Saturday 9 September 2017

Summer road trip: France and Spain (Taking Jimmy to the Disco)

This summer we packed our little Jimny to see how it would be to roadtrip with such a small car.
Most of our gear fitted inside and the Oztent went on the roof. Would our little Jimny stand the test?

Our first stop was a campsite near Sedan in France. A beautiful old house with shaded tentsites.
 All along our route we saw fields full of sunflowers.
After a few days we arrived in the region of the Allier. There we stayed with good friends. No tenting this time. We stayed in a luxury caravan with a very scenic outdoor loo.
 With our friends we went out exploring some of the beautiful trails.
Of course we looked out for abandoned car wrecks and found a few. Like this old Citroen van.
 Our duo of Suzukis was lead by this snarky little SJ.
I was told I need to wash our Jimny. I'm not sure this was the way though.
 Local bakers are a good source for lunch
But this time we arrived in time to enjoy a full two-hour lunch at this pretty little Crêperie.
 After a few days it was time to carry on towards Spain.
 The Pyrenees are always imposing.
 We did take a few short detours on unpaved roads.
We expected campsites to be very busy, but found most had plenty of room for our camp.
 Just across the border in Spain the water in this high lake looks very cold.
 Spanish roads: much dryer and not much traffic most of the time.
 Beautiful old towns everywhere.
 Storks nests on the bell tower.
Nice old Ebro-Jeep. A Spanish License built Diesel version of the Jeepster. Must not take one home..
 Roadside lunch in the shade.
Spain is also full of wind turbines. A very strange sight next to the old church spires.
 Miravet castle.
 Amazing view from the parapet wall.
 Orchards and vineyards.
In Catalonia we arrived at the Spanish 4x4 basecamp where we had the use of this pretty cabin and a Landrover Discovery. We spent the second week of our holiday in this area to explore the local dirt roads with Phill and Savi of Spanish 4x4
By the side of the road we saw another of the old Ebro Jeeps.
While in Spain one should visit the beach too.
We were shown lots of beautiful dirt roads. In some places these trails were the only road available.
This is Flix castle.
Tagging along in the Disco. Phill is pointing out the interesting scenery visible from this pass.
These dirt roads are maintained by big Cats.
 Though Camp Cat #1 does not do manual labour.
Very impressive. Corbera d' Ebre.
The town was completely destroyed during the Battle of the Ebro (25 July–16 November 1938).
Although the lower part of the town was rebuilt, the upper part, known as Poble Vell (Old Town), including the old church on the hill, has been kept as a reminder.
The smoke from far off forest fires can be seen as a fine haze in the distance
Though it doesn't look very scary in this photo, is was "awesome".
Impressive views all over the place!
The Discovery is quite a strong vehicle, but a few sharp stones managed to punch a hole in few tires. This one was only a slow leak.
Shelf roads and hair pins.
Some beautiful abandoned houses.
Going down to the winding trail.
We heard some noise from the back. Phil quickly diagnosed a bad wheelbearing.
And the diagnose was spot on. And fixed in a pinch.

An oil leak or two were fixed just a quickly by exchanging a leaking air pump and a return pipe to the fuel pump.
And we went back to the dusty roads.
Finding good food in the towns
And shade under the trees.
Hand operated ferry near Miravet.
Another winding road took us past this abandoned monastery.. an amazing shelf road.
What comes up, must come down obviously.
Fantastic wind turbine park.
These are not that big, but they say the largest windmill is somewhere near.
Abandoned church.
I wonder how old these doors are.
I can imagine Don Quixote coming down from the village.
Fiesta night in Riba Roja D'Ebre. Everybody was enjoying the cool night after a scorching day.
Everywhere you look there are wonderfully shaped old olive trees.
Mora D'Ebre.
That boat won't float anytime soon.
Mora D'Ebre from the other bank.
Some rest and Email at the bar in Flix.
After a week in Riba Roja, we load up our little Jimny again and head North and West again.
By "mistake" we take the dirt road for a while. The Jimny doesn't mind.
Dry fields and wide tracks farther West.
We reach what is left of an old Roman road.
See these cobble stones? This is the Via Augusta
We leave the dusty trails and head towards Navarra by bitumen.
To see the Bardenas Reales, a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares (100,000 acres) in southeast Navarre (Spain).
The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos. The Bardenas lacks urban areas, vegetation is scarce and the the streams stay dry most of the year.
From the dry Bardenas we move to the area of Puenta La Reina. An old town on the Pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.
We follow the pilgrim route for a while.
And then we head back towards the Pyrenees.
Camping up there is much colder up here.
But still we eat well. Even in our simple camp.
Through the rugged mountains.
We arrive back in France. Back to Summer weather again.
And finally we reach the beautiful Dordogne.
Where we find a new attraction: the Bread vending machine.

We set up camp in our good friend's garden and enjoy French hospitality.
And enjoy scenic villages.
Too soon we are back on the road to the cold North.
We do prefer the real baker for our bread.
Filling up at a friendly little petrol station.
Wacky St. Josef on top of a church tower in the Champagne region.
Back to rain.
Cats seem to like our little Jimny. This campsite cat asked to come home with us, but when I explained it's much colder and rainy up North, she decided to stay in France.
Last camp in France.
And a lunch stop.
With a thin flute, flan and sweet Merengue.
Finally the route through the Ardennes to home. After a last stop near Sedan to buy a bootfull of delicious souvenirs, we decided to drive home.
The Jimny didn't give any problems at all, so we can conclude that, even if it's a bit small, the Jimny is very capable of a long overland trip on paved and unpaved roads.

More photos of this trip