“Hang on… Try that… No, there… Up a bit…higher… Got it! 4G at last.”
It seems Vodafone ES 4G is a bit patchy down here in the South so I’m having to wave the phone about a bit. How’s a man supposed to check the dozens of likes on his selfies? Hey! I heard that up the back – who said it’s probably just Gill clicking lots of times..? Cheek!
A slow connection is a right pain when updating these posts as the photos take a bit of loading and editing. I like to reduce the resolution of each one so that it doesn’t take you long to load our posts if you have a slow connection or not much data allowance. See how considerate I am? Anyway, enough of that nonsense, I don’t want to spoil the magic – so how have you been? When we last spoke we were relaxing in Aranjuez just south of Madrid. We’ve covered quite a few miles since then!
It’s very strange sometimes waking up in a bedroom, which becomes a bathroom, then a kitchen and then which drives off down the road to be set up as a lounge somewhere else. But it’s great fun. Our next destination was Granada, six hours further south; three and a half by car but Vince is a slow old thing. Granada is a huge town overlooked by the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. I was going to say snow-capped mountains but that’s such a cliché. Instead I’ll say the mountains were um… capped with snow. Very dramatic-looking, and home to the Alhambra Palace, the last stronghold of the Moors until those pesky Christians turfed them out in 1492. It’s an incredible sight perched on the top of a hill, visible for miles around in its landscaped gardens.
They say that within the walls the Islamic architecture and the gardens are exquisite, and are the inspiration for many songs and stories down the centuries. But we can’t confirm that because we couldn’t get any bloomin’ tickets, waaaaah! As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they ‘limit’ visitors to 6600 per day with specific time slots. Online, they were booked out for weeks ahead so we visited the ticket office, just in case, but there was no joy to be had there either. Our campsite had an allocation but even they couldn’t come up with anything for a few days, and we needed to be moving on as the coast was beckoning. It was so impressive from the outside that we may yet stop by on our way back, but we’ll make sure we book tickets first.
That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time in Granada as we had a good old explore of the old city, the Albaicín quarter in particular had fantastic views across the valley to the Palace itself. We even managed to buy a plastic sieve for our pasta as we’d forgotten to pack one. Believe it or not we’ve been scouring pound shops (euro shops?) all the way here from Northern France for one without success. We took advantage of the Arab influence on the city’s cuisine by tucking into a belly-busting lunch of those dangly spicy chicken kebab thingies, sitting outside in the shadow of the Palace. Did I say it dominates the views? I probably did, didn’t I.
Today was our first real ‘do absolutely nothing’ day since leaving the UK just over two weeks ago. We’re in Motril – finally on the south coast listening to the waves and the brisk sea breezes through Vince’s open skylights. We left Granada at lunchtime yesterday after servicing Vince with fresh water, and after a 10k run for me to make up for all the beers and endless food I’m indulging in. We were only on the road for an hour or so but it was a hugely enjoyable drive through the tail-end of those Sierra Nevada mountains. Big swoopy viaducts over gorges, dams with deep blue reservoirs behind them, and painfully slow ascents followed by brake-burning Olympic downhill bobsleigh runs. Vince was grinning all over his face by the time we pulled up in one of a series of little car parks between a golf course and the beach.
There are signs saying no parking for motorhomes, but like so many places here, the police turn a blind eye out of season as long as everybody behaves. And by that I mean just parks up, rather than also getting out the picnic table and chairs, the barbecue, the sound system and the paddling pool for the kids. As the season picks up however, you’re more likely to be moved on, and that’s fair enough. Pre-season, I suspect the local chamber of commerce has a word with the chief of police to make sure a few badly-needed tourist dollars find their way into the restauranteurs’ tills.
So from Vince’s front window we can see a sandy track, a couple of beach huts and a pretty frisky Mediterranean Sea. We’re surrounded by palms, and only a handful of other vehicles. Two minutes along the beach is the golf club, with a restaurant where we sat on the terrace this afternoon to enjoy deep-fried anchovies and sautéed clams for lunch. There may even have been wine. This is what we came for!