Week 15 of the Grand European Tour
Week 15 – Day 102 – Monday 8th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
Today we did not go far or do much. After settling in at the weekend and having a walk along the esplanade for lunch yesterday we started today by going round to Mercadona to stock up on provisions, catering for five, six if you count Jill’s bump, needs more effort than just for two and is hindered by lack of storage in the van so the option of a ‘big shop’ is not that feasible. Emma and I took the bikes to carry the heavier bottles etc in the panniers while the others walked. Late morning to early afternoon was taken up by lunch and just relaxing in the warm sunshine. Simon, whose principal hobby is birdwatching, went off to the nearby scrubland to see what he could spot. Before his arrival we probably had only seen a handful of different species but in the few days he has been here his tally is approaching 40 different types.
In the afternoon we all walked up to Carrefour, about half an hour away to have a look around it for any January Sale bargains but there didn’t seem to be any, January Sale not being the event it is back home. The walk there and back was good exercise and gave Simon the chance for more spotting.
Week 15 – Day 103 – Tuesday 9th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
Today was an up-and-at-em day as we all headed for Alicante for a day out around the city. The tram system is punctual to the minute and it got us there in no time – well 20 minutes to be precise. We got off at the Mercado stop and our first port of call was the huge daily indoor market which is divided into 3 separate halls, meat, fish and fruit & vegetables.
Alicante looks towards the sea, and does so from its famous Paseo de la Explanada, one of the most beautiful seafront promenades in Spain and there is nothing as pleasant as strolling along the quayside promenade lined by four rows of palms, tessellated with marble in Alicante red, cream and black in imitation of the waves of the Mediterranean – the words of the Alicante tourist site.
After a good walk about we headed for lunch at D”Tablas, the tapas restaurant that we had been to before and we had a great lunch with everyone getting something to their taste including squid, whitebait, pork and the local sausage. In this place they bring the tapas assortment round on trays and if you like the look of one you take the wooden block from the tray and when you are finished they count the wooden blocks and glasses.
The tapas are very varied but the common factor is the price of €0.90 which was a real bargain and by the end when everyone had enough the blocks looked like a Jenga tower!
From there we walked to get the lift up to the Castle but the sun was obscured behind some clouds and it was a bit chilly in the breeze up there but the views were as stunning as ever.
On the way back we stopped at a McCafe for warming hot chocolates and a tea for moi then headed up the slight hill towards the Mercado tram stop when we heard and saw lots of emergency vehicles arriving on the scene, police, ambulances and fire brigade trucks with turntable ladders, as just a few yards up a side street, 8 storeys worth of scaffolding had collapsed from a building being renovated into a huge tangle of metal on the street below leaving the top 3 storeys of scaffolding hanging precariously. The girl on the campsite reception Googled the incident for me the next day and confirmed that miraculously no one was killed or injured in the accident.
Week 15 – Day 104 – Wednesday 10th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
We woke to to rain this morning, the first since Biarritz on the 11th of November, almost 9 weeks ago, but it was off by the time we finished our breakfast. For me today was a quiet day, or was meant to be, as I had ‘stuff’ to do on the laptop and various other technical things, that was until Microsoft threw a spanner in the works by taking three and a half hours to install the latest Windows 10 update so I cycled to Mercadona to replenish some grocery stocks. Everyone else took the tram along to El Campello for a wander about and visit the Illeta dels Banyets archaeological site just beyond the the marina where The Navigator managed to get in for half price by claiming she was a pensioner, making a saving of €1.
I suppose every euro saved is another tapas bought and thats exactly what they did – have another tapas lunch while back at the ranch I had a cup of tea and 2 raspberry jaffa cakes!
Week 15 – Day 105 – Thursday 11th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
Benidorm was todays destination, 50 minutes north on the train from El Campello station so first we had to get the 10.10 from our local tram stop on the esplanade along to El Campello as the Alicante to Benidorm train does not stop on the esplanade. Tickets are bought on the tram, €1.45 each and the train fare to Benidorm was only €4.25 return. The route from El Campello to Benidorm hugs the coast for much of the journey giving good views of the Mediterranean with some old looking small towers on hills overlooking the sea. On the landward side the landscape is dry and rocky with a few very dramatic looking mountains in the distance. The odd thing to a British eye is the complete lack of farm animals of any kind. Not one!
The tram station for Benidorm is a fair bit out of town, up a hill, and this makes for an easy walk down to the beach when you arrive but makes for a long half hour walk uphill on the return when you have been on your feet all day. We walked down to the Poniente Beach which was fairly busy with people strolling in the sunshine but the wind was strong. At the end of the beach near the old town there was a group of people standing on the sand enthusiastically singing what we assumed were religious songs and they were obviously enjoying themselves.
From there we walked around the narrow streets of the old town which were thronged with people milling about the shops, one of which, Ale-Hop, we visited for seemingly the hundredth time on this holiday, they are everywhere, in fact when we came out of this one there was another within view.
By now it was lunchtime and we headed for ‘tapas alley’ where we went to the same tapas bar The Navigator and I had been to on the 6th of December where we had a great lunch with everyone enjoying their own choices. After lunch we walked along the full length of the main Levante beach where the predominant language we heard was English, Scouse in particular!
The wind was not as strong now and we stopped a couple of times to sit in the warm sun, the second time fortified by ice cream Simon bought from McDonalds and it did the trick.
We returned via the next street back from the front where there are many shops and market stalls and Simon could not resist 4 pairs of novelty boxers for €1 each and The Navigator indulged herself in one of the best stocked off sales I have ever seen with a litre of Croft Sherry and a litre of gin (in a plastic bottle) for a total of €12. The nearby taxis could only take 4 so we trudged up the hill to the station for the return train journey in time to see the setting sun painting the surrounding mountains of El Campello a reddish tint.
Week 15 – Day 106 – Friday 12th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
After yesterdays busy day we had a bit of a lazy day at the van. Simon and Jill cycled to Mercadona for some things they want to take home plus Simon volunteered to cook prawns on the BBQ so he was on a mission to source them and he came back with 2 varieties and if the truth be told, enough to feed the campsite. It has been breezy most days here but today was as calm as its been so it gave me the opportunity to fly the drone and here are just a few pictures from the flight.
In this one you can see the small bungalows with the green roofs that Jill, Simon and Emma were in the second one on the left.
It was a novelty for me to sit back and let someone else use the Cadac, but fair play he made a great job of it. First up was a prawn I had neither seen nor heard of before, Mantis Shrimps/Prawns, described as both beautiful and deadly to other small creatures on the seabed. Not a lot of eating in them but after getting past their sharp body parts, they were tasty.
The second lot of prawns were more recognisable to us and more to my liking, easier to get at and meatier eating, delicious peeled and dipped in a variety of sauces.
After a suitable gap I did some very thinly sliced pork on the Cadac which we had tapas style on a sliced baguette, again with a variety of sauces and dips, all of the above washed down with assorted bottles of ciders we had bought on our travels through Brittany, Normandy and Spain.
A lovely relaxing day sitting out in the sun with the bonus for me of flying the drone to get some arial pictures. Simon went off again to try and add to his impressive bird species total, but saw nothing new.
Here are some more of his greatest hits for this week.
Week 15 – Day 107 – Saturday 13th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles
Only The Navigator can tell you why the alarm needed to go off at 7am this morning in the cold and dark. We had arranged to pick everyone up at the bungalow at 8.30am and its only a 23 second drive away, its not even as though I was getting a full English before setting off for the airport to drop Jill and Simon for their return flight to Belfast. Mission accomplished, we returned to the site via an Aldi and the Repsol garage to top up the gas tanks in preparation for moving on tomorrow.
One of the things we saw this morning that we had not seen until today, having never been up at 7am before, was the hive of activity around us from our Belgian and French neighbours. Middle aged and mature men were donning their lycra cycling outfits and helmets and setting off for their morning tour of the area on their very expensive looking road bikes, while the women took last nights dinner dishes to the outdoors washing-up area. Being up and busy at this time now explains why they have their lunch at noon sharp and some have a siesta in the afternoon!
Emma packed up in the bungalow and decanted in beside us until tomorrow when we drop her at the airport. To let The Navigator tidy up a bit in the van, Emma and I cleared out for a last cycle along Playa Muchavista boulevard and it was quite busy, although not as much as last Sunday. On our return The Navigator took Emma on a circular cycle route up to Carrefour and back along the esplanade. We said our last goodbyes to Alan and Ann who will be here until the end of February, and The Navigator exchanged continental kisses with the wee French wife from the top of the street who was out walking her 3 little dogs, one of which was showing no ill effects from Emma standing on it a few days earlier!
Week 15 – Day 108 – Sunday 14th of January 2018
El Campello to Santa Pola – 29 miles
An 8am alarm (too early again) woke us for the last time at Camping Le Jardin this morning. We leave today after 5 weeks here, by far the longest we have stayed in one place in 10 years of owning Louis and oddly for someone who always wants to see whats around the next bend in the road, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as has The Navigator.
For motorhomers it is a different mindset to be stationary this long with the van needing to be set up differently and it was a learning curve with lessons learned if we ever do it again.
Would we do it again? Yes, but probably not after 2 months of touring beforehand. A better option would be to get here in a week or so then settle down for a long stay.
Would we come to this area again? Definitely. You can only judge it by your own experience and the weather was great with people saying the Alicante to Benidorm part of the coast has its own micro-climate and with others coming year after year, it must have something going for it.
Would we come to El Campello and Camping El Jardin again? Without doubt. We loved both and I will probably do a separate blog post at a later date extolling their virtues.
So we left this morning and again headed for the airport, this time to drop Emma off for her flight to Leeds. Jill and Simon arrived back home yesterday to a cold and wet Belfast and Emma arrived back to a cold Leeds but at least they all had a week of winter sunshine, not hot enough to lie on a beach, but warm enough to get a tan if you are sheltered from the prevailing breezes.
From the airport we headed a few miles down the coast to Santa Pola,
A – because we want to go to a caravan dealer in Elche tomorrow morning to get the new 2018 ACSI card to give us out of season discounts in any campsites we may go to.
B – because I couldn’t be bothered driving a distance.
C – because we needed to fine tune the storage in the van.
D – because we had to sit and look at a map and see where we wanted to go in the next few weeks.
Once we had done that we had a walk around the marina and front of Santa Pola, and very nice it is too. It seems the Spaniards love to get out and walk and chat and have lunch as couples or family groups on a Sunday in these coastal resorts and today was a perfect example of this. There is a good stretch of beach here but it is an odd colour, dull and almost cement coloured and we noticed that a lot of the flats near the beach were built on pillars so maybe this area floods from time to time.
Tomorrow, the Grand European Trip gets going again in earnest…
To put this week into context here are two maps showing where we are…
The red dot on the first map shows us just north of Alicante.
The red dot on the second map shows our location on the outskirts of El Campello.
We are back on our travels on Monday morning without too much of an idea where the week will take us so stay tuned to find out…
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