TUE 20 SEP 2016
After crossing the border into Spain we left the motorway at Figures, and drove to Cala Montgo SE of L’Escala, but were surprised to find Camping Neus closed. Jane not keen on trying Camping Ile Matua, so we left heading for Palamos. On the way we decided to go to Sa Riera, below the old town of Begur, and stopped at Camping El Masat. The campsite restaurant was closed for the evening, so we ate overlooking the cove, at a fairly expensive restaurant, where we had rice ‘Catalan style’ for 2 persons. The meal contained a variety of seafood, which was tasty, but the majority of the meal was rice in a thick dark sauce with a fairly plain flavour. We should have had the paella!
WED 21 SEP 2016
Wasted the morning sitting around at the van, as the weather had cancelled our plans for a beach day.
We had a tapas lunch near the beach, including a delicious Calamare Andalusia, then walked along the road towards Sa Tuna, initially climbing above Sa Riera with glimpses of the villas in the pine forest overlooking the sea. We turned round to return before descending to Aiguafreda. On the way back we had stunning views of the Illes Medes, shaded by clouds in contrast with the bright sunlight on the pines in the foreground, the Montgri Massif rises up to the west of the islands, with the historic town of Torroella de Montrgi visible below.
THUR 22 SEP 2016
Blue sky, a beach day, Alan went snorkelling on the W side of the cove past Roca Negra. Calamare Andelusia for lunch (again!). Beach and swimming in the afternoon. Ate in the campsite restaurant, meal of the day, cod croquettes, monkfish (Alan), lamb (Jane), although not as good as previous meals here.
FRI 23 SEP 2016
Weather forecast not good for the next few days, so we decided to visit Gerona, which has been on our ‘for future reference’ list several times. Left Sa Riera heading for an ACSI Campsite S of Girona, on the way we detoured to have a look at the coves at Aiguablava and Fornells to the S of Begur. Aiguablava has a convenient parking area, and views across to Fornells. Fornells has a small harbour,and three small coves (two with sand). On our way out, we stopped to have a look at Camping Begur, which is walking distance (uphill) from the town. To get to the coves would require a long walk, all uphill on the way back, or driving the van down (or a scooter!).
On our way we stopped at Palamos and had lunch in the van parked above La Fosca beach, then drove to Camping Toni Manescal, near Girona. This is a very pleasant basic rustic site, only €11/night + local tax
Some noise from Girona airport. A Via Verda cycleway is about 2km to the East at Llambilles, it is then only 7km on the cycleway to Girona.
For future reference: Consider staying at Camping Begur for a few days, €80/week in low season (24 Mar > 9 Jan, 11 Sep > 30 Sep.
SAT 24 SEP 2016
After breakfast outside, we cycled North into Girona on the Via Verda cycleway, locked the bikes up at the Tourist Office, crossed a bridge to view the colourful riverfront buildings, then walked round the historic centre. The cathedral is approached via a huge set of steps from the square below, as there was a charge to go in the cathedral, we missed the interior, with the widest Gothic nave in Europe. The spire of the Esglesia de Sant Feliu was damaged by lightening in 1581, and never repaired. After looking round the old town, we stopping for lunch in the old Jewish Quarter, before walking round the medieval city walls,
and finished with a drink in a shady square near the river, before cycling back to the campsite. Alan was very impressed with Girona, and in particular, the work carried out to enable (free) access to the city walls, which provide superb views of both the city and the countryside beyond. The city was founded by the Romans, and the medieval centre is built on top of the Roman foundations. Another place to return to. Sunny and warm all day.
SUN 25 SEP 2016
After breakfast outside, we cycled back to the Via Verda cycleway at Llambilles again, but this time turning South heading for Cassa de la Selva and Llagosteria, but a puncture on Alan’s bike forced us to abandon the ride as we had no spanners to remove the wheel, so couldn’t change the inner-tube, a lesson learned! A temporary fix using sealant spray into the valve only lasted as far as Llambilles, then Alan had to push the bike back. Thunderstorm in the late afternoon.
MON 26 SEP 2016
Left the campsite, which we would be happy to return to, heading for Palamos, where we stopped at Autocaravaning Palamos, a commercial Aire we stayed at earlier this year.
€12/night inc. elec. Although the previous deal of 5 nights for the price of 4 was no longer available. After lunch at the van we walked to La Fosca beach, Jane lay on the beach whilst Alan walked to Platja de Castel, one of the few undeveloped beaches on the Costa Brava,
to the east of La Fosca, past the attractive restored fisherman’s houses at Cala S’Alguer. We had a glass of cava in the beach bar on the way back to the van. We cooked large prawns, calamares and chorizo with tagliatelli (delicious!). Mixed sun & cloud all day.
TUE 27 SEP 2016
A relaxing morning sitting outside the van in the warm sunshine. After lunch we spent the afternoon at Platja de la Fosca, good swimming, sea nice and warm, quite breezy so we found a sheltered spot behind rocks. After stopping for a drink in the beach bar we cooked pizza with extra prawns, lardons and cheese topping in the pizza pan, very tasty!
WED 28 SEP 2016
Blue sky , sunshine and 25 deg. La Fosca beach all day,
Alan went snorkelling around the headland to the NE of the beach below the castle ruins and round to the next bay, excellent! Lunch in the beach bar, calamares Andalusia, chipirones and tomato bread. Beach and swimming in the afternoon.
THUR 29 SEP 2016
Another good day, sunny but with a breeze, La Fosca beach all day again. Alan snorkelled round the headland again, bigger waves breaking on the rocks made it more exciting, no one else out there. Lunch in the beach bar. Alan snorkelled round the rock extending out from the beach (Roca Negra), lots of fish including a large shoal of anchovy. After the beach, cycled onto Palamos
Ate in El Galeo tapas bar, where we have had excellent tapas on several previous occasions, very good, but not as good as previous visits, the choice is dependent on what they are cooking at the time you are there. Back to the van in the dark (no lights), sat out in shorts and T-shirts until 9:45 pm.
FRI 30 SEP 2016
Last day for the beach, weather forecast to deteriorate over the weekend. Alan walked round the coast, stopping to look at Cala Margarida,
a small group of houses/villas overlooking the sea with a small pebble beach, then round Cap Gros, with good views over Palamos, the Formigues Islands (visible just below the horizon), the undeveloped beach of Castel and La Fosca beach when descending.
Alan snorkelled round Roca Negra again, before lunch in the beach bar, Gezpachio (Jane), ensaladilla rusa (Alan), followed by spicy mussels with citron. More swimming and snorkelling in the afternoon,
followed by a cava in the beach bar. Made salad with prawn pil-pil and onion bread, very tasty.
SAT 01 OCT 2016
Breakfast outside, then left Palamos heading for Tarragona on the C35 free motorway, then the AP7 toll motorway (avoiding Barcelona), with the intention of saving time, and having a look round Tarragona in the afternoon. Arrived at ACSI Camping Las Palmeras at lunch time, we were given a pitch one row back from the beach front, with views of the huge freighter ships at anchor, waiting to dock. After lunch at the van we cycled into the city, there is no cycleway, but the main road has a wide verge. We started our tour at the remains of the Roman amphitheatre, with views of the sea beyond, followed by a beer in the Placa de la Font, before looking round the historic walled section, which includes the 12th C Cathedral, where a wedding was taking place.
There are many Roman remains in the city, as it was a base used for the conquest of the Iberian peninsular in the 3rd Century BC. After cycling back to the van, we ate at the campsite restaurant next to the beach.
The Las Palmeras campsite is huge, and extends for approximately 1.3 km along the coast,
however, perhaps because it is so spread, out we did not find it too crowded. With such a brief visit to tarragona, there a several places we did not get chance to have a look at, another place to return to.
For future reference:
Pretori roma 1st C roman tower with access to the underground passages of the Roman Circus, used for horse and chariot races.
El Sarrello fishing neighbourhood at the Port
Roman Aqueduct ‘Pont del Diable’
SUN 2 OCT 2016
After having a look round, we drove to the Monestir de Poblet, this huge Cistercian monastery, founded in 1150, is surrounded by defensive walls, and is the final resting place of kings. We were very fortunate in visiting the Abbey church (free) during a practice session by the Ensemble Dali directed by Eirik Sorborg www.ensembledali.no a visiting Norwegian choral group, in preparation for a concert in the afternoon. The performance was stunning, without music or microphones, the acoustics and the atmospheric interior resulted in an exceptional experience. Before leaving we bought a bottle of Licor de Poblet.
We then followed part of one of the DK Back Roads Spain routes to Gandesa through ‘vinyards and gothic treasures’. The first stop was Prades, also known as ‘Vila Vermella’ (red town), due to the colour of the local stone. The Placa Major has arcades filled with bars and restaurants. We then drove through the dramatic scenery of the Priorat, a wine growing area, with exceptionally steep terraced vine clad hills, with ravines and dramatic vertical rock crags.
where we ate at the campsite restaurant. We had the ‘meal of the day’ €13 for 2 courses plus desert, wine, water and bread, very tasty and good value. The camping was €20 without electric (which would have been an additional €6).
MON 3 OCT 2016
After a very quiet night, after breakfast inside the van (too cold outside), we drove back down to the valley, after driving through more spectacular scenery, we tried to stop at Escaladi, a very small village full of little shops selling wines from the Priorat region, but we could not find anywhere to park, as it was busy with grape harvesting vehicles.
After continuing through more rugged and impressive countryside, we stopped to have a look at Vilella Baixa, another Priorat village, set on a rocky ridge, with taller buildings to make best use of the limited space.
Alan broke the key in the deadlock for the sliding door, and was not happy! It took a long time to remove the broken end of the key. After passing Falset, we were back on the main road (N420) to Gandesa, in the Terra Alta wine district, where we decided to drive south to Tortosa to get spare inner-tubes for the bikes from the Decathlon store before tackling the Via Verda cycleway to the east from Arnes-Lledo towards Benifallet. Equipped with inner-tubes, we stopped at the hospital in Tortosa, so Jane could get an infection checked out and antibiotics to sort it.
Several hours later she left with no progress, by which time it was dark. We abandoned our aim of staying at the campsite near Arnes, as that would require a long drive over mountain roads in the dark with low cloud, and would be too late to check into the campsite. We drove to ACSI Camping Ampolla Playa, where they very kindly let us in after reception had closed, we had a pizza outside the campsite restaurant.
For future reference:
Aire Valderrobres for medieval town on the river with castle, and nearby vulture feeding station and ‘observatorio de aves’ at Mas de Bunyol (phone ahead to arrange 9:00 am visit, €13) and 10 km from ACSI Camping Els Port for the Via Verda cycleway from Arnes-Lledo to Benifellet.
TUE 4 OCT 2016
After leaving l’Ampolla, we drove to Camping Estanyet S of Les Casis d’Alcanar, where we have stayed several times previously, and our 3rd visit this year. After lunch we walked into the town, the shops were closed until 5:00 pm, so Alan went fishing off the harbour wall, whilst Jane read her book. After a canya in a local bar, Jane went to a pharmacy for a ‘cure’, whilst Alan bought some worms and a shiny new fishing lure. Back at the campsite we met an English couple Dave and Bev, who joined us later for a meal in the campsite restaurant, where we had mussels then Rosa’s paella (very good as always!), followed by crème Catalan.
WED 5 OCT 2016
After breakfast we drove to Ruimar on the Ebro Delta where the river enters the sea 970 kms from the source in the N of Spain.
Alan went fishing in the river and saw several fish jump. Lots of small sport fishing boats, Alan watched some of the fish being cleaned, all of a good size (species unknown to Alan).
Alan walked to an observation tower, from which the mouth of the Ebro could be seen,
and a long stretch of the coastline to the North. Back at the campsite Alan had mussels and fish in the restaurant on his own, Jane suffering from a bad stomach after taking her ‘cure’. It rained in late evening.
THUR 6 OCT 2016
Left Estanyet aiming for Aguilas in southern Mercia, based on weather forecasts.