Final thoughts and sites

The amount of planning this trip has taken has been inordinate on a daily basis and I can take no credit for that. Thank you Paul.

The cost of the whole two months has been good as we have taken advantage of lower season prices, ACSI discount and not eaten out. We return feeling fitter and healthier and having seen so many wonderful places either for the first time or again.

Town, Site, Nights
A) La Redondela, Camping Playa Taray, 3 nights
B) Malaga, Valle Niza Playa, 1
C) Balerma, Mar Azul, 5
D) San Jose, Los Escullos, 7
E) Mojacar, El Quinta, 2
F) Isla Plana, Los Madriles, 5
G) Oliva, Kiko Park, 2
H) Albarracín, Cuidad de Albarracín, 3
I) Arbizu, Eco, 1
J) Castro Urdiales, Camping de Castro, 2

Would we recommend a longer break? We certainly would and would love to do it again despite missing people back home.

It has been quite simply so much fun!

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Many weathers

We leave Albarracín under blue skies and head towards the coast intending two longer stops before Castro Urdiales near Santander. The first site though is really run down and complete with emaciated kittens so we patch up the battery compartment on the van which has fallen down en route, track down the terrible smell of gas and drive on.

Our next site is at Camping Arbizu Eco and is nicely placed in the mountains with adjacent woolly sheep and eagles flying overhead. It is misty, cold and a shock after all the lovely weather we have been so fortunate in having. So it’s back to the winter clothes for us.

We are lucky the next day to hitch up in the dry although the eagles seem to have decided to stay hidden in the clouds. We drive on to our final site at Camping de Castro perched above Castro Urdiales with views towards Bilbao. The approach past the bullring, a line of parked cars, a tiny tunnel under the motorway and then a narrow steep lane with no passing places is truly terrible. Brilliant views across the bay though and lovely sandy beaches which we share on a walk with a few dog walkers.

So far we have had rain, hail, thunder, lightening, sleet and a little sun. I’m cooking a tomato sauce and then packing for the cruise! It is Santander to Portsmouth tomorrow if we get down the lane again past the grumpy farmer.

Bonitas de Espagna (as it says on the city sign)

I nearly entitled this post “let’s just sit here and listen to the conkers drop”. It really is that peaceful here and Paul said that as we rested overlooking views in all directions at Albarracín yesterday under an old horse chestnut tree. The view from the pitch is also wonderful.

It is strange how excited we are by the autumn colours as we wander through the old streets of the town which still have the modern twist of remote control bollards to keep outsiders out and allow residents in. Slightly like the fortified walls which stretch on into the distance and the the imposing remains of the ancient castle. To build such a construction must have been an immense and desperate endeavour.

The little streets twist and turn and do literally seem to hang from the rocks. Although you can smell washing drying from the occasional window the city is hardly populated and I can almost imagine a Shakespearean character appearing from around a dark corner. It has that feel to it. I want to touch the door frames and sit on the old stone seats and imagine who was here before.

We walk up towards the old walls and look down on a jigsaw of roofs which are biscuit and pink set off by the gold leaves of the trees far below and the flawless blue sky. Later we walk above the river next to the horse chestnut trees and the sound of water is set against rocks that look like they should have come from the Wild West. The cathedral roof stands out shining with sage, green, blue and white tiles shining in the sun.

Later that day we meet our Austrian neighbour who is travelling with his partner and tiny daughter and have come because the area is world known for bouldering, which seems to be a sport which requires a mattress and some talc.

We set out the next day and see that yes it is indeed popular to clambour up the red boulders and it actually looks quite fun. We make do with finally trying out our Lidl Nordic Walking poles (one pair between two for cost reasons apparently) and listen to the sound of goat bells and smell the thyme under foot.

Snow is forecast for the weekend here but all being well by that time we will be on the final approach to Santander. This is another truly beautiful area and apart from being worthy of a visit in its own right seems to be a kind of “wagon trail” crossroads for the English “are you on your way down” or “on your way back” traveller.

The day autumn arrived

We spend a lovely day sight seeing at Denia although the route from Oliva is sad as it seems to be lined at one point with young ladies who wave at the passing traffic and sit on plastic picnic chairs. They are equally spaced out and very dressed up to be only watching the cars, even though it is mid morning.

Denia has an affluent looking harbour with some very expensive looking boats, alongside which swim shoals of fish. It is interesting how they swim together in groups of a similar size. We take in the hustle and bustle of the town and walk up to the castle to enjoy the views. The town is a mix of old and new.

We return to our pitch at Oliva but never really get to take advantage of the pool and beach as the rain starts falling leaving us with a selection of wet washing to travel with.

So on inland to Camping Ciudad, Albarracín where we have a pitch overlooking the fortress in the distance. The final approach to the site sees us amongst golden leaves. It is definitely autumn here but the skies are still bright blue.

It’s Raining (men)

We were in the end very lucky with the weather and stayed five nights. The site is relaxed and friendly and I just love the salt water pool which is a joy to swim in and heated.

Time has treated the area around Isla Plana very well. The developers have made a good job of what they have done. It is low rise and the paths and promenades along the sea front are pretty and make pleasant walking. Isla Plana is in one direction and La Azahoia in the other.

We also revisit the Bol Nuevo which is a really interesting natural example of rock erosion but is still unfenced, in a car park and now seems to have a housing development to one side of it with parts of actually in people’s gardens. The coast just around the corner continues to be spectacular and we enjoy a swim in a tiny cove which we have completely to ourselves.

The weather eventually breaks and although we have a pleasant swim in the indoor pool the walk in the miserable weather is less successful as I end up falling over and skinning my elbow which puts exfoliating your suntan onto a ridiculous level. The wind is also now of horrible proportions so we decide to move to one last site on the Mediterranean before heading across country to Santander.

We drive through Murcia and into Valencia smelling the fragrance of pine and oranges and marvelling again at the sheer height of the development at Benidorm which dominates the beautiful bay. We arrive at Camping Kiko Park, Oliva and there again is the fragrance of pine. Paul has proudly chosen a pitch with no neighbours and that is because we are practically in the Men’s toilet block! We will see how it all turns out tomorrow when sun and a sandy beach adjacent will hopefully make the move worthwhile.

Forward Planning

The average age here is quite high and I like to think we may reduce it by a few years. Again this is an area and site we have stayed at before but at Easter time. The area is still very relaxing and friendly and we haven’t yet entered into campsite conversations about the best walking sticks and other assorted ailments although actually my ankle is still a hindrance to me…so maybe our time is coming.

The sea is the calmest we have had all holiday today and you can walk out gradually on sand through clear waters so it would be a perfect place to learn to swim. That must be why we bought the girls an inflatable boat here and also our washing line. I’m from Swansea originally so was brought up with a healthy distrust of anything not surf related and a fear of being washed away on inflatables. Hence the washing line which kept our two wild adventurers close to shore. The washing line is still going strong, the boat is not and the adventurers have to keep themselves in check now.

The weather forecast looks distinctly autumnal but we have missed the recent storms. It will be interesting to see how the next few days turn out and to remember what life in the rain is like. We are next to the ramblas but the car and van are pointed in the right direction for a quick departure. We hope for cloud and showers so we can walk and swim in the indoor pool for our last few days before we head for home.

Back in the saddle

So we are travelling again and this seems an apt title for an instalment as we are not far from where the spaghetti westerns were filmed. We drive alongside almost biblical pale grey rocky outcrops and valleys studded with clumps of dark green vegetation and occasional plantations of palm trees which from a distance look like an oasis. It is cloudy today and on our final approach to Mojacar shafts of sunlight break through the cloud and their hazy stripes illuminate the carefully ordered orange groves and the roofs of distant hilltop villages. It is an effect I have only seen before in paintings. Light and dark, “chiaroscuro” I think is the term.

Our site at Camping El Quinto is small and carefully planted with roses, lavender and cacti with quirky touches like an old straw hat topping bean poles at reception. It is handily placed for a long walk uphill to Mojacar and also the local crematorium. Hopefully the two things are not linked.

We explore the local coast which is quite built up but empty this time of the year.

Mojacar itself is still a charming town perched up on the hill and I really enjoy wandering in and out of the shops looking at the Indalo Man sculptures and signs which are everywhere. The figure is an ancient symbol believed to be a prehistoric god holding a rainbow in his open arms and is supposed to protect from the evil eye, lightening, and other natural disasters but sadly no mention of Brexit, which is a subject we are skirting around with anyone we meet from other European countries.

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We also manage a car journey up into the hills behind the Almanzora valley with only the wild rosemary bushes and the odd rabbit for company. The views spread out for miles and I feel lucky to see so much beauty. The twisty roads do not agree with Paul despite my exemplary driving skills so we return carefully but hastily to the site with only a quick glimpse of the Caves of Almanzora. I am fascinated by the idea of living burrowed into the red rock and would like to find out more about the area.

An enjoyable couple of nights then which lead us on to a drive down the Peage as Paul is not keen today on cross country to Camping Los Madrils at Isla Plana near Puerto de Mazarron. The site has the most amazing swimming pool, warm and filled every night with fresh sea water. Very agreeable indeed.