On the basis that ‘Travelling Adventures In A Motorhome’ is the title of this blog, it seems appropriate to include some narrative which might prove of interest to those who have been turned to Knumptydom, so what follows is designed to at least fulfil part of the promise held out by the title.
There exists a very helpful website for those of us with a need to know, called searchforsites.co.uk and this provides user-uploaded details and reviews on campsite locations throughout Europe. This had sadly reported a spectacular lack of anywhere in or near San Sebastián where Knumptyers may find safe harbour, save for a single location – an Aire (an area dedicated to parking one’s van and which normally provides the essential water-and-waste facilities we deem so important to ongoing life in a cramped-space-on-wheels) located within the city about a mile inland from the sea.
The online reviews of this particular site were not exactly glowing: often full, busy, cramped, out-of-town – but when needs must, you give it a try anyway. La Chef Du Mapping et Le Weather (Part-Time) had deemed it appropriate to arrive at said Aire at a point in time in which the previous night’s occupants would be departing, and as such, we rolled up at about 11:30, to find about half of the 50 spaces unoccupied. Planting ourselves firmly in one corner and deploying our levelling ramps (oh yes, a sure sign of overnight-intentions, if ever there was one) we were pleasantly surprised that the site was much better than we’d anticipated. It was tucked into a quiet and unused corner of the University campus and surrounded by mature greenery.
Each ‘parking space’ had mown-grass growing through clearly defined hard-standing, so the appearance was pleasant enough – and certainly a little more hospitable than some of the supermarket car parks we’ve snuck onto in our time. Yes, the spaces were close to each other – there would be no luxuriating in recliners under an awning on this site, but hey, we were in San Sebastián, levelled up, safe and secure, and ready to hit the town (for details of which I must direct you to Part 1 of this tale.)
Our arrival here had been preceded by a depressingly dull, rainy and very slow journey from St Jean De Luz, across a completely unremarked border crossing between France & Spain where not one jot of signage denoted the edge of one country and the beginning of another. In fact, having thought we might had to at least have waved our passports at someone, the transition seemed solely to be marked by a subtle change in the brand of car-showroom which profilerated along this section of the route from Citroen to Seat. But hey, that’s Schengen for you. (And let’s choose not to get led astray here about how the Brexit shenanigans will make all this simple ease-of-passage-between-European-countries a thing of the past – I’ve already had my rant-of-the-trip over coffee in Vannes!)
So. Here we are and off we set, enticed by high expectations and a clearing sky, we set off on foot towards the sea, a walk of about 30 minutes amongst fresh-faced students swirling through the University campus, looking variously studious, anxious, hip, trendy or down-at-heel but all, without exception, alarmingly young.
Our return to the van at about 4pm – having negotiated and used the local bus service (with the help of advice from the local Tourist Office) – was far quicker, less taxing on our legs and just as sociable. And yes, the reviews were true – the site was now packed full – looking more like a mobile-home showroom than a campsite, as 49 sleek, shiny, bright white mobile homes crowded around our one little Knaus. A smattering of UK number plates were in evdidence, including our immediate neighbours – a young family with two boisterous young boys (“Tom! I won’t tell you again, put your Crocs on when you get out of the van, and take ’em off again when you come back in! Gnaaagh!”)
A brief rest-up, siesta-style, and then, dressed for the evening, off we set again, back into town, our new-found confidence making mincemeat of the bus-stop locations and associated numbering and ticketing systems, direction of travel, even knowing where to ding the bell at the stop to get off at, all led us into an evening we thoroughly enjoyed. But that, my friends, is where Part 1 comes back into play.