12/23/2017 Spain – looking for Manuel and Mr Fawlty in Barcelona

Saturday 23rd December

Our campsite for tonight: Campo de Fotbal, La Colonia Guell (20 mins to centre of Barcelona)

Wanted to stay in the centre of Barcelona for Xmas but were scared off by comments in our camping APP warning of break ins and vandalism to motorhomes day and night so opted to stay out of town and travel to the centre by train instead.

Good decision, as the campsite is only 5 minutes walk to the train station and from there only 20 minutes into the centre of town.  Secured Ziggy and took most of our electronic and computer gear with us in our backpacks.  Ziggy has security alarms and extra door locks but from what we have heard, not much puts off these thieves.

First obstacle was working out how to buy tickets and where to get off but with the help of a local, we purchased a single ticket each, one trip, two zones at a cost of €3 each and 20 minutes later arrived at Pl. Espanya right in the heart.  Once out of the Metro station, we stood with mouths open and took in the absolutely fabulous surroundings.   First step was to find a tourist office with maps and brochures and from there hit the tourist trail.

Pl. Espanya outside the Underground Station

The Complex de Arenas was on one side of Pl. Espanya and on the other the magnificent Museu National d’Art de Catalunya.  Loud music attracted us toward the museum which is at the top of the third level overlooking the entire centre square.  Several steps took us to the second level which is a square on its own and here stilt walkers and floats themed as “Arabian Nights”  floated” around the square led by costumed musicians.

Complex de Arenas

Armed with maps now, we walked all day taking in some of Barcelona’s best attractions including Casa Mil or better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry) – A masterpiece building designed by Gaudi between 1906 and 1912 for a wealthy businessman and his wife.  It has breathtaking wavy facade of stone and iron balconies.  The most outstanding spaces of this building are the rooftop, and interior courtyards.  A huge attraction.

Gaudi’s La Pedrera

Next another half hour’s walk took us to Sagrada Familia, first built in 1883.  Gaudi was commissioned to continue building this temple and today, it continues to be constantly added to. Tall cranes appear high above the temple where construction is continuing with no fixed completion date.  This has to be the most gob smacking building we have seen in our travels and we have seen some absolutely amazing ones.  Rates as one of the top 10 cathedrals in the world.  We stood in awe of this building for so long and took photos from every angle.

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – a photo does not do it justice

Finally totally exhausted, think we must have walked 20kms today, we opted to catch a taxi back to Pl. Espanya where we ducked into a very busy restaurant and bar and sampled some more tapas and were entertained by a local group having an early Xmas party.  Getting dark now, we headed back to the Metro and took the train home.

Sagrada Familia

Sunday 24th and Monday 25th December

Felt a little uneasy about staying around Barcelona for Xmas though we could have spent another week sightseeing here.  Wanted to find a place in a medium size town to camp and enjoy the local festivities for Xmas but the first place we selected was fully booked out when we arrived.  Our next choice was Gerona.  The campsite was closed on Sundays and public holidays so we headed back to the coast to a small seaside town.

Our campsite for two nights:  Autocaravanning Palamos, Palamos

A really great campsite set on three plateaus, the top one having views across to the sea.  The office was closed for midday siesta but the sign said to park and to check in when the office reopened at 5pm.

All three plateaus were booked from Xmas day onwards, so no luck there.  Found a spot which was not marked with a number but was in a great sunny location away from the others so we happily moved in and spent the next two days relaxing, drinking and eating some of those great prawns we found and froze a few days before.  Decorated Ziggy with tinsel, put on our Santa hats and set the twinkling lights ablaze.  The cava (Spanish bubbly) was excellent.  Sent away all our Xmas emails, skyped and spoke to our girls and grandkids and celebrated a truly wonderful Xmas with my driver, my best friend and the love of my life.

(PS – we found out later that all the emails we sent to addresses that ended in bigpond.com or bigpond.net did not get through for some reason??? – don ‘t know why – one of the many vagaries of comms we have found in Europe).

(The Photographer somehow managed to lose or delete all the photos taken at Palamos including the Xmas day shots)

Tuesday 26th December

Left Palamos on Boxing Day and headed back to Gerona. Still a public holiday here so no supermarkets or major shops are open today.

Our campsite for tonight: Parking Vayreda La Devesa, Girona (or sometimes known as Gerona)

An inner city motorhome park which was a little difficult to get into because of the narrow one way streets and with cars parked on both sides left Ziggy and my driver with only one or two cms to get through.

It was seriously cold and windy so rugged up and headed into town using the Spanish map given to us by reception.  Garcon tried really hard to interpret it for us but he had no English and we had no Spanish so we thanked him, smiled and set off.

Saw a massive market on the way in so firstly headed toward this.  Nearly every person selling and buying were Muslims and we found out later it was a special Muslim Market only. Went for miles and miles selling fresh fruit and veges and clothes etc.

Wasn’t difficult to follow the map and soon we saw the steeple of Basilica De Sant Feliu in the distance. We came by the Riu Onya which is a waterway splitting the commercial area we were in from the Old Town.  Wow – the buildings on both sides were three to five storey apartment blocks, all painted in different subtle colours and looked just stunning and picturesque – reminded us a little of the area near the Ponte Vechio in Italy. We stood in the middle of the first pedestrian bridge and saw several other bridges criss crossing over the river – all different and most with fairy lights strung across them.  Beyond the last bridge we could see the town’s massive Xmas tree.

A late afternoon view of Girona

The Historic Old Town, a medieval city, showcased buildings dating from the 10th to the 13th century.  So many wonderful old buildings including the Basilica, la Catedral, the Archeological Museum just to mention a few were just so interesting.  The Xmas spirit was certainly here with buildings and shops all decorated with Xmas lights.

Tucked in behind the Rambla de la Libertat (the colourful row of up to five storey apartments mentioned before) were outdoor restaurants eager to capture the tourist dollar. We  spent our tourist dollars with a meal (paella of course, but nowhere as good as the one we had a few days earlier) and a large beer to wash it down with.

It was now too cold to stay longer so we very quickly headed home.  Though this campsite is in the middle of the commercial city, it was very safe and quiet and would highly recommend it.

Girona was our last stopover in Spain and we have so many wonderful memories to take home with us from this country.  We found the people eager to assist and super friendly.  We had absolutely no issues with feeling unsafe at any time.  

Thank you Spain and Portugal – we had a great time.


12/17/2017 – Spain – Incorrect Coordinates led us to the best Paella

Sunday 17th December

Can’t believe how lucky we have been with the weather. Just another beautiful sunny day as we set off now heading north on the eastern side of Spain.  

Beginning to sound like a cracked gramma phone – probably am already as everything in Spain and Portugal has been fantastic – beautiful people, beautiful country, great food, fabulous weather and so many wonderful campsites with many being with the compliments of the local area – though at all times we give back by shopping, eating and drinking where possible.

Our campsite for tonight: Platja Altet, Alicante

Again we are right on the beachfront where fishermen are lined up and down the beach.  Sat in our deck chairs in the beautiful sunshine reading for some hours before setting off along the boardwalk.  

Alicante beachfront – hope they don’t get any high tides??

No town close by here but this strip contains around 50+ high rise apartment blocks and of course restaurants and bars to service them. Wind sprang up and once the sun began to hide behind the apartment blocks, it was time to step up the pace and head home.

The Navigator relaxing with the Kindle

We sat in the front seat until the remaining sun disappeared and watched the keen fishermen braving the cold. Not once did we see anything being caught.

Monday 18th December

Woke up to a chilly 8 degrees inside – hate to think what it was outside. The sun was up and the fishermen were again trying their luck but have to admit they were clad in super warm gear with beanies and gloves and boy did they look cold.

Lots of agriculture everywhere with citrus trees dominating the landscape. Might pick a fresh orange from a tree before we leave this area, they look so inviting and I am sure they wouldn’t miss just one!

NAVIE was taking us through the mountains and mountain passes and we are now a long way from the sea. We thought that as we were avoiding toll ways this was the only way around. Didn’t even think the co ordinates were wrong but they were seriously wrong. Checked our maps and found that we were further away than when we started. Not happy “Jan”. Everything had been travelling so smoothly until now so unhappily we headed back towards the coast and arrived at our destination very late in the afternoon.

Campsite for tonight: Camping Estrella Polar, Calpe (correct co ordinates 38.658566 0.077668)

Arrived at the seaside town of Calpe where houses and apartment blocks were literally steeped all the way down the mountainside (very spectacular) and then down into the valley to the touristy town.  This campsite is on the other side and a few kms outside of Calpe.

Nothing spectacular (view wise) this time. A small but well laid out motorhome park not very far from beach or town but given our extra long day driving, we decided to sit and enjoy what was left of the day. There was a small on site bar and restaurant so the Ziggy chef got the night off and we ordered a seafood paella for 7pm.

The seafood Paella to die for – Olga we think you need to give Chef a pay rise

The campsite was run by a beautiful young Russian girl, Olga Ivanova, her partner and a chef who has lived in just about every country on earth. They deserve to do well – they have a great setup with the bar and restaurant on-site.  We had the best paella we have had by a long shot with the chef and the owners joining us for a truly wonderful night.

Olga, partner and the Chef from the Stars

Tuesday & Wednesday 19 & 20 December

Said our goodbyes and left without visiting the town or beach – very rare for us not to explore each place we have stayed. Told the owners about the incorrect co ordinates and hope they rectify this as I am sure they would be missing out on business because of it.

Had another bad co ordinates day today with the first place we chose incorrect and when we finally found it – no way were we going to stay there.  Next choice again was too isolated with no other motorhomes there so decided it was a security risk so moved on.

Campsite for two nights: El Grao de Castellon, Castellon de la Plana

 Really tired now after two long days of frustrating co ordinate mistakes in the NKC APP. Insisted we stop here for a couple of nights and my driver did not argue.

This campsite is a credit to the community here. It is right next to a beach and Port with the town centre a short 15 minute walk away. The larger town of Castellon is just 4 kms away with a bus running every half hour.

Definitely a fishing based town???

Internet was provided here so spent a couple of restful days soaking up the sunshine, reading, relaxing and of course making use of the Internet. The Port area and harbour was fascinating with many large cargo vessels in and the marina housing a vast number of very large sailing and pleasure craft. The harbour boardwalk again lined with restaurants and bars – though only a couple were open.

An interesting harbour and marina

We befriended a German couple Walter and Christa who parked next door to us and we spent many hours talking about our combined travels.  They have a purpose built 4WD motorhome and have taken this across the high seas to every imaginable country around the world – some places we would never even attempt to visit, let alone go by motorhome.  They invited us to stay with them when we revisit Germany in the summer of 2018.

Thursday 21st December

Today, we decided to stay well away from large cities as it was Election Day in Catalonia.  Heard there may be some strife regardless of the outcome as Catalonia is voting on whether to break away from Spain or staying within – if they vote to break away could have some interesting implications in the Schengen Zone.

Our campsite for tonight: Casa de Fusta, Amposta

A very interesting place set amidst rice fields at the mouth of the L’Ebre Delta.  Rice had been harvested so all that was remaining was muddy looking water – not very pretty and we began to think we had selected another dud.

The campsite was an oasis in a desert of rice fields.   It is a nature park with bird watching one of the many activities provided here.  A purpose built tree house provided an excellent viewing platform and even though there was no rice growing, very picturesque.  All sorts of varieties of birds flying about and wading in the water.

View from the bird hide over the L’Ebre Delta

They also have an aviary here including a pheasant and turkeys and ducks as well as an assortment of animals.

The restaurant and cafe was well utilised with lots of patrons eating some very strange types of food (Spanish delicacies, I think).  This place would be booming in summertime as they have so many hire bikes, trikes, tandems, row boats and horse drawn carriages to keep you occupied.

Not sure what this tractor was doing in the rice fields – all the workers ended up in the restaurant at day’s end

A really worthwhile spot that was so interesting.

Friday 22nd December

We are back into the wine districts again and vineyards are now replacing citrus trees .  Wine producers here mostly making cava (not to be confused with the awful muddy drink of the same name from Fiji).  We are yet to taste this wine but believe it is predominately made into a sparkling white or rose and a Spanish version of champagne (don’t mention that word to the French).

Our Campsite for tonight:  Vilafranca del Penedes

A mixed parking area with 10 spots available for motorhomes at the bottom of a hill just outside of the town centre.  We are being very cautious about places we are parking in as we get closer to Barcelona.  We have heard some horrific stories of break ins and vandalism to motorhomes in the Barcelona city area.

Small town – small Cathedral

Only a small town centre with again a very large cathedral in the centre.  It is quite strange that with Xmas only a couple of days away, there does not seem to be a lot of the Xmas spirit here.   In the centre of town they had erected a temporary ice skating rink under a large tent.  The local kids were having a ball with parents looking on and taking happy snaps.  Strangely the music they used was 60’s English spoken rock music.  Was a lot of fun to watch.

This area is famous for building “people towers” as the statue depicts

Felt very safe and comfortable here as we were joined by a half dozen other motorhomes.


12/14/2017 – Frogs in Spain

Thursday 14th December

Woke up to another gorgeous day so were eager to head off as soon as we filled with water and emptied the “unmentionables”.   Others were waiting so we quickly moved off the service area while we entered our GPS co ordinates for our next stop for the night. 

Tap, tap at the window – opened the driver’s window and heard the words “shut down your engine”.  No hello, good morning or please, just this arrogant male person with a French accent insisting we turn off the engine.  We had only been there for about 30 seconds.  

My driver did not take kindly to this unwarranted and rude request and casually turned around to the person at the window and said “No I won’t”.  His French jaw dropped considerably. He then said “You are gassing us with your engine fumes” His motorhome was at least 40-60 metres from us. My driver just ignored him.

He was the same person we saw just after we had checked in and were heading out on a beach walk, not knowing we could see him, walk over to Ziggy and do a “number plate check” – a game that is “played” at all sites in Europe so he knew for sure that we had GB plates.

We finished entering the coordinates and took off leaving this rude person just standing there. Cannot say the words in writing uttered by my best friend and driver !!…??…

We think the only people who like the French are the French people.  We have heard so many comments from fellow international travellers from every country, and I am sorry to say none have anything nice to say about these people. Enough said and moving on – again!!!

We headed high up into the mountains where the countryside had very few trees, mostly shale and low scrubby bushes.  Reminded us very much of the countryside whilst going through the Mohave Desert towards the Grand Canyon in the USA where absolutely nothing could grow successfully and if you ventured through it on foot, am sure you would find nothing but rattle snakes.

There are miles and miles of hothouses called “polly tunnels” (because they look like huge plastic tunnels joined together for acre after acre) and are for growing a multitude of crops in these dry arid conditions. Mostly tomatoes and orange trees but have even seen grape vines under these as well as many other crops. There are so many thousands of these that they actually spoil the scenery and many towns are actually scattered amongst the polly tunnels where every spare inch is used for agriculture.

Miles and miles of the “poly tunnels” right down to the waters edge

Our campsite for tonight: Parking Cabo de Gato, Almeria

Another absolute beachfront campsite with just a short boardwalk separating us and the magnificent turquoise coloured Mediterranean Sea.

The walk down the boardwalk took us past several seafront restaurants with very few still open at this time of year. The small town consisted of really beautiful two to three storey homes and no apartments.  So unspoilt by tourists compared to many towns we have seen.  The homes were well maintained and it was obvious the home owners here were houseproud.  Strangely we noticed that most women here were Muslims.

The old fortress next to the restaurant

To the left of the campsite, small and medium sized fishing boats lazed on the beachfront and small fishing shacks were scattered amongst the boats.  At the very end was a huge tower, now in ruins and adjacent to this and nestled among the fishing boats was an old seafood restaurant and bar.

Seafood restaurant built on the sand between the fishing boats

The only sign of “real life” in this town was here with mostly locals in the bar.  We sat and watched people come and go and after a couple of drinks asked for the menu.  They do not have a menu as such and the barman took us to a window filled with fresh seafood and all we had to do was point to what we wanted and they cooked it. Just magnificent sitting here with the waves crashing only a couple of metres away.

Fishing boats left on the beach with no security

The restaurant stayed open until sunset and then closed its doors for the day.  They are open every day but closed at night.

Friday 15th December

Again we travelled along the coast and through mountains with more and more polly tunnels absolutely everywhere. They obviously work here but would hate to think of the impact of the plastic waste at the end of the day.

Chiselled mountains and desert like plains were everywhere with towns scattered in between – very interesting landscapes – rugged but picturesque.

Our campsite for tonight: Playa de los Cocedores, Aguilas

Another magic find set high above and overlooking several coves and secluded beaches. This remote and craggy site was beautiful and quiet where unique outcrops of limestone hills bordered the sea and beaches. Several caves were sculptured into the limestone rock face and some of these were more than one room each.

Our view from Ziggy

Obviously very popular in the summertime as there were two bars here but neither had been opened for some time. There are nature walks starting here which take you for a 2 – 3 hour round trip walk through the hills and coves and beaches and through quaint villages.

Mid afternoon view

Experienced the most spectacular sunset here with shades of pink and orange and gold and purple over the deep blue sea.

Not a bad sunset

Saturday 16th December

Another magic day but a little windy.

Passed by a spectacular golf resort – an oasis in the desert. Massive clubhouses and several towers of apartments in the middle of nowhere.  

Avoided the motorway today and headed further inland for a short while. Added 50kms to our trip but the scenery was really worth it.

Fruit and vegetable pickers were out in full force.  Felt so sorry for them as they were bending over picking what looked like cabbages. They had huge buckets strapped to their backs and these were filled to capacity and then deposited into large containers.

Campsite for tonight: Cabo de Palos

Another magic spot just below the lighthouse with views across Costa Blanca.

Our view from Ziggy

A 10 minute walk around the seafront took us past some majestic homes with seafront swimming pools (all with shutters and iron bars on lower windows and doors). This led to a secluded harbour full of sailing and pleasure craft. Restaurants and bars perched on the boardwalks bordering the harbour were all open and busy.

Great waterfront with every building being a Spanish Restaurant

Spent a wonderful sun drenched afternoon sitting at one of these and enjoying this magic spot.

The driver couldn’t resist the temptation

12/11/2017 – Across the runway to Gibraltar

Monday 11th December 2017

Puerto Santa Maria

Woke up before midnight by the sounds of heavy rain on the roof and wind gusts that sent Ziggy seriously rocking.  Did not wake up my driver who happily snored through all the noise and rocking.  Needless to say the navigator did not get any further sleep.

Heard on the news in the morning that the storm caused lots of damage in this town and surrounding areas.  Many trees were uprooted and roofs blown off.  I remember looking out in the wee hours of the morning and seeing waves coming down the river – very scary.

Did not attempt to go to Cadiz this morning as the weather was still foul and the wind gusts too heavy to think about a trip to Cadiz by boat.

Our next stop and planned camp for the night was the town of Tarifa.  The campsite was just a short walk from the town centre and beach but the campsite was not much more than mud because of the overnight storm and the surrounding area was to us, a little suspect.  A few undesirable people lurking around when we stopped to have lunch so decided to give this a miss and move on.

The hills around Tarifa offered views across to Morocco but because of the bad weather could not get a  clear view across the ocean.

We have decided not to go to Morocco as our phone plan does not cover us there and were concerned about being stuck somewhere without phone or Internet.  We currently have an unlimited Telstra phone plan that covers us for most of Europe but does not include Morocco.

The next part of our journey takes directly along the coast roads through southern Spain.

Soon we see the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance.  A massive rock with towering apartment blocks and buildings everywhere.

The Rock

Our camp for tonight:  Parking, La Linea de la Concepcion

We arrived here at around 3.30 pm and the weather had now cleared to just an overcast sky.

The campsite is situated at a marina on the Spanish/Gibraltar border with magic views of high end sailing boats just a few metres away. Wow just beautiful – brings back great memories from our sailing days.

Left the marina soon after arriving and headed through customs into Gibraltar only 15 minutes walk away across the airport run way – glad no landings and take-offs whilst we were crossing???.  We did not do more than show our passports to customs before entering this new country.

Going through Customs into Gibraltar

Soon found out that they only take British Pounds here and as we only had euros, that was going to be a problem unless we used credit cards – our Com Bank Travel Cash Card was rejected by 2 different bank ATMs so gave up.

Didn’t take long to get to the centre of town and were very disappointed to find that Gibraltar was a just like a Little Britain in Spain.  There was pretty much only one long Main Street which was predominately made up of jewellery shops, tobacco and alcohol outlets and of course British fish and chip shops.

Don’t know why the Brits would travel all the way to Spain and then congregate with other Brits and sit around and eat British style food and drink British beer – they could have done that at home.

There was even a Marks and Spencer to make them feel at home.

Found nothing of interest here for us so headed back to Spain at nightfall so we could get some Spanish food and talk to some locals.

View of Marina from Ziggy

Tuesday 12th December

A truly beautiful sunny morning greeted us and the views across the marina were nothing more than spectacular.

Our campsite for tonight: Cala de Mijas, Mijas

This is a very touristy town again full of Brits. Everyone speaks English here including all the staff in shops and restaurants.

The beach is just beautiful with a boardwalk running along the oceanfront for miles.  Apartment block after apartment block with ocean views hanging over the boardwalk and bars and restaurants cater for everyone mostly with English type menus.

Beachfront at Mijas

The campsite provided by the local council is on the edge of a massive car park with a huge area in the middle where a huge market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Ziggy is there somewhere – the markets were held the next day where the picture is taken from

There was a wall of motorhomes here when we arrived and we were very lucky to get a spot. Spent the rest of the day walking through town and along the beachfront boardwalk.

Wednesday 13th December

Considering there were around 80 motorhomes here overnight, we had a beautiful quiet restful night.  Did not hear a sound until around 8.30 am when the vendors drove in to set up for the market just across from us.

Didn’t really need anything but decided to visit the market.  This is one of the best markets we have seen so far.  Shoes and clothes in particular were really high quality and at a very reasonable cost.  Very tempted to buy lots but held back and only got distracted by some items we purchased for the grandkids.  Just as well we will be able to offload these to our girls to take home when they visit us next year.

Met some really great motorhomers here including a couple Brian and Wendy from Bribie Island.  This is their second trip here – the first being two years.

Left a lot later than we expected after my driver also known to me affectionally as “Mr Have A Chat” couldn’t tear himself away from having a chat with anyone walking by – didn’t matter what nationality, if English or German didn’t work then sign language did 😊. I remember watching him speaking to a Spanish gentlemen the day before – the Spanish gentlemen couldn’t speak English – Rob couldn’t speak Spanish – both could speak German – sign language did the rest – just so beautiful to watch – poetry in motion!

Our journey today took us along the coast road where the views were spectacular. So many towns and villages along the way with thousands upon thousands of apartment blocks on the beachfront or in the hills overlooking the ocean.

The landscape was really interesting as we passed through the mountains. It was now getting quite late in the afternoon and the sun setting over the hills provided some spectacular photo opportunities.

The hills for kilometre after kilometre were terraced with hothouses taking up every available space on the hillsides and in the valleys. Not sure what they are growing here but think oranges and tomatoes – will check tomorrow.  The hothouses really spoiled some of the magic views along the coastline.

Our campsite for tonight: Tropic Autocaravanas, Castelle de Ferro

 We descended quickly from the hills to the ocean front where this campsite dedicated for motorhomes sits right on a white stony beach.  Not many here compared to our last stop and most motorhomers are European not English, mainly French, as the campsite is managed by a young French couple.

Beautiful view from beachfront looking back towards the mountains

It was almost sunset when we headed down to the beachfront and walked to town. Just magic views as the mountains were awash with part sun and part shade providing an artists palette of different shades of brown and green – the white clouds hanging over these finishing off a wonderful picture to try to capture.

We planned on going to the beachfront disco but decided against it

Sadly many of the apartment blocks under construction look like they have not been worked on for many years.

Some Mijas architecture

The little town was alive with locals enjoying the sunset.

Such a beautiful little unspoilt place with still lots of tradition.

12/08/2017 Spain – Beach to Bull Ring – No Bull


Friday 8th December

Back to Spain today after some glorious days in Portugal where we had superb weather – every day was an almost picture perfect day.

Again no challenges or hold ups going across the border though we did notice the lanes going into Portugal were being stopped and inspected.

Certainly this is the land of oranges and vineyards as these take up almost all of the landscape along the way.  Even the towns we have been driving through have avenues of oranges growing in the streets of town and these are full of fruit (though lower branches have been stripped bare and only those up high surviving).

 Our camp for tonight:  Plage Matalascanas, Matalascanas

 Back to a sea change today as we head for the southern tip of Spain.

The entry into this town has a fantastic National Park on both sides of the road but soon it was quite obvious that this town is a prime holiday resort destination.  

We pass by hundreds upon hundreds of magnificent holiday homes and seaside apartment blocks.  Our camp site is at the far end of a long wide sandy beach and along this beach front is a wide and long pedestrian walk and bikeway.  Restaurants and more apartment blocks take up every inch along this 6km block.

Beachfront bikeway – our bikes chained to post – notice lack of people and this was a 3 day holiday long weekend

Off came the bikes (long time since weather and biking conditions were so good) so happily rode along taking in the sun, sea and great views.  Stopped at the end where the feature rock in the sea” was the focal point for people to take pictures and stop at one of the great open air restaurants.  We did the same and sampled some great cuisine and beers (served in a glass that was so cold, the beer formed icicles on top) and stayed until almost sunset. Hurried back just as the sun was going down.

The Navigator enjoying a beer and Tapas after a long ride along the beach front – That is “The Rock” in the water near the 2 boys

The beachfront Boardwalk and restaurants were alive with people and we learned it was a public holiday so people were down here to take advantage of a long weekend.   Sadly there are so many signs of the effect of the GFC here with so many buildings not completed and just left.   There was a massive resort directly behind our campsite which had just finished before the GFC and never got to open its doors.

One of many Hotels effected by the GFC – this one never actually opened

The pay station was closed when we arrived and again in the morning there was no sign of anyone wanting to take our money.

Saturday 9th December

Had such a wonderful day but really looking forward to visiting Seville today.  

Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Seville Puerto, Seville

This is a massive mixed parking area that was only supposed to take around 10 motorhomes but when we arrived there were double that number and places that would normally be taken by cars were used for motorhomes – most were Spanish – probably because of the long weekend and the warmer sunny conditions.

Nice Seville architecture

The campsite is right on the river and only a short walk across a bridge took us right into the heart of this huge town.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people were everywhere and every restaurant and bar was packed to capacity.  The queues to see their most spectacular Gothic Cathedral and other historical sites was so long, it would have taken hours to see them inside.   We walked around gob smacked – what an unbelievable town this was.  

One of the entrances to the Cathedral

Horse and carriages were everywhere taking tourists around the many cobbled streets.   Entertainers were on every street corner – even had Mickey and Donald Duck ready to pose for photos with the kids – at a cost of course.   Flamingo dancers performed in one of the squares.

We found “The Barber of Seville” but couldn’t find Rossini anywhere

We walked and walked for hours, taking in Seville’s bull ring, the Gold Tower and the beautiful gardens and so many other beautiful buildings and town squares all ready with lights perched on Xmas trees and buildings and walls of fairy lights looking like waterfalls – just waiting for nightfall to showcase this fairytale atmosphere.

Statue of Matador in front of the famous Seville Bull Ring – but no bulls

Couldn’t find anywhere in the main central area to eat as it was so packed, so had to resort to finding something in one of the many side streets until nightfall.   Didn’t take long before the lights came on, so left our restaurant and joined the crowds which now had tripled since we left them an hour ago.  Only moved at a snails pace and were dragged along with the crowd.   So many strollers and children now here to see the Xmas lights.  Hard to describe the feeling as we walked around – just so amazingly beautiful and so special seeing the looks on the little ones faces.

Seville street scene with Christmas lights

Totally exhausted but just so so happy, we headed back along the river where restaurants and bars were also open – a magic city.

More Christmas lights

Sunday 10th December

Woke up to a very foggy morning – so thick we could barely see the motorhome next door. Left at about 11am and the fog was still thick with no sign of lifting for another couple of hours.

Didn’t see much of the countryside today and even after the fog lifted, it was a cloudy and dull day – just for a change.

Our Campsite for tonight:  Parking Pasarela, El Puerto de Santa Maria

Had our sights set on going to Cadiz today so selected this campsite as it was only a short 20 minute catamaran ride from here to Cadiz.  Again a large mixed riverfront park with the catamaran and the centre of town just across a small footbridge.

Headed off to get the timetable for the boat departures and found that on Sundays there are only a few – many more on work days the sign said!). We had missed 2pm boat and as the next was not leaving till 5pm decided to explore this small village.  Strangely they have an old castle right in the centre of town (normally they are on top of a hill but this one was closed on Sundays).  Orange trees again a feature of the castle square.

Walked the streets to find the ultimate degustation site and finally found the one where all the locals hung out.  Tasted several tapas that were absolutely delicious and spent an enjoyable afternoon with the locals and the waiter who was excellent before leaving to catch our boat.

Yum – one of the great Tapas we had – toast with salami, avocado, anchovy and a few other items

Wouldn’t you know it – just as we were arrived at the terminal, the rain came down, the wind began to howl and the dark clouds loomed overhead.  Maybe today was not a good day to visit Cadiz after all!

11/24/2017 – Leon Spain

Friday 24th November – Spain

We have now left the higher country and are travelling through the valleys.  So different here with not a mountain to be seen except way out on the horizon.  Again very little greenery and the few trees we see are now without leaves.  It is farmland here with ploughed fields everywhere but they are all brown so not sure what grows here.   Everything is so flat now you can see highways criss-crossing everywhere for miles with so many overpasses literally man made looking like arches in the distance.

Our camp for tonight:  Parking de Autocaravanas, Leon

Green trees now appear as we arrive in the large town of Leon.  Again a very busy and populated town.

We arrived at our campsite, a great spot in the middle of town, with about 15 free spots provided by the local municipality.  The town is split by a river (though not much water in it) and the campsite backs onto the boardwalk which runs along the river.

Leon Architecture

Parking inspectors were booking cars just in front of us – motorhomes are free but not local cars!  We befriended the inspector who spoke a little English and soon he gave us a wealth of local knowledge and directions to the Catedral Leon, the Museum and the Old Quarter where of course he said the best and cheapest tapas could be found.

Leon Architecture

We never get sick of the majestic cathedrals and unusual architecture in Old Towns wherever we go, so again spent a few hours walking.   Didn’t however stop to eat as we have been doing a little too much of that since arriving in Spain.  Back for a delicious home cooked chicken and vegetable soup and made it through another alcohol free day.

Leon street art

Saturday 25th November

Had a little rain overnight but today is another beautiful day of cloudless blue skies.

Travelling along the flat open valleys was really easy, so we put on the iPod music and just enjoyed the scenery.  Through more cultivated pastures – this time with a few patches of green vegetation showing through and acres and acres of vineyards again with more bodegas.

Saw the most unusual cloud formations along the horizon.  Banks of white clouds really low with the sun shining on top of them.  Normally the view you get when in a plane above the clouds.

Camp for tonight:  Parking de Valorio, Zamora

First appearances driving into this town were deceiving with street after street of nondescript apartment blocks.  A real surprise package during our walk through Old Town where it was hauntingly beautiful with medieval monuments throughout.   Again a spectacular Catedral and Museum as well as never ending streets of old buildings and many town squares.

Zamora town square

The campsite was adjacent to a large and beautiful park where there is a children’s playground and gym equipment for the adults.  The park is huge and beautiful with trees in full Autumn colours.  We sat and watched many of the locals using the gym.  It was really cold outside late evening and even colder in the morning, but there they were in full tracksuits, gloves, beanies and scarves training in the cold.  We sat inside Ziggy with the heater on watching ☺️.

Zamora architecture

Sunday 26th November

Only drove a short distance today to Salamanca and again another cloudless blue sky for our short but sweet trip.

Our camp for tonight: Parking de La Santisima Trinidad, Salamanca

The roundabouts in this town are really scary. They include streets that go through the middle of the roundabout, traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs and the traffic criss crosses through them. We were so glad to see the end of them and happily parked Ziggy here for the rest of the day.  The campsite is beside a beautiful old church with a children’s playground beside the camp spot and then the river.  

Salamanca Cathedral
Salamanca Cathedral

A short walk across the bridge and we were in the heart of Old Town.  Visited the Salamanca Catedral which is just amazing.  Built in late gothic and baroque styles, the two parts incorporate the old Catedral built in the 16th century and then the Catedral Nueva (new) built much later in the 18th century.  Every street has old Renaissance style churches and buildings which lead to several small squares.  The most spectacular square is Plaza Mayor built in the 17 hundreds.  This was full of life with flamingo dancers performing in the centre.

Roof of Salamanca Cathedral

Bars and cafes again around the extremities of the square with so many young people just sitting, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves.  As we had been walking for hours, it was time to sit and enjoy and watch until it became so cold and late, we headed back home before it became too dark.

Entertainment in Salamanca Square

Monday 27th November

Another great day though a little overcast at the beginning.

We travelled along one of Spain’s scenic routes from Bejar through Plasencia and then onto Caceres.  The highway wound through hilly countryside with picturesque views across the mountains and valleys.

Really enjoyed the travelling today and in no time arrived in Caceres.

Our camp for tonight: Area de Valhondo- 10, Caceres.

We had been warned this was a popular spot and filled up quickly so were surprised to find when we arrived at 1.30pm that only 8 of the 20 spots were occupied.

Had a quick bite and then headed off to the historic centre of Old Town about 800m away which was truly extraordinary.  Narrow cobbled streets twist and climb among ancient stone walls lined with palaces and mansions.  The skyline is decorated with turrets, spires, gargoyles and enormous stork nests.  Built in the 16th century and protected by its defensive walls, it is still almost intact.  Again several squares meet at different points throughout Old Town but Plaza Mayor is the feature.  Bit quiet on a Monday but still had time to stop, have a well deserved drink, and take it all in.

Caceres Square

Back to Ziggy to find the camp site full and every spare spot along the way, there was a motorhome – even the spaces delegated for bus parking were full of motorhomes.

Remarkable given the number of motorhomes here, it is really quiet.  We have been so lucky with our choices of campsites with very few along the way being noisy or troublesome.

11/20/2017 No Rain On The Plain in Spain


Monday 20th November

Again no border checks between France and Spain – as a matter of fact there wasn’t even any signage – we didn’t know that we had crossed in to Spain.

Another magnificent day with blue skies and no wind, could not be happier than when the sun shines.

Not a long trip today but the area along the coastline is really busy with traffic and we have seen more motorhomes here than anywhere else for some time.

Our camp for tonight: AutoKarabanak Paseo de Berio, Donastia San Sebastián

 A very large town which provides this camping ground exclusively for 30 or so motorhomes.  When we arrived it was half full and close to capacity by next morning.  Set behind the university and backing onto a hill, it was extremely quiet.

Had read about the fabulous Old Town here and were really keen to try the Pintxos or Tapas they refer to in our bible, so headed off with absolutely no idea which way to go.  Had learned a few words of Spanish during our drive here so armed with our best Spanish, we approached three young girls siting on the steps of the University for directions.  Just so refreshing, they got up and walked us to the bus stop. Another young man we approached here, told us to catch the No 5 bus and get off at the last stop – Boulevard.  He waited with us until the bus arrived, hopped on and told the driver where we wanted to go and then the bus driver told us when to get off- a breath of fresh air.

Boulevard is in the heart of their Old Town with the Tourist Office right at the bus stop.  Old Town is right on the tip of Kontkxa Bay so several parts of it offered a splendid view across the bay and the beautiful Kontkxa Beach.  The marina there houses hundreds of small fishing boats, all packed in like sardines – very colourful.

Just one of the many laneways lined both sides with Tapas Bars

Spent the whole afternoon going up and down the many fabulous cobblestone streets and of course stopping at one of the Tapas Bars which was absolutely packed. They certainly cater and welcome tourists here and the menus are in seven languages so made it easy to order.  The tapas are a highlight here and are spread two tiers high across the bar area so you could just point to any of the delicacies you wished to eat.  We sampled six treats and washed them down with a couple cervezas (beers) and then happily waddled towards the bus stop.

Had a great chat in the Tapas Bar with a man from Catalonia and he was explaining about why they are having elections in December – the Catalans don’t feel they are really Spanish and want independence – their President is in exile and 7 of their Government Ministers have been imprisoned – don’t want to nearby around election time – could be a lot of uprising.

Next challenge was finding our way home. We found the bus stop and hopped on the No 5 and asked to go to the University.  We didn’t know the name of it, but thought we could recognise it. Wrong, the bus does not go back the same way as it came and the streets did not look familiar.  The bus driver came to our rescue and stopped the bus, let us out and pointed the way to the University just around the corner.  Now that is looking after tourists.

Great harbour full of fishing boats

Should have stayed another day here as there was so much more to this great town and campsite and would highly recommend at least two days here.

Monday 21st November

Travelled away from the coast and headed south west towards the La Rioja Wine Region.

The countryside interestingly now has changed significantly and everything is drier.  The green hills are gone and have been replaced with arid mountains similar to those we have seen in the black hills of Dakota USA.  The landscape looks like something out of an old western movie where you see the tumbleweed scurry across the fields.  No grass anymore just spindly bushes.  The soil here is obviously very suited for wine growing and wherever we look the fields are full of vineyards (not green like on the Moselle) but brown and dry.

Our camp for tonight:  Barrihuelo, Elciego

The town itself is very small and set on a hill overlooking the vineyard valleys.  Everywhere in the town they have Bodegas which are wineries all keen for sales and open at different times. 

There are so many bodegas here but two that are outstanding.  The first is a short km walk from here so visited this one in the afternoon.

The Marques de Riscal Hotel is a Starwood Property set on 100,000 square kms dedicated to the production, storing and study of wine and is called The City Of Wine.

Designed by the Canadian Architect Frank O’Gehry, the building is a flamboyant wave of multicoloured titanium sheets – just stunning and so hard to describe but the picture will tell the story.

The hotel from a distance

There are no free wine tastings here or in most of these bodegas so the only way to try the wines is to book a tour through the winery at a cost and you may get a couple tastings included in the price of the visit.  We sat at the wine bar and paid for and sampled a couple of whites and reds before heading home through this quaint little hillside village with our purchases.

A close-up view of the unusual architecture

Only a few kms north of the town of Laguardia is the Bodega Ysios.  Architecturally it is one of the most gob-smacking bodegas in Spain.  It’s wavelike roof is made of aluminium and the exterior walls are made of cedar wood.  Just stunning with the backdrop of the majestic mountains in the background.

Bodega Ysios from a distance
Close-up of Bodega Ysios

Tuesday 22nd & Wednesday 23rd November

Again we travelled through countryside that was more than uninteresting. 

Thought we were heading the wrong way as the only traffic on the road were trucks, trucks and more trucks – only the occasional car and definitely no motorhomes heading this way.  Really hoped we wouldn’t break down as there were no villages for as far as you could see and beyond, mile after mile.

Our camp for two nights:  Area de Burgos, Burgos

Amazingly beautiful large town.  Spent two days here and still did not see everything.

The camping area is complimentary and has all services except electricity provided.  Very few of the 35 spots were unoccupied during this time – very busy but very quiet and peaceful at night.

Walked the soles off our shoes over the two days and saw so much.  This town is a Mecca for cathedrals, churches, museums and the tapas bars and restaurants were just excellent and so inexpensive.  Bought two beers that cost under $2.00 each and the huge tapas were about the same price.  We only managed to eat two each.  The locals use these bars to meet and mingle and play cards – very interesting.

La Catedral de Burgos

La Catedral de Burgos was truly amazing perched high on the hill above the Old Town, it is a declared UNESCO world heritage site.  From there we climbed about 80 steps to the castle on the hill which we found had closed 10 minutes before we got there.  Got some great panoramas of the town though before heading back down and then the 3 kms back to Ziggy.

Beautiful architecture

So glad we found this town and is really worth the visit for a couple of days.

Navigator and Driver taking in the sights

For fellow travellers: Head north past the Alcampo superstore along Avenida d’Castilla Leon which leads onto Avendia de la Paz and keep going until you hit Centrum – from there the spires of La Catedral de Burgos can be seen from most parts of Old Town. The traffic in here is chaotic with very narrow one way streets so walking is suggested. We drove on the first day and walked it on the second day and would not recommend driving in a motorhome.

Burgos has dozens of street scapes like these