Soon became clear that Spain was very different to Germany & France when it came to places to stay. Aires were few and far between and lots of other people we spoke to were cautioning that Spain wasn’t a safe country unless you were in campsites. Thankfully, unlike France and Germany, there seemed to be plenty of campsites that were open
So we wandered down the coast stopping at Vilanova, Peniscola, and El Campello along the way. However although the campsites were good value (16 Euro thanks to our off-season discount card) and impeccably maintained, it was miles away from the real Spain.
Far from being empty most were almost (if not completely) full of campervans and caravans but rather than other travellers like us or families with kids for our kids to play with, they were pretty much all retirees from northern Europe set in for 2-5 months over winter. Don’t get me wrong, they were lovely people and incredibly helpful but it didn’t give anyone for the kids to play with and really wasn’t what we were looking for in terms of really seeing the country.
The last place was definitely a lot more Spanish with some permanent residents there and a few families with kids which was great for James & Abbie.
Then we moved on to a place near Mazarron – we checked out the aire and while it looked fine it was pretty busy so we decided to drive 1km down the road and set up on a beach with only one other campervan for company. The stories of gangs of Moroccans (this area was prime tomato territory with fields and fields of the things and the workers were mainly from there) coming down and plundering any campervans not on the aire were pooh poohed by Mick the Irish guy we met in the other campervan. He’d been wildcamping all over Spain for many years and never had any problem except for the odd ‘Can you please move on in the morning, sir?’ from the local police. He also produced a shed of parchment which listed unofficial wildcamping spots throughout Spain and Portugal. Years of work had obviously gone into it and he kindly let us make a copy.
It was a great spot to stay and James & I even went for a dip in the morning (despite the fact Mick said he’d seen a shark circling the bay a few days ago… sharks in the Med?’. Predictably, absolutely freezing but that’s what happens when you go swimming in the sea in Europe in winter!
We left that sunny little spot (was around 20 degrees) and headed for Granada via some windy roads and great scenery including the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We found a lovely little campsite in the mountains with a backdrop of snowy peaks (and the associated drop in temps).
Next day Chelle headed into town on her own catching the local bus and, successfully managed her objective of getting her hair cut. Language problems were overcome and it was a great success and importantly get her a good few hours on her own to wander round the city. We met her for lunch then got the bus over to La Alhambra – one of the most famous sights in Spain. A couple of hours wandering round the grounds was enjoyed by all. We’ve really enjoyed Granada & region – it’s a lovely town and our best spot yet in Spain.
That brings us to yesterday where we had the first real mishap with Frosty. Parking up to go on a hike to Los Cohorros (see below) we grounded the van. Stupidly didn’t allow for the extra length at the back and we got stuck, front wheels grounded, back of Frosty grounded and the rear wheels spinning uselessly in the middle. Not only that we were blocking a lane of traffic on a narrow (but fortunately quiet) road.
We were stuck – an hour spent trying to pack up under the tyres, find the jack, find the roadside assistance people (not sure we have one) and asking bemused locals who walked past for help yielded nothing. Completely stuck, out of ideas, nothing within walking distance.
But then a lady came over to see if she could help. Couldn’t speak a word of English but she could see our problem and went to borrow a rope from one of the farms. Then, thankfully, a tractor/excavator came down the road. Top bloke driving (again not a single word of English) it and he kindly gave up half an hour or so of his time to help us out. Long story short, after emptying the garage, breaking ropes and lots of praying he was able to lift the back of Frosty enough so we slid back down to safety. We were so relieved and despite an inch deep gouge in the tarmac, Frosty amazingly appears unscathed. A definite warning!
So we set off on this walk which was meant to be a 1hr 30min loop but ended up being a 4hr return as we ended up going the wrong way. At one stage it was looking a bit dodgy when we realised we were in the middle of nowhere and it started raining and none of us had rain gear. The rain was brief and keeping moving kept us warm but rather than risk pushing on hoping to pick up the loop trail, we played safe and retraced our steps.
Nevertheless it was a really good walk with some great mountain views, canyons, rope bridges and narrow ledges to squeeze along. Heart in mouth a little bit with the kids but they were surefooted and in fact, being little, found it much easier to squeeze under the overhangs.
So that brings us to this morning. Another restless night (up since 2:30am) for some reason but at least it gives me time to catch up on the blog.
Speaking of time, I thought I’d have loads of it on this trip with taking out 10-11 hrs of work or traveling to and from. However that’s not been the case – days have been packed. A typical day kinda looks like this: 6:30am get up have tea, 7am go for jog, 8am breakfast & shower, 9-12am school and work, 12-4pm driving to next spot (including stops on the way and lunch in the van), 4-6pm explore local area & get supplies for dinner, 6-8pm preparing, eating, & clearing dinner/tidying up for the night. 8pm kids in bed, we read for an hour or so then bed too. Then in-between all this there are the things like van maintenance (toilet emptying, water replacement etc) and route/destination planning so it really does fill up the day. Anyway, sure beats sitting in an office!