Hello! I trust this post doesn’t find you all windswept and soggy? All we’re hearing from home are tales of high winds, constant rain and floods. I almost feel guilty for enjoying the warm Spanish sunshine, eating outdoors and sleeping with the windows open. Almost.
Our last chat ended with us on our way to Morella for a stopover. There, we found a free aire which our guide book said had amazing views of the hill fort town just twenty minutes walk away.
On arrival we were a bit puzzled as the designated parking spot beside the servicing point, while perfectly fine, had pretty ordinary views and nobody else there but us. Then we saw another camper van drive right past us and up the tiny gravel ramp to the right of the steps in the pic above. That turned out to be a more unofficial resting place among the olive trees. This spot had picnic tables and views directly over the valley to the castle ramparts. Just the ticket!
Morella is one of those strategically placed towns which has been fought over for centuries. Remains date from prehistoric cave paintings to the days of Ancient Greece. And from the conflict between the Carthaginians and the Romans. And from the Visigoths (twice). The Moors got hold of it in 714 AD and even El Cid (who seems to pop up everywhere round here) is reputed to have rebuilt the castle in 1084. You see? I read Wikipedia so you don’t have to 😉
Swooping down from the mountains on twisty hairpin roads for an hour or so brought us finally to Spain’s east coast – our target from day one. All this holidaying is such hard work we’d decided to stay in one place for a few nights to get the washing done, re-stock supplies and generally just chill out and do nothing. The site we chose was Camping el Eden in Peñíscola.
So let’s get it out of the way before we go any further. Yes, Gill did take a pic of me standing strategically in front of the sign for the town. And no, I’m not going to publish it here as it’s too rude. Feel free to request a copy by email…
Peñíscola is a modern holiday town stretching along 5km of golden beach. It doesn’t have the packed-in feel of the Costas with their high-rise hotels and Irish bars; it’s more genteel with grand old dilapidated hotels, interspersed with newer apartment buildings and occasional bars and restaurants. At one end of the beach, quite close to our campsite, Peñíscola castle sits on a headland jutting out into the sea. The castle is surrounded by steep, narrow and twisting streets full of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops which take you all the way back down to beach level. It’s so picturesque that the castle was used in several episodes of Game of Thrones according to the signs.
When we got fed up with sitting on the beach with books and beers (we even swam in the freezing Med – no, really!) we’d adjourn to that end of town for the outdoor fish restaurants. Several times in fact. Possibly even more than that. You can’t do better than grilled sardines fresh off the bbq with a squeeze of lemon and a cold beer in the sunshine. Or grilled sea bass. Or pescaito frito – mixed fried fish in batter. You probably get the idea – seafood plays a big part in our Vince tours!
We ran down our supplies over our time in Peñíscola with the intention of stocking up at the local Mercadona so we’d leave with a few days supply of fresh food. What we didn’t realise (and it’s not the first time this has happened) is that we were leaving on a Bank Holiday Monday so of course the supermarket was closed. There was only one we could find which was open on All Saints’ Day. We tripped over a tiny Lidl packed to the rafters.
It was like Asda on Christmas Eve, the day before a lockdown, in an everything must go sale just after food shortages have been announced. There wasn’t a parking space to be found – especially in an oil tanker like Vince so we parked in a loading bay and hoped for the best. I had to stay on board in case we had to move so poor Gill fought her way up and down the aisles bashing people aside with her trolley until it was full. We were very glad to get out of there and back on the road!
Our current location is an hour and a half down the coast at Castellò de la Plana. It’s another beachy stopover I’m afraid. This one is much quieter than the previous stop with wooden boardwalks over the dunes, and surrounded by parkland. Shops and bars are a twenty minute walk away but for such a popular motorhome stop, it feels more restful.
Our guide actually said that this motorhome aire is so busy and so popular that it can be very difficult to get a space. Vince has an Irish registration plate* so he must have brought the luck of the Irish with us. We drove in ahead of two other campers and serenely slid into the last remaining space out of 47! The two folks behind us (French! Haha!) circled round a few times before heading off to who-knows-where. And when I say popular, from here I can see Spanish vans, French, Dutch, Finnish, Austrian, German, Swedish, and one more UK registered motorhome. And of course nobody ever says a word to anyone else 😀
Next destination is the city of Valencia. See you there!
*It’s a long story involving changing his number plate before a return visit to Portugal, where we may be on record for er, unpaid electronic motorway tolls. Honest mistake guv! We didn’t know you had to pay in advance…