You've seen - and hopefully been inspired - by our 'end of Year' video, as we leave beautiful Spain and embark on our Long Way Back home.
We've been asked so many questions about our motorhome Gap Year - including the practicalities. So here are some nuggets of information and inspiration to help you on your way:
Number of Miles / Kilometres driven 14,270 / 22,965
160 stops in the year. A mix of Campsites, Free Aires, Paid Aires and Freedom Camping, in an average of three nights per stop.
See all the stops click here for a map with a review of each one!
We spent 16 nights each outside the van during the year. Some with family and friends and some as treats as we went along.
On Your Bike!
Number miles / Kilometres cycled 783 / 1,260
And walking, too! According to my iPhone we walked average of 15,000 steps a day during the trip. This was up from my average of 5,400 a day in the year before. So a lot further, approx.10 km per day!
Litres of diesel bought (we still have a half a tank!): 2,640 at a cost per litre on average of €1.0023 per litre. The app says we got an average of 25.22 MPG (who are we to argue!) and also says it cost €0.22 per mile.
We used 200 litres of gas at a cost €120. This kept our fridge cool and heated us up and cooked our food. Good value all in all!
We have had a number of repairs to do on the NiKi and our Bikes
First Service €149,00, tyre repair €19, two new tyres €300 and a new wing mirror €300 (following the 'prang'). We had to have the shower tray repaired at a cost of €250, 2 new door shelves for the fridge €35 and misc. other things at a cost of €100. The totals being €768 for the vehicle and €380 for the habitation. We have booked in a habitation check for the 16th Jan and the awning needs adjustment after the wind damaged it had back in Sept. So you can add another €200 to the habitation. Grand total for all NiKi repairs and maintenance for a year on the road and a few accidents = €1,348.
Did we stay on Budget??
We were very fortunate to have a larger budget for the trip than most long term motorhomers we met. This was perhaps due to the nature of the trip. We planned to eat out a lot and so put more money towards that. To finance our day-to-day spending we used the rent we received from our home in London. We were fortunate to have 4 wonderful Spanish people staying in our home and we thank them for looking after it so well. Even then with the bike issues and some other overspends we ended up £1,500 over budget for the year.
Our bikes had a number of issues and if you exclude the €500 we spent on buying a second hand one to replace the one we had stolen we spent just under €200 on them. Replacement spokes, tyres, inner tubes, plus a full service on the second hand one.
We had 37 visits from friends and family throughout the year and want to thank: Jeanne, Keeley, Janet, Debbie, Pat, Mick, Gary, Zoe, June, Alison, Conor, Alex, Keeley (again), Trish, Cath, Martin, Jonathan, Mathew, Neil, Keith, Scoop, John, Pat, John, Alison (again), Cath (again), Peter, Liz, Keith (again), Scoop (again), John (again), Dot, Norma, Toddy, Carole, Joe and Alice for taking the time and effort to share some of the adventure with us.
A special word of thanks has to go to Stan and Francis, David’s aunt and uncle, who without their unfailing support during the year we may have been a little stumped when we had to get replacment bank cards sent down to us and when Karen had her cast taken off. Abrasso’s to them all!
The museums of Spain are fantastic, we will always be amazed by the treasures of the Prado and the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid and many, many more throughout the country. The country is a treasure trove of antiquities we made sure that we visited as many as we could.
Spain has 45 UNESCO world heritage sites, third only to China with 49, and Italy with 47. We were lucky enough to visit 23 of them on this adventure, missing 2 out, as we had visited them on earlier trips.
Elddis has challenged us, on our Long Way Back home through Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and more, to visit as many UNESCO sites in NiKi as we can.
In Spain we experienced, in order:
All in all, Spain brought us real joy! The food was stunning, the people extraordinarily generous and kind, the scenery truly majestic - a love affair forever for us!
If you are considering a visit, leave the Costas behind, go inland or north. If you open your arms and your mind, Spain will reveal its soul and true joy!
And finally some pictures from the year. This album gives a real flavour of what is achievable in a motorhome and how we 'got under the skin' of Spain - and vice versa!
We hope one day you too might follow your dreams and take the plunge like we did a year ago.
David and Karen, The Grey Gappers x
Guitar museum Almeria
Cycling down to Cape Trafalgar from Barbarte
Cape Trafalgar lighthouse with the most lovely woman posing!
The Gappers attending the opening of a bar in Rota ... with free food and drink!
Karen being artistic on the beach near El Rocio
NiKi stops to take in the view near El Bosque.
Setenil de las Bodegas where the cliffs float over the bars and restaurants - well worth a detour.
Seville Cathedral - a UNESCO heritage site. The city is a throbbing heart of what is so much of Spain.
Jaen - mile after mile of olive trees. This one province produces as much as 70% of Spain's olive oil, which in turn produces as much as 48% of the world's and - something we think is funny - 20% of Italy's. As to be Italian olive oil you only need to have 10% Italian oil in the bottle!
Karen's house in Spain near Cabra. Lots of olives here too.
NiKi taking in the view, lots of mountains in Spain
Baeza UNESCO club - well worth a visit.
Baeza another UNESCO site. A view back to Ubeda from the cathedral tower.
Ubeda - another UNESCO site, along with its sister town Baeza. A view from the city walls.
Ubeda another UNESCO site along with its sister town Baeza, an Italian renaissance town in Spain. A stunning church inside and out.
Barcelona Gaudi chimneys at the Palau Güell.
Barcelona Market - such lovely food beautifully presented ... does it get better?
Barcelona Market 'La Boqueria'
Dali's home in Port Lligat
Dali Museum in Figueres
Girona river view.
Llafranc view of the beach.
Mataro Hospital ... Karen gets her arm put back together!
Barcelona. Gaudi's masterpiece: La Sagrada Familia, inside
La Sagrada Familia.
The Pyrénées near Espot
CAMPING RÍO ARA, TORLA-ORDESA, HUESCA - such a lovely spot.
Wild distant vistas near Sos del Rey Católico, Zaragoza, Spain
On top of Vizcaya Bridge, the world's first transporter bridge, in Bilbao.
A view of Vizcaya Bridge, Bilbao.
Pintxos in San Sebastian
Keely and Trish visit us in Bilbao - dinner in the van.
Outside the Guggenheim Bilbao
Pintxos in Bilbao market - it's not only San Sebastian!
Bodegas Ysios, in Spain’s Rioja region.
Burgos Cathedral - another UNESCO Site
The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. The only path or walkway that is a UNESCO world heritage site. This is a picture taken in Burgos Cathedral
Burgos Cathedral. The dome, which is incredible.
David outside his golf hero Seve's home golf club in Santander.
A marker on The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James.
A 'Grey Gapper' stone set on the top of the Picos De Europa. There was snow on the ground here in July when David took the cable car up. On top of the world!
A cow on top of the Picos De Europa. all above the clouds.
Identical twins having a chat outside a bar in the Picos De Europa.
NiKi and the Picos De Europa.
Covadonga, Asturias, Spain - the alleged turning point of the Christian reconquest of Spain.
The shrine at Covadonga, Asturias
Another great view of the Picos de Europa
A panoramic view of Asturias and the Picos de Europa
Cudillero, Asturias - a most picturesque fishing village. Great food! Near Cathedral Beach
NiKi parked up at Senda de Oso, Entrago, Asturias. The route of the bears and, ye,s we saw bears!
Another view of Les Medulas, taken from the drone.
This was a surprise - a Gaudi-designed building, hundreds of miles away from Barcelona in Astorga, Leon.
Cathedral Beach, Asturias - very busy and very beautiful.
The walls of Leon. Yes, another UNESCO site!
Las Médulas, a whole mountain washed away by the Romans over two centuries. Another UNESCO site.
The Parador (Luxury Hotel). If you are in the first 5 that complete the Cammino de Santiago you get to stay free, at Santiago de Compostela, the oldest continuously operated hotel in the world.
The interior of the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.
Some of the what are called 'peregrinos' (pilgrims) having finished their journey outside the cathedral Santiago de Compostela
Another view of the town of Santiago de Compostela.
A symbol of the 'Caminio de Santiago' at Fisterra
A sun downer on a beach in O Grove Spain.
It rains a lot more than you might think in Spain! Here we were camped up looking for wolves at Figueruela de Arriba, Zamora, Spain.
A view back to Segovia from the Alcazar
Alcázar de Segovia Just one of the most beautiful castles you will ever see. Very romantic!
The Acueducto de Segovia and, yes, yet another UNESCO world heritage site! Spain has the third most in the world!
Karen outside Palacio de Cristal, El Retiro Park
The Palacio de Cristal in El Retiro Park, Madrid.
David outside the most amazing art gallery perhaps in the world - The Prado Madrid.
Wandering through Madrid with Syl and John our friends from Spanish Class in Vejer
Salamanca Cathedral. Yes... Salamanca is another UNESCO site!
Plaza Mayor at Salamanca
Even the petrol stations are classy in Salamanca!
Pentecost at La Alberca
We visited Jerte, the home of cherries in Spain. Karen was intent on eating the lot!
NiKi parked up in Aldeanueva de la Vera, home to the best Pimenton in Spain.
Close up with a Griffon Vulture in Monfragüe National Park
Monfragüe National Park
A view form the top of the Cathedral in Caceres.
WOMAD at Caceres - another UNESCO site.
The Roman ruins at Merida, UNESCO again
Plaza Espana, Cuenca - another UNESCO town
A shot of Cuenca's Parador to the left and the town on the right.
The Jewish quarter in Toledo, UNESCO again
Panorama of Toledo - stunning UNESCO city.
Easter procession Toledo 2016.
Another view from the tower of Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
The view from the tower of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, UNESCO again. The most stunning building!
Doñana National Park, flock of flamingos
Doñana National Park, Sunset
First visit to Seville Cathedral.
Carnival at Cadiz - a special event!!
Gib! Worth a daytrip - cracking views!
La Janda school at Vejer. Very, very good, but we were the dunces of the class of two!
Karen using the gym area of our lovely Van. Plenty of room in an Elddis Encore!
Arcos de la Frontera, truly lovel Pueblo Blanco. Vejer is still our favorite!
Party at Camping Vejer, Wiliy showing us how to make a proper paella.
Vejer de la Frontera - our first home in Spain, where we really tried to learn the language!
Our first sight of the sun in Spain! Mmm, does it rain much after all here?
First taste of Spanish food ... and not the last!
Departure - leaving Portsmouth on 8th Jan 2016. It seems like such a long time ago we set off as complete motorhome novices!
Visit our Blog and join us on our next adventure: The Long Way Back
Watch the movie - A Grown Up Gap Year. Thousands have watched it already.
Spoiler alert - features a grown man crying!