we should have from the start. The cooker with it’s one electric hob out of the 4 hob rings is just brill and the oven has been put to use in these last few months- mainly for pizza but nevertheless. The microwave remains good for storage in our case but we can see how it would benefit families.
So life on the road after 9 months- what shouldn’t or should we have brought? Unused by me thus far- yoga mat, ankle weights, hair straighteners, several pairs of shoes and some clothes that were never worn at home that for some reason I seemed to think I would wear on the journey.
For David the drone has been a slightly underused luxury, but otherwise we think we have got it right. We have bought more kitchen utensils and some crockery as we have moved along but that has been part of the learning from what we cook and don’t cook … and also to be honest we just like buying bits occasionally. David has added to his tool kit, but only minor things particular to certain jobs like the wing mirror. Bluetac has come into its own for holding the phone in place on the dash board for our sav nav app and also as an earing holder for me!
Budget-wise, again, as before personal choice, but for us we have been so lucky to have family and friends visit, plus we do like to eat out and see things, so we have had to add over the last few months to our spend. Plus, sorry to say, but Brexit has hit us exchange wise. We do spend more than most but that’s our choice and the choice we made for the trip, but we are still within our comfort zone.
Therefore as we come close to completing the circle of Spain, with so many places still unseen I can honestly say that life and living in a motorhome is an absolute thrill and joy and I still wouldn’t trade or swap our wonderful Elddis Encore for any 5 star hotels or other make or model of motorhome!
Follow us for the last 3 months as the sun begins to set on us and our adventure in Spain!