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2019 - Spain
We travelled by ferry to Santander. It was a two night journey and when we arrived the ships door would not open. We were all sent back to the restaurant deck and had to wait until the crew managed to resolve the problem. As a result we were a bit later than expected getting on the road. Just as well that the ship was staying in Santander for its annual overhaul and because of that all the bookings were full as there was no further service until March on the Cap Finisterre. As usual, our overnight stop was Zaragoza. This year we did not return to Camping Azahar in Benicassim but instead stayed at Torre La Sal 2 which is about 10km north.
We had reserved our pitch during a visit last year. Torre La Sal 2 is much, much better than Camping Azahar. The toilet and shower facilities were spotlessly clean and very modern. There are 3 on site restaurants which are open in the winter season, an on site supermarket which is well stocked and reasonable prices and they bake their own bread every day. Our pitch was just five pitches away from the sandy beach and one big advantage was that the electricity supply was 10 amps rather than 6 amps at Azahar. 10 amps means we can heat on electric and not have to turn the heating off if we want to boil a kettle. All this for the same price that we were paying at Azahar last year! There was dancing and music on several evenings in the week if you wanted to take part. These events in the bar were popular and it was sensible to reserve a table. The fellow campers are predominantly German but that was fine. The German people demand high standards and keep high standards themselves. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the cost of living in Spain is considerably cheaper than UK. We were not the only Brits on site and all English speaking people used to meet up in the bar at 5pm. Therefore, it was easy to meet up with others. We met up with our friends Tom and Jan (also escapees from Azahar) and Tony and Margaret who were at Torre La Sal 2 last year and friends of Keith and Frances. Keith and Frances were joining us later because they had commitments in the UK that prevented them from joining us on the outward journey. Soon after arriving we took a stroll along the beachside board walk and discovered a small village which was almost deserted for the winter. There was a closed beachside restaurant which was promised to open in March.
(above) The Torre La Sal (top right) the beach side boardwalk (lower right) a small villa in the village which was on the promenade. A lovely location
Soon after arriving Tom and George were off on their bikes exploring. The almond blossom was out and the countryside was looking very pretty.
An early trip was to visit the hilltop ruins of a place called Mortorum (right). This was only discovered in 2006 and human remains were found which dated the occupation of the dwellings back to 1700 years BC. The view from the hilltop must have been a good defence. What was surprising is that these people had built stone storehouses which meant that they were farmers and must have been well established. The walls were buried but have been excavated to expose the extent of the dwellings. It was a steep climb up the hill and needed walking poles.
Another early cycle trip was along the beautiful coastline to Benicassim. (left) The tower at the southern end of the town was now open to the public (free) and provided lovely views to the north.
It was on this trip to Benicassim that George crashed off his bike! It was a spectacular fall when he misjudged the gap between a large, folded beach umbrella and a large flower tub. He bounced off the first and spread-eagled himself across the second. Not discreetly, but right in front of a crowded bar. Bruised ribs and scraped shins but no serious damage!
click to enlarge
Another early ride out was up the coast to Torrenostra (above). A lovely rural ride along quiet lanes. However, the town was deserted but we did find one café that was open for a quick drink before the ride back.
Tom’s wife, Jan, had not been at the campsite during the first week of our stay. She was in Bulgaria for her brother’s funeral and sorting out the estate. When she did join us she very quickly went down with a bad bout of Bronchitis. This knocked her out for the best part of a fortnight and Tom caught the same bug and was also out of action for quite some time. Tony and Margaret are caravanners and had their car on site. this enabled the non cyclists to get out and about. We were now joined by Keith and Frances. The group took a trip out to Cabanes (see left centre of map). Tony, Margaret, Keith, Frances and Desnée by car and George by bicycle. We all rendezvoused in the town square. Quite a busy town but not really a tourist place. We enjoyed a Cafe con Leche and then explored the old town.
(left) the team regroup in Cabanes town centre. (below) some scenes from Cabanes streets. It was siesta time and the streets were empty. Only the English were out in the sun!
Another group day out in Benicassim. Having lunch at the Voromar Hotel after visiting the Thursday market and shopping at Lidl. l-r: Keith, Margaret, Tony, Desnée and Frances - cheers!
We had a visit from Ray and Melissa. They are friends from Worthing who moved out to Alcalali, in Spain about 20 years ago. Alcalali is over a 2 hour drive to us and so they decided to make it a mini break holiday and stopover for two nights in one of the campsite chalets. We made the booking for them and felt that the charge of €185 was reasonable considering that everything is provided. When they arrived, the camp Reception said “Oh, you are pensioners. We owe you a refund.” “ We need to put €145 back on your credit card”. We could not believe it! Such good value. For €40 Ray and Melissa had two nights accommodation which included a full kitchen, lounge and bedroom. There are benefits to being old sometimes!
(right) Ray, Melissa and George on the prom! Ray and Melissa were on good form and we enjoyed their company. They liked the campsite, the environs and of course, our company so much that they have promised to join us again in 2020! Shortly after Ray and Melissa left us, we were joined by John and Sue Dockrell. They are a lovely couple. We met them through the Carthago Owners club. Sue is a keen hiker and cyclist and was happy to join up with George and Tom on their adventures. John is wonderful at chatting to people and makes friends with everybody. He is fluent in German and chatted to all our German neighbours. It was a great ice breaker! They had made their booking quite late but were fortunate enough to be placed on the pitch opposite us.
(left) The Dockrells arrive. Ray and Melissa, John and Sue mixed in well with our English group and we certainly had some giggles with them. On our wedding anniversary Sue and Desnée produced some cakes for tea so we had a tea party! (below) l-r: Jan, Keith, Margaret, George, Frances, Tony, John, Sue and Tom in the foreground.