Today we entered Spain, heading for the Costas in search of better weather, the last 5 days has seen me in jeans for the first time since Jan, not good!!our plan is to get over to the Valencia region in a few days, so today we decided to make a hole in the mileage and drove 400km thru the province of Extremadura skirting the old city of Toledo in Castilla-la Mancha and onto Alcazar de San Juan 39.389721 -3.219440.
We were once again on the wine route this one being the Ruta dos Vinhos, we drove for miles and miles not seeing anything but vineyards and the odd distillery, we also drove on the Don Quixote route renowned for its windmills.
The weather was not much better here than in Portugal although a tad warmer but still damp with the odd shower,
Another good day at the wheel and we arrived in a small town called Chinchilla de Monte-Aragon 38.920792 -1.722170,
The town is over looked by an old castle, this part of Spain is littered with old hill top castles. A walk around the town was followed by a few drinks in a bar, “a bit of a pattern developing here” and it was back to the van, a not so early night followed after hitting the wine!
Today we are in a town called Jalance in the Valencia region 39.187599 -1.076100, again a free Aire on the outskirts of town, I think from here in you can assume all our stops being free unless stated, we don’t like paying for stopovers at Aires, unless we need to do the washing or there is something we particularly want to see.
Church of San Miguel
Another nice Spanish town albeit a bit more modern than yesterdays
One thing that has changed is the weather, it is very warm today and it’s back into the shorts for me, hopefully for the rest of this year!
Today’s stop is Benageber 39.709930 -1.102110, this is a nice stop in a small village, again we are high in the mountains, and it's quite popular with Spanish motorhomers,
After settling in we took a walk up to a view point a few km away up a mountain overlooking the Sierras and particularly Peak Franco and also lake Benageber.
It was very hot probably not the best idea traipsing up a mountain, afterwards we went in search of the only bar in town, only to find they were having a fete, with all the other surrounding villages invited, they all had their local produce on display along with their wines, it was a bit too busy for our liking with Max so we decided to have a night in listening with our windows open to the live music from the town.
It was still balmy hot at 9pm at night, this is more like it.
A drive up the coast and we stopped on a peninsula called Delta de Ebra at a place called Casa de Fusta 40.658550 0.674680, the Delta is a nature reserve and a bird sanctuary with many species, we are hoping to see the flamingos, again it’s a hot day this aire is huge with space for at least 50+ vans it is quite full with mostly Spanish vans we found out it is a bank holiday weekend,
Well no pics of flamingos, although we did see a Marsh Harrior but my reflexes were to slow to capture it.
Another strange thing is the delta is 75% covered in paddy fields I never thought of Spain being a rice producer then again their national dish is paella.
Today’s spot would be a few km away in the town of Deltebre 40.71425 0.71628 this is the main town on the peninsula, again it was a hot day, we stopped at Lidls for mosquito repellent and cream, a few days ago while in Grao we got eaten alive at night by three of them in the van, the species over here are called Tiger Mosquitos, more like sabre toothed!! Sam and myself were covered in bites and normally they don’t bite me, but these Tiger jobbies take no prisoners!
The Aire is on the riverside with great walks along the bank and a nearby restaurant which is always a bonus, we sat outside in the heat with chilled Estrellas, when we arrived we were the sole van there, later on we were joined by French, German and Andorran vans,
We left the delta today but first off we stopped at the co-operative to pick up some more of their local hooch, I picked up another red a white and a rose 15l for €20 the white and rose being even cheaper but all at 14% something to look forward to, they sell it even cheaper at €1.05 a litre from huge stainless casks, we saw plenty of locals bringing their own containers or you could purchase a container from the store at 40cents.
We drove 90km up the coast just past Tarragona to today’s spot in a small village called El Catllar 41.176689 1.326830 a castle overlooked the village dating back to the 11th century, it was a small village with not much to do or see but we managed to find what appeared to be the only bar and enjoyed a few cold Estrella's while using their internet, it was another hot day.
We stopped at a great place today with plenty to see, the town of Vilafranca del Penedes 41.339662 1.69053, in the province of Barcelona. The Aire is situated in the town centre with plenty of bars to occupy us, the weather was scorching today, much better since we hit the coast, the weather is also favourable on the south of France at the moment, that is where we intend to hang about for a while after leaving Spain.
A walk around the town we managed to find a few bars with shade, very much welcome in the heat of day
Our drive today was a bit stressful at first, were heading towards Girona and have to skirt Barcelona, it’s a busy stretch of road with vehicles merging from both sides, also you need to be very vigilante at being in the right lane as they branch off suddenly, with the Barcelona bit over with we carried on, nothing much to note and then just past a small town called Macanet de la Selva we hit a "pretty" stretch of road whilst driving through the local countryside, as we then began to pass quite a few ladies of the night sat on plastic garden chairs at the side laybys, we passed several dressed in no more than sexy underwear and fishnet stockings, well I did tell you the weather was hot!!
With my eyes back in their sockets we finally arrived at today’s stop at a place called Caldes de Malavella 41.839291 2.811700, this was a great stop the Aire has all the services including free EHU and situated a stones throw away from the centre in a small park, we didn't arrive till late afternoon so we decided to stay another day and have a good scout around tomorrow.
The following day we headed into the town, it was again hot, we found there are three bottling plants each bottling the local mineral water.
It was a nice spot tho, with a nice marina and beach,
And Max was able to have a good run around, although we later saw No dogs allowed signs displayed along the promenade.
Leaving Spain and entering France over the Pyrenees Orientals and onto Barcares 42.8095 3.03086. This town boasts four free aires plus a newly opened private one at €9, we checked out a few of them and went back to one we visited earlier on the marina, for the life of me I could not see the attraction of the private one, it was directly opposite us over the river, same views but packed in like sardines, we were the only van on our one and it could hold 5?
Saw this rig across from us, not sure if you'd get on many aires with that or even campsites?
A short drive along the coast, thru Narbonne and skirting Beziers, we stopped at Carrefour in Serignan to do a shop 43.26989 3.28012, as we were about to leave I noticed several vans at the top end of the car park so decided to give it a once over, quite a lot of the large supermarkets have areas for overnight parking and also have toilet empting and water facilities, on close inspection it appears some of these had settled in and had been here for some time, we got chatting to an English couple with a young baby who had been there three months, it would do us for the night.
I never realised how popular bullfighting was in France,
It seems most towns have a bullring
There was a bullfight the previous day, not that I would have gone, not my idea of sport or entertainment to be honest
We headed further inland not too far to the town of Dignes les Baines 44.07972 6.26139, noted for its thermal baths, the aire was a few km out of town quite rural on a carpark, we decided to stay and take Max for a good walk in the countryside.
A photo of the old village
I could easily stay here a few days
Labergement-Ste-Marie 46.771351 6.275390, we parked up by a Swiss couple and they had their chairs tables a generator and an electric Remoska on the go? a Frenchy came over from one of the vans and told him in no uncertain terms that camping behaviour was not permitted, there was a campsite a few hundred metres away and more than likely the owners would have been irate had they seen them, the French chap was in his right, it's behaviour like that that get aires closed down probably like Les Grangettes !
We entered Germany today on-route my exhaust broke and the van sounded like a tank, I pulled into the next service atation and did my best with a roll of gaffer tape and headed to Saarburg, we have come here as it has good wifi around the site 49.601719 6.554540 €9 plus ehu on a meter,
This has to be the prettiest city we have visited, we loved our tour of Germany last year and although we are heading into Luxembourg then Belgium next we will have to tour Germany more extensively,
When we got to our usual stop at Ypres there is now a sign saying no motorhomes so we drove a few km to Zonnebeke 50.854061 2.978930 to a small pub called de Dreve 50.854061 2.978930, on route we passed several war cemeteries and this pub is like a shrine to WWI with lots of memorabilia and old pics, the owner of the pub aided Tony Robinson and his crew unearth the many miles of tunnels mostly German that are in the area, he was very interesting to chat to and very knowledgeable.