We decided to christen our new campervan with a three week road trip around Northern Spain and up through France. Starting off with the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao we then drove across Aragon so that we could take the scenic route across the Pyrenees into France. Our second stop was the beautiful Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña nestled into the rock face.
We headed up the D923 mountain pass to Le Cirque Gavarnie, parking up at Col de Tentes and hiking along the ridge to get a view of France’s highest waterfall – Gavarnie Falls. We camped up overnight just off the road below the car park, with the most spectacular views.
Such a great city to wander around, stopping for a pint at one of the many great local pubs and checking out the colourful street art.
We decided to drive our campervan from Bristol up to Sheffield to see Sheffield’s adopted son Phlegm’s Mausoleum of the Giants installation, and whilst we were in town we made the most of the lovely spring sunshine to check out the city and to have our first camping weekend of 2019! We went on a pub crawl to collect a set of four souvenir Phlegm beer matts and to check out some of the other Phlegm murals.
We’ve been following Welsh street artist Phlegm since we met him when he came to Bristol a few years ago to do a few pieces around the Easton Community Centre, so when we heard that there was an exhibition of his latest work taking place in a derelict industrial building in Sheffield we hatched a plan to head North to take a look.
The exhibition took place in Eye Witness Works, a derelict industrial building in Sheffield, from Friday 15 March – Saturday 6 April 2019. https://mausoleumofthegiants.co.uk #phlegmgiants
I was lucky enough to get us tickets to see the fabulous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusamas’ exhibition THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE at the Vitoria Miro Gallery in Old Street (3 October – 21 December 2018). We were really pleased to see a couple of her pieces in situ when we were in Japan recently, but sadly her museum in Tokyo was being refitted so we missed out on the full experience. So when I heard this exhibition was coming to the UK I made sure we got to see it! A major exhibition of new works by Yayoi Kusama that took place across the Wharf Road galleries and waterside garden. The exhibition featured new paintings, including works from the iconic My Eternal Soul series, painted bronze pumpkin and flower sculptures, and a large-scale Infinity Mirrored Room, created for this presentation.
It’s great having a campervan as you can head off whenever you like, and you don’t have to book expensive hotels. This time we drove up to Liverpool to see the final visit of Royal De Luxe’s spectacular Giants from 4-7 October 2018. We camped up at the Liverpool Yacht Club with harbourside views and easy access to the amazing Baltic Wharf area of the city and joined the throngs lining the streets for a glimpse of the Giants.
We headed down from the barren and wind swept heights of Le Cirque Gavarnie to the lush foothills of the French Pyrenees to spend a couple of days relaxing at Camping La Régate on the edge of Lac De Montbel, swimming in the lake and hanging out at the little campsite beach. From this base we went off on a day trip to the spectacular ruined Château de Montségur. A hilltop medieval Cathar castle once rumoured to hold the Holy Grail, but now a gorgeous mountaintop ruin.
We drove from our overnight spot at Gave de Brousset to Camping Pyrénées Natura where we camped overnight and the next day we headed up to Cauterets. From here we caught the cable car and then a chair lift up the mountain, using skiing infrastructure that is running over the summer months to ferrying hikers to a drop off spot. From here we hiked the rest of the way up to the beautiful Lac De Gaube where we had a beer in the busy lakeside cafe and a picnic whilst being hassled by the bad tempered, but pretty cows. Then we hiked down the mountain back to Cauterets via the Point D’Espagne and Cascade du Ceriset.
We drove the spectacular Spanish A-136 to Frontera Del Portalet before heading down the French D934 on the other side to a car park that doubles up as a beautiful sheltered wild camping spot at Gave de Brousset. Here we took photos of the breath-taking scenery, went for a walk along the river, cooked dinner and camped up for the night.