Taking a site plan of the pitches at Los Pinos so we could book a good spot for next year, we left the campsite and headed north. About this time last year we had followed much the same route south in a dash to find some heat which meant we missed a lot of interesting things. Not far north of Denia is an interesting-looking delta, famed for rice growing and flamingos – two good reasons to call in this time. The Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre stretches flatly and wetly out into the Mediterranean having been built up on soil washed-down over the centuries. It is crossed by branches of the Ebro draining into the sea (dis-tributaries?) and man-made irrigation ditches. There are apparently two moho aires on the delta, one a long way out in the sea, nicely placed adjacent to a fish restaurant and free to park. No brainer! We bounce down the rather rough roads which are also rather narrow but, given the nature of the terrain, you can see anything coming for miles. IMGEbro flat
The aire is large and nicely laid out. There are services which are chained off and you need to get a key from the restaurant to use them. For a few euros. They are badly placed so that anyone queuing to use them blocks the exit for everyone else – a problem that only becomes apparent the next morning. We go for a flamingo-spotting walk which is a success, but only with the eye of faith!
The white spots across the middle of the photo really are flamingos – with binoculars they look a very pale pink. Obviously they are not getting enough prawn cocktails:-( This prompts thoughts of seafood and we make a reservation at the restaurant – it is not big and several more vans have turned up! In the event there are only half-a-dozen tables taken when we eat the most delicious fish supper later on – charcuterie and salad is followed by a platter two different fish, the catch of the day. We are also given a tiny packet of rice and bottle of oil to take away as a taster of the region – amazing how much pleasure such a small gesture gives.
The threatening skies of the evening do not develop into a storm and after a peaceful night and a bit of a wait to get out (without using the services) we continue an hour or so north to Camping Miramar at Mont Roig del Camp – on the sea. The ACSI card proves its value here as it seems to be quite an expensive site even though half closed, and it charges the exorbitant sum of €6.00 per day for a wifi connection on top! Enough moaning! Our pitch is one of several right behind the small sea dune with crashing waves a few metres away.
Too cold and windy for a swim unfortunately, even though sunny.
The rental caravan opposite which clearly has not moved for several decades is painted a cheery pink with white spots reminding Neil of Mr Blobby. Not a colour scheme we have encountered before on a van but clearly a favourite around here – the adjacent one was red and was in process of being adorned with white spots. Forgot to take a photo sadly:-(
It gets even windier and we are buffeted a bit in the night – grateful there is a bit of a dune between us and what sounds like the raging sea. We had been expecting Louisa to catch us up after she had made a detour to see friends in Valencia, but she had been held up by van problems that could not be sorted out on the Sunday. She rolled in on our second evening and learned the benefits of ACSI the hard way – especially galling when you arrive late and leave early:-( My fault really – I had chosen the site without realising she was not a member.
This was our last night in Spain. We knew from last year that most of the little resorts further up the coast were battened down for the winter. Many paying aires are open but the associated towns tend to be tourist type high rise developments waiting for the summer hordes. I am sure there are some delightful places to be found – the beaches we saw are lovely and the promenades elegantly paved and lined with palm trees.
We had stayed in one or two very satisfactory aires tucked in the back streets of such places last year as we got our bearings in a new country but, at this time of year, they are not quite appealing enough to go back to. Accordingly I had planned a three hour motorway trip over the Pyrenees and back into la belle France to a spot we know just south of Perpignan.
The journey has some nice views which I cannot remember in detail apart from the series of twists and turns to get off the motorway once in France and onto the side roads to Trouillas. Here at Les Oliviers de La Canterrane, just below the Pyrenees, is a business-scale olive farm with many ramshackle outbuildings alongside which you can park up and make use of the facilities. How does France manage to be so casually welcoming to motorhomes? (And why can the UK not be the same?) One of the buildings is a barn of a place that is obviously used for local gatherings whenever the need arises.
It is equipped with many trestle tables and chairs and a dart board, with blunt darts, hangs tiredly on the wall next to a mammoth scale paella pan. At one end is a tattyish kitchen area with microwave ovens, much appreciated by me, and various other handy facilitites – such as a sink with hot water, much appreciated by Neil. Everything works. There is a free shower and toilet in another building close to some washing machines. This place is wonderful.
Louisa had texted that she was en route having loyally followed her sat nav on the goat track route over the Pyrenees for several hours – not altogether intentionally! I find the man who seems to belong to the place and say we are expecting a friend after barrier-closing time. He says not to worry, I live right by the barrier and will listen out for her and let her in when she arrives. He does so. What a nice place this is. We show our gratitude in the beautiful on-site farm shop by buying some speciality olive oil.We also buy a sticky-back plastic donkey to start our collection of animal silhouettes on the back of the van. We neglected to get a cockerel in Portugal, or a bull in Spain this time round. Some intrepid people even have a camel! I wonder if there is a country that has a snail as an emblematic critter?