The cliffs at the end of the world – Sagres, Portugal

The  cliff top walk at Sagres in Portugal is known as the ‘walk at the end of the world’. Sagres is the southern most point of Portugal and it does have an ‘end of the world’ feel about it. Dramatic cliffs rise 200ft above the sea and it’s not hard to imagine that in days gone by many ships were lost on the rocks in this area.

The cliffs at Sagres, Portugal

Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese prince, regarded as the founding father of the so called Age of Discovery, and the Atlantic slave trade in the 15th century, sailed  from these shores.This was when this small country explored the globe and established colonies stretching from Brazil to China. This part of The Algarve was prone to attacks by pirates and invasions so the Portuguese established a natural fortress at Sagres.

The Sagres area was also affected by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. This earthquake measured 9 on the Richter Scale and is thought to be the strongest earthquake ever on planet Earth. The subsequent tsunami affected much of northern Europe and it is said that the waves from the tsunami reached the top of the 200ft cliffs at Sagres.

Cape Sagres is the place tourists visit to see the fortress at Sagres. There is a large free car park and a good area for motorhome parking. The fortress at Cape Sagres is not a normal fortress. It’s basically a wall with a gate. The fortress is the 200ft cliffs on three sides. It costs 3 euros to access Cape Sagres and it’s possible to walk around this cliff top peninsula which has amazing views. There really is an end of the world feeling about Cape Sagres. The views out to sea are outstanding and the next land westwards is the USA, over 3,000 miles away. It’s easy to see why early explorers thought the earth was flat and they would sail off the end of the earth.

200ft high cliffs at Sagres, Portugal

I don’t have a problem with heights but I draw the line somewhere. The reason I say this is because the cliffs at Sagres are used by local fishermen. It is not unusual to see fisherman at the coast but I have never seen fishermen perched on a cliff top 200ft above the sea. Falling off the cliff would mean almost certain death and several of these fishermen are killed by cliff falls every year. Despite the risk there are dozens of these fishermen standing inches from the sheer drop with seemingly not a care in the world. I’m surprised that the authorities don’t stop these fishermen but that’s probably because I’m from a health and safety obsessed UK where this activity would definitely have been stopped years ago!

Fisherman on the cliffs at Sagres, Portugal

How to get to Sagres

Sagres is located at the far western end of The Algarve in Portugal. The A22 toll motorway goes as far as Lagos and then you take the N125. Keep going straight through the town and you can’t miss Sagres fortress. To avoid toll motorways just follow the N125 which runs parallel to the motorway, all along The Algarve.

Where to stay in Sagres 

There are several hotels in Sagres. We visited the very stylish and elegant Pousadas de Portugal hotel at Sagres and had lunch sitting by the swimming pool with amazing views over the cliffs.

On the 200ft high cliffs at Sagres
The cliffs at Sagres
Sagres fisherman



Visiting Granada and Cordoba in a motorhome.

Visiting Granada and Cordoba in a motorhome is not a daunting experience. There are limited places to park a motorhome in Granada itself but if you intend to visit the amazing Alhambra I would not recommend parking in the Alhambra car park because it costs about 28 Euros. Instead, we spent 3 nights at the campsite at Reina Isabel, which is a 15 minute bus ride to the centre of Granada and costs 1.50 Euro per person one way.

We had driven up the spectacular A44 motorway from Motril and the sat nav, for once, took us straight to Reina Isabel camping for our 3 night stay. I recommend that you buy tickets for The Alhambra in advance because it gets very busy. Booking tickets for the Alhambra is an easy online task, once I had found the official website, and I managed to book two tickets for a 10am start the next day. Tickets were about 14 Euros each and included visits to the Alcazaba and the Palacios Nazaries. The Alhambra, a stunning Moorish palace and fortification is Spain’s most visited monument but I was surprised just how busy it was considering it was February when we visited.

The Alhambra had a wonderful backdrop of the snow topped Sierra Nevada mountains. The views over the city of Granada are excellent. Anne also persuaded me to part with another 19 Euros for the tourist train which turned out to be a bone rattling ride over most of the narrow cobbled streets of the city.

David Brice at The Alhambra, Granada

So far on this trip we have spent very little on tourist attractions but Anne was keen on the tapas and flamenco tour that the campsite was offering us. At €55 each it was not the best value for money but at least there was a mini bus to transport us there and back, and the entertainment was actually very good.

Flamenco and tapas show in Granada

After 3 nights in Granada we headed west following the A92 towards Antequera and then north on the A45, a non toll dual carriageway. There is a new motorhome aire in the centre of Cordoba. It’s on sloping ground and it has a French style borne and a drive over grey waste but the main benefit is that it’s only a 10 minute walk to Cordoba old town. Cordoba has plenty of historical buildings to keep visitors occupied. The main attraction for us was the mosque cathedral of Cordoba. It’s not often that I walk into a building and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end but that’s exactly what happened when I walked into this incredible building that was once a mosque but became a cathedral in 1146. This building is a testimony to the ancient alliance of art and faith. Its Islamic architecture, with Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine touches, comes together with Christian architecture to create one of the most beautiful examples of its kind. This building has been etched by men of different religions and cultures throughout history and truly is a remarkable creation. It costs €10 to visit the Mezquita Catedral De Cordoba and it is open every day of the year.

The Alhambra, Granada
The Alhambra, Granada
Mezquita De Cordoba
Beautiful door at The Alhambra



Seville 1 – Motorhome 0

A few days ago we were defeated! Our attempt to navigate to an overnight motorhome parking area in the centre of the glorious city of Seville had to be abandoned after our sat nav took us to a narrow cobbled street with a  few shops that looked nothing like a car park. I had carefully put the coordinates of the car park into our sat nav, but probably should have checked the address before confirming. I didn’t!

Now, when faced with such a situation in the past I would pull over to consult maps and books etc and find an alternative route. Seville, however is one of the busiest cities I have ever driven into. Add in hundreds of bad drivers, no parking or pulling in places to consult a map and it becomes almost impossible to get to where you want to be. After driving around the almost gridlocked city centre for an hour we eventually found ourselves on the main road out of Seville and decided that our Seville visit would have to wait for another time.

So, with some disappointment, we headed west along the A49 motorway towards Portugal. With a stop for groceries at Lidl we found ourselves at Isla Cristina, a coastal  town on the Spanish/Portuguese border. By this time the weather had changed and after 3 months of virtually no rain the heaven’s had opened. The first campsite we pulled into was partly underwater so we gave that one a miss and eventually ended up spending 3 nights at Camping Giraldi and endured more torrential rain and thunderstorms. It’s very relaxing in a motorhome when you can hear rain on the roof but when the large hailstones started I was convinced one of our motorhome skylights was going to shatter. The thunder and sheet lightning was amazing to watch although I did wonder what would happen if our motorhome got struck by lightning. Would I end up with a perm (unlikely) or would a lightning strike kill our motorhome electrics? I hoped I wouldn’t find out!

After 3 nights at Isla Cristina and being confined to our motorhome due to the terrible weather caused by Storm Emma we decided we should move on to a drier campsite, as this one had turned into a mud bath. I suggested we move to Camping Tourismo in Lagos, Portugal so we left the muddy campsite at Isla Cristina behind and set off on the next stage of our European motorhome adventure.

Welcome to The Algarve sign.

The main motorway that runs from the Spanish border along the Algarve coast is the A22 toll motorway. I had been online to read about motorway tolls in Portugal and it’s very confusing, mainly because there are several types of toll road, several ways to pay and rules that apply to foreign drivers. I like to do as much online as possible so I opted to buy a tollcard from the tollcard website. You can buy tollcards for various amounts but I decided to test the system first by only buying a €10 tollcard. I had calculated, from the website, that it would cost about €9 to drive from the Spanish border to Lagos on the motorway toll road but failed to realise that our motorhome would be a class 2 vehicle rather than a class 1 because of its size. To buy a tollcard for Portugal I had to create an online account with our registration number and I also clicked the button for class 1 rather than class 2. I couldn’t find a way to change it so I decided to see what happens! As you drive along toll roads in Portugal most use number plate technology from overhead cameras. Just before a camera there is a big sign that tells you how much you will be charged. I had a big smile on my face when I noticed that a class 2 vehicle was about 50% more than class 1. I just hope that the cameras don’t measure the size of vehicles!

The Portugal tolls website said that the toll card needed to be activated but I could not work out how to do that. Eventually I called the Portugal tollcard helpline and spoke to someone who told me, in very good English, that toll cards bought online are activated automatically. Why didn’t the website say that! 48 hours after using the Portugal motorway tolls they still haven’t appeared on my account so I don’t know what’s happened!

Camping Tourismo, Lagos is a very good campsite. It’s got the best shower block I have seen, a huge swimming pool, supermarket, bar/restaurant and a spa. I had to complain though because we didn’t like the pitch they gave us but the reception changed it without a problem.

The shower facilities at Camping Tourismo Lagos.

We are staying near to Praia de Luz and walked into the town today. There is a small beach and a few shops and restaurants but it was not looking at its best because it was grey with gale force winds. It was warm enough for shorts though and there were a few people braving the rough sea and paddling!

Praia de Luz church
Very quiet motorway in Portugal
The motorway bridge into Portugal.




Worn out shoes in Cadiz

I had to throw away a pair of walking shoes today. They were bought 6 months ago in the UK and I had worn them out! According to my steps counter on my phone I have walked about 700 miles since I bought them. We walk about 125 miles per month.

Expecting that walking shoes would last more than 6 months I have had to invest in an upgraded pair and I spotted some in a good shoe shop whilst in the Spanish city of Cadiz.

The beautiful city of Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz is an interesting city. It’s where the Spanish and French navies  were ordered by Napoleon  to leave from in order to confront the British navy commanded  by Admiral Lord Nelson. The resulting battle took place in 1805 just south of Cadiz at what is now known as Cape Trafalgar with the British anayalating  a superior force.  27 British ships of the line defeated 33 enemy ships. The brilliant naval strategist Lord Nelson was shot and killed by a French sniper whilst on his ship HMS Victory but the battle prevented the planned invasion of Britain by Napoleon.

Motorhomers  talk to each other a lot and several people had mentioned to us that there is a good campsite at Peurto de Santa Maria called Las Dunas. We arrived on spec and it was nice to spend 3 nights on a proper campsite as we had been staying “off grid” in the mountains and cities for a few weeks.

Las Dunas camping is a 20 minute walk from the catamaran ferry that takes you across the bay to the port of Cadiz. The ferry costs €2.75 each way. Cadiz itself is situated on a spit of land and surrounded by sea on 3 sides. The old town is a maze of narrow streets with historic buildings and fortifacations including an impressive cathedral (€6 entry fee). Cadiz has been lived in for 3100 years and is one of the oldest cities in western Europe.

After a late lunch of seafood paella, and adding significantly to our daily step count, we headed back with me eager to start wearing my new walking shoes. Hopefully these shoes will be able to take me at least another 700 miles! Next stop Seville and the weather is changing as we head west. It’s looking like we will be seeing our first rain for 3 months!

Cadiz Spain
Cadiz old fort
An old building in Cadiz!


Visiting Gibraltar with a motorhome

When I mentioned to Anne that I wanted to visit Gibraltar, in our motorhome, she wasn’t enthusiastic about visiting it. She thought that I only wanted to visit Gibraltar so I could stock up on my favourite English food from Morrison’s, which was partly true, but not the main reason! Gibraltar is steeped in colonial and military history and that’s the main reason I wanted to go.

I did eventually persuade Anne that we should go and guess what, she loved it, especially when she realised that her great uncle had been Colonial Secretary on Gibraltar in the early 1960’s and that she could do some family history research.

Driving towards the Gibraltar/Spain border we did the obligatory twice around a roundabout trick before finding our parking place at La Linea on the marina. This is a fabulous overnight parking place for motorhomes and costs 12 Euros per night. There are no electric hookups but we have solar power anyway so that was not a problem.

La Linea motorhome parking with great views of The Rock of Gibraltar.

It’s only a 10 minute walk from the motorhome parking area to the Gibraltar border. You need your passports because you are passing over the Spanish border into British territory although I nearly could not get in because the automatic passport machine I picked would not work for me for some reason. Once through the border you actually have to walk across Gibraltar airport runway, which is an exciting experience.

Walking across the runway at Gibraltar airport.

So, with a map of Gibraltar in hand we set off walking and explored the Ocean Village marina area and found ourselves in the car park of Morrison’s car park. This was a chance to stock up on a few of our favourite English food’s so we picked up some English bacon and British milk and a few other bits and the bill came to £63! As a Yorkshireman I have never spent so much money in a Morrison’s supermarket in my life and it took quite a while to recover from the shock. After several months shopping in Spanish supermarkets it was strange to suddenly find ourselves looking at British packaging again.

Next we headed over to Main Street. Walking along Main Street in Gibraltar was like walking through a real life museum with smaller versions of British shops such as Debenhams, Next and of course Marks and Spencer where I took the opportunity to re-stock my underwear and t-shirts collection!

At the far end of Main Street we found the cable car station to the Rock and duly bought tickets at £14.90 per person. Whilst queing for the cable car, however, we were told that the cable car had stopped running due to high winds and we could get a refund. Not wanting to walk up we jumped in a taxi and were taken on a terrifying drive up very narrow mountain roads with hair pin bends at high speed.

The Rock of Gibraltar with Morocco in the distance.

The view from the upper Rock is spectacular and we could easily see Morocco 14 miles away across the Straits of Gibraltar. The Rock, of course, is home to troops of wild monkeys and we were told not to feed them as they can be vicious.

After surviving the drive down the mountain we happened to be walking past the Gibraltar government building and we decided to try to see if we could find any information about Anne’s great uncle who was Colonial Secretary on Gibraltar in the early 1960’s. After getting through security checks we spoke to someone in the archives department who has promised to do some research and  email us information about him.

Next we are heading for Tarifa, the kite surfing area, and then onto Cadiz.

Welcome to Gibraltar
Gibraltar Spain border control.
Gibraltar runway
View of Gibraltar from The Rock.

Eating pasta with the vultures – El Torcal

We have just spent the night in our motorhome in the car park at a place called El Torcal. It might not sound interesting to say we have spent a night in a car park but this was no ordinary car park! This car park was at the top of a 1200 metre high mountain called El Torcal Natural Park and it has the most amazing scenery that I have seen anywhere. I have visited the incredible Grand Canyon in the USA and The Blue Mountains in Australia and El Torcal is just as good. What makes El Torcal so good is the pre-historic landscape. This area has unique limestone formations that were formed 150 million years ago and there is even evidence of human habitation here dating back to 5500BC.

El Torcal Natural Park is located about 45 km north of Malaga and 13 km south of Antequera. There is a car park on the main A7075 road but I would recommend driving through the barrier up a 3.5km mountain road to the visitor centre at the top. There are spectacular views as you drive up this road and the road is wide enough to take a motorhome. There is a large car park at the top with plenty of spaces for motorhomes, but it can get busy at weekends and the top car park can get full.

From the car park you can see the coast at Malaga on a clear day but the highlight for me was the 45 minute walk we did along a well marked path that took us through the most remarkable landscape I have ever seen.  There are many walks in the area and you must do one to fully appreciate this place. My photographs don’t do the landscape justice but it was like walking through a prehistoric landscape. Vultures were circling above us, perhaps hoping for some lunch!

Despite a sign in the visitor centre saying “no overnight parking” we spoke to a German couple with a motorhome parked next to us and agreed between us to stay overnight in the car park. After all the visitors and staff had left it was eerily quiet, apart from  the occasional bells of mountain goats wandering by, and we set about making some pasta for our evening meal. Sleeping and eating in such a remote place at 1200 metres above sea level felt exciting with the added bonus that it was a free nights motorhome stop!

After eating we stood outside in the cold and watched an incredible night sky under millions of stars with no light pollution and slept well with no worries about safety. After all, who would want to drive up a mountain road with sheer drops in the pitch black in the hope of finding some motorhome owners asleep in a car park at the top of a mountain.

Here are some photos that I took at El Torcal but I don’t think they do the place justice. You have to be there to witness the beauty for your self.

Our motorhome parked at El Torcal car park
El Torcal Natural Park
El Torcal Natural Park, Spain
El Torcal, Spain
The limestone landscape of El Torcal Natural Park

Visiting incredible Ronda in a motorhome

After visiting the unique landscape of El Torcal National Park we drove back along the mountain road to Antequera where we missed the turn off for the ring road and ended up having to drive our motorhome through the narrow streets of Antequera, the thing I didn’t want to do!   Also as we entered the white washed hill top town we got confused over the road directions to Ronda and ended up driving 3 times around the same roundabout and still ended up taking the wrong road!

Eventually, finding the correct road, we headed towards Ronda, a town famous for the bridge over a deep gorge. The A367 road to Ronda winds through the very scenic Serrania de Ronda mountains and empty reservoirs, but we didn’t see any places to stop to take photos, which is a shame because the scenery is amazing.

Our sat nav, surprisingly, took us without further problems straight to the motorhome aire we wanted in Ronda. This motorhome stop costs 10 Euros per night without electricity and has good free WiFi. I was impressed with the motorhome aire in Ronda. The aire is well lit and secure. It’s fairly flat and an easy 30 minute walk to the famous bridge.

I have wanted to visit Ronda for several years. It’s one of the oldest cities in Spain and has Roman and Moorish influences but it’s the bridge that connects the old and new parts of Ronda, that’s built over a deep gorge, which draws the tourists. Walking over the bridge and looking into the 120 metre chasm below is worth the visit to Ronda itself but I would also recommend that you walk down the rough path at the side of the bridge which gives you incredible views from below the bridge. The previous bridge to this one collapsed and killed 50 people who were working on it at the time! The new bridge, Puente Nuevo, took 42 years to build and was finally ready in 1793.

The amazing bridge at Ronda, Spain

A walk around the old town is a must and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants including ones that charge extra for a view! There are museums and many places of interest to keep you going at least 2 days.

Recognised as the first purpose-built bullring in the world, the Ronda bullring is considered the most picturesque. The first bullfight took place in 1785 and whatever your views on bull fighting it’s worth paying the 7 Euros entrance fee because of its architecture and history. I found it fascinating to stand in the middle of the bullring and trying to imagine what it must have been like to be a matador.

Ronda bullring

Whether you own a motorhome or not I would highly recommend a visit to Ronda. In my opinion it’s one of the wonders of the world!

The 120 metre deep gorge at Ronda
Magnificent views at Ronda
Puente Nuevo, Ronda
The town of Antequera, Andalucia, Spain





The big guns of Mazarron

It’s early February and the UK is in the grip of “the coldest week of the year” yet here in Spain we have been sitting outside and the sun is very warm. Just like back in the UK, Spain is actually having a cold snap! Parts of inland Spain have seen a lot of snow and many roads have been gridlocked with vehicles struggling to cope with the winter weather. The only snow we have seen though is on the peaks of the nearby Sierra Nevada and in fact we can see, from where we are staying, mainland Spain’s highest peak, Mulhacen, standing at 3478 metres above sea level.

So far, our journey through France and Spain is proving to be as good as we had hoped. Missing the British winter is certainly a bonus, but we are on this trip to see the best of what Europe has to offer in terms of scenery and culture and also to enjoy the pleasure of not having to get up for work every day. Having worked for over 40 years it’s nice to be able to wake up when it gets light in the morning and enjoy amazing views. As I write this blog our motorhome is parked up at the marina at a small place called Almerimar. On one side there is the marina and on the other side there is a huge beach and the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the distance. It’s an amazing view and we feel lucky that we can wake up to this and also witness some incredible sunsets.

We have continued our journey south along the Spanish coast and visited some very interesting places as well as some places I have never heard of. Touring, especially in a motorhome, enables you to stop pretty much anywhere you want when you see somewhere interesting but we also do quite a bit of research to find places that look like they are worth a visit.

The next stop on our journey took us to the port city and naval base of Cartagena in the Murcia region of south eastern Spain. Cartagena was founded around 220 BC and the city has many Roman ruins including two Roman amphitheatres and Roman Forum. We parked up our motorhome at the Los Dolores campsite about 4 miles from the city centre and close to the number 7 bus that runs frequently to and from the city centre. The campsite showers and toilets were a bit basic but the owner was friendly and spoke good English. One other negative point about the campsite is that you have to walk along a narrow busy road to get to the bus stop. As we were walking to the bus stop we were walking past a large house and an aggressive dog ran out and gave Anne a small bite on the leg. We should have reported it but the thought of trying to explain what happened when we don’t speak Spanish was not an appealing prospect so we decided to leave it. The risk of rabies from a domestic dog is minimal. However, for the next few days I kept watch over Anne to see if I could see any more frothing than normal at the mouth but all was well!

Roman amphitheatre at Cartegena

Apart from Roman ruins Cartagena has one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and the harbour area is worth a visit, with several bars and restaurants to visit if you feel the need. For us though the best place we visited was actually just down the coast from Cartegena. The Guns of Mazarron are a hidden gem. Built in the late 1920’s as part of a huge defence network to protect the naval base at Cartegena the huge guns are built on a rocky cliff top 218 metres above the sea. The guns were made by Vickers in the UK and had a 35km firing range. You can drive to the big guns up a narrow mountain road. Anne was very nervous about taking our 7m motorhome up this mountain road but I said it wouldn’t be a problem, even though I had no real idea what the road would be like! Luckily, we didn’t meet any oncoming traffic but if we had it would have been shall we say interesting, especially if the vehicle was any bigger than a Fiat 500 because there were very few passing places. The road was 7km long, very steep, narrow, windy and with sheer drops at the sides. Anne found it a bit of a white-knuckle ride. Worth it, though!!

the Guns of Mazarron, Spain

After we managed to navigate down the mountain road from the Mazarron guns we found a busy motorhome parking area at a pretty fishing village on the Costa Calida called La Azohia. I’m not sure if this parking was authorised but it is featured on my Camper Contact app and the parking was free so we parked up, on sloping ground, and had amazing views of the beach and sea only feet away from us. We heard rumours the next day that the village mayor had decided to stop motorhomes parking here and that everyone would be moved on but we were only staying one night so we don’t know whether that happened.

So called “wild camping” is not something we are experts on. I prefer to call it free camping because quite often it’s not “wild” as I would describe it. Motorhomes can often be found parked on streets close to camp sites or camper stops. Is it because the official campsite is full?  People have different views on whether this acceptable or not. I’m not sure how the local residents feel about motorhomes parking overnight outside their homes. I’m not sure I’d like it. On the other hand, we spent a free night alongside many others in a car park near a harbour, not disturbing anyone and that felt OK. I suppose you have to decide if your intended overnight spot feels acceptable or not, taking into account consideration of others.

We are continuing our motorhome journey south and heading for Mojacar and the natural park at Cabo de Gata.

Guns of Mazarron

Motorhome insurance and party girl on a baggage carousel.

Motorhome Insurance

One subject that appears regularly on motorhome forums is whether it is possible to obtain motorhome insurance when you want to leave your motorhome in Spain and fly back to the UK. When we wanted to fly back to the UK from Alicante in Spain for a few days we rang several car parking companies at Alicante airport to ask about security so that we could satisfy ourselves that our motorhome would be safe and secure.

Once we found somewhere that we were comfortable with we called our motorhome insurance company, Comfort Insurance, to ask whether they would continue to insure the vehicle whilst it was parked up for 6 nights. They came back with the answer that, because we had to leave the vehicle keys with the car park, they would insure the motorhome provided that the vehicle keys were kept in a safe. When I asked the car park about a safe they said that all keys were kept in an office that was occupied 24 hours a day. I called Comfort Insurance again to explain this, and was expecting a negative response, but to my surprise, and after referring the matter to underwriters, they agreed to insure the motorhome for an additional premium.

The car park, Royal Parking, at Alicante airport has 24 hours CCTV, a secure fence and gate as well as staff members on the premises 24 hours a day. As a paranoid motorhome owner I was reasonably happy that our motorhome would be safe as I also have a GPS tracker, additional locks on the rear garage and habitation door a Cat 1 alarm and additional window alarms and good motorhome insurance. There is only so much you can do to secure any home and  determined thieves will always find a way in if they really want to. All you can hope for is to reduce the risk. Our motorhome was safe and sound when we returned!

New Ryanair baggage policy

We flew back to the UK on 15 January, the same day Ryanair introduced their new cabin baggage policy. Unless you buy priority boarding you cannot take a small suitcase on board, only a very small handbag or laptop. Your suitcase will be tagged at the gate and put in the hold with the checked in bags. When I heard about the new Ryanair baggage policy I was sceptical that it would work but I must say that I think it’s a good move. Everyone got off the plane much quicker and the luggage arrived on the baggage carousel within 10 minutes.

Benidorm party girl on  a baggage carousel.

Talking of airport baggage carousels, how does a woman end up on one? The answer is because Alicante is the airport all the hen night groups fly into for Benidorm. You can spot them and hear them a mile away. They wear silly hats, sashes and slogans on their t-shirts as well as sing out of tune. The group on our Alicante flight were fairly well behaved but the non stop drinking eventually took its toll at Alicante airport baggage carousel when one of the women threw herself at her suitcase and somehow ended up on it!

The next part of our motorhome journey

After arriving back at Alicante airport we drove an hour south on the motorway to Los Alcazares and spent two nights on a campsite very close to the runway of Murcia airport. The Spanish equivalent of The Red Arrows are based here and everyday they took off over our heads. Luckily this only happened during the day.

Los Alcazares is a coastal spa town on the Mar Menor lagoon, famous for its mud bath treatments. The highlight of our visit was lunch at La Encarnacion, a beach front spa hotel built in 1904 and still maintaining many of its Art Deco features.

Our plan is to follow the Spanish coast south, with deviations inland to Granada, Ronda and Seville, until we reach Portugal. Life in our Motor home is very comfortable and Spain is cheap. Last night we had fillet steak in the campsite restaurant for only 14.95 Euros and it was as good as or better than many English restaurants where the same meal would be twice the price.

Our motorhome parked at Los Alcazares
Two old men on a bike – Cycling in Los Alcazares
La Encarnacion hotel

Cold showers and mobility scooters!

Christmas has come and gone and we are now into 2018 as our motorhome adventure continues. We left the UK at the end of September and it’s roughly 160 nights in our motorhome, apart from a brief trip back to the UK. We spent Christmas and New Year parked at 652 metres above sea level in the mountains of southern Spain. Most days it blew a gale and the temperature was a lot lower than the coast although the temperature did reach 20c one day. Highlights of this stay included a braying donkey in the next door farmers field, the noise drowned out though by the howling wind and Anne worried about the motorhome being blown over. I had to remind her that a 3700kg vehicle was unlikly to suffer such a fate.

Our Christmas campsite

The campsite owner informed us after we had arrived that there was a problem with the hot water in the showers but we decided to stay and see how things went. Sure enough, the next morning, there was no heating in the shower block and we had to put up with luke warm showers. Venturing out in the morning for a shower in 4c is bad but when there is no heating or hot water it’s far worse! The British campsite owners did not handle the tense situation very well as everybody was complaining.  Despite the hot water problems we met some lovely people who we will meet up with again in the future. A special thanks to Fran, Krissie, John and Jan for providing unlimited laughs to make up for the limited hot water!

The coastal resort of Calpe was our next stop for 3 nights. Famous for its huge rock we enjoyed walks along the impressive sea front promenade and were there to see The Three Kings parade. This is a special day in Spain aimed especially at children.

Calpe’s famous rock
El Castell de Guadalest

El Castell de Guadalest lies in the mountains about 13 miles inland from Benidorm. A world away though from the bright lights, Guadalest is one of Spain’s most visited mountain villages, and for good reason. With magnificent views over the mountains to the coast and overlooking a resevoir in the valley below Guadalest has an ancient fortress, church and village perched on top of jagged mountain peaks. Motorhomes are allowed to stay overnight in the village car park for only 4 Euros and we were vrtually the only people there after everything had closed up. The next morning we braved the cold clean mountain air for a last walk around the village before heading to our next stop on the coast at Villajoyosa.

Lying between Benidorm and Alicante Villajoyosa does not have the high rise hotels like its close neighbour Benidorm. It’s a steep walk down to the pleasant beach front the highlight of which are the coloured houses complete with cast iron balconies and flowers. Villajoyosa is also well known for the Valor chocolate factory and shop but we were stopped from entering because we did not have our passports with us. We thought this very strange but instead went to the Perez chocolate museum and shop and spent our money there.

Bright colours in Villajoyosa

I have never visited Benidorm but I was keen to visit to see if it lived up to its brash reputation. We took the 20 minute tram ride from Villajoyosa to Benidorm on a warm sunny day. The type of visitor changes depending on the seasons and the vast majority lived up to my stereotyped image of OAP’s, British fry ups and mobility scooters. We did see something we had never seen before – a tandem mobilty scooter. Very impressive!

A January day in Benidorm

Over the last few days we have been making plans for our motorhome adventure for 2018. We are planning to return to the UK for a month so we have booked the Bilbao to Portsmouth ferry for early April. After a flying visit to Oxford we will be heading to north west England before spending a week in Yorkshire. After that we have booked a cottage in the Peak District so we can have a family get together.

We have just booked the Hull to Rotterdam ferry for the end of April and we will be driving through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and then Sweden and Norway. Our aim is to drive over the Arctic Circle and then south along the Norwegian coast, eventually reaching Oslo.

I’ll finish this blog with a quote I saw on the rear of a very large motorhome – Travel not to escape life, but so travel does not escape you.