Camping 101: Awning care

Trento , Trentino-Alto SudTirol July 2017
Look how neat the neighbour washing line is? Overachievers !

Rose 29th July: This morning we woke up and had a serious chat about the next few days. We had to be in Munich the night of the 3rd Aug so we could hand in the camper the next morning. This means we seriously have to think about going North back in the direction of Germany. We planned to enter Austria through the Bolzana/Brenner pass and then make our way straight up, so we need to choose places on the way.

Sort of liking Italy but not as much as we enjoyed the Emilia-Romagna area where we got married (I will write a post about that soon) , but maybe we just have not has the best experience yet. With this in mind we decide to go to Trento which was recommended by Anton in Slovenia , and then to find a camp spot close tot this area. We have a few in mind so we decide to book..WTF, you say! Yes we are planning ahead. Ok don’t get excited the first place we choose with loving care comes back saying “sorry we are exhausted” I suppose that means they are full.

We arrive in Trento and park at a big parking lot just outside the main centre (found by Rose on google of course). We set off in the heat to explore . We walk thru the market admiring all the fresh produce and then we get a tourist map. I like to get a map of a town, as you can see all the churches and museums and have an idea where to walk to….Chris like to wander. He does not want to be told where to go.Sometimes that results in finding out of the way gems and really good discoveries but sometimes we walk in the complete wrong direction, #justsaying. So we have managed to find a compromise. I get a map and then walk in the right direction whilst pretending we are wandering around.

Chris: My first marriage lesson! ‘Compromise’ means doing whatever your wife wants to do, accepting it with a smile and let her think this is our joint decision.

Trento
My love
I love this place!

Trento is magnificent, I have no words to tell you how beautiful it is. The old town is full of beautiful buildings and hidden courtyards with sculptures and gardens and fountains. The stores are quaint but NOT touristy. The people are stylish and friendly. This would definitely appear on our list of places we might want to live in (#secondlife). Its a university city lying along the Aldige river. It is the capital of the area Trentino-Alto. It has a lovely glow about it, as it is mostly built from stone from the Dolomites which are nearby . The dolomites have this pinky tone, which reflects everywhere you look in Trento. See my millions of pics of beautiful buildings. We visited the cathedral and it was full of interesting facts and beautiful paintings. We “wandered” around  & admired the historical centre.

The other part of Trento which made it a fantastic find, was the food shops. First off we discovered this shop selling salami and meats. The shop assistant was a fantastic salesman, offering to let us taste all the different types they make, and of course resulting in a sale. We added a few extras like some a risotto rice and some special cheeses..

Salami shop in Trento ( sales guy was great)
Salami shop in Trento
Market square in Trento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we moved on to a speciality pasta shop, where the lovely sales lady helped us choose a fresh filled pasta. Are you jealous yet? Then onto the choc shop Loacker where again the sales guy was friendly and informative and helped spend way too much money on choccies. We bought some fruit and some veg for the market on the street. We now had the makings of a fantastic few meals. So moving on we need to get to the camp site. Oh wait first a gelato..

Lovely lady helping us choose the pasta in Trento
Loacker shop
Gelato of course in Trento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we drove along the highway towards Bolzano we were shocked at the amount of traffic

Look at the traffic going the other way! Thankfully we are heading to Bolzano

going to other way. It was  grid lock of camper vans, caravans and cars all going South. Now I understand the reason Chris wanted us to move north and also to take a break in August to escape the masses. Our trip was breath taking , all along small villages and up into the mountains thru countryside filled with fruit trees and vineyards.

Lana, Italy July 2017

Camping Arquin , our camp site was located outside of Merano in a town called Lana. It was not our first choice, but in hindsight it was the best. We arrived, no booking but the lady was helpful and said she had a space for 3 nights. So we settled in at a site right next to the apple orchards. It had a lovely grassy area for our dining room, it had a pool with loungers. They had a restaurant serving meals and also selling ice coffee, what more could we want? It was also very clean and the ablutions and facilities spotless. Hey even the wifi was great.

lido Lana, the public pool

This was to be our last 3 night relaxing stay before heading up north so we were very happy. We did out walk quite late as it was extremely hot and humid. Walking through the streets surrounded on both sides with apple orchards was amazing, we saw they had 2 supermarkets within walking distance and also a public pool. The public pool is novel to us, as we both remember visiting Newlands pool in Cape Town in our youth and having the best time. This pool was so organized with a restaurant and a bar. They had a children’s playground and grassy areas for people to plonk themselves for the day.The price was reasonable and it seemed ALL the locals used it for their summer entertainment. Something we noticed about these European towns that even if its small it has fantastic facilities that just work.

Lana surrounded by apples
Adam being led astray
Eve being coy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jealous Gillian? Fresh pasta from Trento
Proud chef
Fresh made filled pasta with prosciutto

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night we ate quite late as it was just so hot, we say outside till late finding a breeze. Ok so the breeze turned into a slight wind and as we were preparing for bed, we both wondered should we put away the awning? Was it going to rain hard?

(Chris was keen to put away the awning, Rose was keen to finish her obsession blog)

We looked around and saw everyone else had their awning’s up, so no we thought we were safe. Chris says to me, wake me up if it starts storming. Yes I will my love.

It was not to be, at 12am I woke up to a sudden and very loud bang. I thought we had been struck by lightning as at the same time the entire camper was lit up with a flash. It was pouring a torrential downpour. We got up and peered out and we could see the awning had fallen down. It was too windy and wet to pull it in, so we lay back down and waited for the rain to stop…wide awake till 2am!

Eventually it calmed down and we went outside in our pj’s to pull in the awning. OH SUGAR! ( as Pam would say) the entire arm of the awning is broken. We cannot pull it in, it looks disastrous. We went back to bed and lay sleepless till dawn. Both of us chastising ourselves for not just pulling that damn thing in!

So it was Sunday and after a couple of hours of hiding in the van we ventured out. It was not a good sight, the entire metal arm was bent. I won’t bore you with our story and believe me Chris will tell you the whole sorry incident, but of course we asked the camp manager if he knew someone we could call to help. He shrugged and said “It iz Sontag, everysing ist geschlossen”

Sunday we spent miserable and quiet doing not much. That evening we decide to take a walk to clear our heads. We walked past the only restaurant in town and its full, what the heck! Break the booodget and eat out. We have only a credit card on us, hope they take cards and we sit down to eat.

Pasta with pfifferlingen
Tiroler tris, speck-käseknödel und schlutzer
Bruchetta with pfifferlingen

They were serving pfifferling (chanterelle mushrooms) which were in season. ( C: One of the really exciting things foodwise, for us, was that the harvest times for seasonal foods are kept special and celebrated; early spring brings asparagus, then cherries come into season, pfifferlinge is reason for special menus all over and so it goes) We had a delicious bruschetta and I had the pasta. The people watching was fun, we forgot about our woes for a few hours and we enjoyed ourselves. I tried a new drink called a “Hugo” it like a aperol spritz, but made with an elderflower syrup. A little sweet for me, but a nice change from my usual aperol version.

Walking back it stormed and we had no umbrella but we did not care.

Ice Coffee at camp Arquin

The next day Monday (everysing ist now nigt geschlossen) we asked them to call the technician. We waited the entire day and just as we sat down to enjoy an iced coffee at the bar, he arrived of course. He removed the metal bar so we could pull in the awning. This meant of of course we had no awning, but at least we could drive. The cost a mere €20 so Chris was massively relieved. (Chris: I gave him 25, I was so happy) We called the camper rental place told them what had happened and warned them it would need fixing when we arrived. So now we felt better, not sure what it would cost but at least we could travel.

He wanted to steal one, but I stopped him!
Prosecco and Radler
View of from camp Arquin

En route to Bilbao….well Spain, France & Spain first!(and the most expensive parking space ever!)

Logroño:La Rioja:Spain July 2018

We left Logroño en route to San Sebastián ( Irun) but we decided to go back to Puente La Reina and have lunch first. Also have a look at what property is available. Hmmmm are you seeing a theme? We are thinking that this might be a nice place to buy property one day. 

Villamayor de Monjardín, Spain

On our way, we see this imposing looking building up on the hillside. We were intrigued so a quick left turn and we headed towards the village of Villamayor de Monjardín. Firstly we came upon a bodeja (wine cellar) in a very impressive and beautiful villa with the vineyards all beautifully laid out and flowers and olive trees all around. We decided to have a look on the way back, so we continued up a steep hill up to the village centre. we soon saw the village was quite small so not much to see, and the route to the ruins on the top of the hill , could only be reached by donkey I think. Turns out the ruins are the San Esteban de Deyo.

Villamayor de Monjardín, Spain

Now we want to drive around and go back down the road but the road down is so narrow with building’s and wall on both sides, and we as inched forward one cm at a time, Chris was pooping himself. Eventually it seemed we were stuck and the only way we could keep going was to pull in the mirrors. As we are in polite company I don’t want to repeat the words he used to instruct me that I was not pulling in the mirror fast enough! I actually wanted to take a pic to show you all just how narrow the road was….but I was too afraid he would take my head off! so you will just have to ask him next time you see him…”Chris how narrow was that road?”

The wine bodega was impressive, beautiful old building and stunningly laid out. A sign for a great restaurant…A great place we thought to have a drink and recuperate. BUT I’m afraid this is a disappointment as no one came to help us, and eventually, when a lady did get up from her desk, she informed us that they did not do wine tastings. You can buy the wine if you like, but you cannot taste it first. And the restaurant was closed…”that’s all” We took a wander about and admired the scenery, and had a peek into the restaurant( which looked like more of a wedding venue), we got shouted at by the staff for looking (very rude lady!) and then moved on. Pity, it had so much potential…Oh well, maybe next time.

 

In Puente we walked around and took some details. We sat down at a lovely outside terrace of one of the many restaurants to have the menu del dia. We always have a laugh as it’s €1 extra to eat on the outside terrace in the heat. Only the tourists do it, the locals sit in the lovely air-conditioned interior. 

Puente la Reina, Navarra

Lunch was simple and tasty. I had a bean dish made with pork. They make a huge pot and then bring it outside and just dish it up at the table. Generous helping I had to say ‘enough’ twice! My main course was a fish stew. Delicate tasting broth with chunks of fish and seafood. Probably my best seafood of the trip. Chris has the freshest looking salad with tuna and tomatoes, finely sliced onion and olives. Check the pics and you will see. Dessert( postre in Spanish and Chris favourite word) was a house made flan( as good as my grandfather I promise) and Chris had the local white cheese they call cuajada with a berry sauce. €13.50 including everything, wine, coffee and bread. I love the Spanish menu del dia! 

 

Off we headed and we decided to get onto the highway and pay the toll as we wanted to get into Hondarriba not too late. The drive was lovely and the roads are so good it took us no time to get there. We have chosen the same campsite as last time. It’s really only 10min away from the campervan depot and we knew our way around. We arrived at around 6pm and I waltz in to book our spot. Ah sh&t! No room at the inn. The lady behind the counter very kindly call the next campsite along the way, but guess what no room at all! Damn now what!

So our choice was to head further along the coast of Spain and take our chances. OR head across to France and try that side. We figured Spain would be fuller as everyone heads to that coast it’s cheaper so we would try France. And secretly Chris quite fancied a quick nip into another country. 

Here is where the story turns bad! We chose a campsite…. ok Chris chose one and then I suggested another. Then the mobile decided to give us grief and we were struggling to connect to check the address. So we used Tom-Tom and just put in a road name. Then the traffic across to France, which is literally across the river, was madness. Not sure if it’s rush hour but it’s close to 7pm and road works and traffic everywhere. Chris had planned on leaving just under a 1/4 tank in the van as that’s I show hey gave it to us but now with the extra driving the light goes on! And when we eventually get to the road where the campsite is…..nothing we can’t find it. Chris is muttering and says let’s just go the one I wanted and get done. So I reprogramme and we continue the hunt. Up and down narrow streets we eventually arrive. Yes, the Madame says I have one last space. It’s just tarmacked no grass( nothing actually a parking spot) and it’s €45 for one night. WTF! I look at Chris and through clenched teeth is says ‘we will take it’

What a rip off! I mean the campsite, Camping Ametza, is lovely with a swimming pool and entertainment(Basque choir and wood cutting demo) and a shop and restaurant but we stuck on a piece of tarmac with the sun in our eyes! We rebelled, instead of packing we put out the awning and chairs and drank. Me I drank champagne and Chris a couple of panache’s. 

 

Eventually, when it cooled down we started the packing and cleaning and it was quite a late night. As usual, we have accumulated too much stuff that we need to throw out! 

 

We collapse into bed as the rain pours down after this very hot evening and hope we can get up one time, get going and not run out of petrol. 

This is not the end of the story as the next morning we first had to deal with a drama with Chris’s wound and ended up an hour later than planned. Then Tom-tom( the bitch) decided to take us a weird and crazy way through residents only lanes back into Spain. 

But all’s well that end well as we arrive on time with petrol at the depot and within 30 min we were at the station waiting for our bus to Bilbao!

And here ends our trip except to say we arrived in Bilbao with luggage in tow but managed to find a quiet neighbourhood restaurant for our final menu del dia! Lovely food, lovely service bad experience as somehow instead of Chris getting the cheesecake he wanted for dessert he got melon! ( my fault of course!)

 

We were headed from Bilbao to London. Then from London to Jersey the next day for a wedding. 

Maybe I’ll write you a little story about that……

The Journey from Martel to the Sea at Guéthary, exploring Basque Country..

Martell:Guéthary;St Pée-sur-Nirvelle : France July 2018
Rain in the distance, France

We decided in the morning it was time to move on and explore another region. I mean these pretty villages in Corrèze are beautiful but we need new pastures. We decide to head to the coast and the Aquitaine region. 

we drive past boats barging and feel nostalgic

Of course no highway for us we take the smaller roads and thank goodness cos as we go through a town called Martel we see they have a market on. And this is a big one. We parked up and headed in to check it out. I read after that Martel is known for its 7 towers, had I known I would have made Chris visit each one. 

Martel is in the Lot region and its speciality is truffle and walnuts so this was a really good farmers and local produce market. Fruit of the day, sweet melon, which we bought. Vegetables were big and beautiful and we couldn’t resist a marrow. And then some cheese, a lovely creamy soft cheese with a truffle filling. Chris has been eyeing the Foie for so long but really not sure what to buy and it’s quite expensive. This time we saw 2 lovely pieces for €7 and we decided to try it. There was a lot of sausage and duck products and then knives. knives are big in this area. I suppose you need them to cut the sausages! We really could’ve bought a trolley full but we are getting wiser now and we realize you end up wasting. So we left just before lunch and decided to get a few kilometres under our belt before we stopped for lunch. 

Somewhere along the way in the Lot-en-Garonne area, we found a small village with easy parking under trees. We had the plat du jour in the only restaurant in town. A nice generous helping of pork fillet and vegetable, salad and potatoes. And then we were back on the road. 

We chose as our sleeping spot a town called Casteljaloux. Just a random choice with a fairly reasonable municipal camp spot close to town. We tend to choose these as then it’s easy to walk into the centre and have a drink or an ice cream or in this case Both! 

The town of Casteljaloux is well known for its thermal spa and treatments. But it’s far too hot to even think of warm water. It also had an Olympic size pool next to the campsite, but the French have a funny rule about public pools or any pools actually. Men may ONLY wear swimming trunks, you know those tight underwear looking items. No board shorts allowed at all and the rule is super strict. So that rules Chris out as no ways is he buying a pair of “budgie huggers”

Our dinner late that very very hot evening was the Foie quickly pan-fried and served with bread and salad using those lovely tomatoes. And some sweet sweet melon for dessert. 

The next morning we set off as early as we can manage, never seems to be before 10am but I think this time it was 9.44! We decided to hit the highway so we could get across to the coast as quickly as possible otherwise it was going to take too long. It was still about a 3hr drive. 

A slight problem we encountered on the coast is that they really don’t want you to park anywhere except a campsite. This is unlike the rest of France with aire’s everywhere. And seeing the beautiful coastline it does make sense as the land slopes sharply down to the sea so there are not many promenades and flat space for car parks. We chose Guéthary which is just between Biarritz and St Jean de Luz. It’s a small village, very small with a huge surfing culture( as most of the coast here is) the parking was a nightmare as TomTom took us to a car park with a height restriction! Lots of parsleyspursuit harsh words were uttered and it was my fault of course because I wanted to come to the coast( huh!) 

Anyway let’s skip past the nasty stuff, we eventually found a spot just about in the next village and walked back. We sat down at a lovely corner restaurant with a nice view of the people parading past to the beach and had a bit of Lunch. Not our best one but not bad and the fresh fish was delicious. (and the cold crip rosé, even better)We took a lovely stroll along the beach walk promenade and explored the houses along the waterfront, which looked pretty expensive and beautiful.It is also our introduction to the French basque style of the white houses with either red or green shutters.

Now we had a problem, there were no campsites remotely close to the village. All of them are out along the coast and are resort like with lots of pitches and swimming pools and activities. Not that we don’t like that but they are expensive and for one night stays not that convenient. So after a little research, we head back inland to St Pée-sur-Nirvelle. 

It has 2 claims to fame, one is that is it also part of the “french camino” and secondly and more exciting for them I’m sure is that the Tour-de France goes through it. The lady at the tourism office was very helpful and we found a campsite just outside of town. Our plan was to walk back in for supper but laziness overtook us and we walked over to the Intermarche instead for a stick of bread, and it was bread, meat & cheese for dinner instead.

Dark and stormy at campsite in St Pée-sur-Nirvelle

That night there was a huge thunderstorm and it seemed to rain for ages. Thank goodness we have learnt our lesson(read here if you interested) – no canopies were damaged in the making of this post!

Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, and the lowdown on French Toilets…..

French countryside – Haute-Pyrenees

We drove to St Bertrand-des-Comminges. Its one of the “ Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”the most beautiful villages in France. It has a lot of history as well so we thought it a good choice. We travelled through the valley, seeing cascading waterfalls and the river rushing along beside us. It was so green!

 

 

The Tom-Tom took us along these small country roads and at first, we were worried but we soon realized this was the correct way and that all these little villages are connected with small roads winding through forests and fields. I spotted about 100 houses I could buy and live in right now, those quintessential French villages!

We arrived early for a change and booked into Camping Espibous. Small, quiet and very shady. Lovely swimming pool and ablutions are not bad. We set up quickly and set off into town.we were determined to make it for lunch today.

 

 

St Bertrand-de-Comminges has a lower town and an upper historic town. It also has remnants of the early Roman settlement at the town entrance. That’s what makes it quite special as you think its just a town with a cathedral but the amount of history here is phenomenal. It was founded in 72 BC and it has been a thermal, a military camp and then a place of learning and religion.

 

It’s also, of course, a halting place on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela.

 

Taking a walk into town and up up up the slope to the old town and the cathedral. Now I haven’t bored you with that many cathedral church pictures this trip so don’t complain. This is considered the Cathedral of the Pyrenees so it seemed worth paying the cheap €5 each for the entrance. It was really worth the visit. I won’t go into too much detail, see the beautiful pics but essentially it has this beautiful wooden church built inside the stone building.

 

The cloisters are amazing the choir stalls and the organ were all works of art!

 

So after the education time,  it’s time for lunch. Generally, we wouldn’t choose a touristy place like this but we walked past a cute terrace restaurant and the menu du jour looked great. €13-14 for various options. I chose lamb chops and Chris foie gras. It came with salad and frites just out of this world! And then a little glacé (ice cream) for the walk home. 

 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at the pool, swimming, sleeping( Chris) and reading. 

AND then the wind started ( we took down the awning) and the rain started, we went inside to shelter. And it rained and rained and rained. 

I think it rained all night non-stop and I was convinced we would be washed away, but no we woke up and the camper was still in the same place.

Talking of rain made me think of toilets, French toilets. So we have noticed the French do this unisex bathroom thing. Both the previous campsites have the douche, and the Lafarge, and the lavabos all mixed. Now I am not a shy girl, but there is something a little awkward about shared ablutions. I don’t mind showering with my husband taking a poop next door, but when I know its someone else’s husband it feels strange. I don’t want to hear those noises. Likewise, I feel a little off taking a shower with only a small thin wooden partition between me and Mr Smith…..men don’t maketh the same noises as girls when they shower. Those noises are not always nice so I prefer not to hear them ( husbands are different, you kinda get used to them). So toilets in France….meh!

So now we off, we heading to Bordeaux,  ultimately by Sunday , as I am flying back to London for a fleeting visit to pick up medical supplies for Chris…but we plan to take our time and just meander up that way.

Wonder where we will sleep tomorrow…

Guess what they make in this area?

Game of Thrones, pilgrims, cave houses and storms – in a day of Parsleys Pursuits!

Auguedas : Tudela : Spain June 2018

We are heading towards the Pyrenees and the border of France and Spain. Our plan is to explore France this trip and see what it’s like to motorhome in France. 

We set off in the morning and drive in the direction of……Primark! Would you believe we found a shopping centre with a Primark! Yes, you would I would sniff it out anywhere. We did a bit of retail therapy, just a few items of necessary clothing and a pair of shoes or two. After a coffee and a boccadillo ( sandwich), we hit the Carrefour. We stocked up with some basics and bought some fresh tuna for dinner. Fish and seafood is really cheap, with the tuna at €9.99 a kilo and check my pics of the picnic specials. A few yummy prawns ready to eat and 2 beers for €9.99 or if you need to rekindle some romance with your love then maybe choose these oysters and bubbles for €9.99. Such a bargain. 

Eventually, we get back into Sc2ter and off we go. 

We head towards the French border and decide on a free camper stop for tonight. Its pretty much a lottery as you never really know, but we chose Arguedas which is close to Tudela. Did you know Tudela was one of the locations of GoT (game of thrones)? I can see why as the landscape is quite spectacular and a bit out of this world.

The free stop was on the outskirts of this small village and was essentially a gravel parking lot. It has a fantastic view of the mountain right in front of us, with remnants of cave houses in the cliff face. Apparently, these houses were built in the 1940’s because people needed affordable housing . They also maintain the temp very well. They were abandoned in the 1970’s as social housing came about.

We parked up and took a look around. It says you can buy tokens for water, electricity etc, but it wasn’t very clear. So we decide to just wild camp and use gas.

We walked into town and had a look around. It’s interesting, full of Camino hostels and signs and we found plaza mayor. I had a lovely ice cold sangria and Chris the usual cerveza, but when time to pay the bill…we were surprised at the prices, €7 for 2 drinks…mmm, pilgrim prices.

img_0845
Arguedas, Spain

We make a delicious dinner of salad with potatoes and pan fried seared tuna. the best meal ever!

The campsite filled up rapidly. It’s amazing how you think this is a random quiet unknown spot and by 10pm that night we had 11 campers in the parking area. Some even arrived at 11pm, so we assumed people driving after work on a Friday and heading for the national parks for the weekend in Spain.

They lit up the mountain at night with a light that changed colour and it was quite remarkable.

That night was rather interesting, we got home from our pre-dinner drink just in time ahead of a storm. WE made sure we had no awning up and no windows opened!It was thunder and lightning and it rained and rained and rained. We were grateful we had seen a water culvert at the end of the road, cos with the amount of water rushing down I was convinced a flash flood was imminent. Imagine if that happened and I was in my birthday suit, what would I do? So not surprising we didn’t sleep that well. In the morning the rain was over, the sun was out and we were up and coffee’d and breakfasted and off on our way. We are heading to the Sobrarbe area…

Croissants, Olives & Chorizo on the Beach…

Calíg Castellón Valencia : September 2017

We hit the road and headed towards the coast. We have a date with our friend Sue to meet in Moraira so we do need to plan a little and not just wander along.

This next  camp site I had chosen was because our book said it is run by a French couple and it’s in a nature reserve filled with olive and orange trees. We got there late afternoon and we weren’t disappointed. Well especially Chris when the lovely Patricia told him they made fresh croissants every morning. The camp site is  called L’Orangeraie and it totally lived up to its name. We walked into the really working class village of Calig just down the road which we explored pretty quickly, especially as Chris nearly dislocated my shoulder as I made a move toward the fairly mundane looking church door. We did find  a small bakery which was selling both chocolate and marmalade filled empanadas, we bought a few of each. Chris:They were damn good.

A pic of the church he wouldn’t let me visit!

In true Chris fashion we ordered 3 of each so that meant he got to decide which one he liked best to eat as his no 3! Lucky I liked the orange one cos surprise surprise he preferred the choc one. The rest of the evening was spent cooking dinner and relaxing in our lovely spot. I have my own bottle of Vermouth bought in Morella so I’m happy.

The next day it was cold and drizzling ALL day so we stayed in our pj’s, ALL day. Well till afternoon at least. We had seen the weather forecast had said a thunderstorm and chances of flash floods and we saw the owner walking around cleaning the drains. Chris was sleeping and asked me to wake him as the awning was up. He woke himself up just as I was going to wake him and was in trouble cos I had waited till the last minute. ‘ do you remember the last time we waited too long to take it down??!!!'(read about it here) Well the storm was quite a show. We were tucked up inside and no flash floods. Only problem was we lost electricity and weren’t keen to wake up the owner by that time or go out into the rain and fiddle with electricity in the wet. So we did without.

It was all fixed the next morning and packed and left, next stop the coast , Costa Blanca!

Costa Blanca Spain: September 2017

This camp site was only 10km from the coast and our plan was to get to the coast and stay at Peñiscola right on the Costa Blanca. I had chosen a camp site 300m from the beach so off we go.

We needed some provisions( essentials) as one does when you haven’t been shopping for 3 days! We found a Carrefour in Vináros and spent a glorious few hours there. Don’t ask me what we bought exactly but we did get gas for our new camp braai and managed to stuff our faces at the restaurant outside the Carrefour. The Carrefour was paradise and we had to drag ourselves out of there. We loved the huge legs of Jámon advertised for ‘back to school’

We drove from Vináros past Benicarló with its awful high rises and along the beach front road of Peñiscola. It was heaving with people and restaurant after restaurant along the promenade. When we found the camp it was right across from the beach and I jumped out (as it’s my job) Guess what? No room! Now what…. but secretly we both relieved because this place is just too touristy and too ‘unspanish’ .I had no other ideas but Chris looked on the map and saw a camping spot in a reserve quite a bit further on. So new direction and off we go.

This camp site was off the beaten track literally and it is situated in the Parq Natural Serra D’irta. It’s about 1.1km on a dirt track from the town of Alcossebre. It was magnificent. Lovely lovely pitches again with hedges all around the fairly big pitches. It’s called Camping Ribemar. No wifi signal and only 600m to the waters edge. You can also walk along a path from the beach to Alcossebre and its only 4.5km. That evening we went for a long walk, exploring the sea front. The beaches aren’t white sandy ones like South Africa but small coves with pebbles. And the first time I saw people on the beach they were both men and both buck naked! But each to their own. We ended up walking a long way but the park is lovely and very unspoilt.

The next morning we were up early and ready to walk into town. It’s a fair distance but its through dappled shade from the trees , along a beach path and you end up walking along a promenade. Little beaches hidden around each bend, and lots of people enjoying the sun.

Don’t you love this little bar set up in the owners garage? Alcossebre, Spain

The town was still a wee bit touristy but it had a feeling of Spain about it. After a long walk we decided to have drink. We ended up with pancakes with dulce de leche and I tried Horchata. It’s a traditional drink made with water, sugar and tiger nuts( or almonds).It was delicious and refreshing.

We also checked the property boards and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the prices are not exhorbitant.  It’s a long walk back and we were pretty hot and sweaty so we decided a quick siesta before we set off to the beach.

Swimming at Alcossebre, Spain

I’m not going to say much about the beach except we swam in the ocean for the first time in forever! It was amazing BUT when I got out of the sea I was perplexed at the older gentleman on the beach being stark naked and not worrying about sun damage to his bits! Chris said I shouldn’t stare but it was hard not to…. ok wrong choice of words.

 

That evening we braaied as it was Heritage day in South Africa and traditionally S.Africans call it Braai Day and most people braai(BBQ). We christened our new camp braai and it was fun.

The choice of where next was a tricky one. We have decided we will give the beachy places a miss for 2 nights and we head into the hills.