European Escapades

Running for the Hills




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.

The Wicked Witch of Benicàssim
The Wicked Witch of Benicàssim.

Maybe we have a weird cat but ours seems to delight in hiding under the van either ours or a neighbours and watch the world go by. If she wants to spend a penny, she will trot back to our van and use the cat tray facilities within. Whilst this can cause a bit of a ruckus in the van, with the constant digging in her tray as she tries valiantly to cover up the offending smell, usually ending up with most of the litter out of the tray and onto the campervan floor. Whilst I am sure she is digging for gold sometimes, at least she comes back to do her business where we can clean it up, unlike some of the dogs and owners we have seen in both France and Spain. However to see this woman shooing our cat away with a broom, whilst Missy Moo was on our pitch watching the world go by was too much for me. I confronted the woman and I found out I was speaking to the first Dutch woman that could not speak even a little English. It’s amazing how her knowledge of English seem to disappear and her knowledge of Spanish seemed equally as poor. Her ranting in Dutch continued as I told her in no uncertain terms to leave our cat alone. Whist Frances knowledge of Dutch is not perfect, she got enough to understand the woman believed our cat would leave a stink under her caravan and didn’t want her anywhere near their pitch. It’s as if cats have a sixth sense as from that point on, that was the only place Missy moo seemed to want to head to. I remember my other cat Bubbles, used to chase my best friend girlfriend, around the lounge when they came to visit, because it knew that she was scared of cats. Bubbles seemed to enjoy it and everyone else found it funny, as Bubbles would stay just far enough behind her to keep her running.

This kind of put a dampener on Benicàssim and so with the sun a little paler in the sky the next morning, suggesting a milder day ahead, we decided to head for the hills away from the Coast. We wanted to go to a place that we seem to get so much more enjoyment from. As we pack up, the bad experiences of the few days before has started to fade and we think that this must have been third time lucky. What we didn’t know at this point was that the phrase ‘It always happens in threes’ was much more appropriate. The pitches were a little on the small side and manoeuvring out of our space could have been done in two ways. We either had to reverse out all the way to the end of our row until we got to the wider main road running up from the reception through the site or we could use a slightly angled walkway opposite us to reverse into so we could move forward down our row to the reception. Preferring to manoeuvre the van forwards and having decided after the tree incident that Frances would be out of the van and assisting we took the second option. The reversing into the triangle shaped pitch was not an issue but as we started the turn, the new arrangement was not working well. Frances didn’t fancy being behind the van and that was where I really needed her. In a repeat of the tree incident the rear of the van swings into the hedge and as Frances says it only a hedge, I start pulling forward taking a lot of the foliage with me on the bike rack. The noise doesn’t sound very healthy but I continue to go both back and forward angling towards the roadway and our exit. As I finally straighten up on the road and Frances can now get to the rear of the van, she finds out what all the noise was. Seems within the hedge was a concrete pillar and the bike rack had snagged on it, turning one of the bikes wheels at a right angle whist still attached to the aluminium frame. It could only go one way as the bike rack frame buckled under the force ripping itself from the brackets holding it to the campervan. Oh what a disaster are we looking at, as I get out of the van to assess the damage myself. At this point I feel like screaming and crying, as I attempt, with my boiling and conflicting emotions, to remove one of the bikes from the rack. At this point a small crowd of campers starts appearing around us, wanting a look to see what happened. In an amazing turn of events the Dutch woman we had the run in the day before tells me in perfectly good English that the bike rack look like it is really broken. I remember in my days as an engineer trying to fix a computer problem, unless you were very confident on the ability to resolve the issue, it was you worst nightmare to have a customer watching every move you made as you tried to gain some familiarity with the equipment you were working on. Like how do I get this cover off, I’m sure it’s like this, why is it not moving. I’m sure you will understand the feelings these situations bring. These are the emotions I have, as I hand one of the bikes to Frances to put in the campervan and then proceed to get the tools from the van so I can dismantle the damaged bike rack. I unbolt and remove the offending piece of aluminium, which looks more like a boomerang than the straight rail it once was and throw that in the back of the van with all the nuts and bolts, in doing so having to move out the way a bloke who is so interested in the situation, that at one point I thought he was going to get in the van itself to have a look around. With the second bike still safe and secure I reattach the warning sign to the bike and quickly get into the driver’s seat to head out of the camp site and away from the embarrassment I felt at that moment.

The relief I felt as we drove away from the onlookers and the site, was mixed with sinking feeling I had in my stomach on how I was going to fix this disaster, as we couldn’t drive around with a bike in the van and I didn’t know if I would be able to get any spare parts for the bike rack If I needed them. It maybe another trip into another large town and all the potential pitfalls that seemed to entail. All these thoughts and tribulations in my head undid in that few minutes, the relaxed and calm state I had obtained after the tree and Fawlty towers incident. With Frances sitting silently in the passenger seat, with a look of utter dejection on her face and the thoughts and feelings she had bouncing around in her head, of maybe she had let us down, washing over her as well. I’m sure her three days relaxation was also removed in that instant. So for us the Costas currently only hold bad memories and we still haven’t found what we are looking for in Spain, except Chorizo and red wine, as we run back into the mountains. It maybe we are trying to recreate the initial feelings we had of happiness in Spain at Pena Montana. But it seems that although we like being beside the sea, the mountains of Spain are holding more allure at the moment. We are heading for ‘Vall de Laguar’ south of the small town of Pego, which is said to have everything we need including a bar and restaurant, where the mother of the family cooks for her customers. Maybe this campsite will show us what Spain has to offer for those looking for more that sun, lager and an English breakfast….

This entry was posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 3:58 pm and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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