Matthew and the Girls
We surfed, skated, camped in the wild, ate nutella & brioche (lots) , shopped (not very much), explored, got lost, chilled out, sketched, played music, tried languages and smiled...a lot!
A break down of our trip, where we went, some highlights, tips and stories!
Firstly, what we spent:
Fuel, parking and equipment came to about £85 each
Food for 10-12 days (hard to remember how much we spent, but between 4 it wasn't much)
Flights if booked early about £60-80 return
So, depending on how much you spend on food and souvenirs the trip could cost less than £200
Before hitting the road we did a shop to get some gear and food for the trip. We bought a small stove, a couple gas canisters, some cooking equipment, a couple cheap lamps and then a ton of food! Brioche and Nutella being a very important purchase, as well as pasta, sauce, cereal, long life milk, fresh bread and lots of water! Oh and chocolate!
Despite Matt already knowing Bordeaux very well, for Anna and Hannah it was completely new, so, we explored with the benefit of a personal tour guide. We spent time skating in the street (which the police didn't seem to love) we met some of Matt's friends, ate kebabs (apparently the best kebabs voted 2012/13), we chilled in an english pub on the quais (this is where Benjamin, Matt's friend likes to take his dates) and then headed home to Matt's family where his mother cooked us our last home meal before hitting the road...a stunning duck dinner with a yummy chocolate cream for desert!
The journey through France towards San Sebastien was intensely beautiful, the Basque country incredibly mountainous and green. When we arrived we parked by the beach, which was conveniently also right by a super flat area where people were rollerblading and skating. Our first skate spot, with the perfect view of the surf. Matt surfed here!
After the surf, our first challenge...where to sleep? The solution, Matt and Anna simply walked into a hotel and asked, 'where can we sleep around here for free?' The guy literally circled 2 places on a map. IMPORTANT buying a road map for wherever you are travelling is super useful when looking for somewhere to camp in the wild.... you can literally just look on the map for mountains and/or trees and head in that direction...it worked for us every time! We found a place to sleep in Mount Ulia, parked the car, waited till dark and set up camp in the forest over looking the city...beautiful! Our first meal, tinned Ravioli! Yum!
We awoke nice and early to avoid being seen (something we seemed to worry a lot less about further into the trip). It had rained so despite the many hills and potential skate spots...no skating for us! Cereal, teeth, repack car (this became a daily task) and then off into the city. We shopped, Matt bought a basque beret and then we climbed the hill up to the San Sebastien statue. It's free and there's a stunning view from the top-definitely worth doing!
The journey to Bilbao was stunning, lots of villages filled with flats in the mountains, touching clouds and crazy overlapping roads. We arrived in the city, parked underground (expensive so not ideal) and went on the hunt for a map and sleeping bag for Hannah (it's definitely worth having an above average sleeping bag if you want to keep warm at night) This potentially simple task took us way too long, the challenges of following directions in a foreign language...not always easy! We then hit the road again in search of a beach and somewhere to sleep!
We headed towards SOPELA (previously named Sopelana) a fairly short drive away from the city. This is where we found my favourite place to sleep, on a headland overlooking the sea. Here we were awoken to the shockingly loud sound of a donkey, but also to an amazing view.
NOTE: Many of the places we found to sleep, weren't too far from official campsites which we could have easily stayed in. But we had the benefit of beautiful views, saving money and the freedom that comes with wild camping! It's worth the added effort.
We spent a couple nights in Sopela, travelling to Bilbao city centre during the day. In Bilbao we visited the Guggenheim museum, which was tiring but pretty epic. There are three floors exhibiting all sort of work, my favourite being the work of Niki de Saint Phalle on the third floor. She had a range of pieces, my favourite being a book about Aids, illustrated by children...it was captivating! We ate a bolognaise sandwich for lunch (a little pricey) chilled in the city and then headed back to Sopela.
We parked at the beach FREE PARKING YAY! Matt and I surfed, no gloves or boots! The water felt amazing! For me, surfing in new places with lots of potential people for me to hit can be intimidating, but I loved it! The sun was out so we chilled on the beach, then cooked by the car, drank sangria, and danced on the cliffs as the sun went down. (Head lamps make great disco lights) The perfect night, no clouds, a clear sky and endless stars! There was a bar by the beach, which we ventured into...the girls had scouted it out earlier in the day and anticipated it would be pumping. We arrived to James Blunt playing...not so pumping! So we chilled, had some cocktails, bought chocolate cake and then headed back to our cliff top to sleep...it was cold! We swiftly put up our pop up tent, and slept SO well!
(By day 5 we still hadn't showered..unless the sea counts?)
TRAVEL THROUGH SPAIN
We hit the road leaving the coast, heading towards the mountains and the middle of Spain, with Maroon 5-Songs about Jane as our soundtrack! This day was a great day, we drove for over 3 hours and then stopped by a luscious secluded river at the bottom of the mountains (too chilly to swim in April) Here we chilled, listened to reggae, I drew, we slept, ate and wandered... beautiful! It was pretty windy so we used the car as a wind break!
From here we set off on a hunt for a nice spot to chill and sleep, we ended up driving all the way up the mountains until we reached snow. Far too cold to sleep so we kept driving until we started to decline, this all took quite a while (tiring for Matt driving all day), but we were surrounded by the most insane scenery.
We finally exited the mountains and found ourselves driving through a large pine forest and onto the flattest, driest plain, which went on forever. Eventually we found somewhere to pull over, park and set up camp. This spot was pretty cool...on one side of the road behind some dry bushes, was a nice spot to set up camp, over looking miles of Spanish land. On the other side of the road was what seemed to be a ghost town, it was nicely built up, with even a tourist centre, but hardly any people to be seen (a little spooky)
So in one day; we started at the coast, chilled by a river, ventured through the mountains, and then into a pine forest, ending up on the flat Spanish plain...I illustrated this day onto an old skate deck !
After a slightly chilly night sleep, Matt and I spent the first half of the day skating the hills in the 'ghost town', whilst the girls followed us in the car filming long runs from the top of the town to the bottom. Matt then taught me to slide using gloves...not super successful (I fell..a lot!) but one of my favourite moments!
After 300km on one road, a lovely little break surrounded by purple hills with Laid Blak as our soundtrack, a little wifi stealing stop at McD's and a well needed food shop in Lidl, we aaaalmost made it to Portugal! We found a lovely spot overlooking Baiona, not far from the border. At 9:50pm it was still light, so we looked out over the view, ate couscous with chicken and put up our tent in a forest.
From Baiona, we travelled along the coast into Portugal searching for waves, at first, every beach seemed too rocky-disappointing! My hair by this point, longing to be washed. Finally our first surf stop in Portugal Praia de Moleda! Long, waist high waves, a light offshore wind and no people...perfect! We surfed the fish and longboard, so cool surfing my first reef (slightly scary), the current was a little strong so we paddled a lot, but it was worth it. After our surf, we chilled in the car park where I found a tap!!!! Washed my hair :) We attracted a group of Turkish Erasmus students, all guys, completely fascinated by us and our trip...especially the fact that Matt was with 3 girls, all in one car, camping. They wondered what jobs our parents had since we were camping rather than staying in a hotel...interesting.
We continued to drive South where we found another beach, Praia do Bico - Arda, the surf was too big for me, so we chilled and watched whilst Matt surfed. Anna ventured off into the town to explore, we lost her for a while but as always she returned with bizarre stories of people/dogs she'd met on her journey.
That night we found a spot in the mountains to sleep, in a forest. It rained so we chilled in the tent before sleep, sweet conversations and good music. Portugal was beautiful, but, having been further South in the past, it wasn't quite as nice as other parts...a little sparse. We spent a few hours in Viana Do Castelo, bought souvenirs, food and ate lunch by the river. Our last night before the girls flew home, we decided to eat out at a restaurant... no easy feat. Following the sat nav, we made it to a few different villages expecting to find a restaurant, no such luck, it's like people were hiding from us! So, we ate in Povoa de Varzim, in Restaurant Grelhados, it was pretty cheap, meals ranging from €5 - 10.
Early the next morning, the girls left us, flying from Porto back to the UK and Matt and I began our journey back to Bordeaux, where we hung out with Matts family before flying back to Bristol!
Our trip was a new experience for all of us, we've all travelled a bit before but not like this, wild camping, at first seemed daunting but was definitely the right choice and became pretty easy-saved so much money!! If you're comfortable being a little unwashed, not knowing where you're going to sleep, taking each day as it comes, this kind of trip is perfect :)