And We’re Off, France to Spain!
This will be a shorter post today, as we’re off traveling.
Yup, it finally happened! We’re on the road again, tarmac flying beneath our wheels, hair in the wind and tongues hanging out of the window. Or perhaps that’s just Polly? Either way we’re certainly all here and in this adventure together, and we’re doing it differently from our usually style too. You see this is a car trip planned for well over a year, and we’re all very excited it’s finally come together.
Still, it’s a crazy strange time to be doing this and that I can’t deny, because more than ever things are certain now. The Omicron variant is here, and it’s taking over at such an insanely fast rate that it’s caused me change my view on the mutant quite permanently. But more about that below.
In the meantime here’s an “adieu” from gorgeous France and a big “hola” from the sunny coast of Spain. For better or worse, we’re here now and we certainly plan to make the most of it.
We Crossed The Pyrénées Yesterday
We left France bright and early yesterday morning, in the warm winter sun and had the most beautiful drive across the Pyrénées.
It’s actually one of the “curviest” of ways to get from our place to NE Spain, but despite this it’s also the fastest, and on nice days definitely the prettiest. The most epic route is up and into Andorra, an oft-used road by the Tour de France that is steep, and packed with twists and turns and stunning views. If you have time and the right weather window, it’s a wonderful way to go.
A lesser epic, but still pretty route is the same road, but with a 4,820m shortcut through Tunnel du Puymorens that bypasses Andorra, but still packs in enough views to make for a pretty drive.
We took the latter, stopping every few hours or so to give everyone a stretch of the legs, buy a baguette and a few croissants, and of course find a spot with a view for lunch.
It was our first time doing a trip like this with everyone in the car, and it took me waaaay back to the days Paul and I used to car-camp in California. Do you have those memories like I do? You know, when you just loaded up the car, piled everyone in and headed off somewhere?
Admittedly it’s not nearly as “comfy” as traveling in a motorhome, and when you stop you can’t help but pine a bit for that handy in-house toilet and kitchen (a warm cup of coffee would have been soooo nice in the snow), but I also can’t deny that’s it’s a fast and easy way to travel, and certainly less tiresome to drive too.
Besides, sometimes it’s fun to mix things up.
We Made It To Spain!
A mere 6 or so hours after we started from home we made it here….to Peñíscola, Spain.
This is a spot you may remember from a blog post I did a few years back. It’s a lovely little oceanside town with a spectacular walled peninsula that’s spiraled with teeny stone alleyways, and topped by a beautiful lighthouse and 13th century castle (Castillo de Peñíscola). It’s littered with history, from the the Knight’s Templars to the fascinating life of Benedict XIII Pedro de Luna (the infamous “Antipope”), and it’s set in the most beautiful blue sea with wide sand beaches that stretch for miles to the north, and the mountains of the gorgeous natural Serra d’Irta Natural Park that seem rise and roll to infinity in the south.
We loved it when we stayed here a few years back, and we got those exact same vibes this time around.
We rented a cute Airbnb just 5 minutes from the beach, spent the entire day exploring the peninsula and enjoyed the most amazing 6-course gourmet meal on the one-table terrace of a cute hole-in-the-wall spot (Restaurante El Canar) for a mere EUR 20 a person.
Honestly, this place just rocks.
Of Course We Can’t Ignore The Elephant In The Room
As we crossed the border yesterday I couldn’t help notice the big police presence on the French side. It’s the next step in the ever-escalating problem of Omicron that is engulfing Europe, and IMO it’s not going to be over anytime soon.
This mutant is spreading at an insane rate, literally doubling every ~2 days, and that means two simple things: within weeks it will be the majority strain everywhere in Europe, and even if it causes milder cases (still not confirmed) it’s infecting so very fast that it can still (mathematically speaking) overwhelm the hospitals. And that’s the bit that has everyone worried….
It’s the reason why France and Germany (this week) decided to effectively block travelers from UK, it’s also why the Netherlands (yesterday) announced a full lockdown, and it’ll likely be the reason why several other countries will probably fully lock down in the very near future.
I can’t say (yet) if countries are over-reacting to all this, but I can say this. Whether you’ve decided to travel or stay put this December, whether you’re in Europe or abroad, you can no longer ignore Omicron. We all have to brace for it, and that means we all need to take as many reasonable precautions we can. So mask up, avoid big groups, get a booster shot (if you can), get tested before you see family and the vulnerable, and stay flexible in your plans.
Hopefully it won’t be as big as deal as some of the models predict, but you need to be ready nonetheless…
We Plan To Make The Most Of This Time Ahead
These are not ideal times, and this holiday is not exactly the one we planned over a year ago. We won’t be seeing as much of my family as we hoped (because of new restrictions), and we won’t be eating out or enjoying as much of Spanish indoor life as we originally imagined. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy each other and our time here.
The last few Pandemic years have taught me that much.
Our plan is to enjoy this time ahead, responsibly of course, but also trying not to stress too much about the things we cannot control around us. And that’s what I hope for all of you in this holiday season too. Wherever you are, whatever the situation is in your country, make the most of the people you love and the place that you’re in. If you can manage that, then you’ve won and everything else is unimportant.
Tomorrow we head to our final destination, a place considered a bucket list by many that come to Spain. Hopefully, I’ll see you there….