Dan and Claire on Sabbatical!!

Welcome to our blog, we hope you enjoy following our adventures!
We split our sabbatical in 2 parts:
Part 1 was from March to June 2010 touring around in our campervan in France and Spain.
Part 2 started on the 7th of July when we left Scotland to cycle through Europe and the Middle East to Africa in the remaining 6 months (back for Xmas).
Have a look at the route below and we'll try to post pics as much as we can!

xx

Cycle Route to Africa

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31 Mar 2010

Olive and almond groves

We've just had a lovely tranquil mini holiday :o) Staying at a campsite called La Fresnada in the Matarrana...total piece and quiet.
We did, however, manage to fit in 2 really cool cycles; training has officially started for the big cycle. Given the way I (Dan) was feeling after two days cycling I got a long way to go (Claire felt totally fine!!!!). The campsite is run by a dutch couple who started a few years ago and is definitely worth a visit if you're in Spain: beautiful views, small scale and extremely stylish and clean. We might go back...
xx

27 Mar 2010

Barcelona booze and birthday!!!!!

Claire: How cool can a birthday trip be? We arrived in Barcelona Tuesday evening and after a very nice shower in Sweder and Babette's hotel (such a coincidence that they were in Barca too), they asked if we were up for a bit of extravanganza. 'Bring it on' we said...
Dan: We were stinky and dirty, we'd ben climbing all morning in Siurana (I'd done my toughest route of the trip so far!). We met our friends outside their posh hotel and asked about having a shower...so nice to have a proper shower. Then we had a wee drink, that started to grow into a big drink :o)
Claire: Wowsers! If you're ever in Barcelona you need to have dinner at Torre d'Alta Mar! The lift takes you up to 75 meters and with a view of entire Barcelona you dine in style. Babette and I even got a stand for our handbags next to the table :-)
Dan: The man at the door to the resturant presses a button to open the door! What else do I need to say? I wasn't really paying attention when we got into the lift, I thought it would go up one floor. It went up 75m above the Barcelona port. I got an excited giggling fit and jumped up and down. The food was amazing! By 1am we'd scuffed a white, 1 1/2 red, dessert wine and port, it was time for a club...
Claire: We skipped Kluivert's wife's club and went to the one next door. We didn't envi Sweder and Babette because they had to wake up at 6.30 to catch their flight... We had one of these amazing nights that happen. They seem to happen less and less when you're getting this old (33!).. The day after we struggled abit so apart from strolling around the old city and the market we coudn't do much. Went to an amazing concert of a female spanish guitar player in a church!!!
Dan: 5am Claire was standing in some dodgy area of the city shouting that she wanted a kebab...thats my girl i thought. Its pretty hard to get a kebab at 5 am...in the end i dragged Mrs Richardson off (after a nice chat with 2 policeman about Scotland and their guns)
10.30 am I thought i was going to die!!!!!
Claire: My birthday consisted of shopping in Barcelona with Dan (who never wants to shop but decided that it was my birthday), cheese tasting (which was amazing, thank you Delton/Mensur/Janwillem!) and tapas+japanese dinner. What more do you want? Although, I aways thought you never could have enough cheese but even I felt sick after 2 hours of tasting local varieties in copious amounts :-). Thanks for the nice birthday messages xxx
Dan: Too much shopping, too much cheese and too much city :o).
Claire and Dan: We're in middle of nowhere now and its GREAT! Just been on the best cycle ever (Tell you about that later). Take care xxx

20 Mar 2010

Margalef and pork feet

We´re back in Camping Siurana because we like it here so much but we´ve spent 4 amazing days on the other side of the Montsant mountains in Margalef.
You can camp for free next to a big dam that creates a beautiful lake and the area is so green and deserted. Except for all the hypies who seem to camp there forever in their vans, we were about the only ones without dreadlocks! It was so nice to wake up in the morning and have breakfast in t-shirts and we used your camping shower Russ, it is great!
I´m suddenly climbing much better with my shoes by the way, so to all calvinists who think it´s not the gear but their own technique I have to admit, part of it is... :-)
After 3 nights there we really felt like some cosy-ness in a village with tapas and coffee bars so we drove back to Cornudella for a tapas and drinking party last night. But the most disgusting ever: we ordered something that looked like a pork chop but it fell apart in bones and fat and turned out to be a 4-hour stewed leg! I forced in a few tiny bites but then we smuggled it to the toilet in a napkin because we didn´t want to insult the bar lady..
Anyway back on our clean and luxurious campsite with internet, cafe con leche and showers.
Love Claire&Dan

14 Mar 2010

Sunshine!!!!!

We've just finished the most amazing curry ever! Cooked in our very own Cobb oven...its a great little invention that gives a really Aga like cooking style, just like being at home ;o)

We've pretty much had wall to wall sunshine for the past few days and the temperature has risen above zero degrees too. We're still having a great time, lots of climbing a walking.

I've been gradually building up the climbing after my 3 month lay off though injury, it feels really good to be climbing again. Claire's really getting back into it as well (she even lost her temper today cos she could do a climb). I even managed to buy Claire a new pair of climbing shoes...this a fairly significant event as i've been trying to get her to upgrade her shoes for about the last 18 months. So she'll have amazing climbing footwork within a few weeks :o)

We're planning on staying in this area of Spain for the next 10 days. Probably move campsite in a couple of days to Marglef now the weather is improving.

Hope everyone is happy and well,

Mr and Mrs Gypo
(happy breakfast reading)

10 Mar 2010

Siurana

We decided to stay in Siurana for a while. It's cold here, but it's the most beautiful place ever! feels like time has stood still in this tiny spanish village on top of the cliffs and there are nice bars in the little alleys and streets. Everywhere you look there are beautiful views of mountains (National Parc of Monstant) and you can do lots of walking, climbing and reading books with a cafe con leche. Tomorrow we're going walking to Cornudella, a village down in the valley.
Hasta Luego xx

9 Mar 2010

Winter

We thought we were driving towards warmth, sunshine and coffees on the terraces of Spain but it’s been very cold!! We spent a few days in the lovely Navarra area near Pamplona, camping on a ‘vergane glorie’ campsite with almost no other people and enjoying the remoteness of this area. The villages are tiny and people quite foreigner-unfriendly. In 1 bar on the first evening (with graffiti outside saying “kill the parliament”, “Spain for the Spaniards” and “Viva la revolucion”), an older man came up to Dan and said “oye rubio, que me cuentas” which means something like “hey blondy, what’s up?”. I said we were from Scotland and then he walked off again!


The van is nice and warm, so sleeping is the best thing you can do here! We climbed 2 days in Extaurri which was magical with tens of vultures flying around building nests. When Dan reached the top of 1 climb a giant vulture flew off flapping his wings just above Dan’s head, I thought it was going to attack! We drove south towards Barcelona to seek the warmth and ended up in picture perfect alpine looking Siurana! It’s beautiful with at least a foot of fresh snow. Not exactly what we expected but stunning.


3 Mar 2010

We're here!

Hey peeps,
We're here in Bilbao, sitting in a cafe outside the Guggenheim museum drinking a cafe con leche (that's a coffee with milk Carolyn xx). Weathers nae so good for the next few days, but looks like its getting better soon. So it'll be sleeping bags and the duvet in the van for now.
We're off towards the Pamplona area at some point today for a wee bit of sporting action.