2016, 4th European Tour, Andalusia, Europe 2016, Spain, Van Travels

3 SPAIN – Andalusia

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Arrived in Granada from our cross-country trip late afternoon on Sunday, staying at Camping Reina Isabel, south of Granada.

MON 11 APRIL 2016

After breakfast we took the bus into Granada. We decided against visiting the Alhambra, due to the complex booking arrangements, and the amount of walking required, as Jane is still recovering from a knee operation.

For future reference: Alhambra tickets can be booked by via the campsite or on the internet.

We decided to have a look at some of the old parts of the city, starting with the cathedral, from the outside only, due to a long queue of school children.

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral

On our way we had a coffee in the Plaza de Bib-Rambla.

Plaza de Bib-Rambla

Plaza de Bib-Rambla

Elegantly dressed elderly gentleman outside the cafe

Elegantly dressed elderly gentleman outside the cafe

When walking down the side of the cathedral, we passed a living statue performer, who startled those passing with a sudden movement,

Living statue street artist

Living statue street artist

and walked through part of the Alcaiceria, a reconstruction of a Moorish bazaar burned down over 150 years ago. IMG_2547web

We spent some time in the old Moorish Albaicin area, on the hillside opposite the Alhambra, with it’s maze of narrow cobbled streets and alleys, IMG_2559webIMG_2561webIMG_2584webP1010306web

and walked up to the Mirador de San Nicolas for the viewpoint over the Alhambra, with the snow-covered Sierra Nevada in the background. After waiting for the sun to shine on the Alhambra, without success, we had lunch in a restaurant just below the viewpoint.

Pico Veleta (3,398 m)

Pico Veleta (3,398 m)

Panoramic view from the Mirador de San Nicolas

Panoramic view from the Mirador de San Nicolas

The Alhambra without the benefit of direct sunlight

The Alhambra without the benefit of direct sunlight

The Generalife

The Generalife

Alhambra with Sierra Nevada in the background

Alhambra with Sierra Nevada in the background

On the way back we bought and ate some delicious desserts in one of the narrow streets, including ‘Malaf’ (almond, pistachio & honey), they were so good, we bought more later for after our evening meal.

After some difficulty finding the bus stop, we returned to the campsite. Spaghetti with clams, cooked and eaten inside (cold outside), and the desserts we bought in the Albaicin.

Delicious desserts

Delicious desserts

 

TUE 12 APRIL 2016

Filled up with fuel, stopped at Lidle, then drove up to the Sierra Nevada ski resort, stopping to take photos as we climbed up.

Looking down to reservoir Embalse de Canales on the ascent

Looking down to reservoir Embalse de Canales on the ascent

Typical landscape on the acsent

Typical landscape on the acsent

Lifts and pistes at the ski resort

Lifts and pistes at the ski resort

before parking next to the Aire for lunch.

Not too difficult finding a space in the upper (Los Penones) parking area

Not too difficult finding a space in the upper (Los Penones) parking area

Compared with the information in the ‘All the Aires – Spain’ book, it looked somewhat neglected, only one motorhome parked there, no sign of any electric hook-up, sign above the entrance no longer there, no water at the very basic service point. The automatic barriers had been removed from the access to the parking area. Weather very windy, several lifts not operating. Nobody around at the upper parking area, so drove down to the main resort area to get some information,

Main ski resort development

Main ski resort development

but parking was difficult without knowing the area, we eventually gave up and left.

Whilst it was disappointing not to ski, the views were worth the drive up, even though the weather in the distance was dark and gloomy.

Dark skies to the West

Dark skies to the West

After descending we headed for Motril and the Mediterranean, on the way we made a short detour to look for Izbor, where some our our neighbours from home have a holiday home.

Izbor

Izbor

Stayed at Camping Playa de Poniente next to the beach SW of Motril

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2 km to the west of the port, from which ferries go to Morocco. Sat out in the sunshine before dinner (spaghetti bolognese). After eating, we walked over to have a look at the beach, not very attractive (grey shingle), but found a nice beach bar for cafe con leche. Watched part of the Real Madrid v Wolfsburg Champions League match with a friendly barman.

WED 13 APRIL 2016

Breakfast outside for the first time! Bikes out for the first time, IMG_2652web cycled to Salobrena,

On the way to Salobrena, Sierra Nevada in the distance

On the way to Salobrena, Sierra Nevada in the distance

 a traditional white village set on a hill below a Moorish castle. IMG_2659webIMG_2660webIMG_2799web Cycled and pushed up to the Castille Arabe, IMG_2667webIMG_2671web some complaining from Jane! Had a look round the castle, then had lunch in a restaurant in one of the narrow streets on the way down.IMG_2674webIMG_2675web . Gazpacho followed by anchovies (Alan) IMG_2677webcold meats (Jane). After winding our way down to the bottom of the town, IMG_2680webIMG_2683web we cycled back to the van and had a couple of glasses of wine outside the beach bar, IMG_2692web before cooking dinner, pork skewers with veg and rice in the electric pizza pan. Warm but windy all day with blue sky, cycled with shorts and T-shirts. Weather definitely much improved for the first time this trip.

THUR 14 APRIL 2016

Breakfast outside again, blue sky, warm, wind dropped. A day trip in the van to Nerja on the motorway & back on the (N340) coast road. Parking for the van difficult in the centre of town, so went back to the large free gravel parking area near the N340, then walked down to the waterfront,

view of Balcon de Europe, Nerja

view of Balcon de Europe, Nerja

 then on to the Balcon de Europe, and had a tapas lunch. IMG_2727web People swimming in the sea, sunny and warm, IMG_2707webIMG_2710webIMG_2718web wandered back through the old town, IMG_2739web then drove back on the coast road, to have a look at the headland east of La Herradura, Alan climbed up to the Punta de la Mona viewpoint,

View to East from Punta de la Mona

View to East from Punta de la Mona

View towards marine with snow covered Sierra Nevada in the background

View towards marine with snow covered Sierra Nevada in the background

View to West towards La Herradura from Punta de la Mona

View to West towards La Herradura from Punta de la Mona

View of beach to South of marina

View of beach to South of marina

before stopping at Marina del Este, for a look at the marina and beach.

Marina del Este

Marina del Este

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The ideal boat for fishing and exploring coves along this coast. Alan would like one of these!

The ideal boat for fishing and exploring coves along this coast. Alan would like one of these!

Had a drink and tapas outside a very pleasant beach bar, IMG_2788webIMG_2791webIMG_2797web then back to the campsite, weather cooler, so didn’t get chance for to swim. Omelette in the pizza pan, IMG_2805web then cafe con leche outside the local beach bar as the sun went down. IMG_2806webIMG_2814webIMG_2810web

FRI 15 APRIL 2016

After breakfast outside, drove to Izbol to visit Tom and Isobel (neighbours from home), had a very enjoyable visit, and gladly accepted their kind invitation to stay the night. 42 deg C (in direct sun) on their roof terrace.

On the roof terrace

On the roof terrace

They have a very comfortable house near the top of the village, IMG_2821webIMG_2828web with views in all directions. IMG_2832webIMG_2834webAfter a very nice lunch, and relaxing in the sun, Tom and Alan went for a few beers in the village bar, followed by Isobel’s delicious meal.

night-time view from roof terrace

night-time view from roof terrace

After a lot of hard work, Tom and Isobel now have a very comfortable holiday home in a quiet traditional Spanish village, only half an hour from Granada and a short scenic drive to Salobrena and the coast. We enjoyed their company and appreciated the opportunity to visit this pleasant traditional village.

SAT 16 APRIL 2016

After breakfast we said goodbye to Tom and Isobel,IMG_2842webIMG_2841web

and drove south down the N323, past a large reservoir, IMG_2844web followed by impressive vertical cliffs on both sides of the Rio Guadalfeo, north of Salobrena. IMG_2852webAfter spending too long in a supermarket in Motril, we drove along the coast road, IMG_2859web stopping for a late lunch at La Rijana, next to the beach. We drove through Castel de Ferro, where we had camped some 43 years ago!

Castel de Ferro, now surrounded by greenhouses.

Castel de Ferro, now surrounded by greenhouses.

It didn’t look as good as we had remembered it, so we drove on and stopped at Camping Castillo de Banos, a very pleasant ACSI site with our pitch right next to the beach.

pitch next to the beach at Camping Castillo de Banos

pitch next to the beach at Camping Castillo de Banos

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view from our bed

view from our bed

After cooking calamari, prawns, and bacon risotto (very tasty), IMG_2880webwe had coffee in the campsite bar, which was very noisy, as the staff and locals got very competitive with a game of table football! We went to sleep listening to the waves on the beach.

SUN 17 APRIL 2016

We decided to stay another night, and have a lazy day with a paella lunch in the campsite restaurant. Before lunch we had a look round Castille de Banos, which didn’t take long, as there is not a lot there. After a delicious lunch, IMG_2888webIMG_2889webwe finished our wine on the restaurant patio. IMG_2894webThe weather cooled off in the afternoon, so we retreated into the van, we didn’t eat in the evening as we were still full of paella.

MON 18 APRIL 2016

Left heading for Almeria and Cabo de Gata on the N340 coast road, then A7 Autovia. The countryside was almost totally covered in plastic greenhouses for most of the way, especially the coastal plain of Campo de Dalias, alleged to be the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. It is claimed on a number of internet sources that more than half of Europe’s fruit and vegetables are produced in the greenhouses of Almeria, not sure how that works, as there are a hundred times as many HGV’s on the M6 in England than round here. We stopped at Camping Los Escuillos, which is about 1 km from the sea, after setting up the van on our pitch, we walked to the small community of Los Escuillos on the coast, in a fairly strong wind blowing off the sea, not very warm.

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on the path from the campsite to the small coastal settlement of Los Escuillos

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view East from Los Escuillos

view East from Los Escuillos

View East to La Isleta del moro

View East to La Isleta del moro

IMG_2909web Whilst having a couple of drinks for ‘happy hour’ in the campsite bar, we met a couple originally from West Kirby, now living in Chichester, who were towing an 8 m caravan. We had pizza in the restaurant, but Alan’s Pizza Marinara was cold in the centre. The couple on the next pitch to us were from Plymouth, so they took the ferry direct to North Spain (like many others we have spoken to). Very windy with strong gusts all night.

TUE 19 APRIL 2016

Still very windy in the morning, so decided to move on. For Future Reference: in better weather, good walking and biking in this area, including walking on mountains on the coast, and many small coves to explore by bike and on foot.

Drove back through the dessert scrub land to the A7 motorway, IMG_2914web aiming for Aguilas, passing acres of plastic greenhouses during the first half of the journey. IMG_2915web Just before reaching Aguilas, we had a look at Playa de Las Palmeras, where a few motorhomes were wild camping,

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Playa de Las Palmeras

before stopping at Playa de la Carolina, a wildcamping area right by the beach, listed on clubmotorhome.co.uk, with no services, but a beach bar was open. IMG_2933web We parked in the lower area near the beach bar, as there was still a high wind on the upper parking area which had better views.

After lunch we sat on the beach at Cala Los Cocedores, a small cove with interesting cave dwellings.IMG_2927web  Jane met a lady from one of the motorhomes from Hale in Cornwall, they have been travelling for two years! Alan climbed up to get a better view of the area which is called called Cuatro Calas (four coves).

view NE towards Aguilas

view NE towards Aguilas

view NE towards Aguilas

view NE with the beach bar in the centre

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view West towards Playa de Las Palmeras, with Sierra de las Estancias in the background

view West towards Playa de Las Palmeras, with Sierra de las Estancias in the background

view West towards San Juan de los Terreros

view West towards San Juan de los Terreros on the other side of the first headland

Based on a roadside sign, this area is literally a few hundred metres outside Andalusia, being just inside Murcia.

Whilst having a couple of beers in the beach bar, we met a couple from Liverpool (near Childwall) on their first trip to Europe in their van, which was smaller than ours. They gave us a tip on a very good Camping & Caravanning Club site on the river in Stratford on Avon, with a water-taxi service into town. We made pork Risotto, and wished we had topped up our water tank at the last site.