Welcome to my Puerto Duquesa blog

I've been visiting Puerto Duquesa three or four times a year for the past 20 years and have seen the area change enormously in that time. Where once there were dirt tracks and open countryside, there are now two lane motorways and apartment complexes. And whilst the area has changed and grown dramatically, it has still retained its small town, or should that be 'small marina' feel, which keeps me, and thousands others, coming back year after year.

Since I am currently in the USA it is a slightly odd time to start a blog about Puerto Duquesa, but the reason for doing so is simple - I may actually have some time to write some stuff! Most of the things I'm going to write about are things I like doing in the area or places I like going. Clearly I am not going to be able to cover everything, but hopefully I can give you a taste of what makes this such a special place and give you some ideas for your next trip.

If you can't immediately find what you are looking for, please scroll down and look in the blog archive (click the triangles to expand the list of articles). You might also want to start with these articles: Puerto Duquesa: the basics, Favourite (best?) restaurants in Puerto Duquesa, Puerto Duquesa beaches and Holiday accommodation in Puerto Duquesa. Want to get to know the area? Try A walking tour of Puerto Duquesa.

I welcome contributions, comments, criticisms and...well...praise.

If you want to link to me or you want me to link to you, that'll work too. If I think you're a good local company and you're prepared to part with a few euros, you might be lucky enough to advertise on the blog (which, fyi, is page rank 3 on Google - just type in puerto duquesa at google.com).

Thanks / Gracias

Chris (chris@cdgsmith.com) (March 2007)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Driving to Puerto De La Duquesa...from London!

We're just returned from a fantastic summer trip to Puerto Duquesa.

For the first time we decided that instead of spending a nasty 4-5 hours in an airport/aeroplane, we would spend a (hopefully) pleasant 3 days each way driving through France and Spain. It certainly lived up to expectations and we saw some amazing places on our journey which I hope we will have time to go back to one day.

If you are thinking about doing a similar trip, here are some tips and places to see:

Before you go

Planning is really important for such a long trip.

The first thing to get right is the car. To start with we bought an AA European Travel Kit and then got another hi-viz vest and a spare lightbulb kit from Halfords. They are quite strict on road regulations in France and Spain so make sure you get what you need. Also, check oil pressure, tire pressures/wear, coolant levels, etc. We were fortunate enough to travel in a fairly new car, but if you are travelling in something a little more mature I would suggest you get a mechanic to give it the once over before you clock up 3000 miles.

Next, you need to get your itinerary sorted (for recommended places, see below). We used Google Maps as our starting point and then relied on a Tom Tom for most of our navigation. To save time and hassle on the road, set your destinations as 'Favourites' in the sat nav menu. We got lost only once, as a result of the Spanish constantly re-jigging their roads, but never had to resort to a conventional map, which was a real bonus given our lack of map-reading skills.

Finally, work out how to pack the car to minimise stress (there's nothing worse that lugging tonnes of stuff around in the heat). We packed all our stuff for Puerto Duquesa in the boot and then had a small holdall each for overnight stops. It worked really well.

Recommended places

Here was our trip:

On the way out we had a first night at Chateau Clery in Hesdin L'Abbe, 40 minutes drive from the Eurotunnel(book 45 days in advance to get a great rate of around €100 per night not including breakfast); our second night at Chateau Julie outside Bordeaux (€90 including a super breakfast served by the very hospitable Dutch hosts around a large table shared with other guests); and our third night in the Parador in Chinchon (€160ish, but the best place in town by quite a margin, set right in the centre in an old covent).

On the way home, we stayed at Chateau Clery and Chateau Julie again, but stayed at the Parador in Salamanca (£90 through Quido/hotels.com).

Salamanca and Chinchon are both stunning. You need 3-4 hours to walk around and see all of Salamanca's amazing architecture whereas all there is to see in Chinchon is the main plaza, which turns into a bull-ring in the summer.

Our most notable lunchtime stops were in Covarrabarais (near Madrid) (eat in the main plaza and wander around the town after lunch); Merida (near Mardrid) (spectacular Roman ruins and a nice main plaza for lunch); and San Sebastian (a beautiful natural harbour and a very chic seaside resort).

I would highly recommend doing this drive. We covered about 7-8 hours a day, which was comfortable for one driver (me). Just watch out for the gendarmes around the north coast of France...I am now 90 euros lighter thanks to a police man hiding behind a hedge on a sliproad!