The last 3 months of our journey and as we continue to say time as just flown. Our journey for these last 3 months was heading down from Barcelona towards Murcia after meeting up with friends and then heading and staying south as much as we could for the sunny weather heading over to Seville for November to meet up with more friends. The journey then continued along the south coast with again a small venture into Portugal chasing the sun plus chicken piri piri before heading back and again along the coast back towards Murcia for a family, friends Christmas and the end of our year in Spain. During this time we did head inland as well seeing many lovely places some of exceptional note being Ubeda, Cazorla, Grazelemar. Our love affair with the sites, food and people continued but unusually for Spain there was no love between us on the weather front with rain which constantly blighted us as we journeyed with a real grand finale at the end of December with rain, storms and flooding unknown to the south for some 30+ years causing damage and destruction to many. Thankfully by the end of December Spain fought its way back and the Christmas period and end of year was back to sunshine.
A Year in review
Before: The months leading up to our departure were frantic with work continuing right up till the end of the year, packing, collecting NiKi our Elddis Encore 254, making the van ready for departure, farewells and of course Christmas and New Year as well. My body was racked with stress that manifested itself in back and stomach pains and as I was reminded just recently on the actual day of leaving when we dropped David’s car off on route to the ferry I was physically shaking all over. The memory of being parked in the queue to board the ferry along with many other caravans plus motorhomes thinking “what are we doing”. Arriving in Santander delayed after a force 8 storm with our first ‘proper’ drive- late, in the dark and heavy rain to our first Aire where we hadn’t expected to be. Our 2nd night was no better with again heavy rains and wind that made NiKi shake so violently that I thought we would turn over and end our journey before it even started.
During: After the trauma of the first few nights and then a month more or less parked up on one camp site we settled into motorhome life, learning all about the vehicle and really coming to terms with living in a small area. David got to grips with the ‘boy’ jobs and we learnt how to make the most of the layout plus space utilising every nook and granny. Oddly over the year we have kept with how we have made the space work for us- I’m not saying it’s perfect but for us it works- each to their own Our driving skills have definitely improved but for me parking is still left to David, life is easier that way. Niki is a fair size with a big bum and when you come from driving a MGF it’s a huge step up watching, looking and being aware should never falter. We have over the year mixed up where we stay – a mix of camp sites, paid and free Aires along with freedom parking. We are happy with this mix it’s what suits us, each has its own merit. Again it was our choice to stay in Spain for the year, with the idea that we would immerse ourselves in the history and culture. We have probably travelled 80-90% of the country with much of that away from the obvious tourist’s hotspots. With the year over we are still absolutely happy with our decision, Spain is a revelation and we have loved every minute of it, even the rain. Disasters along the way have been few although some pretty major but there again could have happened anywhere, but we have dealt with each and every one of them as they come- as you have to in life. We might have been lucky with safety along with security during the year but we are always cautious and aware. This could be a result of living in one of the world’s biggest (and best) capitals- London, it makes you wary but we have neither felt unsafe. Our year has been one of the upmost pleasure with our lovely Elddis Encore enhancing our journey from start to finish.
After: One whole year on and we should be heading home, but thanks to Elddis again we are extending the trip and delaying our return to the UK. The thought of January, the cold and a hard job market were a bit too much for us to take and so we are making an Encore in our Elddis Encore 254 and taking the ‘long way home’ Our journey after one week at home with family, friends, checking on our house and dealing with health issues will be from Barcelona to Sardinia, then Sicily into the boot of Italy and up. Hopping into Croatia, Slovenia and then my geography fails me but essentially making our way through mid-Europe back to the UK with a return no later than the first week of June. What an absolute delight for us and outside our comfort zone of Spain. For me I have never been to Italy, Croatia only Dubrovnik and the other mid countries No. What awaits us as with life in general who knows, but one year on we know our home so that is one element out of the equation. We will be bringing plenty of Gorilla glue from home as well for any minor breakages and the rest we will deal with as we travel through each country. What do we hope for – more adventures like we have had but also that each country will show us the warmth and kindness that Spain has.
So one year on what would we say- Go for it, if you can.
Stay with us for our Encore and find out if Italian pasta is all it’s cracked up to be and whether David can beat the ice-cream challenge of tasting every flavour in Italy.