Well I suppose I may as well blog the latest trip to Spain as I cannot sleep these nights, so wish I was back in the sunshine.
Well it started badly on January 15th at Portsmouth docks were I was charged an extra £26 by Brittany Ferries because I told a wee porkie about my length, I booked the crossing as a 8mt m/h but on arrival they were measuring every m/h in the queue and I was actually 8.75mts
so that was the start of a long day.
We arrived at around noon so we could go and have some lunch then a kip for a couple of hours which we did, then around 16.00hrs they started moving us around the docks into position for loading (so far so good) we waited for the ferry to turn up and we still waited for the ferry to turn up and eventually it did at 19.00hrs nearly two hours late. We should have sailed at 17.30hrs but they hadn't even started unloading at 19.30 then a few cars started unloading and a few trucks then bugger all for the next two hours.
Everyone was by now getting very cross (politely
) then we found out the reason for the delay it was this thing that was causing us all the grief.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Its the centre upright of a wind turbine and was 28mts long, and because the ferry was late docking (due to bad weather) the tide was ebbing and the ruddy thing got stuck half way across the linkspan from the ferry to the port and there was two of them onboard
Happily after the confusion of the 1st one they got the right kind of truck to pull the 2nd one of quickly and loading commenced at 20.30hrs but that took an eternity and we eventually left port nearly 4hrs late. We only made an hour up on the crossing so we were late docking in Santander, it should have been 17.00hrs but it was 20.00hrs before the wheels touched tarmac again, so we scootered around to Cabarceno for the night (a short drive of 20 minutes from the docks) it was raining quite heavily and I was pleased we found the place with the info from Laneside
Its a great stop over a short drive away from Santander with a lovely village and a few nice bars and restaurants as well as a Zoo with the larger animals allowed to roam freely within the park.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
There were around 20 m/hs parked up there as we arrived so found a nearly flat bit (the actual Aire is nearly impossible to get level on but has to be used in peak periods) near the lake, had a meal and a snifter as one does, and this was the view we had next morning when we woke.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Barb n Bob "no mates" everyone had gone, well after a hearty breakfast in the local bar of we went heading for Salamanca.
Now the A67 out of Santander is a real long, long climb over snow capped mountains with a snow plough on every junction north and south (would not happen in the UK, but I put Buffy in cruise and it never come out again for over 200 miles except when we stopped for lunch and refuel, there was nobody on the road, we thought the world had ended and nobody had told us, but it heaven to drive this way. We stopped for fuel and food then reached our destination at Junction Km225 on the A62 at camping Olimpia, a great stopover just seconds of the motorway, nice wee campsite and the facilities are good as is the food in the restaurant also the fuel station in right across the road( no noise at night) [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We had a very pleasant meal at Camping Olimpia, their Spagbol is stunning and I had for the first time ever Black Pork in a sauce and that was truly amazing, next morning after a freezing shower (the water was piping hot the shower room was freezing) we decided that because the weather was not good in Portugal we would head for Spain instead so we headed for Camping Dos Hermanas near Seville.
The drive again was great with barely a vehicle in sight, so cruise on again for 240 miles and totally relaxing, we actually did nearly 600 miles in cruise without touching the pedals once except for stopping for nourishment and fuel.
We refilled the LPG at a Repsol garage in Seville ( the GPS position in the ASCI book for this station is not correct as that is now a taxi service garage, you need to go past that and TL at junction then 1st right and its on the left at the roundabout) then headed for the site and I wish we had not chosen that one as it was a shabby mess, full of low trees, muddy pitches and no wifi although I was told it covered the whole site and it was €24 p.n. a real rip off. first and last time here.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
After a miserable night with no wifi and no TV just a bottle of vino we left heading for Camping Bella Vista at Manilva nr. Estepona. We used the N4 from Seville as the motorway is a toll road and the Spanish rub their hands with greed when they see me coming in Buffy, so we had a very pleasant ride with the trucks around Tarifa and Algeciras to the site, the route is a truck route but its a very easy drive and the traffic was quite light.
We arrived at Bella Vista and thought wow this is a great site, so I went to the office to book in and we told its €27 p.n. up to 30 days but €550 for anything longer, so I said 31 days please and was given a pitch at the top of the site near the entrance. Was not overjoyed with this as we were close to the N340 and the traffic was noisy but we will have a look around first and see what it all held in the area.
Looking around the site it was very nice with full facilities on the each pitch including UKTV only two channels but enough for Barbs soaps and some news for me. The major problem with the site was it was built on a sloping level down toward the beach and the only facilities for emptying the toilet and for the shower/toilets Bars and Restaurant was next to the office at the top of the site, very strange arrangement and it was a steep climb back up so after a couple days we decided to move on as no convenient pitches were available due to the long term Dutch and Germans entrenched there for 6 months, the site is amazing and the facilities are 5 star and the exit onto the private beach made it a special place, but not for us. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
There is a short walk/ride into the town along the beach and it is very smart with lots of the usual Bars ( happy hour
and some very smart restaurants in and around the harbour which is full of expensive looking crafts, didn't see Pete's boat anywhere [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We had a pow wow over a meal in the very expensive restaurant in town as a consolation and decided that it was time to head for our favourite site Camping MarJal Crevillente, its a 5 star site but the only drawback is you do need transport as its stuck in the middle of nowhere.
So after two days we decided to move on again to the Marjal so I paid my €54
and away we went, glorious drive up the coast to Guardamar then headed inland to the Marjal [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We booked on for 31 days for €14 p.n. + ehu which was a good price for a classy site and off we went to find pitch C94 in the dark, when we did I just drove on and told Barb we will sort it all out in the morning, so a nice vino tinto was opened and a vino blanco for the boss and we settled down for a night with the tv, well Barb did I just went a wee walk about to see who we had disturbed coming in at 19.00 well we had David and Ann-Marie on one side and Fritz and Thelma on the other, two more english couples opposite & Kurt the big German on the Goldwing, looks like a good friendly group so that pleased me.
Well next morning we got stuck into settling in for the month, met our neighbours and they are all very easy to get on with especially the Irish couple Noel and Pauline, Noel was a Garda in the Irish police and had a brain tumour remove successfully and a true Irishman with his humour, great company.
Fritz on the pitch next to us had an enormous Pyrenees Mountain Dog it was absolutely massive and would not let anyone on their pitch unless Fritz was there to control him, but he was actually soft as a baby when you got to know him (thats the dog not Fritz). Kurt opposite us had a party on our first afternoon and he brought some schnapps across to us so as to invite us to join then, I had the Schnapps, well it would be rude to refuse (Barb declined sensible lady our Barb) but we both declined his invite and what a good move that was, they got through 3lts of Schnapps in 3 hrs and one chap (German) was so drunk they started leaving one by one, I was watching very closely and taking notes and after Kurt decide to leave and go indoors our next door neighbour also left (a UK traffic Cop) the drunk was the last man standing although it should be Falling, we are in stitches watching him trying to stand up and go home but it was impossible as he fell over the minute he stood up.
Having been there got the T shirt on an occasion or two in the past I decided to go and assist him, and it was so funny, me trying to stand him up then both of us falling over as he dragged me down on top of him, eventually I managed to get him on two feet and slowly and carefully guided him between the furniture and the guy ropes and headed for hid caravan, thats when his wife appeared and by heck did she left him have it, both barrels and at full volume, I turned and ran as fast as I could before she blamed me, never saw him for 3 days and he never even knew it was me that got him a good hiding
The weather was good and in fact we had only had one days (night) rain since we got of the ferry so after a nice sun bathe the next morning we headed for the Spar for a good soak and a swim. The facilities are fabulous here and are all in the cost if you take the sites rates and not the ASCI rates (€5 each person per day) extra.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We hired a car from the site so as to have a look around although we know the area very well, but I was shocked when Alan from the pitch across arrived in his car from Firefly (Hertz subsidiary) €150 for 7 WEEKS but you have to hire for 31 or more days for the rate and collect and return to Alicante Airport..
Again the weather was being good for us with loads of sun but a stiff coldish wind blowing of the mountains so windbreaks are really needed, the sunsets nearly every night where beautiful.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Things were really nice and we had settled in well and getting around on our bikes and also the car for longer trip and big shopping trips, eventually Hugh and Barbara turned up but were pitched on the other side of the site as it was full, all 1500 pitches had be allocated and the overflow section had to be opened, this is where Margaret and Frank had to go when they arrived from Portugal.
We had a very pleasant time together with of course the world famous Frank's BBQ on a gorgeous day, the food was as usual up to Margarets standards, she is the tops and of course Franks cooking was spot on, so good food, good company and good vino, in February what more could you ask for.
We spent some time in Guardamar a wee town we really like as the Restaurants and bars are a great price.
Our favourite chinese restaurant[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Margaret n Frank left after 3 days as I think Frank was getting the dreaded Benibongo fever a rare disease that afflicts those that require sun,sea, and sangria but I have heard from them and they are having a ball.
Well after Marg n Frank left we got down to serious sunbathing and topped up the tans, with a few bike rides thrown in to keep the muscles moving, we had decided to leave on the Sunday but it was Barbara's 60th birthday (Hugh's Barbara) so we had a birthday party in the silver service restaurant on site on the Sunday afternoon, it was a beautiful meal with fine wine and Moet Champers (i did have a very small champagne as I was driving) and after 3 hrs we were ready to say our goodbyes to Hugh and Barbara which we did,[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
then we headed for the Repsol station just up at Realengo near the site for fuel and GPL before heading for Jalance, a great safe Aire with water/dump/blackwater, Boules pitch and picnic tables, a Bar in season, and a strenuous walk up to the fort at the top of the village.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We had a small scattering of snow on the roof next morning so we decided to come down out of the mountains just in case so we headed for Aranjuez near Madrid, a town we have visited many times and love the place, Camping International Aranjuez was our destination and a lovely cross country run in lovely sunshine was pleasure, it was not when we arrive on site, the place was like a bomb site, dirty unkempt, loads of winter stored Spanish caravans and motorhomes with their stuff blown around everywhere, the shop was shut, the paid wifi did not work (got a refund) we decide to stay and have a look around the next day, another mistake, we rode through the Palace gardens into town the hit an enormous chaotic traffic jam as they are renewing the whole road system and roundabouts all around the town Square and the Palace as well, it was a nightmare, Barb gave up and just pushed the bike but we could not even get across the roads safely so we return and decided to leave the next day, we are gutted as we love the place, I learned of one of the staff that La Marina Camping had taken over the running of the site and will not spend money in winter as it is basicly just a transit site for those heading for the sun (or away from the sun) We shall not return until we hear some good reports sadly.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
We had a decision to make then, which route to take, we could head for Burgos but we don't like the place or head for Salamanca. That won so we left and headed around the Madrid ring road system, which is quite good really, but we decided to avoid going through the Sanatorio Militar Tunnel which is a toll road but to take the N-V1 over the mountain through Tablada and it was a dream drive with snow everywhere except on the roads and the views where astonishing and beautiful, and miles and miles of arrow straight roads when you come off the mountains with beautiful villages along the route, some of which we stopped at and had a meal or a stroll around and a coffee whilst people watching. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
After descending from the mountains we headed for Salamanca for a look around the city, found a great spot for parking and had a walk around then a caf'e con leche and of we went back to camping Olimpia where we stopped on the 2nd night coming out, then back to Cabarceno for a couple of nights but the weather was horrendous with torrential rain and massive thunderstorms, great to watch but not in a motorhome, it battered us real bad but super German made van survived it well, had a couple of meals and beers in the local bars and restaurants but had to drive the two hundred yards to them as the rain was unrelenting.
Overall a good trip (apart from the last couple days) with sun 98% of the time, meet some real nice people a couple we will keep in contact with, and now looking forward to France In June.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Facts, saved 1500 miles by not driving through France so fuel saved paid for ferry (nearly) and no added milage of the clock.
1742 miles covered by non toll and National roads
410lts of diesel at approximately €1,34lt = €547
Camping total = €470
car hire = €290
28lts GPL @ €0.72lt = €20.16
Ferry Pommy/Santander return = €920
total = €2247.16 or £1954 = personnel expenses and Barbs vino