Again on our way to the south – part 1
April till June 2022
During two weeks we stayed at home and these weeks we were quite busy. We had a lot to do because we have decided that I will walk the Camino Frances, an 500 miles long hike through Northern Spain starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees. Dick already booked the bus trip for me. We also celebrated my sister Hannah’s birthday last Sunday, always a great thing to do and just before our new trip, we managed to buy mountain boots for both of us in a small sport store Alblasserdam. The shoes are a bit boring. Well, Dick has nice colored shoes but mine are grey-blue and not really noticeable. But at first feeling they are comfortable, which is of course the most important thing with shoes.
Now, Tuesday April 12th, it’s time to leave again towards south. The weather looks good for the next few days so, after visiting our dentist Mariska, we drive to the RV storage, have a nice chat with Betty and then drive home. There we store all the stuff we think we need in the motorhome and as always that’s quite a lot. After 2.5 hours everything has a place and we can leave. We want to spend the night in the town of Zaltbommel, but unfortunately, when we arrive there at 6.30 pm, all places are taken. Since you are not allowed to spend the night in the nearby parking lot, we continue our drive to Nuenen, Vincent van Gogh’s hometown. Here is enough space to stay. For dinner we have a delicious ragout with rice and cucumber. We love it to have another stay in our Frankia.
At 8 am the next day we wake up by the sound of motorbikes, driving past the motorhome. This parking is a popular place for motorcycling schools to practice, but because they start at 8 am, it doesn’t give any inconvenience and it’s time to get up anyway. There is no shop closeby and since we have no bread anymore, we eat some yogurt, drink juice and a cup of coffee and then we leave. We stop on the way to Germany at a large outdoor shop but we cannot buy the desired extra doorlock, so we drive on to Bruggen in Germany. Just before we arrive at the parking lot for RV’s, we see our friends Marjo and Wim cycling past our RV. They already arrived here last night and together we will spend the next few days. While they continue cycling for a while, we park the Frankia at the busy spot and then take our empty deposit bottles to the Rewe supermarket across the road. We also buy some food for the coming days. After all, it is almost Easter and on some days the shops and supermarkets are closed in Germany.
Wim and Marjo are back at 2 pm and after having a nice chat and enjoying a cup of coffee, the four of us walk into the town of Bruggen. The weather is lovely, the sun is shining and the temperature is rising to 64 degrees. Both Dick and I have to try the hiking boots we just bought, but they fit great so we don’t have problems. Bruggen is a pleasant town to walk around, especially with this nice weather. At the end of the afternoon we return to our motorhomes and together we drink a glass of wine. Since we don’t want to cook, I buy food at the Turkish restaurant across the street. It tastes good. We chat for a while but at 9 pm we say goodbye and before 10 pm we already sleep.
Because there is construction work next to this parking lot, we wake up early on Thursday April 14th. I buy bread at the bakery and after doing our dishes we dump grey and black water and fill our clean water. We drive separately to the town of Julich and because our speed is lower than that of Marjo and Wim, they arrive faster at the large parking on the edge of Julich. At this time of day there is still enough place so we can park our motorhomes next to each other and soon we sit outside, enjoy the sun and drink coffee. In the afternoon we walk to the old center of Julich, which is dominated by a large fortress.
But we have more eye for the nice little streets and the beautiful groups of statues that are everywhere in town. At the end of the afternoon we can’t resist the call of a terrace. It’s gotten a lot cooler and the sun practically disappeared behind the clouds, so the cappuccino and hot chocolate taste great. Tomorrow is Good Friday and all the supermarkets are closed, so, at an intersection, I walk towards a supermarket, while Marjo, Wim and Dick return slowly to the motorhomes. The store looks like it has been looted. Fresh vegetables or lettuce are no longer for sale, just a lightweight mat to sleep on, is being loaded into my shopping cart. In the evening, after spending another hour outside together (the sun returned) we eat some goulash and bread. But it is enough.
When we get up on Friday, April 15th, the sun is shining, but soon the sky is foggy and gray. The thermometer only shows 46 degrees.
Nevertheless, we take our bikes and soon we are on our way to the mountain which is 6 miles away. On this mountain, actually a remnant of a mine, geocaches are hidden everywhere. Fortunately we are cycling so we are not really bothered by the cold and when we climb up the mountain a little later, we even do get warm.
When we arrive at the highest point, the sun breaks through and it quickly warms up. We can even store our jackets in our bicycle bags. We cycle criss-cross over the mountain slopes and climb up and down, geocaches let us lead the way. Sometimes the slopes are so steep that we only come down with breakneck descents. Marjo doesn’t dare to do that and walks down, often she is the most smartest. The increasingly beautiful weather is attracting more and more people outside (after all, everyone in Germany has a day off today) but the many trails, which can be found all over the mountain, offer enough space for both hikers and cyclists.
I really like the route that we climb up in the middle of the afternoon. Here the Stations of the Cross are depicted along the way. The idea behind it is that, by going past the images, you can walk through the Via Dolorosa (The Passion of Jesus). Very appropriate for this Good Friday. We are not back at the motorhomes until the evening. Here we enjoy again this wonderful day, chat about the various geocaches we found and have a drink outside before the temperature really drops too much and it is getting too cold outside.
As our friend Thecla always says, this was a day with a golden edge.
Because we want to arrive on time in Mettlach (after all, it is the Easter weekend) we get up early morning on Saturday April 16th, have a shower already at 6.30 am and after an hour we leave. Wim and Marjo will follow a little later. It is busy on the road that takes us through Germany and then again through Belgium. The last part of the route we drive along the river Moselle where we see the crowds with our own eyes. Every site where you can spend the night is filled up and it’s the same case when we arrive at the parking lot of the brewery in Mettlach. Here we have never seen so many motorhomes. But we’re lucky because someone is just leaving and we park so spacious that, with some maneuvering, we could possibly park two motorhomes on this spot.
The latter is definitely the case when our neighbor tells us that he wants to drive backwards when Wim and Marjo will arrive. The latter is not necessary because when they arrive on this parking lot, an hour later, another RV is leaving so for them a good spot is also available. Later it turns out that we didn’t have to worry about a place at all because the places for passenger cars are also taken by RV’s.
While Marjo and I walk to the town to pay for the parking lot at the tourist information, the men drink coffee and chat.
We make reservations for the restaurant of the brewery because we prefer to eat indoors, as it’s not really warm (it is around 54 degrees). In the afternoon we walk to the center of Mettlach together, take a look at the park of Villeroy and Buch (the family that manufactures porcelain), wander through the different outlet stores in this town, stroll over the art market in the center and enjoy a delicious ice cream in the main street, before we slowly walk back to the motorhome. It’s a good thing we didn’t make reservations for an early dinner (we eat around 8 pm) because now this ice cream has some time to digest and that is necessary because the German ice creams are really large.
Unfortunately our place in the restaurant is not very pleasant, we sit next to the constantly moving swing doors to the kitchen. But the food tastes good and after all that walking around we are really hungry. There are now 20 motorhomes in the parking lot, only 6 are allowed, but it is dead quiet and we sleep like roses under a full moon.
Easter Sunday April 17th we enjoy a real Easter breakfast, not only Dick cooked a fresh egg, we also received a number of chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies from Marjo, which makes this Easter breakfast extra festive. After we have done our dishes, dumped and filled up, we say goodbye to Wim and Marjo. They will stay here for another day and return home tomorrow.
We continue our journey south.
Of course we fill up our diesel tank in Luxembourg (cheaper) and at 11 am we cross the border into France.
After quite a long stretch on a busy 4-lane road, we arrive in the town of Epinal. Here is more than enough place to park along the quay, because there is nobody. After paying the parking fee at a bicycle rental company (it costs € 5.20 to park here with free electricity and possibility to dump and fill up with water) we walk to the center of Epinal. It is Easter Sunday, everything is closed and because it is still is not really warm, there are not many terraces, so the city gives a deserted impression.
It is only very busy on a river with fast flowing water because today white water canoe competitions take place here. Unfortunately we only see a single canoe descending the wildly flowing river because the first round is already finished and as the races will not be continued until tomorrow, we walk slowly back to the motorhome. Of course after enjoying a cup of coffee with cake at the local boulangerie. The sun is now shining and the weather is lovely, so we open all our windows wide and read in our books. In the evening we make ourselves comfortable. We don’t cook but only warm up leberkaese (porc meat) and potato cakes. Watching TV is not possible because our antenna is hidden in the trees and cannot find a signal, but luckily we have good books.
Monday April 18th we get up at 7.30 am. The bakery is closed today and we don’t see another in the area, so we leave without breakfast. We do, however, dump our gray and black water first. That’s my job, which means that, a few times, I have to walk almost half a mile. We also fill our clean water tank. That’s Dick’s job and because we are standing next to the water tap, he can fill up the watering can without walking.
Again it is dead quiet on the road and it is clear that Easter Monday is also a holiday in France. We meander on narrow back roads and soon arrive in the Burgundy region where, as far as you can see, grapevines are to be seen. They are now starting to grow, showing their first buds.
After 3.5 hours we arrive at the barrier of a parking lot in the town of Beaune. This barrier doesn’t seem to work, so several times we (I mean I) press a button, after which eventually a tiring voice answer that we can enter through the exit and soon we are parked.
After a cup of coffee, we are really in for that, we walk into the center of Beaune. It is busy and all the terraces are packed due to the beautiful weather. At 4 pm, after wandering for a long time through the cozy streets, we finally find a place on a terrace. It turns out that we no longer can have lunch. It’s after 2 pm and there are no longer any baguettes, so we walk back to the Frankia, put our chairs outside, drink a beer and eat chips and peanuts. Unfortunately a little later, when the sun disappears behind the buildings, it cools down quickly, so we go inside and prepare some food. The hickory beans we bought in the USA have long passed the “best before” date, but they still taste great with goulash.
At 7 am we are awake on Tuesday April 19th. The sun is only faintly visible behind the many clouds and the temperature just reaches 50 degrees. The barriers are repaired but a facility is built in for those who arrived here yesterday, so we don’t have to pay anything. Through the interior we set course for Clermont Ferrand, traverse the city and a little later we arrive in the city of Issoire.
The parking lot is quiet and after we have parked the Frankia, I grab both laundry bags, Dick gets a shopping cart and a little later we stay at the laverie next to the supermarket that borders our parking lot. Unfortunately, when I try to start the washing machine, it refuses to start so it is not possible to wash or dry. And so we put all our laundry back into the shopping cart, walk back to the motorhome and while Dick takes the bikes out of the garage, I pack the bicycle bags with our dirty stuff. A little later we cycle to the center, where a laverie is located, it’s only 1 mile. There we wash and dry our clothes and bed linen. Because we finish this laundry process at 4.30 pm, we don’t do anything anymore.
Although, Dick makes sure that I can participate in a mini pilgrimage from Maastricht to Roermond. It’s organized by the society of St James, in honor of this Saint’s name day. There are still some places available and Dick says this is a good way to experience what it is to walk day after day. Even though this mini-pilgrimage is only 50 miles long, spread over 4 days, it gives me the opportunity to test my equipment. I don’t really sleep well. Not only because of the excitement of the pilgrimage but also because I suddenly have a cold.
Wednesday April 20th, it is cloudy. As we still have German bread, we have that for breakfast and then we leave. Soon it starts to rain. Really weather to drive further south. We stop in the town of Bozouls, it is 12.30 pm. Since I’m not feeling well, Dick explore the town alone and I soon fall asleep. When Dick returns to the Frankia after about two hours, I wake up again. Dick tells me the story about a deep gorge in the village and show me pictures so I quickly get out of bed.
Fortunately I recovered a bit, because of the two hours of sleep. And we quickly walk together to the town to see this spectacular deep gorge in the middle of town. And it certainly is special. The gorge has steep walls and is about 328 feet deep. In wet periods some beautiful waterfalls flow from the holes in the rock face. After taking some pictures we walk further along the gorge. Unfortunately the only open restaurant closes at 7 pm so we prepare food in the motorhome. We chat via facetime with Hannah and Susan and at 9.30 pm I am in a deep sleep again. I still don’t feel well.
When we get up at 8 am on Thursday April 21st, it is still cloudy but there is no wind and it is 50 degrees, so I have a good morning walk to the bakery. After breakfast we drive further south and in Roques we stop at the parking lot of a large Leclerc supermarket. The gray gloomy weather and the regularly falling rain make us wander through the large shopping center and together we enjoy the many shops. There is not something we want to buy so it is a cheap walk. The rest of the afternoon and evening we sit inside, read a lot and watch the crowds around us in this busy parking lot. Although I still don’t feel completely 100 percent, thanks to some paracetamol tablets, things are going a bit better.
On Friday we don’t want to drive directly to the country of Andorra and we decide to make a stop in Foix. This town is located in the valley towards Andorra and luckily there is a place where we can park. As soon as the Frankia is levelled, the sun breaks through and soon the sky is blue and we stroll around this cozy town. There is a market in the center of town where we look around and then we wander through the medieval streets of this old mountain town. Luckily the post office is open in the afternoon and I can buy a stamp for Dee’s birthday card. I wonder or it will be in time in the US. We will see.
I need to go to the hairdresser because my hair is too long, but when I walk through the streets in the afternoon, the hairdressers are either closed or fully occupied so I will have to live with my long hair even longer. Because of the cold wind we close the windows. Here in this mountain area it is not really summer, it’s only 50 degrees.
After buying fresh baguettes from the supermarket early in the morning, we notice that one of our rear tires is flatter. So when we see a tire shop, just outside the village, we stop there. A quick inspection reveals that a screw is stuck in the tire, causing it to slowly deflate.
Unfortunately this shop doesn’t have time to repair our tire (we have to wait until Monday) but they offer to inflate our tires extra. I think that takes as much time as making the hole, but they won’t repair. So we leave the shop, with extra inflated tires but still one broken tire (that’s not okay) and drive into the mountains.
Slowly we climb up the mountain pass and soon the sky becomes grayer and grayer and we disappear into the clouds. It starts snowing, first wet snow but soon large dry snowflakes fall incessantly. When we finally arrive in the town of Pas de la Casa in Andorra. The road and the roadsides are covered with snow and the temperature has dropped to 28 degrees. When we refuel high on the mountain, we are now at 7875 feet, we hardly get away due to the snow and so it soon becomes clear that we have to continue to the town of Sant Julia de Loria. This town is situated on a lower altitude where we probably will have less snow or no snow at all. Just before we arrive there, we see a tire shop. We stop, of course, and find out that our tire can be repaired. Dick lowers our levelers so the tire can be removed, a plug is shot into the hole created by the removed screw and we can drive on after paying 15 euros.
There is plenty of parking space behind the River supermarket. Here is no snow and the temperature has risen to 46 degrees fahrenheit. Good that we didn’t stay high up in the mountains. We have a good meal in the restaurant of the supermarket and then we take a leisurely stroll through the large supermarket. I buy different socks to see which one suits best during walking. In the evening we don’t have to eat anything because of the abundant meal at 2 pm and go to bed early because I’m still feel not quite well; now I also started coughing.
There are still some clouds on Sunday April 24th, but there is also a blue sky and the sun is shining. Really weather to visit the capital: Andorra de la Vella. This city is not really big with an area of 4,7 square miles, but if you consider that the entire surface of the country of Andorra only covers 181 square miles, Andorra la Vella is still a considerable city. There is little to no parking space for a motorhome in Andorra la Vella and because Sant Julia de Loria is only 6 miles away and there is a bus that stops nearby, we are soon waiting at the bus stop. We don’t have to wait long. After 10 minutes we can board and drive to the center. Dick also caught a cold and is not feeling optimal.
This is noticeable as we walk further and further through this town. After all, we want to see two special attraction. First of all, the Escaldes Engordany, a very striking and pointed building which is clearly visible from a distance, especially when the sun reflects in the windows.
And of course we also take a look at the artwork “Noblessa del Temps” by Salvador Dali. The latter can be found in the midst of the shops. Really everyone wants to take a selfie here.
After walking around for at least 8.5 miles and visiting many shops, Dick is about to collapse.
We are happy when we arrive at a bus stop where Dick is hoisting himself into the bus, he is really at the end of his rope. As I am not tired and still can walk and want to look around in the large shopping center “the Pyrenees”, I am not getting on the bus. After saying goodbye to Dick, I walk on, look in shops, admire beautiful lightweight clothes and look around in the old part of Andorra la Vella with its narrow streets and old stone houses.
Finally, I leisurely walk back to San Julia de Loria, only 5,5 miles, pausing every now and then to look around in an outdoor shop. I don’t return to our Frankia until 6.30 pm. Our friends Marjo and Wim already arrived here. Unfortunately we don’t dare to sit together because Dick has a bad cold now and feels sick and we don’t want to infect them. So we chat, staying outside, but when it gets too cold, we each withdraw to our motorhomes. That’s just the way it is, we cannot change it. In the evening I cycle to the other side of the village (5 miles back and forth) because earlier this day I saw beautiful sunglasses in the outlet store. But….I did not buy them. Since I need new sunglasses and Dick likes them (I made pictures) I ‘ll be back with new sunglasses in an hour. Dick feels sick and looks sick, so I don’t cook. We only have a baguette with sausages.
I am glad Dick feels a lot better when he wakes up on Monday April 25th. After dumping and filling up I walk inside and buy a fresh baquette. After a good breakfast we say goodbye to Marjo and Wim (they drive straight to Portugal) and leave. Of course we are stopped at the border with Spain. Again we have to open some outside lockers and the customs officer also wants to look inside the motorhome.
But finally we may continue and climb up the narrow mountain road that takes us along the south side of the Pyrenees mountains, climbing higher and higher. A beautiful road and we are short of eyes. I’m glad it’s quiet on the road and there is no oncoming traffic because the road is very narrow at many points.
After a 4 hour trip with endless descents and many tunnels, we finally arrive in the medieval town of Ainsa, where we park the Frankia on a large lawn near the old town. First we parked at the foot of the hill, but there, parking is only allowed during daytime. It takes a while to find the best place to park because there are many trees with low hanging branches, but after some maneuvering, we find a good spot, looking out over the white snow-covered mountain peaks of the Pyrenees. It’s really beautiful here.
The town on the hill is small, but nice to wander around and we enjoy. The sunny weather also plays a role. With 65 degrees it is a good place to be outside. When, on our way back, we see the terraces on the main square, we take a seat and order a pizza and a beer. It tastes really good. Finally we walk back after admiring the view from the castle walls. It gets even warmer and my eyes close. That’s what happens when you drink a freshly tapped beer in the warm sun.
Tuesday, April 26th, the white snow-covered mountain peaks of the Pyrenees radiate to us and we drive further east on the mountain roads and through narrow valleys. For 1.5 hours it is endless climbing and descending. Four times we pass the height of 3280 feet. Poor Dick, for days he did not see anything but wild, high mountains. Although that is my favorite landscape, he prefers grassy meadows. In desperation, I point out the rolling wheat fields that appear just before our destination, Arguedas. He is not impressed. We park the Frankia on a bumpy piece of ground with tall weeds.
Later we find out that a little further on is a nice paved parking lot, but then we don’t want to move anymore. From our spot we have a good view of the cave houses that were inhabited here until the 1960s. Of course we climb up a little later to view these cave houses, which are sometimes beautifully painted inside. During our walk through the town we find a lovely spot in the warm sun on the central square.
The temperature has now risen to 68 degrees and it is very pleasant to sit outside and drink something. We eat a delicious sandwich and then leisurely walk back to the Frankia. End of the afternoon, when the shop opens (it’s now 17.30 pm) we buy some food and soda’s in the small village shop. After our lavish lunch we don’t have to cook anymore and only have a small snack.
Unfortunately the next day, the weather is turning and it gets worse. Soon it starts to rain again. No weather to stay here. Very sad because we would like to take a closer look at the desert area behind the cave-houses. Again a destination were we have to return to.
We drive through the Rioja region but unfortunately the clouds are very low and there is a lot of rain, so we don’t see much of this beautiful area. Actually it’s a day to do our laundry again, so after parking our motorhome in the town of Segovia, next to the bullfighting arena, we grab the bikes and drive the 1.3 miles to the lavanderia where I spend the rest of the afternoon with the washing and drying process. Dick regularly cycles back and forth to the motorhome to return items that are not allowed in the dryer or bring back dry clothes. He also brings plastic bags that we use to cover our dry and clean laundry. Really necessary when it starts to rain harder. When we are home at 5 pm and the clothes are stored, we don’t want to walk to the center of Segovia. So we drink a glass of wine, grab our books and have a stew with cauliflower and beans in the evening. Fortunately, the rain stops late evening.
Thursday, April 28th, the weather is still unstable and there are many clouds. But no rain is falling and because there is no wind, the thermometer shows 54 degrees.
Again we have breakfast with Oroweat bread, yes, the same bread we bought in the USA and it tastes good. Only it contains a little more sugar then the bread we normally have. We drive over a high plateau to the southwest and then arrive in the town of Avilla. We arrive early because we only had to drive 41 miles. The first sight of Avila is that of an endless long and high wall. It looks unreal and resembles a picture in a fairy tale book. This city wall was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and has a length of more than 1.6 miles, an average width of 10 feet and has 88 semicircular towers. So it is very impressive. We park our Frankia in a parking lot at the bottom of the wall. This is not so easy because first we have to figure out how to pay by phone, but we succeed and walk to the town center. That means we first have to climb the steep slope to one of the nine entrance gates. It is a beautiful old town and we wander through the narrow streets where we occasionally find a cache. A special town. It is a pity that the weather is gloomy but fortunately it doesn ‘t rain.
At a bakery we drink a cup of coffee, of course with cake. We now found out that in Spain it is better to order “café con leche” (coffee with milk) than cappuccino because the first one is tastier. At 3.30 pm we are back at the motorhome and then I decide to walk to the Decathlon on the other side of town. I heard that here is a lot to be found, I can use on my hiking trip. Dick thinks it’s enough and he stays in the motorhome. Today he already walked 4.7 miles. After a lot of looking around I find a nice lightweight shirt. It’s the one I really need when I walk to Santiago de Compostela. Unfortunately it’s already 7 pm so I have to walk back otherwise Dick is getting worried. I am glad I don’t have to cook because for dinner we have the leftover stew that still tastes good.
We love it when the sun is shining again on Friday April 29th, even though there are still a lot of clouds. As we drive further south, the road is quiet and we slowly climb higher and higher into the mountains. When we arrive in Toledo around noon, there is not a single spot to be found on the huge parking lot on the edge of the city. We feel sorry but we have to deal with this and we drive on to the town of Consuegra.
We can’t stay here either, because in the parking lot in the center is a large circus tent surrounded by circus wagons. With some effort we could possibly still park along the edge, but we drive on anyway and arrive at 1.30 pm in Puerto Lapice.
Here is a nice spot at the foot of a slope on top of which are windmills. Yes, the same mills as those in Consuegra that Don Quixote fought against. Of course we also want to take a closer look at these mills and after a cup of coffee we slowly climb up the hill where we not only visit the mills (they are currently being restored) but also find a geocache. After enjoying the beautiful view around, we leisurely walk back to the town. The shops are now closed until 5.30 pm. The town is built along mainstreet and it’s dead quiet everywhere. So there is no point in wandering around. When we see a nice terrace on the main square we take a seat and have something to eat. After our good, but lavish meal we know we do not need to eat any more. During the evening this small parking lot fills up completely.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, the dumping of gray and black water, as well as the filling of clean water, we leave this pleasant town and drive along the major highway. That’s why we already arrive in Ubeda at 12 pm. Next to the training site of the Guardia Civil is a large parking lot where, at this time of the day, is still enough space to park. After all many motorhomes leave this time of the day. Soon after the Frankia is levelled, we walk into the center. It takes a while to find out which way we have to take, but then we wander along the city walls and through the narrow maze-like streets of this old town.
It is busy and the churches are closed to the public because the First Communion takes place everywhere during this time of the year. It is nice and warm, 74 degrees and it is great to walk around. Like many Spaniards, we also sit on a sun-drenched terrace and enjoy coffee and a croissant with ham and cheese. It tastes fine. After quite some time walking around we are back at 4 pm. Eating one croissant is not filling enough so at 5 pm I walk to the supermarket to buy some food and in the evening we enjoy the ham, lettuce, and baguette. The doors and windows remain open for a long time. The weather is pleasant and warm.
Sunday May 1st we wake up at 8 am and so we leave at 9.30 am. At 1.30 pm we arrive in the mountains near Antequera. The nature reserve El Torcal is completely filled with cars. Actually no wonder at this weekend of May 1st and we don’t even may think that we can park our motorhome here. Without discussing we turn around and drive back to Antequera where we can still find a spot on a piece of undeveloped land, overlooking the city.
This land is very uneven and bumpy but the ground is bone dry so that is not a problem. We soon walk around but before we descend to the town of Antequera, we first walk to the large Moorish fortress nearby. Arriving at the gate we don’t hesitate long, buy a ticket and walk to the castle wall where, of course, we climb the towers. From there we have a beautiful view of the surroundings and in the distance we see the mountains of El Torcal. Because it is quiet we can look around the castle at our leisure, but after two hours we descend further to the center of town far below us. It is now 4pm and at least 75 degrees, so all the terraces are overcrowded. There is no terrace to be found where we can sit, so we drink some water from my drinking bottle. This water doesn’t really appeal to Dick because now the water is warm, but it’s better than nothing. Then we wander around the maze of streets for a while, climb the steep mountain again, make our way through wild grassland where the sheep graze and finally arrive back. Now a cool wind is blowing so with all windows open it is not really warm inside.
Monday May 2nd is still a Sunday. Today the Spanish celebrate May 1st so it makes no sense to drive into the mountains and go hiking at El Torcal. Also today there is certainly no place to park and we leave after breakfast. At 11 am we arrive in Ronda. Because 10 motorhomes just left, there is plenty of space to park. No one uses the washing machine at this time of the day and because all shops are closed too, I start doing my laundry. When everything is clean again, we walk into the town. It is much colder now, the sun regularly disappears behind the clouds and we quickly put on our thin, red jackets. It is now 4.30 pm, we are quite hungry and we can’t resist an inviting terrace. We take a seat and order a beer with a bocadillos (delicious filled baguette).
After our stomach is satisfied, we continue our walk and arrive just in time at the deep gorge while it is beautifully lit by the sun and we admire the scene. When we are back the sun disappears and it starts to rain. And it doesn’t stop raining.
Fortunately, it clears up the next morning and, in addition to blue sky, sun can also be seen. The thermometer is already showing 59 degrees. At 10 am we leave this pleasant place and drive into the mountains. In this part of Spain, as far as the eye can see, all the slopes are covered with olive trees, up to the tops. In the distance we regularly see “The Rock”, our final destination and at 12.30 pm we arrive in La Linea, a town at the Gibraltar border, but at the Spanish side.
The parking lot along the marina is a beautiful spot and after we are parked, we walk into the city of La linea de la Conception.
The sun is shining brightly but there is a strong wind blowing. Nevertheless, it is lovely to walk around along the beach in la Linea and the burger we eat on the beach tastes good. When we return to the motorhome the end of the afternoon, we feel relaxed and our head is glowing, due to the strong sea wind. Till late in the evening we enjoy the daylight, the advantage of traveling around this time of year.
When we get up on Wednesday May 4th, only dark clouds are visible and drizzle rain falls down from the gray clouds covering the sky. So we stay inside and I can finally work at my story for the website. Fortunately, the sky clears up by noon and some sun and blue sky appear as well.
We walk to the border, put our passports on the scanner and a little later we walk through Gibraltar. It is really walking weather and so we explore the entire shopping street to the park near the gondola and we are not back at the border until the end of the afternoon. Again, it starts to rain, but after doing some shopping in the English supermarket, the rain stops and we can walk back without getting wet. The stew of cauliflower and beans tastes good, yes again, but it’s an easy meal to prepare, so I’m glad we didn’t eat Fish and Chips in Gibraltar after all. In the evening the clouds increase again and the mountains on the other side of the water are no longer visible due to the black dense clouds.
We are glad that the next day all the clouds disappear and the sun is to be seen in a steel blue sky. Really weather to climb the rock by bike. Crossing the border to Gibraltar by bike is even easier than on foot because you only have to wave your passport and you can continue cycling. By now we know which way to choose to get to the top and soon we stop at a sentry where we pay the entrance fee for the top part of the rock. Not cheap, as we have to pay £ 16 per person. It is busy on the narrow road that leads to the top of the rock and an endless stream of small vans, full of tourists, passes us. Actually not really a surprise with this radiant weather. Slowly we climb up, descend again, climb up to another side. It seems that we are climbing more than descending, but that is of course not true.
The view over the bay and the adjacent continent of Africa is beautiful, the monkeys hang out everywhere but don’t harm us, as long as you don’t have any food visible with you. A boy who walks around with a banana does not keep it in his possession for long. The large Berber monkeys approach the boy and howling indicates that the boy has lost his delicacy.
At 1 pm we eat a sandwich at the restaurant of the Michaels Cave and then cycle further to another point of view. At 3 pm we have seen enough of this Rock, descend slowly over the narrow steep rock slopes and arrive back at the Frankia at 4 pm.
It was a fantastic ride up and down but now we have seen enough here and tomorrow we continue our trip.
Also on Friday morning, May 6st, the sun is shining. The strong wind died down so it quickly is getting warmer. Just outside la Linea is a Decathlon outdoor shop, where I want to look around (again) and Dick is so kind to stop and come with me. Soon we are outside again, both with caps with neck protection and we continue our drive through a beautiful mountain landscape to Cádiz. After maneuvering through some narrow streets, we find a spot on the busy parking lot on the edge of the city. Although there is nothing here, the motorhome stays in a guarded parking lot, which, in these regions, gives a safe feeling.
After a cup of coffee, we long for that after this 75 miles long ride, we first walk to the beach. Somewhere here is a geocache hidden. It seems that it’s low tide, which is a requirement to get to the geocache. We walk over the beach where some people are already sunbathing and climb up the rocks in the distance. We find out that we don’t need to get wet feet to come close to the geocache. It takes some searching, Dick has to climb even higher rocks, but eventually we do find the geocache. Just in time, because on our way back, we can no longer walk on the sand, but regularly have to clamber over the rocks to keep our (new) shoes dry. Satisfied with this expedition we continue walking, now through the narrow streets of Cádiz. As much as possible we walk on the shady side of the streets because there is practically no wind and it is very warm in the narrow streets. When we finally arrive at the large square in front of the Cathedral, we take a seat at a bar and we have a drink.
Of course we also eat some tapas, the small snacks that everyone in Spain eats at any time of the day. They taste good, especially at the end of the afternoon when we get hungry. I am glad that we sit in the sun because a cool wind is blowing. We cannot resist an ice cream and stay on another terrace and then we slowly walk back. As I have to practice walking I have to walk more distance, so when I find out that here is a Decathlon too, I have a goal and leave again for another walk at 6 pm. The streets that were so quiet, after all everything was closed, are now bustling with life.
All the shops are opened now and everyone is walking around. What a different, this town is suddenly alive and very cozy. After entering many shops and regularly looking at the route planner of my I phone, I finally get to the Decathlon where, again, I look around to see what I can use on my trip. It’s easier to do that when you are alone. Except for a pair of socks, after all you have to try out the different types, I don’t buy anything. I return just in time to see a large cruise ship leaving. It was moored on the quay close to our parking lot. The sun continues to shine and sets like a fiery red ball.
After breakfast on Saturday May 7th, now with really old bread because there is no bakery or supermarket in the furthest distance, we leave this busy city parking and drive north to Seville. It is very busy in the guarded parking lot of a car company, but along the fence we find a nice spot where we can even lower our awning. That is very pleasant at a temperature of 86 degrees and a burning sun. It’s really too warm to walk around, so priority is given to do our laundry. While I fill the machines, Dick brings me a stool and a bottle of water and I wait until all the washing and drying cycles are ready. Even though I’m sitting in the shade, this part of the parking lot is sweltering hot. The sun burns on the metal side of this loft and the real feel of the temperature is over 100 degrees. Just when it feels like I am well done, I already drunk a second bottle of water (brought by Dick), we fortunately can bring back all the clean clothes.
Not far from this parking lot is a large supermarket where we buy food for our dinner and then we grab our chairs and sit outside. We do have dinner inside because it cools down around 8 pm. Nevertheless, the temperature remains high during the night. We are glad we covered our bed with the thin, summer duvet. It is obvious that there is a festivity in Seville, because the Spaniards, dressed in beautiful Spanish dresses walk down the parking lot to a party area elsewhere in town. They look gorgeous.
Part 2 is coming soon.