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 – Surstr√∂mming, 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!