Valencia, Las Fallas, and a breakdown…

Well, where to begin?! We have had an interesting couple of days, to say the least. We left El Campello on Thursday morning, a day later than we planned, due to nothing but shear laziness. Gaz & Margy took us for a full English at the ex-pat place and it was so incredible we couldn’t move all day afterwards. A real slice of home with proper bacon and sausages and all the extra trimmings us Brits know and love. A massive gigantic thanks to both Gaz & Margy for everything they’ve done for us during our time at Achim’s place; from donating endless useful gadgets to our adventure, to treating us to breakfasts, letting us borrow their cooker when we ran out of gas and even telling us how to use the boiler – we couldn’t have asked for better camping neighbours, it was a pleasure to meet you both!

The next day we actually managed to gain the motivation to stop slacking and get on the road, I’d found somewhere in the camperstop book that was two hours away and in the province of Valencia. I hadn’t done my research and didn’t realise it was actually still an hour out of the city centre and so we rocked up at this adorable village with only one shop and one cafe. We got there and after deliberating for a good hour, we decided to finish the last leg of the journey to Valencia.

Now the breaks of the car were one of the many things we had replaced before the trip, but as the adventure has wore on, so has something mechanical and confusing to do with the breaks and the wheels (something to do with shoes…). Every time we were doing long journeys, after a while the break would seem quite lax, and you’d have to press it a couple of times in order to build up any tension. But they worked and with the amount of vehicle knowledge we have, we thought it wasn’t normal.

Anyway, Rod drove the second leg of the trip to Valencia and when he said the breaks felt too loose, I thought he just meant the same old regular loose, and so I was all ‘ah just give it a good few presses in prep for slowing down’. But with this drive a new weird sound had arrived, like we were dragging something metal along the floor. But it still wasn’t until we couldn’t break coming onto a roundabout and nearly hit a police car that I thought ‘woah there might be something wrong with the breaks’. We pull over on a little side road, after making it the majority of the way into the city before becoming aware of the situation, and for the first time since being out here, give our cost-a-small-arm-and-a-small-leg RAC breakdown cover a go.

The process of recovery begins swimmingly. The lovely lady on the phone locates us within a few questions and a couple of minutes and the tow truck arrives within the hour. An excellent first impression of their ‘onit’ness; we only wish the fuckers at RAC could have upheld the same good standard of service throughout the rest of the drama…

As the tow truck arrived, so did a parade…

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We arrive at the garage and as it’s closing soon, we are advised to hand over the keys so that the mechanics have them first thing Monday morning when they re-open after Las Fallas. They tell us the taxi is on its way and the hotel is booked. Two hours later I call to ask where this supposedly booked taxi is and they inform me that’s no hotel has in actual fact been booked and so there is no taxi coming for us. We then end up waiting another 2 hours for someone to come and let us into the garage so we can get the van out. The day ends with us sleeping at the side of a road of a seedy industrial estate with no electricity, no running water, and both of us in worn out foul moods, wonderful.

Morning arrives and I’m picked up in a taxi to be taken to go and pick up a courtesy car. A better start to the day leaving me with a little more confidence in the RAC’s breakdown services and their ability to find us a hotel for the night. The señorita calls me again and tells me there’s a hotel booked and we can go there anytime, woohoo! We arrive and are rudely barked at in front of a lobby full of guests by the high almighty bitch at the check in desk. You would think, from the amount of pride she took in telling us that they didn’t infact accept pets and that we couldn’t stay there, that the witch actually owned the hotel and wasn’t just a receptionist (not that I have anything at all against them, this one was just an absolute twat). And so obviously a little miffed (to put it lightly), we leave the hotel and call the RAC back to see why on earth they booked us a hotel we couldn’t stay at, despite knowing our pooch situation.

A walk along the beach and a few hours of limbo later and someone calls us back to tell us finally, after over 24 hours since the breakdown, we now have somewhere to stay.

This standard of terrible communication has continued throughout the entire process, let alone the fact that we discovered the policy we were sold last year, was not actually the policy we received. Instead of the promised £5000 worth of garage repairs, and the £10000 worth of accommodation costs, and the long list of countries we’re actually covered in, dementor Emma takes complete satisfaction in telling me that they only cover the labour costs of any repairs, and only if the labour amount spent to less than 7 hours, so we’re now forking out 800 euros once the van is fixed. Their policies have changed since we bought ours and we are also now only covered in a handful of countries we’re venturing to.

Basically, RAC are full of bollocks. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone, and if you do go with them, double, triple and quadruple check the terms and conditions. As with most insurance companies, there are so many loopholes in their favour hidden in those boring T’s&C’s we all love to accept without actually looking. I’d love to say that I’ll always read through them as a result of the ass-fucking that the RAC have dealt us, but they’re filled with so much jargon and confusion that I’d be lying if I said I’d never neglect them again.

But onto better topics! The unfortunate breakdown had a small silver lining and it meant that we got to spend Las Fallas in a hotel. As mentioned in my last post, Las Fallas is a huge Valencian festival in honour of the Patron Saint of carpentry, San José. All throughout the year, huge statues called niñots are made out of wood, papermaché and all sorts, most of them representing and mocking politicians or celebrities. Each community within Valencia organise and fund the building and displaying of the niñots within the streets of their town. Throughout the month of March, at 2pm from the 1st to the 19th, fireworks and mini explosions are set off in the city centre, with children everywhere as little as 2 year old Toni throwing those little banger things we all used to play at the seaside with!

The niñots are everywhere, and as a result, traffic is a joke and the amount of dead ends we turned down is phenomenal!


On the 19th, we made our way into the city centre and we’re amazed to see literally everyone out in the street, drinking, eating, taking part in the parades which start at 8am daily and continue all throughout the day, competing in paella competitions, the list goes on! Because of the pooches, we had to sit at a cafe just outside of the madness, but still in sight, and enjoy a cold or beer or two as we looked on, mostly bewildered, at the festivals ongoings.Evening came and with that, the burning. At midnight, all the niñots are set alight, making for a spectacular show! All of them are stuffed with fireworks and doused in petrol, and so as soon as the first firework is set alight, they all go off and within seconds the whole thing some poor artist spent a whole year making, is burnt to the ground. Ambulances can be seen and heard all over the city, with paramedics rushing to casualties of niñots and fireworks. There is absolutely no chance this could happen in England, what with all of our health and safety for bloody everything. Absolute madness. At 1am, an even bigger show is out on in the main squares with more fireworks, more fires and more people. We chose not to see the finale for the sake of the dogs, and instead, bought a good old kebab and made our way back to the hotel, where we get to see all the local community we’re based in flock for the final niñot burning by the hotel we happen to be staying at.

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And so the weekend comes to a close, the shops reopen on the ​Monday and the van can finally be looked at. Las Fallas was definitely one to remember, one of the most surreal festivals either of us have ever seen and definitely one to recommend. It’s quite family based, which was really refreshing to see and be a part of! At home, day time festivals and parades like Paddys day, are normally filled with groups of friends getting pissed (which is nothing to complain about of course, we all love it) rather than your entire family including your nan, grandad and all the kids. But it genuinely was quite heartwarming to see families spending so much time together in good spirits, this can normally only be guaranteed in England at weddings and funerals, but here they are in Spain, spending the whole festival together and actually seemingly enjoying one another’s company too, who’d have thought it?! 

We’ve now collected the van and with overall costs of this breakdown coming to €1100, and so without hanging around in Valencia any longer, we get straight on the road because, despite getting the priviledge of witnessing Las Fallas, needless to say, we’ve had enough of the city. 

Valencia, it’s been emotional. Exciting news coming to the next post!

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El Campello part ||

So we’re still here… we’ve gotten too comfortable with the electric and the luxury of being able to charge things off a plug rather than the cigarette lighter, being able to download films, having hot showers and roaming around fairly familiar territory. We haven’t even done that much in terms of sightseeing either, instead choosing nice leisurely walks along the beaches or even just a walk to the shops.


We went to Benidorm one of the days to get a look at what everyone seems to call ‘hot England’, and although we were expecting fag ends and sick everywhere it wasn’t so bad. Lots of English, as predicted, but the sand was golden and the beer was cold. From briefly visiting for a day as a kid, I anticipated row upon row of sun beds, parasols and sun-crisped couples caked in oil, but we were to be pleasantly surprised. It was very built up, but it was always going to be what with the tens of thousands of holiday makers migrating their way over the waters for a slice of a real hot summer we Brits always pine for. There were lots of stag do’s and a good chunk of the usual retired folk, but everyone was in good spirits, taking advantage of being able to get pissed in the sunshine and celebrating something or other with friends or family. Rudy was a big hit as per and while Rod and I are walking along minding our own business, Rudy manages to pull us over to a stag do that are sitting inside a restaurant but next to an open window. She jumps right up on their table and demands their attention be taken away from the rounds of shots and diverted to her, and only her. They brand her a ‘gorgeous little attention seeker’ (its better in the cockney accent) and proceed to dish out all the hugs and fuss she could ever dream of. Five minutes later and she’s had enough love, and so jumps off the table and saunters off as if she never interrupted. We get lost heading back to the van (surprising I know) and half hour later we’ve made it back.

We’ve gotten to know the geordie couple next to us a lot more; Gaz & Margy came out here for a weeks holiday five months ago and have no intention as of yet to head home. With managing to run a business from out here, with a few pit stops home in the meantime, and whilst travelling in beautiful sunshine, they’re living the dream. Surely it doesn’t get better than that? They’ve been the best neighbours to have while we’ve been here; plenty of local information to pass on, endless apps to download, someone to enjoy Mary Janes company with and even they even passed on an espresso machine to us! An absolute pleasure to have met along the journey!

We’ve been trying to budget €200 euros a week: €150 on food etc and 1 petrol fill, per week. This is proving very hard and so far we have not made budget on a single week. Rudy breaking the DVD player didn’t help either. But we’re trying; obviously we want to make our money stretch as far as possible but it seems nearly impossible what with all the ice cream, coffee and beers available to us. Budgeting sucks but unfortunately, unless we wanna be home in the next 3 months we’ve got to lay off the luxurys of a safe place to stay with electricity, toilets and showers and so we will also be sacrificing the joyous feeling of being full. We need to get back in the cup a soup and super noodle game, we can’t be greedy what with the three meals a day and use of a plug we’ve been indulging in…

We spent our 6 year anniversary drinking beer and eating next to the beach all day with massive walks to a from the camper van. Had no idea of the date until good old time hop reminded!


The day after Benidorm we get up and head straight to Aldi for the daily feed, only to be presented with the realisation that we have (RODNEY HAS!) lost the post office account card. Yet another cat has been thrown amongst the pigeons. We had only €50 euro on us with a new card taking up to 2 long penniless weeks to arrive. Rod accidentally brought the wrong normal bank account card out with him, and I didn’t even bother bringing mine seeing as we’d transferred everything we had into his account before coming. Oops. Managed to call the bank and get use of the one card we have, and although we’ll be charged a percentage to withdraw money now, we’ll have enough to get by on until we reach Conor’s in Barcelona, where the new cards will be sent (forever grateful for all those involved in the sending and receiving of these vital things!).

Here’s a video of rod trying to get through the window:

 

 

Then the storm hit. 36 hours of thunder, lightning and high winds. Rainy days consist of brief dog walks, cups of tea, comfort junk food and board games. Because Verena is a the high-top model of the T25, we really feel the brunt of high winds and as a result, we haven’t been able to really move too far, particularly over mountains, during the storm. Monopoly, mini table tennis, mini basketball, mini air-hockey and a deck of cards keep us company during the hermit days.


We’re looking at leaving tomorrow, heading towards Valencia to witness the start of the Las Fallas festival in the city centre. Hundreds of giant statues made of wood and papermaché are paraded in the streets from the 15th to the 19th of March, with fireworks being set off at 2pm daily from the 1st of the month. On the 19th they are all burnt in a massive festival in honour of their patrons saint; San José. Over the main 4 day period, fiestas take place all over the city through the streets. We’re gonna go for the first couple of days but because of the dog, it’s probably not wise to be there for the big bonfire and fireworks parade.

We’re spending our last day here now, enjoying a couple of beers and the company of our neighbours before we part ways in the morrow! El Campello has been surprisingly lovely, with dog friendly beaches, neighbours we can have a craic with and beautiful scenery.

5, ooh no 6, tips for Brits driving in Spain

  1. A simple tip it indeed may be, but as obvious it may seem, there is no getting away from the fact that everyone else drives on the wrong side of the road. That means roundabouts go the other way round too. Who knew!? Many a time on this trip so far have I pulled off into the wrong lane or actually pulled over to let someone pass without realising I was now on their side of the road and blocking the way. It’s hardest when there are no cars on the road and homely instinct kicks in. Rods not so bad as he barely drove at all before coming out here, so he’s been pretty good adapting to it all.
  2. Zebra crossings are only zebra crossings where there are no traffic lights. But if there are traffic lights and the light is flashing amber, you have to be prepared to stop if there are pedestrians. All very weird but you get the hang of it once you’ve nearly run someone over and been screamed at a few times.
  3. The Spanish drive like mad men. God forbid you don’t pull off immediately at lights or you hesitate for a split second, locals have no patience, particularly for tourists, and will be beeping the horn before you’ve even got your foot off the clutch. Trucks will overtake you and anyone and everyone will cut you up to get where they want to.
  4. The fast lane is the inside lane. Not that this matters that much as everyone will overtake and undertake you until their heart is content. Just chill in the outside lane and ignore the people up your arse.
  5. People park anywhere. If there isn’t parking outside your favourite grocery shop, it’s not a problem as they apparently you can just abandon your car in the middle of the road, providing you have your hazards on. (You can’t really do this but obviously the law doesn’t apply to the locals…).
  6. Oops I thought of another one… Make sure you park somewhere safe; having a GB registration plate advertises the fact you’re a tourist, probably carrying valuables. The new thing is for someone to follow you around while you wander, whilst other riffraff breaks into your van and raids it before they get the call from the guy following you, giving the thieves time to get out before you return.

El Campello

We parted from the Cabo de Gata on Saturday, having had a superb week beach hopping, mountain climbing (crawling) and lounging around doing whatever we fancied.  We went for our usual coffee, chatted to a few others travelling in the area while Rudy got to play on the beach with a huge Labrador/Rottweiler cross called Bertie! He was so beautiful and so absolutely huge, and it was lovely seeing pooch get to properly play with a bigger dog that matches, if not surpasses, Rudys hyper, playful character. We’ve accidentally been googling where we can buy puppies from… 

We left with the intention of heading to a camperstop in a cute town near Vera, somewhere about an hour away but a bit further in land. Drove ourselves into the middle of nowhere, decided it wasn’t for us, found another place in our magic book and set off again. Another two hours later and it’s pitch black dark, we’re hungry (as per these days) and tired, and we arrive at what looks like just a shabby car park at the back of a restaurant just off a busy road. Too fed up to drive any further and with this place at least promising hot showers, wifi and a safe enough place to stay, and at only €5, we weren’t about to moan. And so we head into the restaurant, check we’re good to stay there and treat ourselves to a quick beer, half way through which the owner opens another bottle and tops us up (a sign from higher powers we’ve made it to the right place surely?!). We’re chatting to the owner and a Geordie couple we’d met back in Benalmedina turns around (canny tha’ like!). He’d been doing the same thing in Malaga- visiting family and taking advantage of hotel facilities (of course). With a blast from the not so long gone past, we’re feeling much more positive and head back to the van pleased with the result of our long day on the road. 

Rod wakes up first in the morning and I can hear him telling me to get up and come and see something. I am not a morning person whatsoever and so with a swift ‘do one’, I drift back off and enjoy getting ‘the shelf’ all to myself! When I eventually rose I was met by a view so beautiful I was forced to apologise to Rod for refusing to get out of bed. The shabby car park we had arrived at the night before had become an idyllic balcony over mountains and the sea. 


We went to the restaurant, bought a coffee and sat down with the wonderfully dry humoured German guy we’d briefly met the night before. He introduced us to this sweetheart, Luna, who roams around freely and follows your every move.


We spend the rest of the day walking down to and venturing along the shores of Alicant, just fifteen minutes from the more popular town of Alicante. A lovely and chilled out day was had, that’s until we’re met with the walk back up this giant hill.


We spent the next day lounging around and went for a walk along the Marina in Alicante on the evening. We’d been warned not to drive into Alicante because of people breaking into your van while you’re gone, but with the only other option being the tram (meaning we would have had to leave Rudy behind) we brave it and drive in anyway. In hindsight, we should have took Achim’s advice. We find a sweet little parking spot near the main strip but I’m instantly unsettled by the weird guy trying to guide us in. He seemed a dodgy character and with Achim’s loud German voice in the back of my head, I tell the guy we’ll find somewhere else. A wise move it would seem when he starts trying to quiz us about where we’re gonna go etc. Other problems include the roads being so ridiculous and so complicated to navigate. I end up running red lights, missing countless turnings and driving around in circles for a good twenty minutes. Also, all the car parks are underground and our high topped Verena isn’t getting in anywhere. We end up having to park in a super expensive car park right by the marina, but there was at least security and no weird people asking us our intentions. Alicante brought back tons of memories of family holidays in the area, and apart from a few taller buildings and more English people, not much has changed. There are still women corn-rowing hair on the strip (I obviously had those at one point, so cool!), some nice market stalls selling the usual goodies and best of all, a big band playing some jazzy tunes!

Yesterday we just went for what was meant to be a couple of hours walk to Aldi and back. All was going swimmingly; fizzy bubbeleh (Zohan fans yes yes!), food for the dog, dinner for the evening and a box of tip-tops that we just had to eat on the way home because of the convenient lack of freezer. Sounds chillin’ right? But then ol’ navigator Rod had to pipe up with a convenient little “uhh Romarna, I reckon, that if we just cut over this mountain we’ll be cutting out at least half hour”. You can probably tell from the tone that Rodney was in fact, incorrect. Get to the top of the mountain and our restaurant is nowhere to be seen. Only marker point we have is a posh house that’s at the bottom of the mountain we’re meant to be on, which is a good trek away. Rods handy little shortcut turned out to be an extra 2 hour long hike in crocs with shopping bags, with both of us regularly stopping to accept our fate and wait for the vultures to come and eat us.

Got back from our couple of hour walk nearly 5 hours later and are instantly greeted at the bar with a nice cold beer and a listening ear for us to vent about the days troubles and strives to. 

The next day was spent vegging out and watching Netflix all day; the pair of us both clucking for a day of no exercise, no mountainous treks, just television and comfort food. We got what we asked for, only leaving the van to walk the dog, to go to the toilet or have a beer. Happy days! 

Romarna day!

On Thursday I turned 22 and got to celebrate it with two of my favourite people (this is classing Rudy as a human of course) in the world! All I wanted to do was spend the day somewhere beautiful and drink some Sangria at some point throughout the day. The day started with cards and presents, big thanks to my mom and Kieron for the card, the beer money and the CD; finally we can listen to more music (we’ve both been on the verge of getting sick of Eminem- a crime in itself I know)! 

Rod treated me to the things he knows I’ve been struggling without; a white tshirt (a classic staple item a wardrobe is not complete without), a pack of hair bobbles (female traveller essential) and a pair of bloody crocs. Rod was bought some as his secret Santa present but the joke is on them because they became the most used item of footwear on the trip so far. There is no joy in showering in campsite showers barefoot and as a result, without wanting them to be, these bad boys have quickly become an essential (I am just as mortified as you). Rodney, in the classic Rod (and male) way, obviously didn’t think about picking up a birthday card before we came out here and so in a panic two days before, we had to drive around a few shops so he could purchase one. This is the bad boy he acquired:



But I honestly can’t fault his efforts at all, he really made my 22nd a day to remember! He woke me up with my favourite song and we danced around the square foot of space we have inside the van to ‘Paulo Nutini – Pencil full of lead’ to set a happy tone for the rest of the day. I spoke to my big sis Sarah, my Mom, Dad, Charl and my home girl Hannah to get my fix of favourites from home and even got to hear Toni do her “happy birthday ‘nana” for me on the phone (is there anything much cuter?).

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A bacon sandwich later and we set off to sieze the day! We start off with a coffee at what has become our favourite cafe, then a quick Sangria and a beer (you know it!), a walk along the sand and then back in the van so we can drive along the coast until I find a mountain I want to climb. I find a perfect one; nothing too strenuous with idyllic ledges to stop off and enjoy sweet Mary Janet’s company on the way. We start climbing and what we thought would be a pleasant stroll somehow turns into us both crawling up the mountain on all fours, putting complete faith in the pooch and letting Rudy lead the way, obviously forgetting she weighs half of what we do and a result of our naivity, I misjudge a few bits and naturally, being as clumsy as I am, fall down a fair bit. We stop off at the most picturesque point, pull out a Mrs Jones, and basque in the stunning scenery for an hour or so. We carry on venturing upwards, finding caves and ruins of old buildings amongst the rock, and then start the trek back down, obviously regretting wanting to climb a mountain in the first bleeding place.

Here’s Rudy marking her territory on a mountain. 

Mosquito bites galore. We had no idea until we got off the mountain and I can feel a small stabbing pain on me that I realise that we are both in fact, being eaten alive. Rods pale legs are covered in them and I can tell by my already swelling limbs that I too am being savagely attacked. We’re both wearing these wrist band things that supposedly deter the little fuckers but this picture shows just how much the Spanish Mosquitos care about the lengths of preparation we have gone to: 


We return back to the van, chill out and play a game of monopoly; I’ve won every game so far and so I was a little over-confident going into the game. I got absolutely terrored and Rod ended up with £12000 just in 500’s, while I’m left with chump change and not a single house on the board to work with. He was the banker this time though which, in hindsight, suggests to me he may have been cheating?

After losing really gracefully and not moaning one little bit, I decide I need another Sangria in order to forget about my horrendous defeat! We head along the front and sit on a cosy little sofa, enjoying delicious beverages, listening to some absolute tuuunnnesss and chatting to some lovely people. We round off a wonderful day with a walk along the shore and then a film to fall happily asleep to.

Almeria and the Cabo de Gata

Got up bright and early Monday morning after having promised ourselves a McDonald’s breakfast as a prize for living through the ordeal of barely anything to eat on Sunday. Got to McDonald’s and apparently they don’t do breakfast over here! Feeling like Adam Sandler in ‘Big Daddy’; absolutely raging and wanting to scream the place down, we have to settle for a pack of bacon and a loaf of bread from the supermarket. We decided that what with our pretty shit Sunday and our disappointing Monday morning, it was time to leave Montril behind and seek new scenery to fall in love with, and so using the good old camperstop book (yes yes Ann!), we decided to head to Almeria and see what the bottom right corner of the country has to offer us! Almeria had been recommended to us (big thanks to Jess Chester!) and it made sense to follow the Mediterranean coast back up north, at least to begin with anyway. Spent the day getting lost on foot for a change, walking every which way through the city centre, visiting the Cathedral and the castle en route. Rudy decided to lay out a giant, runny poo right outside the majestic castle and I got the privilege of watching Rod try (and fail) to pick it up as the disapproving Spaniards threw all the filthy looks they could muster our way. 

We decided not to stay in the built up city and instead take a half hour drive to the Cabo de Gata, a huge nature park with beautiful beaches, giant mountains and a handful of villages with nothing but a tiny supermarket and a scattering of bars along the coast. This is a perfect example of what we’ve come away for and so in order to make the most of this place and the surrounding areas, we make the executive decision to spend a good few days here and leave towards the end of the week. 
The sun has been cracking the flags over the past week and I’m doing what I can to work on the golden tan I’ve been trying to acquire. Rodney, on the other hand, has been doing more to master his shade seeking skills and is now rocking the turned up collared shirt everywhere he goes to protect that precious skin before it melts under exposure. We spent the first couple of days in the Cabo de Gata doing nothing but sit at bars drinking beer, sangria and eating tapas, with walks along the beach inbetween. You may have read in the blog about our struggles with Rudy in water and so we spent the day at the beach on Tuesday, doing everything we could to try and coax her into the water. What started off as just dipping our toes in the water to encourage Rudy to play more, ended up with both Rodney and I soaked and myself being decked in the sea in all my clothes. Several sticks later and we actually manage to get Rudy to jump some waves with us; every time a wave would crash over her she’d run off onto the sand to cover it all over herself (perfect, wet sandy dog in a tiny van). 



Had a nightmare with Rodney’s phone on Wednesday and as directed by the apple man on the phone, we drove the half hour back to Almeria city centre to get his phone looked at. They couldn’t fix it and told us to come back to England (helpful little witch). Several hours and 4 phone calls later, and a senior guy over the phone is booking us an appointment at a big store in Valencia for in a weeks time, passing on the instruction to just give us a new phone if they can’t fix this one there and then. He’s also had words with the previous ‘genius’ rod spoke to, who stupidly sent us to a place where we couldn’t be helped. We return back to the camperstop and Rod discovers all he needed to do to get his phone working was in fact, do as he was originally told by the first person we branded an idiot, and simply do the update required to get the new iOS. All that ordeal for nothing, just because Rod couldn’t be arsed to take the professionals advice. Pukka.
We had met some lovely fellow travellers, Olimpia and Linos, on the evening of my birthday and so we met up with them at the beach for a couple of hours on Friday. We chilled out and chatted on the sand with brief intervals of jumping waves in the sea, the usual ordeal of persuading Rudy to join us, and Linos playing sweet sweet guitar to perfectly accompany our chilled out afternoon. 

Rod and I had planned to head to a different beach where there had once upon a time been a shipwreck but in all honestly, we couldn’t be arsed after having been on the local beach for a good chunk of the afternoon; the only thing we wanted was a beer and something to eat. We made our way to San Jose, a town 10 miles or so away (again recommended by Jess!), where Indiana Jones was filmed! Rod loves a bit of Harrison Ford and so there was no questions asked when I related Jess’ advice for the area. A cute little beach, some idyllic houses on the mountain and a few restaurants set the scene for our beer and tapas (free of course) pit stop.
Evening came and along with it, the wild winds. We had to reluctantly let go of our panoramic sea view and move the van a bit further back from the sea in order to avoid being tipped over; a move that turned out to be a wise one when we saw palm trees snapping in half only 50 metres away from. However, on the bright side (for me), watching Rod chase Rudy’s dog bed as it flew across the car park was yet another joy for me to behold (should have helped but it was funnier to watch). Other campervans joined us and we ended up in boxed-in safety, protected from the gales by our elderly travelling companions. We spent the rest of the evening watching films, eating dodgy chicken burgers that wouldn’t budge from the illuminous pink shade, no matter how much I tried to cremate them.

Also forgot to mention one of the most important things we’ve learnt so far: there is a boat called ‘me julie’ sitting in a harbour in Malaga which is worth the trip in itself.

Malaga > Salobreña > Motril

We left Benelmadena in Malaga last Thursday, having spent the week with the Baker family it just didn’t feel right staying there without our favourite familiar faces to laugh with, and so taking advantage of the all inclusive wrist bands Nikki and Mel had donated, we sneakily sipped on one last chocolate milkshake before hitting the road. We’ve decided to slow down on petrol now that we haven’t got to be anywhere in particular for any particular date and so we’re just taking it easy, floating along the coast and heading back up north, aiming to pass Almeria, Valencia and our favourite sweetheart, Barcelona, before we cross the border into France.

We drove about an hour and a half up the coast to a cute little town called Salobreña, which didn’t really have anything in it except a church on top of a hill. It wasn’t until we got there that we double checked the GPS coordinates and realised that we were nowhere near the place we’d intended to find and that the only ‘Chipiona’ (the place we’d been looking for) was 4 hours away in the other direction, ooops! Figured we’d yet again wing it and just hope to find another campervan in this deserted town to give us a little bit of confidence in sticking around. Driving around aimlessly and I take a few dodgy and questionable turns and end up heading the wrong way up a one way street on what feels like a vertical hill. Not only that but it’s a dead end. Shit. Sweat begins to drip and my voice begins to screech a little as the local spaniards start coming out of their houses, bewildered and amused, laughing at us ‘estupida inglés personas’. Rod gets out and joins the ever growing crowd trying to direct me backwards back down the stupid street. I’ve apparently got to go up a bit more so I can turn around. Sounds simple enough, except the van weighs a tonne and the handbrake is a little dodgy and so can’t be relied upon entirely. Trying to come off the break and onto the accelerator (or whatever it is I need to do; I have no idea, I’m a terrible driver in England let alone in Spain) without rolling down this steep as fuck hill, where there are now cars waiting behind me, is proving a challenge and my voice reaches an octave I didn’t realise I had within me. Giving it all the revs I have before coming off the handbrake and finally, after thoroughly entertaining, and probably annoying some of the locals, I manage to turn around and the cars waiting not so patiently behind move over so I can sheepishly creep back down the hill. Panic over and my heart rate can begin to slow. Rod thinks this all hilarious.

We find ourselves a seemingly safe spot on a residential road next to the beach. There’s a campervan parked in front and after the whole hill ordeal, we’re both shattered and just want to chill with dinner and a film. All seems well until the local youth arrive and start blasting music just across from us. Wouldn’t have been so annoying except Rudy wouldn’t stop growling and the Spanish’ taste in music is abismol, unless it’s delicately played guitar, which of course it wasn’t as a: we’re not that lucky, and b: these are the bad manz we’re talking about, all they play is what I imagine is Pitbulls greatest hits. After torturing us for long enough, playing out with the amigos time is thankfully over and we can go to sleep.

Woke up the next day with only 1 thing planned for the day: get to a laundrette. I was then commando, Rod on his last fresh pair of CK’s and there are only so many days you can get away with reusing socks. Sieving through the wash bag on a daily basis to find out just how dirty your dirty clothes are is no joy. The local petrol station has a couple of washing machines and so for €8 (absolutely extortionate if you ask me!), we get to enjoy the taken for granted luxury of not smelling like shit. Rod comes back from collecting the washing with a recommendation to head to Montril, a city just half hour away. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Rod actually chatting to people of his own accord?!’, but the answer is yes, and without being drunk too! Rod has become quite the savvy little camper and seems to attract all the old couples with the knowledge we need (oooooh campervan friends).

We make it to Montril after the usual ‘getting lost and driving in the wrong direction’ saga, and find ourselves parked up on a lovely pebble beach next to 20 other campervans (Rods already eyeing up the other British people he can prey on). First things first, get that washing out so we can get dressed in anything clean!


We spend the next two days mostly chilling on the beach and at the bars along it, skimming stones and laughing at Rudy as she struggles to cross a tiny shallow stream, yet again proving how weird she is with her hatred of water.

We decide to actually finish the inside of the van before we let it get any grubbier. The wood is now freshly varnished (and looking goooooood might I add) and we’ve got some pictures up of lots of our loved ones from home. Big thanks to Sue for the board to put up, and obviously everyone in the pictures for looking so good in our van!

WOOD BEFORE

WOOD AFTER

Sunday comes and unfortunately, it is not a good day. All was going swimmingly until we finished our drinks at a bar about midday, speak to Ann (all your fault of course!) and realise that the day is in fact, a Sunday. Only restaurants are open on the holy day of the week, and having just had to fork out €100 for a new DVD player (little bitch Rudy broke the original one), a nice restaurant meal is not within the budget. And so with no food for any of us, limited water and Rod running low on cigarettes, we have the first bad day on our hands. I look for something to distract us from the fact we’re starving and find a decent park near, anything to get a fagless Rod to crack a smile! We get there and despite it being in the middle of not a fat lot, we are pleasantly surprised to find there are turtles swimming in the ponds and no men masturbating behind trees as the reviews of this place would suggest! A win win surely?!


Unfortunately there is only so long you can look at turtles and fish for before you remember that you’re dying of starvation. We head back and I try to whip something up out of what we have, which is nothing in particular. We end up with a bowl of pasta each, accompanied with a shocking sauce I made from a tomato cup a soup, a bit of mustard, an onion and a slice of bacon each. Rudy has to have the same, minus the onion. By this point Rod is ready to drive the 1400 mile journey home and I’m worried if this doesn’t fill him up he might actually kill either myself or Rudy. Thankfully after eating, everyone is a little happier and we can just veg and watch a film and think about the McDonald’s breakfast we’ve promised ourselves for first thing in the morning.

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The adventures of Romarna, Rodney & Rudy, in a VW across Europe.

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