European Escapades

Archive for April, 2010

Nana P Diary Part 6

30

Apr

2010

Steve's DVDs and Missy's Long Drop
Steve’s DVDs and Missy’s Long Drop

Dearest Jessica,

There are two things that reminded me of you this week so i’ll talk about them , maybe you won’t understand but I’m sure Mum and Dad will laugh and share with you later on. Firstly I know how much you are enjoying the colours on Cee Beebies and we thought of you today. Grumps has got really into Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer in Spanish and I think of you watching it in Chatteris. Grumps watches an hour of each while he has his cup of tea each morning, it’s on our level right now 3 years plus. I wonder who is enjoying it most right now, maybe when we come back we can watch it together. The Dora is in English too so we can leave them with you to watch. I’m sure Sesame Street will be good for you too soon.

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Plastic Fields and Caged Animals

29

Apr

2010

a green oasis, between fields of plastic
A Green Oasis, Between Fields of Plastic.

I have been thinking about this particular blog for a little while and I’m not sure if I should make it about a campsite review or a travel story, as whilst both are interesting in their own right, neither makes enough of a story for a full blog. But together they may just be enough for an interesting story. Let’s start with the trip from Almería and the thought that a trip direct to Granada, our chosen destination, is a little too far for one journey. So we decide that we should head down the coast until the turn off north to Granada. This gave us a choice of three campsites and we decided as a novice picks a horse in a race, to choose the name we liked. So the chosen campsite was ‘Don Cactus’. Whether it was owned by a prickly mafia boss we never found out but the trip to get there was one of distaste, as we moved further along the south coast of Spain into what can only be described as plastic field country.

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TiTbiTs

29

Apr

2010

‘Why don’t you try barking like a dog?’

‘I’m happy to try that if you think it will help, I’m not having much luck with her by using my big stick’

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TiTbiTs

28

Apr

2010

Did you see the policeman today with the big gun and cuff links?

I saw his gun, but I unfortunately missed the nice sparkly cuff links. He had a big set of shiny handcuffs though….

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The Spain I Wanted To Find, Almería

28

Apr

2010

Avenue Federico Garcia Lorca
Avenue Federico Garcia Lorca.

It may have taken over a thousand kilometres to find the Spain I was looking for, but it was worth the wait. From our initial foray over the Pyrenees towards the centre of Spain, before deciding on our sudden detour towards the costas, it has been a route that has seen us complete almost the entire south eastern coast of Spain. The journey so far, has been one of conflicting emotions and adventure, wanting to stay away from the costas that we had no desire to explore only to be forced by campsite availability, to head back there on many an occasions. Maybe if we had visited some of the larger towns such as Barcelona or Valencia along our route we may have found something sooner. There are plenty of suggestions to say some of the modern buildings in the centre of these vast sprawling metropolis are worthy of attention. But it seems they do not make it easy for someone with a campervan to visit. But as we looked on from afar, travelling down the bypasses around the towns themselves, they reminded me of a large Petri dish that had been overrun with a bacterial infection. It was as if man had littered the landscape with uninspiring and cobbled together buildings with no ideas or planning. Like jumbled pieces of a construction set with no thought for beauty or sense of place. Almería in my opinion is in a different league.

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La Garrofa

27

Apr

2010

Could Clint Eastwood have stayed here in the Sixties?
Could Clint Eastwood have stayed here in the Sixties?

Reputed to be one of the oldest campsites in Spain and this is where we headed after our trip out to the Tabernas desert. I think I said in one of the blogs before when we spoke about campsites and what constituted a good campsite was sometimes just the feel of the place. The one I am currently on as I write this blog is a good example. The site is open, although the pool is still closed. The bar and restaurant is good and cooks traditional style food for the area. The WiFi is great and we also have a cash machine and fresh bread and sundries if we need them. It is around half a kilometre from the most perfect of desolate beaches with some of the best sand I have seen in a long while. The campervan pitches have electric and water on each pitch and is the best we have come across in a long while. Is the campsite perfect, well no as it lacks one important ingredient, the feel of the place, sure it’s growing on me and I would recommend it straight away, but the feel of the place was not like La Garrofa, this site we fell in love with despite all its faults.

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In Sergio Leone’s Wild West

26

Apr

2010

The classic white washed buildings so reminiscent of Spaghetti Westerns
The classic white washed buildings so reminiscent of Spaghetti Westerns.

As we drove into the Tabernas desert, the feelings of elation were upon me for the first time in Spain. I now looked upon the same countryside that Sergio Leone once looked upon when creating his film masterpieces that I have come to love so much. Whilst I own almost every film that Clint Eastwood has ever been in, either playing bit part such as Tarantula, to his more famous films as the man with no name to the gritty Dirty Harry and the unforgettable Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. It took a while for me to appreciate that it was more the direction of Sergio Leone, which I loved more than anything. This shows itself in my passion for Once upon a Time in the West, my favourite film of Sergio’s. The opening sequence that lasted oh so long at the start, with not a whisper of dialogue but so overwhelmed with description and suspense. Here I was looking at the same views, wondering what he felt as he surveyed the barren landscapes, looking for the perfect location for his filming. To be where one of the people that helped shape your view and enjoyment on life is a magical thing.

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What We Like In Spain So Far

25

Apr

2010

The small cafe bar at sierra espuna
The small cafe bar at Sierra Espuna.

The advice to our next campsite in the mountains called ‘Sierra Espuna’ did not convey any confidence for us. With helpful advice such as, ‘Follow signs at the beginning of the village, not through the village. Help is available at the last incline. Just call!’ from their advert in the camping book, you wonder what you are getting yourself into. Sure enough, once we had managed to navigate the usual mountain terrain to a fork in the road, we spot the sign advising us one way for cars and another for caravans. The caravan route is another four kilometres, but at their suggestion we take the longer route. Not that this gives you an easy ride of it, as this seems just as bad as many ‘OH NO!! Not up that road’ situations we have been in already. Is it worth it, well yes as the views are stunning and take in some beautiful scenery on the way up and as you enter the village from the other side you are greeted with a long curving upward slope that’s just about accommodates the campervan or a treacherous and narrow incline into the village that even a car would balk at.

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Back into a Mountain Haven

24

Apr

2010

the mountains and town of campbell
The Mountains and Town of Campbell.

‘Vall de Laguar’ is a beautiful campsite in the mountains south of the small town of Pego. We may have come the wrong way to the site through Pego itself, but that was the fault of the Sat-Nav and our complete lack of knowledge of the area. With hindsight and advice from the campsite, if you are coming from the North of Spain, you should ignore your Sat-Nav. Take the turning for Ondara further south instead. Try to go through Pego and you are faced with an option of a very narrow high street directly through the town centre. Sometimes you just have to ignore the Sat-Nav. as we turned right and hoped to go around the town only to be pushed at every turn, back into the centre. At one point in the town square, that we had been trying to avoid, we let a Spanish car pass as we stopped and tried to decide what way we were to head, only to find him parked a hundred yards up the road, making the already very narrow street almost impossible to pass. Whilst he was convinced I had the width to navigate safely through and kept waving me onwards, I was more concerned with the low overhanging balcony that I had to go under to achieve it.

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Running for the Hills

23

Apr

2010

Boterra Park in Benicàssim
Boterra Park in Benicàssim.

Our next stop was in the small town of Benicàssim, which is famous for its four day festival international de Benicàssim. This has included a number of famous acts such as Radiohead and the Artic Monkeys along with many local bands in recent years. Fortunately for us, we managed to miss the fun and had a quiet few days sunning ourselves at the campsite of ‘Bonterra Park’. This us gave an opportunity to relax a little and enjoy the many facilities on offer in this clean but rather large site. These included an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and a free trail of their new WiFi setup. The site is just out of the centre of town opposite a large supermarket and is perfect for a relaxing few days stay. We found nothing of real interest historically or touristy wise, but would recommend the site for its friendly staff and pleasant surroundings. This was our first campsite on the Costa del same, that although was mostly what we try and stay away from, actually did everything right and had pleasant staff to deal with. Only one issue cropped up and that was from one of our Dutch neighbours who seemed to have an issue with cats.

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