Beautiful South

NiKi Loves the Sun!
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NiKi loves the sun!

After a baptism of fire on the motorhome front the morning came thankfully and we and NiKi were all in one piece. After our late Sunday lunch we headed back to the carpark and again bedded in for the night with the aid of a nice bottle of vino, only for the winds and rains to reach storm level, the van was rocking and rolling

almost worse than the boat, but on the boat we were expecting it. Yes we did expect rain but this along with the wind was unbelievable. We tried to sleep but like everything during the night it seemed a 100 times worse. I gave up eventually and sat up preparing to jump out should poor of NiKi take a turn over – each ‘man’ to themselves and in my mind as soon as light came we would get back on the road and head onwards the south and to hopefully better weather

However, even after 2 nights thus far motorhoming we have learnt that nothing for the morning prep is quick and easy – emptying waste all types and filling with water and getting a hot drink made and inside us takes an age.. David took charge of the waste and Yes folks I will take my turn on this while I tracked down a shop that sold bread, I followed my nose or rather headed in the direction that a lady had come from carrying 2 loaves and found a cute but basic bakery and got a small loaf for David and some milk. I would like to say that I managed all these basic language skills unaided but I didn’t and the lady helped on all fronts especially while I dithered in my normal way over which bread to have and then to pay did the norm Brit abroad and handed over all my change for her to take what she wanted and as in most cases she took only what was required and even took all our little bronze cent!!

Breakfast and daily chores done we hit the road and on further south, the wind still howling but abating to a degree. The plan for where we had stopped was to hit Salamanca but the weather really wasn’t aiding us on that and so we just drove and to our next overnighter in a Unesco heritage town called Caceres. Again it was an Aire so still not the luxury of on tap electricity so my hair was to remain a daily wonder as well. The drive was fine again along wonderful dual carriageways with not too much traffic helped along by an occasion coffee stop, the weather was thankfully gradually improving and by the time we got to the Aire the sun was shining. The Aire was in a school and busy with lots of Dutch/German travellers, but it had the usual water and waste facilities. We headed straight into town as David really needed a WiFi fix to sort out our IT communications for the journey and this town was big enough for it. But of course as we are learning nothing is the metropolis we know of London and although food after 2 is not a problem the shops are and we could not get our answers until evening when they re-opened from siesta, but lunch we did get and a quick bit of window shopping of which we both saw quite a lot of very nice clothes and shoes which we both under normal circumstance might well have brought, but NiKi is nIMG_3766ot big enough for a pair of patent black and leopard skin effect boots!!

Caceres proved to be a good stop and after a lovely bre
akfast in town where the lady waitress in a busy early morning café seemed to take pity in us and gave us free croissants, biscuits we headed off for the final step to theIMG_3770 south and our first ‘proper’ camp site. After a very dodgy hill start failed by Karen but thankfully  done by David we continued the drive and all was good and then we hit Seville at about lunchtime (here later so 2 ish) and thankfully Snoopy our Sat Nat came into its own guiding us through the maze of spaghetti junction like roads. Nerves, tempers and van in tacked we made it through Seville and outwards to Cadiz and our home for 1 mouth Camping Vejer.

 

 

 

Vejer de la Frontier is exactly that a frontier town and it’s reputed to be the 2nd prettiest town in Spain 9 (we are yet to find out the first) but as we approached
it, the rIMG_0772ealisation of the climb up became apparent and whether our RooDog electric bikes are up to this challenge. We circled the town by road and made our way to the camp site which seemed to get further away from the town but eventually we found it and pulled in.

Yeah, our first camp site and electricity was quickly plugged in and the hair straighteners out. The site was quiet and to be honest NiKi was the only motorhome the rest of the site being camping and for the main it appeared to be long termers as there was much evidence of home comforts- plants, chairs, BBQ’s, toy etc. After parking up we decided we best venture into Vejer and see how we were going to manage the walk/mountain climb to school and see if this town was as pretty as stated. We opted for a shorter, more direct route then the twirly road one and after the first part of campsite to bottom of town and said road we were both slightly concerned just how long this might take us each day for class. After the climb, not pretty but amazing views and at least 4 rest stops up the hill we made it and fell into the main old town –with a hallucination of a beer keeping us going up the hill but thoughts quickly turned from this as I saw a jewellery shop and Ernest & Jones this  was not, and as a first example of the town the shop was very trendy and I soon spotted a good few pieces I liked- watch this space for whether I succumb or not!!

School was found and the staff we saw lovely but we remained undecided about how we woIMG_0769uld get here, even if the bikes made it up the ride down was a concern for me, coward that I am. Hurtling down bendy roads relying on brakes and feet scuffing the roadIMG_0770 is not foIMG_0769r the faint hearted and less so for me. The toIMG_0778wn and square did however live up to its title and is extraordinarily pretty but as with many places for this time of year a lot were closed. Before heading back down the black run we had a wonderful pizza and pasta dinner, eat your hearts out Pizza Express this was so cheap we didn’t need a voucher. Oddly it wasn’t until the next day and mid- afternoon when we realised we might have had one too many for that descent because in the clear light of the next day neither of us remembered it being quite as bad as it was!

A local bar was soon found – Café Vento and after our first café con leche there the waiter has become use to us and expects our daily visit either by foot, cycle or motorhome. Again conversation is limited but we seem to get by and as with all food and beverages thus far in Spain we have had great food and drink there plus bar snacks drinks, without or without buying a dinner or bocadillo. Olives seem to be the main event and we are turning into quite experts on this front. I do wonder if we might develop a slight green whinge over time  realising the many kilos we are likely to eat, all the more reason to get a bit of sun on us to combat the green!! And sun we have had, not boiling but short sleeve enough and has along with the last few days restored our own batteries and allowed to become slightly more normal and reinstate the reasons why we are in this adventure.

We have cycled , driven and caused some degree of amusement a few times none more so than in the local town when we got slightly lost trying to find the beach road and national park road, locals of which there seemed to be many on a Friday morning watched in amusement as I righted and lefted through the non-tourist streets, we made it out and onto the right road eventually and stopped at a beautiful long sandy beach- wind surfers paradise and there were indeed even in January a good many surfers under instruction. I did check with David if he wanted surf lessons while there were 2 4 1 offers on, but even with his water skiing skills he decided against this-perhaps another time. A lovely lazy lunch was had and lazy it was made as I opted for langoustines a la plancha and for those who know me anything involving fish and shells can take a very long time especially as the heads have to be eaten or the Spanish will be in horror at such poor food tastes.

I opted not to eaP1010258t the heads but dissect them and pull the flesh out and to be fair in big prawns there is a lot of meat in those heads.  I left the eyes though, one step to far as of yet.

As we settled into our routine and daily doses of café con leche the problem of the hill and class kept arising and after walking the long but less hair raising option we decided to give them there bikes a try.  Now as you might be able to deduce from the pictures we are talking a bloody steep climb here and after my usual wobbly start and the bike in full assist and low gear I hit the hill as did David. After a few metres I oddly passed David out and my bike continued to sail up the hill, Mary Poppins on wheels like as I gilded up the hill and only on the last killer part did I have to really put in some effort, just amazing as cycling and any incline really isn’t one of my things. However, for David he did not fare so well and even with full electric his body weight was such that he really had to give it some welly, but made it we did.

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IMG_0787Planning and route were high in the agenda as plan we do need too as we hopefully get visitors en-route and also to make sure we make the most of the time and places, very easy it is to just get up, drink coffee and wander without seeing or achieving much. Easter is coming and is a very big event here and we were also told about the pre- Easter carnival in Cadiz being wonderful. We have already learnt that camp sites are generally not that close to the towns and aren’t in this corner of Spain in abundance or again being out of season open. So maps, guide, books, aire books we tried to plan the next few weeks and up our whereabouts for Semana Santa. Aided with a glass or 2 of vino we made and changed our minds a good few times and realised that even with good roads we couldn’t be in Cadiz for festival and Seville  for Easter. Cadiz and festival won over and we opted to drive into Cadiz during the day to see how we could work our stay out. Cadiz was lovely and quite contained on a peninsula and after a few hairy moments getting to the car park we were out and walking through the narrow streets of the old town. Here we stumbled upon the main market and it being a Friday the market was on, a truly amazing choice of fresh fish seemed to be the main event and then local meats, sausages and chorizo on the next outer row of stalls along with fruit and veg. We needed some oranges, lemons and eggs and so we purchased them here at a very cheap price although even in abundance my lemons were much dearer than the 3 kilos of oranges. Would the eggs live up to the high standards set by our UK Plumpton eggs was my question.

We loved Cadiz and again had great food but cP1010275ould see no real easy option on where to stay for carnival as the place as confirmed by the tourist office would be rammed and even thought the police turn a ‘blind eye’ to freedom camping in certain places there weren’t that many of those and we would have to be very early to get them, so more thoughts are needed on that. That night planning continued but was mercifully interrupted by the camp owner asking us if we would like to join him and his family for a birthday celebration and homemade paella the next day- you can guess our reply as we are obviously far too busy with other social events for this!!

The next day after a cycle we did indeed clear our diary and join them to watch the prep and cooking of the paella- truly splendid it was and we were treated although not the birthday boy like top guests. We could not do or pay for anything and when the home- made pizza and meats came out again much later that evening we were again overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity of our hosts.  We stumbled into our lovely bed happy as Larry –whoever he might be and certainly better fed.

13 Comments

  1. Wow it looked so flat on the map! You two ought to be really fit (thin) after a fortnight’s school. Pack your satchels and that new pencil case…….

  2. I’m really enjoying your blog. I too remember our first days of working through the domestics of emptying & filling tanks, making a drink, washing up in a small space (we have a 6m panel van conversion) – it used to take us all morning and we’d end up flustered and stressed. But over time we’ve dropped into the routine and it does get easier; for instance estimating how long fresh water will last before you need to top up. So, don’t worry, it’ll sort itself out!

    Enjoy the sun.

    Thanks again and keep the posts coming.

    Paul

  3. Ola! Que tàl? How wonderful, staying in Vejer. We followed Spanish course there some years ago. We stayed in a small flat in the school, so no climbing for us, our front door was next to the classroom’s! And we loved Vejer! And its surroundings! Our yeacher was the very best and spoke Spanish only, we really learnt a lot in two weeks, tehre were only two other classmates, so we had to speak a lot! Enjoy the lessons and hasta la prossima! Love following your adventure.

    • Ola it seems we are the only two in our class and the lessons are different to what we did in London. Total immersion. We are cycling to class which kills me being a big lump. Karen’s bike sails up the hill.

  4. David, the image of you killing yourself going up that hill brings me back at least 40 years. I have no doubt you tackled it with more enthusiasm than the trudge up the hill on a cold, wet and windy day in Bray after rugby on the lower pitch! I am still chuckling. Sure you’ll look like Lance Armstrong in no time at all! Sounds like you two are having a wonderful adventure. Keep the updates coming.

    • Andrew,

      No drugs here unless you count beer. That said I think because we want to do it the effort is worth it. The lower pitch on a cold wet day after Mr C shouting at you for an hour or two is not quite the same. It is great to have the followers! Hope you are all well.

      David

  5. Sounds like you’re having fun! We are in Galacia in Northern Spain currently making our way towards Portugal & some warmer weather fingers crossed!!! Like you it seems to be taking us an age to get on the road each day (so far we’ve only done single nights at each stop) & all Aires so I’m also having hair crisis!!! Keep living the dream & enjoy every minute. I have just updated our blog ( only just got wifi issues sorted) so you can see what we’ve bee up to so far. Have fun. Andi & Paul xx

    • Thanks and welcome to Spain! It is interesting to say the least. But slowly we are getting used to the van. School is odd after all these years, but we really need to learn Spanish if we are to get the best from the trip. Saw your updates and we also stayed at the Elephant aire. But as it was pouring rain no elephants! Safe trip and we look forward to meeting up with you on our travels.

      David and Karen XX

  6. I am just starting to get the hang of my shiny new ipad! Your trip looks lovely and I will be sure to keep checking in, Love Brigid-Mary

  7. looking good guys! having fun already but still looks like a holiday, I guess the long term feel will soon set in!!
    Henry

    P.S Karen, where are the staples, and spare notepads in my office?!”

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