We left the hospitable aire at La Castalla and headed east to one of our favourite campsites near Denia on the Mediterranean – Los Pinos, near Denia. I think it is in the ACSI book but does not seem to be ACSI any more. We stopped in last year for a night or two and stayed a few more before heading off inland to meet up with some U3A contacts. This time we planned to stay longer to enjoy proximity to the sea, the coast path ride to the shops and market in Denia and the sociability of the squashed little bar in the evening. It is the grounds of an old farmhouse set back about 50 metres from the sea. This is the palm-lined path to the water.
On arrival we had to take a pitch in the shady part of the site, which we would kill for in the summer, but in winter the sun is just fine! After a day or so the obliging lady in the old farmhouse offered us a prime pitch in the sun that someone was just leaving – right beside the path to the sea. Yay! Full sun, full satellite connectivity. The campsite is popular with over-wintering visitors but some leave at the end of February having been there since November. Many more left during our eleven day stay and many tourers came and went.
The local wildlife posed photogenically around our pitch. We love red squirrels!
Useful note: we have acquired a large mat for outside the van having learnt on our last long trip that everything outside the van can tread in otherwise. It is well worth having and this one only cost an arm and a leg from the September motorhome show in Lincolnshire. So we really made ourselves at home with it and broke out the elephant sheet as well for a bit of barbequeing shade.
The coast here has not been swamped with high rise holiday development because it is a rocky beach not really suitable for children to play on all day. Shame:-) Lovely for a swim though and a snorkel. Now we need the temperature to reach 20 degrees on land which will trip our must-go-for-a-swim switch no matter how cold the water. It is only a few days wait but the window is narrow – the day heats up until about one o’clock and starts cooling down again about two thirty. On the 26th of February the stars align and in we go! Briefly. I have discovered that even if it is a bit agonising getting in the first time you can get out, maybe to have your heart restarted, and then go back in again with remarkably little pain! Otherwise we spend a lot of time on the beach searching for sea glass – my collection is growing well and one day I really will make some jewellery out of it. Two different friends have pretty examples so I know it can be done.
This area of coastline was apparently given to Germany by Franco for their help in supporting the Nationalists in the Spanish civil war. Maybe that is another reason it has not seen the high-rise despoliation other areas of coast have. There is development all the way along the coast but mostly of individual homes or blocks of half-a-dozen or so flats. Some of the houses are eye-wateringly modern, all sharp white walls and acres of plate glass window. I expect the prices are equally eye-watering! The coastal path has been kept up and is well enough surfaced to cycle the beautiful five kilometres into Denia. Not all sections are as well maintained as in the pictures but with a little dodging and weaving through the rough patches where the path dips into a dry river bed, it is a lovely ride and definitely beats the weekly drive to Sainsbury’s to get the shopping in.
Along the five kilometres there are a couple of relaxed restaurants clinging precariously to the edge of the land. Mostly they serve meals, almost exclusively fish, but you can stop in for just a drink along the way.
When we did not have our bikes with us last year we walked the path into town and caught the hourly bus back to the top of the road. Denia is a pretty stylish town – a busy port with a marina and a ferry terminal for the Balearics. Add plenty of eateries, a castle, two Lidls and a great weekly market and it is a perfect town to stay near for a couple of idle weeks. After the walk a small brunch was reasonable and for a couple of euros you could have a garlicky bruschetta and a glass of fresh orange juice. Strangely, we do not seem to have any decent photos of Denia so here are a representative couple found on the internet (with thanks (take down policy operates:-)).
Last year we spent our first couple of hours waiting in the Orange shop to get hold of a data-only SIM. Why is this so hard in so many European countries? Portugal is an honourable exception. So is the UK actually! This year we had acquired a Vodaphone sim in Seville and it had worked well – even streaming radio. Now only a couple of gigabytes in and it refused to acknowledge our existence – but we knew the top-up shop was in the paper shop down the road! Topped up. It still refused to acknowledge even its own existence. The Three chip went back in the mifi and worked fine! I hate Vodaphone. The campsite wifi is rather hit and miss, the explanation being that Montgo, the modest mountain that towers a bit to the south of us, necessitates a big satellite dish and this gets knocked out of alignment by the winds that swirl around the tops. Feeble excuse. We also discovered that our Virgin phone packages worked well and allowed tethering! Great news – we have been largely wasting our monthly data allowances up to now. You can even use a lightning cable to link the phone to the TV and stream live UK TV if you want! Amazing.
This blog relates the end of February and beginning of March 2018. I am writing it in early July 2018 and we are preparing to go off again on a long trip. So I am rushing on to try and jump ahead a month or three.
We spent our days on the beach, in town or hanging around the campsite reading. We spent our evenings in the little bar where custom dictated one should foregather at 18:00 hours and drink a convivial glass or two before the wind whipping through the cracks in the plastic walls defeated the patio heaters’ attempts to keep it warm. The nights were decidedly chilly! The picture is poor quality but shows what I mean. It was a little bit cliqueish. Those who had been there three months reluctant to yield space to us newbies who had to squeeze around the edges. This improved when several of the clique left for the UK and we expanded our clique with the welcome arrival of Louisa and the presence of a couple from the posh flats on the beach path. At the end of several days we were incorporated into the depleted long-stay clique anyway.
Now we were on a new countdown. The car in France needed taking to Folkestone for an MOT before 5 April:-( We wanted to do all the travelling involved in a leisurely fashion and spend some springtime at the fermette getting her opened up after four months shut down over the winter. We foolishly thought Burgundy in March would offer benign weather for airing and a spot of light gardening. To be fair, in some years it would have. Anyway – I am getting ahead of myself. It was now 4th March and time to follow the littoral back to France.