Tuesday 13 March 2018 - Day 9
We’ve reached the Med - yay! This trip has been a long time in the dreaming and planning. It’s over 30 years since we first talked about buying a campervan. Jobs, children and life filled the gap between then and now, but we’ve finally made it to the warm sunshine. Nido is sunning himself and resting his aching tyres and brakes at La Volta campsite in Peniscola. We’ve booked in for one night but hope we can stay for tomorrow night too, as we’re ready for a day without driving.
Last night was a bit cold and rainy (we were several hundred metres above sea level) and the church clock clanged every 15 minutes, but we slept OK. The drive down to the coast took us through fields of (we think) almond trees in blossom, plus many olive trees. It was quite green but also uninhabited; clearly in the past the land had been carefully and lovingly farmed, with many ruined fincas, but these days I guess there’s no money to be made from subsistence farming. The hairpin bends and long drops kept me focussed on keeping us on the road. There was a huge amount of new road building going on, which seems strange given the complete lack of traffic on the road as we headed down to the coast. As we reached sea level, the olive and nut trees were replaced by citrus trees, mainly oranges but also some lemons. The temptation to scrump was strong!
Our first stop was a Mercadona in Peniscola. I’m still surprised at how cheap groceries are in Spain, for example we bought two swordfish steaks for a total sum of €2.49; they would have been £5 each in the UK. I pulled into the La Volta campsite and luckily here were a couple of pitches left, so long as we didn’t want electric hook up. The campsite is very full, mainly French, Dutch, German and Swedish vans. The pitches are cosy; it was easy to reverse Nido into ours, but I wouldn’t want to attempt it in a larger motorhome. We quickly set up camp, saying hello to our Dutch neighbours and getting our chairs and table out for the first time this trip to enjoy a cup of tea in the warm sunshine. This site has some excellent and immaculately clean facilities, even a sink to de-scale and wash the whole fish you bought at the market! There’s also a pool and a bar. Each pitch is amongst the pollarded trees and must provide some welcome shade in the heat of the summer.
Refreshed and changed into shorts and t-shirts, we walked down to the beach and turned right to follow the promenade, walking the 4km into the old town. A few bars and restaurants were open but the majority were still closed, although many were painting and cleaning ready for the upcoming season. We enjoyed walking around the base of the castle in the old town, including the lovely narrow streets. It must be heaving in the summer but we almost had it all to ourselves. We walked back along the beach, enjoying our first paddle in the Med this trip. Back at the campsite, we made use of long, hot showers, something you really get to enjoy when living in a small campervan, although our own wet room meets our needs. Dinner was enjoyed al-fresco, although we were almost alone in sitting outside; most people had moved in to eat or watch TV. As the sun started to dip it became decidedly chillier, so after washing up and putting everything away, we sat in the van with a warming cup of tea. Hopefully, if we can extend our stay here by another day, I’ll get out for a spin on the bike, while Cathy’s looking forward to a few hours on her own to sort out the van, get some washing done and read her book in the sunshine.
Looking to the near future, the only plan is to keep the sea on our port side and follow the coast, occasionally dipping inland when we see something interesting to visit.
|Our cosy little pitch|
|First sight of the Mediterranean|
|Pensicola castle and old town|
|View from the castle gardens|
|We love walking through these narrow streets|