Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 1 February 2008

Day 4 - Millau (France) to Castelldefels (Spain)

Well I finally crossed into Spain in early afternoon today and about two hours later was rolling up to my hotel in Castelldefels.

Leaving Millau today, and indeed arriving there yesterday, took me through some spectacular scenery. As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, large parts of the A75 autoroute are at a significant altitude (well above 700m, often above 900m and upto 1,110m) with the dips in between, which are frequent. rarely dropping below 750 or 800m. The approach to Millau from the north yesterday was particularly spectacular; although I've not actually visited the Grand Canyon (although I have flown over it) parts of the Auvergne in France remind me of a miniature version of it. Today the road leaving Millau was equally spectacular, although I was concentrating on getting the car down the steep descents in the motorway (950m down to about 225m within less than 10 kilometres) without putting it - and me - over the crash barriers into the abyss! Gradually as we approached Béziers (where the A75 more or less joins the A9 autoroute just south and west of Montpellier) and the coast the sky had begun to brighten and there was that quality to the light you only get in the winter on the Meditteranean. An added bonus was that because the were now at much lower altitude it was a little warmer (around 12degC) and that continued to improve a little until when I was driving down past Girona and through Barcelona it had reached 15degC. Much more pleasant! Unlike last year when I skirted Barcelona on the AP-7 autopista, this time I had to travel through it, a task which I think would have been completely and utterly impossible for someone not familiar with the city without SatNav. Truly this is a gadget that, when it works (which is most of the time), is astonishing - it delivered me to the door of the hotel. All I had to do was follow the instructions carefully and maintain rigid lane discipline, particularly when travelling through the tunnels and underpasses which characterise the motorway network within Barcelona.

On an even more mundane note, the hotel is located opposite a large shopping centre with a Mercadona supermarket so I shall buy some essentials there tomorrow morning (salad vegetables and eggs, mainly) as, unlike the UK, no shops open on a Sunday in Spain and that's when I'll be arriving in Mazarrón - I'll probably eat out in the evening, but I'll need something in the house for breakfast on Monday.

Tomorrow I shall be travelling to Alfafar, a southern suburb of Valencia. However, shortly after leaving Castelldefels tomorrow morning I'll be making a detour to visit the place I'll be staying at for a couple of nights on my way back north in late April; it is close to Sitges, which is just south of here.

Possibly after I come back from dinner this evening (which I'm going to go down for in about an hour) I may get another entry on the blog - there's a letter in last week's Economist from Ben Bradshaw about the NHS that I just came across a day or so ago and it badly needs a kicking taken out of it!

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