Tag Archives: travelling

Who knows where in the south of France!

Since Andorra, we have definitely been taking it easy in the south of France. We drove to Toulouse from Andorra, not venturing too far as we’ve got friends visiting in a week or so and the van could definitely do with a break after being brutally pushed through the Pyrenees.

On a couple of occasions we’ve made the half hour trip into Toulouse city centre, parking at the university and taking peaceful strolls along the picturesque river, stopping for a crepe or two along the way.

 The city is so busy with students it’s ridiculous; the river bank is constantly heaving with people of all ages avoiding the expensive bars and cafes and having a drink on the grass. One thing we were surprised with is just how tolerated marijuana is over here. Walking through the park next to the river was just a surreal experience. The park is heaving and there are people of all ages and creed enjoying the sunshine and a joint or two, with families with young children not even batting an eyelid, and some parents even partaking in the passing of the spliff. Alongside this, and even more interesting to see, was that there were so many people practicing tight-rope walking as casually as we kick a ball back in England, and it would seem that everyone in France has a hobby of some variety, from practicing their technique for the circus, to the pensioners playing boules, to volleyball, football and god knows what else. 

Obviously we’re waiting for Hannah, John, Joe and Renée to come out and so for the past the couple of weeks, we’ve been floating around the country side, staying at different aires and a campsite every few days for a shower and some electricity. 

This place was called Maz d’azil and was essentially just caves with rivers and roads weaving through it, but it was good for a walk and we got the best crepes I’ve ever eaten in the village next door (goats cheese, burger wheat, spinach, egg, aubergine and tomato, washed down with home brewed mulled cider that apparently paired with the crepe, how fancy!)

Both the campsites we’ve stayed at have these cute little rivers running next to it (queue the dogs getting filthy!)

We spent one night at a local lake, and here’s some pictures of the dogs looking like they’re about to drop their first album next to it…

We stayed at a farm one of the nights, in a field next to about 50 chickens. All was well until about half 5 the following morning when every single bird began their cockle-doodle-doing, of course waking us all up and meaning the day started unwelcomely early. As a result of this, plus the lack of food we had and the boredom that was beginning to set in after being in such a rural area for a while, the farm became setting to a lovely morning row, ahhhh perfect. Although we’ve met some people along the way, majority of the time it’s just Rod and I to fulfil each other’s social needs, which obviously no matter how hard we try isn’t going to work all the time. Funnily enough, friends and family are important and we can’t rely solely upon each other for everything. Needless to say we’re both really looking forward to seeing our friends and partaking in conversations in which there are more than just us two or in which we don’t need to take guesses at what is actually being said. Just good old easy English comfortable conversation! 

We got speaking to a guy in the park the other day and he recommended that we go to a place called St Girons a bit further back down south; there’s a big market there on Saturdays and a lot of travelling folk attend which will give us a chance to satisfy some of our social needs! And so we went, and it was everything we were told it would be. 

​I treated myself to a beautiful journal and Rod invested in a gay little head band for his now out of control locks. Being able to put it in little plaits means it’s time…

 He now looks like he’s just rolled straight out of the 70’s and is most definitely rocking the ‘happy camper/peace and love’ vibes.


We got ourselves some food from a stand and got chatting to some guys who spoke decent English. He asks us if we want to go back to his house with his friends in the mountains and of course we accept! We head off, following them in their campervan to first, his friends house, collecting a massive speaker and some mixing decks, and then 20 minutes up the most meandery and narrow dirt track roads along the mountain, the van struggling of course, having to get into 1st to make the incline. But it was worth it, by an absolute mile. The view was literally jaw dropping. A whole panoramic line of snow capped mountains with a tiny village lying in the valley below. This picture does not do it justice but it gives you an idea. 

Manu lived in a little house on a lot of near vertical land, which held little ledges for various little buildings; a toilet and shower ledge, a green house and a sort of communal living room building ledge, a few allotments, a chicken coop at the bottom and last but not least, a ledge with a bathtub built in so they can have a bath with one of the best views I’ve ever seen (sort of amazing but sort of weird too). After getting chatting more we found out that he’d paid about €15000 for all the land and the property’s built on it were included in that ridiculously small price and for a split second, we’re considering abandoning ship and moving to the mountains. He lives off his own land, growing and selling his crops, eating the eggs from his chickens every morning and chilling pretty much every day. Even his friend, Jeremy, only works 3 days a week clearing the roads of fallen trees on the mountains, and yet lives in a sweet little cottagey house in the valley of the mountain we were on. The neighbours from a different patch of land about a ten minute walk away join us and they have an even more surreal life. They have 3 horses, 1 of which is their 8 year old sons. He doesn’t go to school because he doesn’t like it and they home school him, teaching him the ways of the mountain world; he rides into town on his horse, catches his food out hunting or fishing with his mom and dad and basically lives the simple life out in the wild. The woman, (can’t remember the names, shocking I know, apologies), only worked on rainy days (seriously mental) and made her own cool beautiful leather bags of all kinds, and on sunny days she would help with the crops, the animals and their food. They had only lived there for a year or so and had literally travelled there by horse and full on carriage, the latter of which was now in the garden ready to use for shopping days or long distance journeys. The guy was basically a cowboy/Indiana jones man, sporting a knife on his belt and rope on his shoulder, which later became incredibly useful when he had to help us get the van off the ledge of a mountain.

We’d needed to turn the van around to be able to leave the following day, and when we had to move it so Manu could get his car out to go and collect petrol from the garage (the solar panel doesn’t cover the massive speakers) we figured we may aswell turn it around while we’re still sober. Unfortunately we misjudged it and ended up facing down a mountain with just a tree preventing us from falling down to our probable deaths. Every time we would try to reverse, the wheels and in turn, the van, would spin and sink us further and further into a problem, and we ended up being sort of held back from falling by the roots of the tree. To be fair to us, we were incredibly calm and I didn’t screech with nervousness even once, most likely because we were rather drunk and instead chose to see the funny side of this particular nightmare! It took a lot of rope, chains, trees, a weird wire device and man power to get us back up, nearly getting to the point of bribing the local farmer to help us with his tractor. 

But we had a lovely evening drinking rum and playing darts on a ledge of a mountain, stupidly we barely took any pictures as a result of our intoxication. Manu is planning to move to Indonesia next year, after the arrival of his baby due at the end of the year, going out there to set up a diving school and renting out his land here in France – basically just continue to live the sweet simple life somewhere else, alright for some eh?! If we manage to get our shit together quick enough when we get home, we’re thinking of maybe popping out to Indonesia for a couple of weeks for a different kind of adventure; obviously there are other priorities but we can still hope!

We’ve just dropped our friends back off at the airport and are now feeling quite sorry for ourselves without them! I’ll post about our endeavours together in a couple of days, I needed to get this one out the way first! We’re gonna start heading out of France tomorrow but unfortunately with this disgusting hangover I’m currently nursing, we’re not moving far today, instead choosing to eat heaps and watch films, drowning our sorrows and hangover in wonderful complex carbohydrates and Coca Cola.


Adios to Bonjour!

Last time I posted we were waiting in Figueres for news about our window getting fixed after the Barcelona break-in fiasco. News came and the VW garage can’t fix it because Verena is too old (29 years young!), but the helpful señore pulls up Google Earth and shows me how to get to a classics specialist, perfect! All starts well and another lovely señore tells us he’ll order it in and will fit it Friday, at 4oclock – sweeeet! However Friday, 4oclock arrives and the  mechanic man says ‘unfortuadamente es no possiblé’, g-reat! But another guy tells us he’ll take us to the people who can really fix it, so we jump in the van and follow this kind fellow, through the chaos of cars our kind/maniac fellow is creating to get us through, with him even pulling a roundabout to a halt so we could catch up with his typically Spanish crackers driving, and we arrive five minutes later at what turns out to be the Spanish version of ‘autoglass’. The next man we encounter tells us to come back the following day at 12, and even fits a temporary perspex one for in the meantime, something we really could’ve done with two weeks ago to be honest, maybe then we wouldn’t have had to pile things up against the window every night so that Luna didn’t try to escape.

But nevertheless, it’s booked in to get fixed the next day so we’re chuffed. Might have took us a little while to get motivated enough to get it done, but two weeks later and we have success! We enjoy our last day at what has surprisingly turned out to be one of our favourite places to have stayed, with a quaint little village next to us and loads of meadows and mountains surrounding us, it was a lovely and relaxing good few days spent there. We even decided to sit and have a good drink one of the days, which actually just resulted in a few games of black jack, two drinks each and us both falling over after we both had to down our drinks and get spun around 20 times. Not quite the drinking experiment we were originally going for but funny nonetheless!

Window day dawns and it’s fixed by 1oclock, huzzah! Sod’s law that our insurance policy would cover any cost after the first €90 and it would come to €90.68. But on the bright side it’s fixed which means we’re happier to start wild camping again after a good week and a bit of constantly paying for sites. But not just yet, as we both wanted showers so one more night in the luxury of toilets and showers would have to be had. Oh sod it, two nights! We go to a site a little bit further towards the border. We arrive and the site is just a large field of grass the middle of some more meadows, beautiful! We were unfortunately and naively sold on the location and so paid for two nights. Foolish. The facilities were… less than poor shall we say. Or no, that doesn’t cut it. They were fucking foul! Ooh yes, a more fitting summary. As advertised in the book, there were, in fairness, both a toilet and a shower. However both in the same dingy shed-like room, that’s covered in what look and definitely smell like mouse/rat shit. And don’t get me wrong, I’m no snob. After the nightmare of having to shit in the woods, I thought I was ready for anything toilet-related. Apparently not. Rodney on the other hand, the absolute manly-geez/savage that he is, held his breath and did what he had to do. A modern day hero right there! We even tried to finally get the awning out seeing as we had so much space, but an hour in and it’s still not up and we’re both getting pretty annoyed; Rod decides to give up and play with the pooches instead while I persevere. I shouldn’t have wasted my time, who was I kidding?! All those years of camping as a kid were not paying off and so I too, gave up. After looking online the next day, it turns out I had the bloody thing the wrong way round. Dad, we’re gonna wait until you come out and then you can help us!

Three days have now passed, and I am happy to announce that I only gingerly used the toilet once, hovering of course. On a less pleasant note, I am, as a result, constipated as fuck and feeling as bloated as Rudy looks in this picture:
But, less of that. We are in France! We finally, after two months, have made it out of the first country we travelled to! A month later than anticipated, but were here. We travelled yesterday from Figueres, across the border and into Perpignan. We spent a couple of hours chilling at the beach, lapping up the sun and getting familiar with another language. I did pretty well in Spain and managed to help us muddle through with my basic knowledge. Now however, it’s like the blind leading the blind. I can just about count to ten over here but neither of our linguistic tekkers stretch to even asking for a coffee. And so far, the French aren’t having any of our polite ignorance. There have been A LOT of English words spoken in a French accent, and funnily enough, that doesn’t work. 

After a couple of hours, we decided to head a bit more inwards and have now landed in the Pyrenees mountains. I couldn’t be happier with our decision to give the coast a rest as we are now currently situated in a tiny petít village in between two mountains, with a beautiful river flowing right next to us. It’s absolutely boiling down in the valley, and yet the top of the mountains are covered in snow. We’re at a free camperstop filled with loads old campers, belonging to circus performers! The circus is in town and is literally just over the river from us, with the performers in the same car park area as us, practising and relaxing before and inbetween shows.

Apologies that some pictures are sideways; truth be told I couldn’t be arsed to edit them!

Also here’s a lovely picture of me showing how much I just love being decked and rolled into a river…

Slow motion video of Rudy shaking after coming out of the river!


One downside though, is how expensive France is so far! We thought Spain had been quite steep, but it pales in comparison to the joke of these prices! Petrol is about 20c per litre more expensive and food is just as bad. My normal €10-15 shop is now €25-30.  Fingers crossed it gets cheaper when we’re more city based in the next few weeks. Hannah, John, Joe & Reneé are coming out to a lovely house we’ve rented in the countryside of Toulouse in 3 weeks so prices shouldn’t be as ridiculous there, well hopefully.

We spent the last two days walking up into the mountains, strolling along rivers, trying to get the dogs to have a swim and enjoying being in such stunning surroundings! The views are just breathtaking and the camera just doesn’t do it justice at all. The town we’re bordering at the moment is just so quaint and adorable. It lives up to every French stereotype you can imagine; only one tiny supermarket, a couple of restaurants, a couple of patisseries and of course a winery. 
We’re planning to stay around here for about a week or so. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful, it’s worth sticking around for! Plus there’s a tiny chance we can run away with the circus so I’ve got to see how that one pans out…

And relax….

After last weeks drama, all we were after was a quiet week with no drama and no unforeseen bills coming our way. We started well in Vilanova; lounging around on the beach, getting buried in the sand, playing with the pooches and just general pissing about. We needed to get back to the dreaded Barcelona to collect some bank cards we’d managed to lose a few weeks back. It was going to be a long day as we had no intention of hanging around in the city this time and would drive straight out again once receiving the cards and gone to the police station. First things first, go to the supermarket and stock up, who knows what time we’ll have finished running errands.

All starts swimmingly. I go in and grab the stuff we need while rod waits outside and walks the dogs. We all pile back in the van, put the key in the ignition and… Nothing. Jesus clucking Christ. With both of us convinced this can’t be happening to us yet again, we go and get a coffee in the hope that when we return it will miraculously start and we can just pretend it never happened. Ahh wishful thinking.


An hour later and we’re being towed to the nearest VW garage. We arrive and without even looking in the engine bay, he, in typical mechanic fashion, tells us that ‘ooh Es muy expensiva’. Determined not to get mugged off like we did with the breaks in Valencia, we tell the rac not to bother with the supposedly ‘comes with your package’ courtesy car and hotel and instead opt to sleep outside the garage in Verena. Morning arrives and we try to get the van started just one last time for good luck before the mechanics take over. SHE’S ALIVE! I feel like Joey and his miracle healing chair, Rosita, except Verena really has come back to life! Absolutely positively buzzing that we don’t have to fork out again, we get on the road.

We didn’t plan where we were going to get off the motorway once we’d gotten out of Barcelona; as long as we were heading north, it didn’t matter! Half an hour passes and we still haven’t thought about getting off and all of a sudden Spain becomes so much greener! For once, grass everywhere and trees! Actual trees, like we have at home! Feeling a little homesick, we get off the motorway so we can find somewhere pretty to stay the night and wake up to in the morning! 

We arrive at what turns out to be just a secure car park in between two blocks of flats – not the beautiful scenery we were after. By this point both of us are getting pretty fed up, the day has lasted more than long enough and we both are in desperate need of a cup of tea. Another our later and we arrive at a camperstop out in the sticks with mountains and meadows surrounding us – finally a light at the end of today’s long shitty tunnel! We walk the ladies, get the kettle on, make a quick and poorly assembled dinner and chill out.

We’ve got a week to kill before Luna is good to go with her passport, which means there’s a perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery without having to think about where we’re going next. The only thing on the to-do list is getting the broken window fixed, so there’s no pressure. Oh and we need to get some washing done; we’ve only done two washes since coming away and I hate to say it, but I am sick to death of wearing crocs for everything. It’s not even that I think they’re too ugly anymore; it’s the dirtiness. Wearing plastic shoes 24/7 is not good in sweltering heats, my feet get gross and sweaty and more than anything, I miss my trainers and socks combo; the sweat is so much more bearable when there’s a pair of socks on your feet rather than just sliding around in my crocs. But yes, we need clean clothes, desperately.

Also, I finally got myself a little earner (hopefully). I list and manage the bookings of a stunning villa in Dubai for some millionaire type fellow and then when the place gets booked, I get a cut of the takings. So please, do me a favour and go to Dubai. I have to admit, that although the villa is indeed incredible, it’s also super steep at €660 per night. However with enough beds for 10 people to stay, the huge price quickly becomes more affordable at €66 per person, per night. And it’s on that big famous Palm Jumeirah which is pretty cool too. Please, go and have a look for me and if you really want to help us travel for longer, book it and go to Dubai. 

Anywho, we spent the next few days lounging around and walking the pooches in pretty places, which is surely all anyone wants in life these days? Just look how beautiful they are!

Today we’re on a mission to get this god forsaken window repaired, but obviously we’re stupid and drove an hour into girona, went around 3 different garages and when we finally get to the right place, it’s siesta and it’s shut for four hours. So we’re currently waiting in the van in a car park, having just had a little tapas to kill some time, and we now only have an hour and a half left to wait! Honestly don’t understand how these spaniards get anything done with this bloody siesta!

Also, during this boredom we’re momentarily sat in, I have just tried a cigarette. Mom, Dad, you’ll be happy to know I have nicotine rush, a foul taste in my mouth and I feel like I’m about to throw up. I am not cut out to be a smoker what so ever. Fair play to all those that put themselves through this torture on a daily basis, voluntarily, and don’t feel like crying, I salute you. 

Fingers crossed the next time I post, we’ll have a window and Rudy will no longer be able to do this!

Barcelona, the bitch.

After leaving the chaos of Valencia and all that particular adventure had to offer behind us, we continue our trip up north.Final thoughts on Valencia: a beautiful city with so much to offer, similar to Barcelona in that there is plenty of clean golden sand, heaps of history and incredibly busy. The latter of course wasn’t helped by us being there for Las Fallas, but at least we had the sort of bonus of driving a courtesy car as opposed to Verena through the city centre and all the one way streets and dead ends we encountered. I loved driving a car for a while; Verena is a wonder of course but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t massively appreciate the power steering, the nifty speed-allowing engine and the air conditioning that both the Vauxhall Mocca and the Citroen C4 had to offer. Not to mention how easy both cars were to park in comparison, I only had to jump out and let Rod complete my manoeuvre (I reluctantly have to admit he’s good at parking… still shit at everything else driving related though…) on two occasions. Don’t get me wrong though, I missed Verena. I missed her right hand drive and in turn, her gearstick on the left hand side of me. Driving on the wrong side of the road is one thing I feel as though I’ve grown accustomed to as the adventure has gone on, but driving on the wrong side of the car is another level of stress for me to overcome. I also missed the GB registration plate of Verena that normally gives me some sort of leeway with my questionable driving; being in a Spanish car means I’m expected to drive like a Spaniard too, and unfortunately, I’m not that much of an arsehole.
But anywho, Rod has missed driving this last week; having been in Valencia in a courtesy car in my name, he’s barely gotten behind a wheel and so when we picked the van up on Thursday, Rodney was understandably keen to be the designated driver. Using our handy camperstop book, we found a free place to stay in Amposta. Arriving after an hour or so, we were met with field after field of farms, all surrounded by surreal flat planes of water and mountains. Another beautiful find! 

Once again, more evidence of the small world in which we live was presented when we pull up next to a guy we’d briefly met in El Campello when he’d stayed at Achim’s place for a night. Weird! Writing this, we’ve just realised how useless we are; I can’t even tell you this guys name, despite having now spoken to him in two different cities. But he was nice, travelling alone for a couple of months, as he does most years, in his very own Verena. He was now heading north to make the journey back to England, and talking to him about going home just made us all the more aware of just how lucky we are to have another few months in our travel pot.

After , we made our way to Tarragona, a surprisingly beautiful town we had no idea existed. We got there, found a place to wild camp and settled down to chill out for the night. Morning arrived and we wandered into the stunning town for a coffee or two before heading off. Whilst at the cafe, Rod needs a wee; fair enough. This means, however, that I have to control both the bitches. Lunas not so bad, she mostly sleeps in my lap inbetween brief running around and chasing our ankles. Rudy however, supposedly the older and wiser dog, can occasionally be a little hard to handle. I was keeping my eyes peeled for other dogs she might take a fancy to, but all was calm and quiet so I sat back, took a sip of coffee and foolishly averted my eyes from the street. Next thing I knew I was lying on the floor, skirt over my head, knickers on display, looking up at this random man Rudy thought looked like a good fuss-giver-outer. He didn’t even have a bloody dog! She had pulled me backwards off my chair, and because I’d been holding Luna, I had rolled like a hedgehog in distress across the narrow street, towards the poor unsuspecting man that Rudy was now smugly rubbing herself up. Thank god he had a sense of humour and was such a gent; he helped me up with Luna, looked away while I adjusted my skirt and even hung around to give Rudy the loving she had originally been after. Rod came out, bladder emptied, completely unaware of the crisis I had just been lying in.

The mountain drive was beyond stunning inbetween tarragona and Barcelona! This time lapse doesn’t really do it justice as the roads are just so bendy!

We had every intention of working for a month or so in Barcelona; we both love the city and everything it has to offer, but unfortunately to our dismay, Barcelona does not feel the same way about us. We arrived in Barcelona on Sunday night, and parked up for the night in a free car park inbetween Camp Nou and the Barcelona University. With several other campers around us and another blog saying it was a safe place to stay, we thought we were onto a winner. All the camper stops and campsites in Barcelona are extortionate, averaging out at about €30 per night plus electricity, wifi and shower costs. We slept through the night just fine, with Rudy only barking once at people passing by, and so we had no reason to think anything but good thoughts about this car park. Monday arrives and I had an interview set up in one of the bars in the city so all on the days agenda was getting to La Rambla, just a couple of miles walk and a good few hours to do it in, easy! 
We complete the trek, stopping for a couple of coffees on the way, and then stopping every five minutes so that every Tom, Dick and Harry and all of their sisters could give Luna a smooch. Big thanks to all the nice ones who took the time to give Rudy a love too – big dogs love cuddles too! But we made it, and as soon as we arrive on La Rambla were approached by a lovely Italian fellow, Alejandro, selling the dreams of cannibis clubs, just like in Amsterdam, where pooches are allowed in too! How are we meant to turn down propositions like that?! Growing cannibis was made legal for residents in Barcelona a couple of years ago, allowing each household to grow up to 7 plants right there smack bang in the middle of in your living room (or balcony or wherever you wanna put it). With this change in the law, came the coffee shops we know and love! They’re meant for residents but you can pay for a year round membership card; giving you access to the finest ganj around whilst relaxing in games rooms, mini cinemas and bareee sofas. The beauty of buying your weed from a nice lady behind a counter, just like in the sweet shop in Charlie and the chocolate factory, is a beauty not many appreciate, or get the honour of beholding. We were lucky woo!
Chuffed with the day so far, I go into the bar for my interview and after a couple of minutes, I’ve got the job and I’m starting tomorrow. We have a celebratory pint before beginning the mission back to the van. Roaming around cities and stumbling upon what they offer is how we like this travelling malarkey best. We pass through the skate parks, where there are people having dance offs in the street; we stay and watch for a minute until Rudy decides that she too would like a skateboard and so proceeds to chase the alarmed teenage spaniards across the square – joy! 
Anyway we get back to the van after a few wrong turns and a few misinterpreted directions (my Spanish skills seem to have deteriorated rather than improved since being away), but we make it and we’re excited to get dinner on and settle down with a film. This is not what Barcelona had planned for us. Instead, we are met with an unlocked slidey door. Peculiar as I definitely remember us locking up. As we slide open the door we are met with an absolute bombsite and it obviously dawns on us that some little creature has been inside our home! There is mess and glass everywhere, all of our belongings having been ransacked and thrown on the floor. First things first, passports. I keep all of them together in a little bag at the back of the storage bit up top, but as everything is now on the floor, we know they’re not in the safe place I left them. I find the bag but only find mine and Rods passports inside. Both Rudys and Lunas are missing, and needless to say, both Rodney and I are shitting ourselves. We call the police and as advised by them, head to the station. I go inside and talk to them and rod stays outside with the van and the babies. He tidies up while I’m gone and finds the pooch’s passports, but discovers my camera and phone have been taken; a sort of relief that no one wants to kidnap Rudy or Luna, but obviously annoying that they managed to take something, especially as I can’t replace those photographs! The police station is heaving with victims but seriously lacking in people to do anything about it and so they ask if I can return on a different day this week to give my statement. 

Quite understandably, neither of us are keen on the idea of staying in the city now and so at nearly midnight on Monday night, we get on the road. The camperstop book has a place half hour of the city in and so with our trusty sat nav, we head off into the night. Now one thing we didn’t do before we came away was update the sat nav. And as a result, over an hour after leaving Barcelona, were still only twenty minutes away and driving in circles on the new road the sat nav doesn’t recognise. With us both frustrated and it now being past 1am, we stop at a familiar friends for some double cheeseburger lovin’, McDonalds drive thru. Too tired to keep driving, we park in the car park next to the staff cars and settle in for a bit of the film we’d promised ourselves before bed. We figured it was safe enough with people working inside all through the night, and to be quite honest, with what had started as a great day but was now a disastrous one, we couldn’t wait to be able to call it a day and get some sleep.
We woke up Tuesday morning to the sound of people coming to do toheir shopping, Rudy barking at them and Luna crying to go out. We grabbed a coffee, found a camperstop an hour and a half back down south and made our way there. We arrive at a lovely site just north of Tarragona, the place we were at before the whole Barcelona ordeal. But we’re safe, can have a hot shower, and definitely don’t have to worry about thieves in the comfort of a proper site. We stay for two nights, and do nothing but play on the beach, sleep, eat and relax. A well deserved break from the chaos of city life.

We’re now heading into Barcelona to deal with the police report and pick up some bank cards (thank you Ann and Laura!) and head straight back out of the city, ain’t nobody got time for getting robbed! We’re nearly ready to head into France, as of the 11th Luna is good to get out of the country and so we’ll be taking full advantage of that and heading into France that day! I can’t tell you how excited I am for the pastries, the bread and obviously the cheese! Only problem being that we’ve only just about scraped through in Spain with my Spanish, but as my French only extends to ‘merci’, we’re definitely going to struggle! 

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?).

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.