Tchau, Portugal / Hola España

Crossing Spain

We chose to return to France along a part of Spain we hadn’t visited before – La Rioja. Our first stop, not far from the Portuguese Border was Zamora. We decided to stop in a Motorhome Area, FREE, along the side of the river with a great view of the walled town. The last time we drove through Zamora, heading south, but now we had time to spend visiting. Zamora is famous for its numerous Romanesque Churches built in the 11th and 12th Centuries, while we didn’t see them all, we did wander up to the Castle on the top of the hill and crossed the Poets Bridge, wandered the small bar-lined narrow streets. Zamora is definitely worth a visit!

Heading east towards France our next stop was a very pleasant surprise – Haro – the capital of La Rioja and the centre of the wine producing region. We stopped at https://www.campingdeharo.com/en, located just outside another very picturesque town, centred around a square and the old streets meandering off around. At the base of the hill there are a number of Wine Bodegas, think Caves in France, more than a store, generally the hub of the wine production.

After Haro, we continued our journey east, the intention was to stop overnight at Canfranc-Estación. We stopped for lunch close to the Motorcycle Circuit de Navarra, at Los Arcos. We did ask the Security guard if we could take photos inside but she was not impressed!

We had been watching the weather for a few days, as there were avalanche warnings in the Pyrenees and more importantly at Canfranc. Canfranc-Estación was designed in a very elaborate style and at great expense, on one of the few border crossings between France and Spain. It had a slightly chequered past, a fire in its early days, a hub for Nazi profiteering and strangely also a known route for Resistance, Jews and British Military leaving occupied France in World War Two, before closing in the 1970s, when the last train to leave actually demolished a bridge on the line (without fatality). It was left abandoned for several years, but typically is now surrounded by scaffolding and fencing as it is being refurbished and brought back into life as a Station and Hotel.

Instead of staying at Canfranc, with the threat of bad weather, we headed through the Somport Tunnel and into France…. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with our trip through France, soon!

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…

Back on the Road 2022 – Heading to the Sun: Week One

We headed home and booked our tickets for the Eurotunnel, arranged the vet appointment for Reg’s Animal Health Certificate (AHC) and booked our Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). We had opted to have our LFTs carried out at the local drive-in, but their website was down and there were no available appointments, so instead we opted for C19 Testing, who will send you the equipment (usually next day – we ordered on Saturday and they arrived on Monday lunchtime), then when you’re ready to take the test – check whether the time you need is arrival or departure! get ready to log in to the website with your identification and a clear photo, and the results will be back within 12 hours- ours came back in 2! https://www.c19testing.co.uk/

Next, the vet – of all the things we thought would stop us heading off the vet wasn’t one, but we had a phone call on the Monday to say our vet was sick with COVID could we reschedule to a week later? We were found an appointment locally with the same group, but a day earlier – better for us and a relief.

  • LFT complete – both negative, and uploaded to Eurotunnel website;
  • Sworn Statement – completed, signed and uploaded;
  • COVID Travel Passes, both downloaded and paper copies, sorted;
  • AHC complete.

We’re ready to go! We sorted all our paperwork for travel, booked the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Black Horse Farm, 8 minutes from the tunnel, said our goodbyes and headed off.

Arrival at the tunnel was relatively smooth, a little hitch with the automated check-in but soon sorted and off to the Pet Reception – complete, we’re ready to board and head to the sun! After almost two years waiting, we couldn’t believe we were this close, just Passport Control and Border Control to go, a quick chat to the English Police, Gas confirmed off and France Border Control – all we needed to do now was show our passports and COVID Passes and YES, we’re off….

Our trip south, we chose to use Camping-Car Parks -a one off fee of 5€ and you have access to their secure locations, electricity, fill-up and dump and in some cases WiFi. You receive a card, the Pass’Etapes which you can top up on-line or at the terminals to their sites. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/search/areas/map

Our first night was at the lovely Normandy town of Formerie, near Forges-les-Eaux and about 2 hours from the tunnel, a perfect stop, just on the edge of the town, with its local shops and typical Norman atmosphere, this is one we’ll definitely be back to. The site was a remarkable 10€ (inc Tourist Tax).

Day 2 and a journey through Normandy and into the Loiret region and the pretty village of Lailly-en-Val, a lovely site popular with the French and relatively busy (it was Friday). and right next to a lake, another perfect stop at 10€, until three sets of bells started at 07:00, what a wake up!

Day 3 from Lailly-en-Val, we headed to the lakeside resort of Lac du Saint Pardoux, Razès in the Haute-Vienne region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The site is in a large wooded area with plenty of paths and cycle routes, the lake is open for swimming in the summer, but there is a pool next door. Again 10€ for the night!

Day 4, still heading south, we chose to stop at Lamagdelaine, in the Lot, in fact next to the River Lot and a Boulangerie. Lovely gravel pitches at the top end, between the trees, The river end had grass pitches and was closed off – as it was fairly wet. Slightly more expensive at 11€!

Days 5 and 6, we chose to stay at a campsite for a bit of a relax. We had stayed at Camping Toulouse Le Rupé, just outside the City, we had been here before (in fact, two years to the date – thank you Google photos and Facebook), this time however, it looked a little unloved and uncared for. The people were still warm and friendly but… We did have a quick clean up, shop and relax before heading south again. 18€ a night. WiFi extra and poor!

Day 7 – wow a week on the road already and the sun was beginning to come out – despite a weather warning for avalanches in the region – we weren’t heading up tot the mountains, though. We travelled through the Occitanie region and to another Camping-Car Park at Elne. Here we recharged our Pass’Etapes and paid for the night 11.47€. A short walk away is the pretty village of Elne and a spectacular view of the snow-topped Pyrenees.

Day 8 – Over the border and another new country for Reg! We took the coastal D194, skirting above Collioure and Port Vendres, through Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère, before crossing the border into Portbou. We had our passports and COVID Passes ready, but they weren’t required! We headed to the coastal resort of L’Estartit, where we planned to stop for a couple of nights at Camping Les Medes. https://www.campinglesmedes.com/en/

Lockdown Week 13: Places we’ve been (Part 6 – Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain and Gibraltar (with a night in Portugal).

Ominous Skies

Week 13 in Lockdown. Although we can travel out, we can’t stay out overnight. The weather has not been great this week, but next week looks better!

Reg had to have a new bed, this week as he’s outgrown his! We’re hopeful that we can move in three weeks, but waiting for Boris to give us the ok.

Belgium

We headed out of the tunnel on our first trip and headed to Belgium, so we could get Nortia fixed the following day in Geel at Dicar Motorhomes https://www.dicar.be/ and despite trying we couldn’t find anywhere with space, so had to head across the border to the Netherlands for the night.

  • De Klinge – we stopped, once Nortia was fixed at Camping Fort Bedmar in Belgium. The campsite was our first one in Belgium and in a lovely place. There is a statue in the town to Gustaaf De Loor, winner of the first La Vuelta, in 1935.
  • Ypres – we stopped at the Jeugdstadion, just a short walk from the Menin Gate and the town.
  • Bredene – Camping Veld & Duin, just a short distance from the beach and the town centre. Almost next door is a Chinese Restaurant!

England

  • Richmond, Yorkshire – Richmond Hargill House (CMC) Camping and Motorhome Club site. Our very first stop in Nortia! Close to Catterick, Darlington and the Yorkshire Dales.
  • North York Moors CMC, on the edge of the North York Moors near Whitby. This site was the first we have ever stayed on without facilities, and a good way to get to know Nortia (and our limits)!
  • York – Rowntree Park CMC, on the edge of the city. We love this site! If you venture out of the back gate you come across a lovely neighbourhood, with local shops, restaurants and services. Out of the front gate and follow the river into the city centre. This site does flood!
  • Maplethorpe Camping and Caravanning Club SIte, a short walk to the beach, passed a lot of holiday parks.
  • Thetford Forest CMC – another site with no facilities, but in the middle of the forest and with the Desert Rats Memorial and designated trail. Perfect for dog walking.
  • Ashwell, Baldock, Hertfordshire – Ashridge Farm CMC, in a idyllic English Village, complete with two pubs and a cricket green.
  • Henley – Henley Four Oaks, close to the town of Henley and the river Thames.
  • Littlehampton CMC, close to the town of the same name.
  • Folkestone – Black Horse Farm, ideal for the Tunnel and Ferries.
  • Bearstead CMC – close to the Tunnel and ferries. In the countryside with a good dog walk.
  • Polstead Camping and Caravanning Club Site – a gem of a site (we’ve stayed here twice on the trips first in October and again in March). Close to Flatford – scene of Constable’s Hay Wain.
  • Oakham, Rutland – Rutland Caravan and Camping Site. Close to the town and with a lovely dog walk.
  • National Memorial Arboretum, Burton-on-Trent – As we were passing, we wanted to visit the site of National Remembrance. It was very wet when we arrived and we had a great day out here.
  • Swadlingcote – Conkers Camping and Caravanning Site, Derbyshire.
  • York – Sheriff Hutton Camping and Caravanning Club Site, a nice site, not too close to the City. We stayed here at Halloween and it was here I (Sarah), managed to nudge a caravan when reversing! If you are going to nudge a Caravan, make sure the owners aren’t sitting having a nice cup of tea, watching your every move!
  • Alnwick, Northumberland – River Beamish CMC site. We stopped here so we could visit Cragside, the first house in the world to be lit with hydroelectric power.
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – we’ve stopped here before and love the views and the town.
  • Hawes, Yorkshire – Britain’s highest market town. The campsite is a short walk for the town centre.
  • Castleton, Derbyshire – after a hairy drive over the Snake Pass in the rain – the road had been closed but was passable with care. We stopped at the CMC site in the village.
  • Shrewsbury, Shropshire – Love 2 Stay Campsite – a very modern campsite.
  • Cheddar – We stopped at the CMC Site, just on the edge of the town and close to amenities.
  • Dartmouth – Hiilhead CMC club site – lovely views of the coast and an all-purpose campsite, with restaurant and swimming pool. We left here using the Kingsweir ferry and stopped for lovely lunch in the town.
  • Truro – Carnon Downs Caravan Park. We stopped here on our way to the Lizard and Lands End.
  • Tavistock – we stopped at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site, close to the market town and Dartmoor.
  • Charmouth – Manor Farm Holiday Centre. Close to the town and the beach, but not a lot of character.
  • Wareham – Hunters Moon CMC site. A brief stopover, with a lovely dog walk.
  • Brighton – CMC site, at the edge of the city. Close to the seafront.
  • Crawley – Gatwick CMC site. If it wasn’t for the fact it is close to family, we might not stay here! The runway is literally a road away, so very noisy.
  • Moreton-in-Marsh CMC site – on the edge of the Cotswold village.
  • Leek – Blackshaw Moor CMC, in the Peak District, great views and walks.
  • Skipton – Bolton Abbey CMC on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, great views and walks and drives.
  • Harrogate – Harrogate Caravan Park, just outside the town, next to the Great Yorkshire Showground. We stopped here as Nortia, was booked into Steve Mann Caravans, to repair a fault we had with the water pump. https://stevemanncaravans.co.uk/
  • Barnes Green, Horsham – Sumners Ponds. Close to home and a gem of a site.

Scotland

  • Edinburgh – CMC Site. We had hoped to go into the city and have a look around, but the weather turned and rain set in. Be aware, there is a lot of cycle theft up here and the site have lockers for you to store them in, safely.
  • Dalbeattie – Glenearly Caravan Site. We followed the South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) around the south west of Scotland. We found this campsite almost by accident and it was lovely.
  • Stranraer – Low Glengyre Farm Certified Location – a gem on a working farm.
  • Moffat – Moffat Camping and Caravanning Club Site – on the edge of the town.

Wales

  • Llanberis – Morris Leisure Touring Caravan Holiday Park. Right at the edge of the village, close to the Snowdon Mountain Railway and walks.

Spain

We started our tour of Spain on the Costa Verde travelling along from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Campostela, before heading south.

  • Zarautz – Gran Camping Zarautz – our first night in Spain, this campsite was right on the Atlantic with a lovely view of the sea and beach and a walk right around it.
  • Loredo – Camping Loredo Derby – Right on the Atlantic, sand was blown along the campsite roads. We discovered in the night that we had parked side on to the wind, so a fairly sleepless night ensued. The facilities were incredibly basic.
  • Onis – Camping Picos de Europa – a campsite right in the Picos de Europa Mountains. This is where we heard the wolves in the morning.
  • Castropol – Camping Vegamar – due to the amount of rain they had in this part of Spain, the grass pitches were not available, so we were allowed to camp in the car park.
  • Santiago de Campostela – Camping AS Cancelas – a lovely site close to the centre of the city and a hypermarket and shopping complex. We didn’t get to see much of the town, as it was here we spent the night (almost) in the hospital.
  • Salamanca – Camping Regio – heading south we crossed into Portugal, then back into Spain and spent the night here. The campsite is behind the hotel and a reduced price fixed menu meal was available.
  • Cáceres – Camping Cáceres – Our first campsite with a private bathroom.
  • Hinojos – Camping Doñanarrayan Park – we arrived to a closed campsite after a horrendous journey in heavy rain. The Barman, came out and explained we could camp but we had to wait until the morning to pay etc. We were given a basic map. After walking the dog, we found the only sanitary block, but it did have heating and hot water.
  • El Puerto de Santa Maria – Camping Playa Las Dunas San Anton – this is another site we don’t want to share but…. we arrived for two days – then Christmas and left 16 days later. We made some lovely friends here and will return.
  • Tarifa – Camping Valdevaqueros, The time had come to say goodbye to the friends we had made and head off on our adventure. Heading south we stopped outside Tarifa on the beach and contemplated asking to go to Morocco, then we heard from our friends www.rewindthegap.co.uk that the Erwin Hymer Insurance wouldn’t cover us, so we couldn’t go. The campsite is close to the beach accessed via subway and home to a lot of kite surfers.
  • Marbella – Camping la Buganvilla. We found this campsite just outside the town hoping we could cycle in, but without cycling on the busy A7 there was no way.
  • Viñuela – Camping Presa La Viñuela – Up in the mountains above Malaga, behind a restaurant. There are walks along the river.
  • Granada – Camping Suspiro del Moro, Otura – This is another lovely gem of a campsite, just outside Granada and you can get the bus or cycle into the city.
  • Roquetas del Mar – Camping Roquetas del Mar – we were going to stay for two nights, but this is where Albi fell sick and passed away. We stayed for another night whilst he was in the vet clinic. We did manage a cycle out along the sea front and will probably return to explore further.
  • Mazarrón – Camping los Delfines – we stopped here in desperation of somewhere to stop and were contacted by Karen and Colin – Rewind the Gap, to say they were nearby and did we want to meet up?
  • San Javier – Camping Mar Menor – after a Burger King Brunch, we arrived at this lovely Stellplatz. Our place had been held by Karen and Colin (much to the dismay of others who’d been turned away). The campsite has the best facilities, we’ve seen for ages (especially for a Stellplatz). It is behind the former Airport – now home to the Spanish Air Force display team
  • Villajoyosa (Benidorm) – Camping El Torres – a must on our to do list. Neither of us had been to Benidorm before and we had heard the tales. A short cycle ride from the campsite and you are in Benidorm!
  • Moraira – Camping Moraira. This is another hidden gem. We cycled out from here to Cova des Arcs at Cala del Moraig. The beaches and bays around here are fantastic. Even better, at the bottom of the hill to the campsite is an Indian Restaurant and takeaway!
  • Valencia – Camping Coll Vert, El Saler. We arrived for two nights, so we could cycle along the beach to the city. Then we were hit by Storm Gloria, and the two nights turned into five. Sand and water was everywhere.
  • Benicassim – Camping Tauro – a one night stop over and we found ourselves in a Caravan Club rally. The campsite was full of Brits! We could have stayed at home.
  • Peñíscola – Camping El Eden – close to the beach in a gem of a town, overlooked by a castle (in Game of Thrones) with cycle routes around – when the sand is cleared. When we were there the sand was over a metre high in places!
  • Amposta – Parque Natural Delta del Ebro – A free spot with Motorhome Parking (services are payable – water and disposal), in the heart of a natural park, with Flamingos.
  • Cambrils – Camping La Llosa – we loved it here. You can cycle into the town and on to Salou. We picked up an Indian takeaway and met some more lovely people here. We stopped for two nights and left after five! We got the train from here into Barcelona.
  • Prades – Camping Prades Park – Up in the mountains, with stunning views and walks. We walked up to La Roca Foradada, the holed rock. Another weather warning was in force when we arrived, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad
  • Taradell – Camping La Vall – still in the mountains, the weather turned colder and we headed back to the coast. We liked this site and will return!
  • Palamos – Empord’Area Palamos – A Motorhome stop just outside the town and with more cycle paths into the town and around the countryside. A supermarket is within walking distance.

Portugal

We only spent one night in Portugal, hoping to return later in the year. We will be back, just in a little while!

  • Chaves – Guest House Chaves, on the back of a park and on the edge of the town. The campsite is in the garden of a guest house. It was a lovely taste of the Country, especially having driven over the mountains and through the countryside.

Gibraltar

We should have stayed longer. We actually stopped in Spain but it was so close to the Border, that we’ve added it under Gibraltar.

  • La Línea de la Concepción – Alcaidesa Marina Motorhome Parking. On the edge of the marina, close to the town and the border and an ideal cycle ride onto the Rock.

Week 32: Cambrils, Spain to St-Jean-Pla-de-Corts, France

Frost in Prades, Spain

We left the lovely campsite in Cambrils and followed our instincts into the mountains, stopping at a site in Prades. Prades sits in the Muntanyes de Prades, and the area is stunning, just what we needed after the coast.

On our way up, we headed off to Carrefour and stocked up with a few bits, but in the International aisle, we discovered a whole load of English (UK) goodies – crumpets, Aunt Bessie’s thick cut oven chips, Richmond sausages, Cornish Pasties and cottage cheese! We do love Spanish food and some that we have tried has been excellent, but when you crave a sausage sandwich, the Spanish ones aren’t quite right!

On arrival at the campsite, you are handed a welcome pack, which includes things to do / see and there was a walk which looked good. So the next morning we set off to the town and followed the directions up to La Roca Foradada (the holed rock). First we passed the Ermita de Sant Antoni, then a lake with frogs before we found the Rock itself. It literally is a large piece of sandstone, with a hole in it! We headed back down and wandered back through the old town, looking at the architecture. There is also a photo exhibition of people who lived in the town on the walls of some of the buildings.

We have had some more weather here! We arrived with an amber weather warning for wind on Tuesday, it was a bit blustery but after Storm Gloria, seems a little tame! It started gusting in the night and continued until about five o’clock in the afternoon, when as if a switch had been hit, stopped dead! However that night it did get cold and we awoke to frost.

On Wednesday, we continued our journey across, above Barcelona to the Massis del Montseny and the lovely town of Taradell, just outside the town of Vic. The campsite was a gem and is another we will come back to, but the weather has turned a little colder up here and getting back to the coast is on the cards.

Thursday, we set of again up the mountain passes towards the Costa Blanca. We passed through Vic and then on to Osuna, another Game of Thrones location – we really need to get up to speed with GOT and find out what we need to know! Next, we headed into the Parc National de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa, and on to Palamós. Our stopover here is a Camperstop, with amenities but it is well kept and quiet.

The town of Palamós is close by and the following morning (Friday) we cycled down to the Marina and the old town. The wind off the sea was bitter and very cold, so we headed back to Nortia and the remainder of the sunshine, to cook ourselves a curry. Ric had been wanting to cook a beef curry for a while so I duly found what I thought was beef, to discover it is lamb! Knew I should have checked with Google!

We decided we would stay another day at the Camperstop Empordarea, where we felt comfy and there were (limited) services – motorhome service point – also available to drive in and use for 3 Euros – toilets (1 male and 1 female) and 2 showers – 1 Euro for 5 mins. It is also about a five minute walk from the Supermarket and about 15 minutes from the town / beach.

We set off on our bikes towards Platja d’Aro and as the cycle route disappeared in several places, we stopped at the town and returned to Palamós, before heading off on another Via Verdes (green route) towards the town of Palafrugell. After 21 miles, we returned to Nortia and stayed comfy and warm.

Sunday, we had already decided we were going to leave and head over the border to France. We set off along the coast road to Sant Antoni de Colonge and then inland to Colonge, where we followed French cycle training group up the hill, they pulled over at the top and we carried on towards the border and were stopped by a cycle race in progress. We continued to the border, where the number of parked up lorries, service stations, cafe/bars, restaurants, shops and prostitutes increased. At the border the number of Police also increased and once safely over the border and back into the quiet of the countryside we could breathe again! We stopped overnight in Saint-Jean-Pla-de-Corts, on a little campsite with views of the snow capped peaks of the Pyrenees.

Tomorrow, we’re off again on a new adventure, where will we go? Find out next week! As always thank you for reading and following our travels.

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.

Week 30: Storm Gloria met us with a bang!

A Lull in the Storm

Having been into Valencia on a gloriously sunny day (we do have to remind ourselves its January), we were hit full on by Storm Gloria. We asked each day if we could stay as the weather was so bad. Each time we asked we were met with a little smile (as if we were going anywhere!)

The storm continued into Monday and whilst it started to look a little better, it came back with avengence. We settled down in the Motorhome downloading programmes to watch and waiting out the storm. On Tuesday, there were more weather warnings, high waves (8 metres), wind and snow above 300m. A thunderstorm raged for over two hours complete with hail and heavy rain. Spain was on alert – the port of Valencia and the airport at Alicante were closed, three people were known to have died. We and others we knew were safe and sound, but just staying put in various places. Mid-afternoon, there was a lull and we took advantage to have a wander, walking down to the beach for some fresh air and the scene that met us was unbelievable. The roads were flooded, as were the vegetable fields and the cycle path we had used on Saturday. The sea was a murky grey and the horizon was hard to distinguish. There was even a shipping lane buoy washed up on the beach. We were nearly caught out by a wave but managed to stay dry.

Wednesday, the storm had relented, despite being woken by giant hailstones and more thunder, followed by some sunshine. We headed off up the coast, through Valencia to Benicassim. The full effect of the storm was evident all around. We had made the right decision to stay put. We arrived at a campsite, pitched for the night and had a walk to the sea.

On Thursday, we continued our trip along the coast to Peniscola. We saw even more damage caused by Storm Gloria, and the seafront road to the campsite was closed to general traffic, as it was being cleared of sand by JCBs, Bulldozers and Bobcats. There is an underground car park on the beach, which is being pumped out of water (it was still being pumped out when we left on Monday).

We went out on the bikes, up to the castle and the port, before trying to get to the Ermita de Sant Antoni, a mere 5 kilometres away, but with about a kilometre left the path turned too steep and we turned back. As we returned, the fishing boats were coming back into port and the fish sales began.

We decided we would stay in Peniscola until Monday, it’s a lively town with a lot to see and do. Despite being the low season, Restaurants and Bars are open and the weather was fantastic. We set off on our bikes to Benicarlo, just up the coast. The road here has not yet been fully opened and in places the sand was about two feet deep, if not more. It was like giant snow drifts. Shop owners were sweeping out their shops and apartment building and hotels were sweeping and jet washing their frontages. The Fire Service was also pumping out basements. The bikes needed cleaning before we could put them away as there was sand everywhere!

Saturday, we knew the weather was a little doubtful today so we planned to go to the castle. It has been used in several films, including El Cid and in the TV series Game of Thrones. The castle has an interesting history too. It was part of the Arab reign of the region, then Spanish and a Templar Castle before being the pontifical seat of Papa Luna – Pope Benedict XIII. It stands high on the rocks and partially built into them, overlooking the bay and the port and it is easy to see why it was built here. It is cheap to enter and you can wander around at your leisure.

Sunday, after a night of rain, we went off to explore more of the town and the surroundings on our bikes, the sand is still being cleared. We think this will be a long term operation. We took a trip back to the lake where we’d seen jumping fish to see if we could capture it in a picture – we did!

Tomorrow, we’re off up the coast in the hunt for Flamingos! Will we be lucky? As always, thank you for reading this. We really appreciate it. We also apologise for the intermittent postings, due to the storm, WiFi has been very hit and miss!

Week 29: Spain (7 months on the road)!

Seven months ago, on 19th June 2019, we were handed the keys to Nortia, and we haven’t looked back since! Don’t get us wrong, there have been some testing times – we used to have a fairly large house, we rattled around in – we even had a room, known as the dog’s room! So, transferring to a motorhome was going to be different! We had jobs we liked and loads of friends and family for support. The time had come though for us to do something we’d talked about for years – TRAVEL.

We sold our house and downsized to a flat, which we could rent out, if needed. We sold surplus belongings and quit our jobs. We set off up to Darlington to collect the keys to Nortia. Nortia, as we’re sure you’re aware, is an Etrusco T7400 QBC and has a front dining / lounge with a pull down bed and a fixed rear queen-size bed, under which is the garage. Separating the two areas are the shower and toilet – both are separate, but can be closed off to make a big bathroom or en-suite to the bedroom.

Since leaving Cleveland Motorhomes in Darlington, we have travelled 21000 miles, been to 26 countries, travelled to the top of mainland Europe, Nordkapp, the two centres of Europe – old and new, visited the three capital cities on the Baltic Chain, met lots of wonderful people and made new friends, we drove to Croatia to meet my (Sarah’s) mum, on holiday. We have travelled through the Dolomites on the recommendation of Marcella and Julian, http://www.theofficeisclosed.com/. We were filmed for Etrusco in Riga, where we first met Karen and Colin http://www.rewindthegap.co.uk/, then we met the again in Poland – unexpectedly, and again, last week – planned, in San Javier. We went to Auschwitz, Salaspils and various other memorials, including Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Menin Gate. Experiences have not always been pleasant, even remembering the stinky fish – Surströmming, in Sweden, makes us slightly green!

Last week, we said goodbye and good night to one of the team, Albi Dog, in Spain. We’re continuing our adventure with him in our hearts and with so many memories.

What has this week had in store? We left Karen and Colin in San Javier and headed up the coast – eastwards towards Benidorm. We stayed at Villajoyosa, a short bike ride away, and had our first look at the town on Monday! It was just as we thought it would look with large numbers of sky-scaper buildings (hotels) and an amazingly large beach. We were going to come back and explore tomorrow, so for now it was time to head back. On Tuesday, we went back to Benidorm, we had brunch – a full English Breakfast – in a cafe on the sea front and though how peaceful it was, nothing like we were expecting. We thought we’d find the hotel where the TV series is filmed, so put the address into Gloria Google Maps, and off we went. This is when we realised we hadn’t even scrapped the edge of the town. It was heaving with people, cars, bars, restaurants and shops, interspersed with amusement arcades. Every other person appeared to have a hired mobility scooter – including tandems, and there was even parking for them at the hotel. Having found the hotel, we headed back to the campsite, but not before being told off by a Policeman for cycling in the pedestrian area (full of mobility scooters)!

From Benidorm, we headed further east, up to Altea, where we had planned to stop for the night. We’d been told how lovely it was and wanted to have a mooch around the old town, but it was so busy – it seems everyone had the same idea, both the campsite and the stellplatz were full, so we negotiated the one way system, along the beach and pulled up in a lay-by overlooking the bay for lunch. From Altea, we headed up to Calpe and on to Moraira, where we found a small campsite at the top of the hill, with views over the bay.

At the bottom of the hill, we spotted an Indian Restaurant with Take-Away, so we unloaded the bikes and headed for a tour around, just to see what was there. We went up to the point westwards, but there were no real views over the bay, just villas. We did find a supermarket, another Indian Restaurant and two Chineses along with a number of bars. We had already decided we were having an Indian and cycled back down the hill later to collect one!

The next morning, we headed off on the bikes to Cova des Arcs, at Cala del Moraig. It’s stunning bay with natural coves and the most perfect blue green sea. We stopped for lunch before setting off up the 22% incline of hill from the bay to Cap d’Or. Cap d’Or is another beautiful bay with a cafe and bar and sandy beach. We’d been recommended it by one of our neighbours we met that morning.

On Friday, we set out to Javea, and spotting an English Supermarket, felt compelled to stop. It wasn’t as great as we expected but we were able to get a few home comforts – crumpets and a warm sausage roll! We continued onwards up over the hill (and hair-raising bends) to Denia, before heading up towards Valencia. We stopped for the weekend at a campsite just outside Valencia, in El Saler. It’s right on the cycle route to the city and has a bus stop right outside. The beach is also about a five minute walk. We’re here for the weekend, trying to slow down our trips and enjoy what we see more.

Saturday, after a slow start, and chores completed – laundry, bed changing etc., its not all glamour and sight seeing, we sorted out the bikes and headed into the city. Valencia is a welcome mix of old and new with beaches and green spaces and a cycle route that takes you right around the city. We headed to the port then up to the old town and back through the park, which seems to span the whole of the middle, before cycling back along the beach and the prom.

Sunday, there was a weather warning for today, there was due to be coastal disruption from 12:00 to 00:00, generally, we have learnt this means high wind and coastal based activities are put on hold. We awoke to rain and it carried on all day, putting paid to our plans of cycling to the nature reserve and around the local town, but we haven’t done bad for the weather recently! We’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings and where we head off to.

As always, thank you for reading and following our blog. We hope that you are enjoying it. We’ll be back next week, internet permitting with more news and tales!

Week 28: Spain – not a good week.

Goodbye little dog, what a wonderful life we have been able to share with you.

Monday morning, a fiesta day in Spain and there was evidence of last night’s celebrations in every town and village we drove through – confetti and foil streamers in the roads, it must have been a great night. We left our little overnight stop in the mountains and drove towards Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Granada looks like a lovely place to visit properly and has been added to our list! Our goal for today, was to drive the road we’d seen featured in Top Gear several years ago, up to the Pico de Valeta – a ski resort where the road stops! The peak (Pico) is at 3,300m above sea level and there is snow at the top. We checked the weather and ski reports and felt it was safe to do so. The road, was fantastic although we did hear a lot of popping in the MoHo – we stopped and checked all the bottles, as they’d started to pressurise at altitude, but couldn’t find a reason, so on we continued.

The weather was wonderful, clear blue skies and sun. There were cars approaching us laden with skis and people dressed in ski wear – we were still in shorts but… (we do have our whole wardrobe with us, so we are able to change on a whim)! We arrived as close to the top as we wanted to, the final part was full of parked cars and people, and we knew we would have to turn around to come back. At the top we repressurised the fuel tank, by undoing the cap, and with a loud hiss the cap opened – when we were in the Vosges mountains in France the fuel gauge took an age to give us the right reading when we came back down the mountain! We stopped for the night in a lovely little campsite in Otuta, a short distance from Granada and accessible by bus. There were only four vehicles parked there and it had a lovely view of the mountains.

The following morning we set off along the southern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains and stopped for lunch in another little village, before heading to Roquetas de Mar. Our aim was to stop here for the night, before heading up to Tabernas and the desert, famed for spaghetti westerns.

We had a pleasant evening, although Albi started to be a little unwell. He occasionally suffers with sickness and has medication to help him, so although a little alarmed we thought we’d see how he was in the morning. We awoke and although he wasn’t much better, he seemed OK in himself and we thought maybe all the driving, might have upset him, we decided to stay another day and let him settle. As the day progressed he worsened and we went straight to a vet, we’d had recommended – without an appointment, but they said they’d see him. Unfortunately, Albi’s condition had worsened considerably during our wait and he was put onto a drip and had an ultrasound carried out on his stomach. He was diagnosed with an engorged gall bladder, and would need surgery to remove it once he had perked up a little. We were warned his condition was serious and there was a 50:50 chance of survival. We said our goodbyes, just in case and unfortunately, following the operation, his heart failed and he was unable to be resuscitated.

Goodbye, little dog. Albi has been part of the family for almost 11 years, he has been to over 28 countries in Europe, he’s walked the Coast to Coast with us, he climbed Haystacks and Hellvellyn, he’s been to the Inner Hebrides, the Outer Hebrides, the Isles of Scilly. He’s camped in tents, a campervan and the Motorhome. He’s been on boats, ferries, cable-cars and vernacular trains. We hope we gave him as good a life as he deserved and we know we did as much as we could to enable him to live a good life. He will remain, here in Spain. we know where we’ve left him and we can return to his resting place.

After a day of upset and heartbreak, we decided we would continue our adventure and Albi will always be a part of what we do and where we go – he was (is) part of the team – it’s Three go Travelling after all! We headed along the coast towards Mazarron and stopped at a campsite by the beach – we later saw there were a number of wild campsites nearby, which would have been nicer, and allowed us to wake up with a view of the sea. Here, we found out our friends, Karen and Colin a.k.a Rewind the Gap http://www.rewindthegap.co.uk/ were just along the coast at an incredibly cheap campsite, and they would be there for the next day, so we arranged to meet them there. It was a very busy campsite and they had been able to reserve us a space, much to the annoyance of those turned away. The campsite is in San Javier overlooking the Mer Menor, by an airport now used by the Air Force.

We spent an evening with Karen and Colin, and caught up with their news and shared ours. We found out a few places to visit nearby and despite only thinking of staying for one night we stayed for two. On Sunday, we set off on our bikes to Cabo de Palos. Gloria Google Maps told us it was an hour and a half by bike, so easily doable on our bikes! After an hour and ten miles, she told us it was another hour and 23 Kilometers (15 miles) away, we stopped and returned to the campsite. There is a boardwalk, through the nature reserve from the campsite to the promenade, with lots of restaurants and bars (many aren’t open in the low season) but it was very busy on a Sunday Afternoon! We even found a cafe serving Full English Breakfasts – if only it had been a bit closer!

As always, thank you for reading and sharing our adventure. We’re continuing around the coast next week, so we’ll share more of our trip with you when we can!

Week 27: New Year in Spain and onto Gibraltar

Another week, and we’re still in El Puerto de Santa Maria, we will leave soon, but its still lovely to be settled and we’re looking forward to New Year here, before continuing our adventure.

Monday, we headed out in the lovely Nortia. We felt it was her turn to go out and about (and we needed LPG (GLP in Spain), not desperately, but we would need to fill up at some point). We headed out to Cadiz and had a drive over the bridge we’d cycled over last week. In the Parque, today, there were flamingos! Cadiz, was very busy, there were two cruise liners in port, including the Mein Schieff 4 which we think we’d seen before in Honningsvåg, on our way to Nordkapp, Norway!

From Cadiz, we headed inland to the town of Arcos de la Frontera, on the recommendations of our lovely neighbours. Time was a little short by now and although we drove there, we didn’t have a chance to look properly, so its added to a list for our next trip (along with Seville)! We returned to the campsite via the Supermarket, but forgot the LPG!

Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, we’d been told you can see the fireworks in Cadiz from the beach so we were hoping to make the midnight hour and be on the beach! We didn’t really do a lot, got bread, sat in the sun, tidied and joined our neighbours for New Year’s Eve drinks. Thank you Sheila and John. Before midnight, we put the dog back to bed and headed to the beach with a bottle of fizz in hand, eagerly waiting for the fireworks… there wasn’t an organised show this year! We had a laugh, made more new friends and sang Auld Lang Syne, before heading back to our MoHo.

New Year’s Day. We awoke a little later than normal and had another relaxing day. I (Sarah) went for a swim in the sea – it was freezing. The sun more than thawed me out though, so worth doing (my sister had done the same in England, so the challenge was set)! We’re setting off in the morning to continue the adventure, so a few last chores were completed, too.

Thursday, we said our goodbyes and were genuinely sorry to be leaving our lovely neighbours, but the adventure needs to continue. We set off to get the LPG we’d missed out on before and filled up our Gaslow system, headed to the Supermarket, stopping in the Motorhome stopover. In the car park of the Centro Comercial El Paseo, there are about four stopover pitches and a service point, which is free if you present your receipt from any shop to the Management Office, who give you a token for water and electricity (about 2 hours). Once sorted we headed off along the coast to Tarifa, where we stayed on a campsite close to the beach, which was full of kite-surfers.

Friday, off again, this time we went into Tarifa and had a drive around before heading off along the coast to La Linea de la Concepcion and the camperstop at the Marina. It’s a great stop for Gibraltar and we set off through the Border on our bikes, over the runway and into the country. First stop, as you do, was to Morrison’s the grocers! Just a quick check to see if what we’d heard was true, and yes, it was, it sells English food, exactly as you get at home, sausages, bacon, Hovis bread, pork pies etc., after our little trip around the rock, we’d buy some bits! We headed off up the rock on the bikes, stopping at the edge of the National Park, partly as you had to pay for the privilege of going further up, but mainly because it was so steep I (Sarah) could no longer breathe and pedal, and Ric had stopped on a fairly steep incline and couldn’t get enough momentum to get up the hill!

We looked over the Pillars of Hercules, also the Strait of Gibraltar, to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Disappointed we wouldn’t see the monkeys at the top, we headed back down the hill, carefully as it was so steep, and there was a big male monkey. Another couple were trying to take selfies with it, but we went for a quick photo and as it decided to move towards us we took off – they are quite large and threatening! We cycled down to the 100 pound gun and then back to Morrison’s, where we did enough shopping to keep us going. We do like Spanish food, but sometimes, you just need a bit of home!

The next morning on the dog walk, we discovered some Haus-Boats, which you can rent out. They are little floating wooden huts, with a kitchen, bedroom and living area. We headed off towards Marbella.

En route to Marbella, we stopped off at Puerto Banus and have a drive around, we headed off to the campsite we’d found, thinking we could cycle on into the town. The campsite wasn’t the greatest and there were so many cats! One thing we know is Albi loves to chase a cat, and he promptly took off, on the lead, causing me to drop a bottle of wine – he was not in the good books! We set off on the bikes following Gloria Google Maps, over the road (the busy A7, via footbridge – thankfully) and down to the beach, where we were told to turn right – no road, path or prom, just sand and beach, so we turned back and tried again, same thing! After about an hour we gave up and headed back to the campsite.

Sunday, we headed along the coast to Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Málaga. Tomorrow is a Fiesta day, known here as the Day of the Kings and a lot of places have special events happening tonight. We headed through Málaga. and up through the Montes de Málaga towards the Sierra Nevada, spending the night in Viñuela, behind an incredibly busy Restaurant, we had to wait for a car to be moved, before we could access the site.

Tomorrow, we’re planning to go up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains – we can see snow up there, so we’ll see how far we get. As always thank you for reading and again apologies for the late post – WiFi in Spain is not as widespread as we had been led to believe!