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Entries about driving

Montagne Sainte Victoire

By Abby

sunny 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Montagne Sainte Victoire

Montagne Sainte Victoire

Today we woke up at a very reasonable time, nine o'clock. The only unfortunate bit was that we were woken up with a "We have to get moving because we have a really long day ahead of us." But then we decided to discuss our options and chose for a different kind of day. We were going to drive to Aix-en-Provence, and climb a mountain (Montagne Sainte Victoire--a mountain that inspired Paul Cezanne) that was just outside of the town.

Our GPS led us to the town without too many problems, but after that it was a nightmare. The traffic was terrible, and any time that we kind of knew where we were going the street we were supposed to go down was closed. And to make matters worse, our GPS didn't know that the mountain existed. After much frustration we were able to leave the town and decided to stop in a municipal park for the little village of Le Tholodon just outside Aix en Provence for lunch. We ate lunch on a bench inside a small area dedicated to the playing of pétanque.

Montagne Sainte Victoire:Part Way Up

Montagne Sainte Victoire:Part Way Up

Eventually,by our own fantastic navigation skills, by two o'clock we were at our destination. Because it was so late in the day we knew that we weren't going to make it to the top, but we wanted to get a little of what we had come for. We had heard that it was supposed to be a cold day, but there was barely a breeze and the sun was shining...and it was quite warm. I happened to be wearing leggings under my jeans to keep warm...not the best idea. After some time of climbing I was so hot I could barely keep going, because I also happened to be wearing the warmest shirt I had brought. But my dad found a place for me to change and I was able to get into cooler clothes. The sky was a pretty blue and there were no clouds to be seen, it was really a beautiful day.

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Paragliders over the Summit

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Paragliders over the Summit

We saw about four people floating with paragliders over the mountain's summit. We ended our hike a short way from the base of the actual mountain, which you could not reach from the side we had approached it on. The wind had started up but we appreciated it in our hot state, and began our walk back down again. It took us a while to find our car because there were so many parking lots, each between 50 and 120 metres away from each other. By the time we did find our car we were content with our days work and were each granted a well deserved drink of water. We started the car ride back and before I knew it I was woken up to be told we were in the grocery store parking lot, ten minutes away from our apartment. Our shopping trip took longer than expected (and we spent more than expected!) but we were able to get the next couple days covered for food. Right when we finished unpacking at home, Hannah started dinner and we were able to eat a nice warm meal of taco-jitas (tacos with fajita sauce). We plan to get to bed early tonight as we are most likely going to be touring many towns tomorrow and it will be a very full day.

Posted by KZFamily 14:04 Archived in France Tagged france mountain driving sainte montagne aix_en_provance victoire Comments (1)

Travelling to Madrid

By Ben

all seasons in one day 11 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today was a travel day from Bilbao to Madrid. It was pouring in Bilbao when we left. We were able to get to Madrid on a route that avoided toll roads which is a fair accomplishment in these parts. It did mean some winding roads and crossing a remote mountain pass. The difference in travel time was less than an hour and the distance was almost equivalent at 400 km.

The weather on the trip was quite wild. We had high cross winds, fog, driving rain, bright sun and more than just a little snow going through the mountains. The temperature went down to minus 3 and rose to 11 degrees in just an hour of driving. Any stereotypical images you may have of Spain just being a dry and dusty land are hopefully now thoroughly shattered.

The traffic consisted mostly of trucks and didn't get thick until we hit Madrid. It was nice to come into Madrid by mid afternoon in the sunshine and a temperature of 11 degrees. The drivers are a little more relaxed here than in Paris but there is a lot jostling just the same. We were blessed once again by the parking angel and found a place close to our hotel to get checked in. Parking is at a premium here. We will be in Madrid for 5 days and it will cost us 100 Euros for parking our Kangoo. The consolation prize is that our hotel-apartment is in a great location and is the nicest place we have stayed in so far. We will be very comfortable over the next 5 days (hopefully not spoiled).

We are in need of a little more Spanish words to help us through but were able to figure out through charades with the parking garage attendant how to get at our car after hours. This morning before we left Bilbao I had to let in the water meter reader which was another exercise in charades and lots of mention of agua, agua, agua.

Abby is feeling a little under the weather again but is putting on a brave face for us all. We hope a good night sleep will help clear things up. She hasn't been up and down for a while but keeps on soldiering on. We have had a fairly low key and relaxing evening.

I am having issues with our laptop and getting connected with the WIFI here. I am borrowing Abby's laptop to post these few words. I hope that tomorrow will bring some solutions. All our other devices can see the wireless network for our building except mine. The odd thing is that I can see dozens of other wireless networks and did see two other connections from the hotel but they have disappeared over the course of the evening. As a result of the problems I won't be posting any pictures today.

Thanks for some comments by a some more readers. We appreciated seeing comments from George, John, Marianne, Sheila, Irene and Sharon G. in the past few days for rounding out comments by our more regular contributers such as Opa and Rob.

Tomorrow we will begin some wandering in Madrid and scope out some places to get tapas and ingredients to make Paella.

My Dad asked about what the economics are like. So far we can say in Bilbao there were some people quietly looking for a donation but nothing to the scale we see in Victoria and in Madrid we have only seen some aggressive squiggie people at the stop lights.

Posted by KZFamily 13:29 Archived in Spain Tagged driving madrid Comments (3)

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