Back on the Road 2022: ¡Hola España (a brief trip to Gibraltar) and Hasta Luego!

Our trip through Spain

Spain, we’d been looking forward to returning to Spain for two years, having left just as the pandemic started to break in 2020. We had hoped to return later the same year, then last year and we had planned to return after Christmas but that wasn’t to be. It feels so good to be back on the road and head towards some sun. Although we only have a three month window this time and the Schengen Shuffle (dipping in and out of the Schengen Zone,there is a little explanation here: https://motoroaming.com/the-schengen-shuffle-for-motorhome-travellers/) isn’t really an option, for us, at the moment with the crisis in Ukraine, we have planned to visit some of the places we’ve previously been and some we hadn’t!

We crossed the border from France on the Mediterranean, between Cerbere and Portbou, having chosen a good weather route, not over the Pyrenees or across the Spanish plains, where we knew the weather could also be bad, and travelled along the coast of Cataluña, stopping at a lovely site in the town of L’Estartit https://www.campinglesmedes.com/en/ where the sun shone for all but one of our four days. The site is a short walk from the beach and the town.

We left L’Estartit and headed south to Cambrils and a site we had stayed at before – Camping La Llosa https://www.camping-lallosa.com/en Right on the beach and a short walk to the town, with a bakery / patisserie/ cafe on the doorstep. We took a stroll to the town and enjoyed an ice cream on the beach, before wandering around the old town. The weather was still on our side and we enjoyed a few more days in the sunshine.

Continuing our journey south, and into Communidad Valencia, we headed for another site, we’d stayed at before, in Peñíscola, but this time we were unlucky and the site was full, so we had a brief check on the interweb and the guide books and found a lovely site slightly further along the coast, along two miles of unpaved track, in lovely wooded grounds at Alcossebre https://campingribamar.com/?lang=en. A definite little gem and a short walk to the rocky beach, you could hear the waves crashing onto the beach from the campsite.

From Alcossebre, back along the unpaved track, we headed along the coast to Oliva, and a campsite, which in the book sounded great, but was a big disappointment, despite being right on the sandy beach, the rest of the local area was a bit deserted and run down. Being shown to our pitch, which was just about big enough, we had to clean it before we could get sorted, but it was ok for one night! https://www.camping-ole.com

Our trip now took us to the Murcia Region, and a site we’d also been to before at Mar Menor, https://www.camping.info/en/campsite/camping-caravaning-mar-menor, between the towns of Los Alcázares and San Javier, right on the edge of the Spanish Air Force Base, and the planes take off regularly every day! The site is located next to a nature reserve but with good walking and cycling routes into the towns and right on the beach of the Mar Menor – a coastal inland lagoon, protected from the sea by a peninsula.

Continuing south and into Andalucia, we found a lovely quirky campsite in the town of Adra. Camping Las Vegas, situated at the end of a road surrounded by greenhouses and small residences, it is a lovely spot to stop.https://campinglasvegas.jimdofree.com/ The sea is just over the road and although not much of a beach, ideal to let Reg run! This is one we will return to!

We continued on to Málaga, and had hoped to stop in a Motorhome Aire, but it being a nice, hot, sunny Friday the place was full, as was the next place we tried, the third was closed and we finally found a place to stop in Estepona, not exactly our cup of tea but ok for the night (what was more disappointing was the fact that we didn’t use our ACSI (cheaper camping) card, as there was no signage stating it was an associated site, but found it in the book a day later and about five minutes down the road there was a free camper stop, but lesson learnt…

Hello Gibraltar, moving further south we arrived at La Línea de la Concepción, and the motorhome stop on Alcaidesa Marina. We walked into Gibraltar, after being told off by the Border Guard, for not having our passport stamped when we entered Spain (or Europe, we’re not sure which) but made sure it was stamped when we left, took a trip to Morrisons, for some English bits – Bacon, Sausages, Walkers Crisps… and a bottle of water – in GIbraltar (and some of Andalucia) you are expected to wash down dog wee!

La Línea de la Concepción, is a beautiful Spanish town, in its own right, and we spent a couple of days wandering around the old streets and squares, before heading west to El Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cadiz. We had Christmas here in 2019 and met some wonderful people, this was high on our list to return to (and still is)! Arriving in glorious weather we made a lovely long term camp, and enjoyed the sun, before the rain arrived, followed by two more glorious days and then more rain…. Although it stopped us exploring out and about on our bikes, we still ventured into the town and along the port. https://www.lasdunascamping.com/el-camping/

Continuing west, we found an absolute gem of a Motorhome stop https://camperpark.es/en/home-3/ Camper Park Playas de Luz, in the small village of Pozo del Camino, just outside the fishing town of Isla Cristina, ten kilometres from the Portuguese border. On the edge of another nature reserve, complete with flamingos that you can see from the window and walking and cycle routes along a green lane. What a find, although when it rains, it rains!

We have fallen in love with Andalucia and it will be sad to leave but we’re continuing our adventure into Portugal, before we return to Spain, so for now it’s, ¡Hasta Luego España! – we’ll see you soon.

As always, thank you for reading and following our journey. We hope you and your families remain safe and well and we’ll be back with an update from Portugal, soon…

Week 31: Peñiscola to Cambrils – a search for flamingos.

Flamingos

On Monday, we left Peñiscola and headed up the coast to the Parque Natural Delta del Ebro, where we’d found a camperstop and heard we could see Flamingos. We’d already seen some on this trip on the road to Cadiz, but here they are supposed to be prevalent.

As we turned off the main road onto the single track road which takes you down to the Parque, we were surrounded by rice fields and birds. This looked like the ideal stop over, although there are no amenities as such – you can empty your waste water and toilet between 10:00 and 13:00 for 3 Euros, but otherwise you are on your own! There is also a restaurant at the Delta.

We found ourselves a nice pitch with a view of the mountains and the rice fields, and having heard it could get quite busy were tucked out of the way of the main camperstop. We set off to the closest Mirador (viewing platform) to have a look for flamingos – and there were some! There were also herons and storks.

The next day, we set off on our bikes towards the sea and the beach, passing more flamingos on the way – you can’t tire of seeing them, they are beautiful and various stages of colour from white to deep pink. We then headed down to Sant Carles de la Ràpita, before heading back having cycled 23 miles. The camperstop was filling up tonight and several of our neighbours asked us about the flamingos!

Wednesday, we set off again to the coastal town of Cambrils. I (Sarah) had previously been to Salou, but as none of the campsites there were open, we chose the nearby town. What a surprise it was too. We were asked to select a pitch and having duly measured one and checked the sun position, we drove in. One slight hitch was the gnarly trees, whose branches were quite low and positioning Nortia, took a bit of effort – we even had to remove the bikes to get sorted. We completed the task and are still talking!

We went for a stroll along the prom into the town, it’s about 500 metres away with lots of restaurants, bars and shops. We decided we’d stay for a few days. Thursday, we were finally able to catch up with our blogs, and set off on the bikes to Salou. There is a cycle ride along the beach, however Storm Gloria has left her mark here and we had to abandon the cycle path in places, where the sand hasn’t yet been cleared. Salou is not how I remembered it from 20 or so years ago, and Cambrils feels a lot more like the Salou I recall. Salou appears to have had a big renovation and in some ways reminded us of a mini Benidorm! We headed back along the road and looked out for a Restaurant we’d been recommended, but it’s not yet open.

We had decided that on Friday we’d go to Barcelona by train, so having heard that the train station had moved, we set off again on our bikes to find the station and the train times. We chose the 10:33, as its an hour and a half each way and set off on foot on Friday morning to the station – 30 minutes away. The train ride was pretty uneventful and we got off at Barcelona – Passeig de Gràcia, which is the closest to the Sagrada Familia. As we strolled along, we found a restaurant advertising home cooked fish and chips, so challenge accepted – Somewhere Aragó. It was as good as expected! We continued to the Sagrada Familia and joined the hoards of people in the vicinity. We opted not to go into the Church itself as there was a 20 Euro entry fee each!

We headed off from here to the home of Barcelona Football Club – Nou Camp, before heading back to Barcelona – Sants Station, to get the train home to Nortia. We strolled back through the old town, before collapsing at the Motorhome. It was one of the longest days we’d had!

Saturday, the sun was shining and the temperature was due to reach 22°C, which it did and possibly some more – as we were in direct sun. We had to keep reminding ourselves it was 1st February! We didn’t do too much except, hunt down a Chinese Restaurant in town and head back later in the evening for dinner.

Sunday, the sun was still shining and although possibly a little cooler, it was a great day. We headed out on the bikes to the old town of Cambrils. What a gem of history, this place has. In the Civil War, Catalunya resisted the Franco Regime and as such was bombed by the German and Italian air-forces, at Franco’s request. There is a trail through the town with information in English, and an air raid shelter under the street, which you visit via the Museum. We’re moving off tomorrow, hopefully up to the mountains nearby.

If you’ve ever fancied the idea of doing what we are and blogging for the Erwin Hymer Group, they are looking for couples, families and solo travellers for their 2020-2021 Blogging Team. Their request is, “If you believe you have the qualities and spirit of adventure we’re looking for, are engaging and inspiring, set the wheels in motion and get in touch today”. Email Rachel and Emma at bloggers@erwinhymergroup.co.uk

Thank you as ever for reading.