TRAVELS ABROAD

Last year I started what maybe a trend and sent an email to everyone on what I did on my jollys that Christmas. It was a truly stunning holiday to South Africa. How to follow that?

 
Well, wanting to ride my own bike abroad this winter I dreamt up the idea of putting my old  BMW R80 G/S in the back of the van, hitch up my new caravan and head for the sun in Spain and Portugal via France. When I'm there I simply unload the bike and ride around in the sun. What a blast eh! Miss all the 'orrible weather France has to offer in December and travel in warmth, comfort and a little style(?)
So the plan was hatched and on the 12 December I got a tearful farewell from my Grandma who happened to be celebrating her 100th birthday that day. Gale force winds greeted me as I landed in Calais. But why should I care for I was in the warmth of the van and to the caravans credit it never snaked once in the whole 6.000 mile trip - something to do with a longer A frame and blah, blah, blah.
So I blasted on down to Spain in an easy 3 days, sleeping when I wanted, eating when I felt like it, and instead of the dribble on the radio listened some tapes I hadn't heard in 20 years. This is great ! Life is so easy !
 
I had to drop a mates bike off in Malaga and spent a couple of enjoyable days camped on the drive, trail riding with him on an XT350 rented from toro trail, a local rental company my mate had hooked up with for some riding.
I headed east a little to Almeria - years ago I had heard this place was the driest and warmest area in Spain, but every time I've been there its been cold or wet. This year was different - a tremendous thunderstorm - actually shaking the caravan, and flooding the site. Rain? It would have passed through your pristine Belstaffs like an Aussie cricket ball through the England X1.
 
So I hightailed it back to the Malaga area and holed up on a campsite near town and a beach and waited for El Blondy to arrive and  Xmas.
Finally unloaded the bike and had some great rides around the hills, Xmas came and went and El Blondy arrived in time for New Year. Now I'd deliberately stayed at this site cos it was close to town and seemed to have plenty of bars and restaurants, so I thought New Year would be a huge party with lots to do and em well I don't know what I thought... Absolutely nothing happened in that town from midday onwards. We spent N.Y.E. in the one bar we found open, praying the other 3 customers didn't leave before us and watching the owners family turn up for their private meal/party in the pub. We were back in the caravan just after 12 after checking out the square where there was the 12 grapes thing (weird Spanish ritual)(ZZZ Zzzzz)
 
Back on the road and we free camped down to Portugal and saw a stage of the Dakar at Portimo. It was a great day though the most memorable for me was queuing for over 30 minutes at a portakabin giving away stuff. I shall briefly explain... I saw the queue - joined it - no idea what for - got to the front - there was a lottery terminal and money being handed over - puzzled I asked for one of the free goody bags everyone got - oh no not for me - I hadn't played Euromillions - but I don't want to play the lottery - this is the greatest race in the world - gimme a bag - oh no - we are sponsors for the Dakar this year - and those words on your shirt (I bought earlier) in big letters say Euromillions in Spanish - Oh Err - no bag then -  I took the shirt off.
 
So we wound our way back along the coast calling in Gibraltar for some duty free. 9.35 in total for a litre each of brandy, whisky and vodka. From then on we pledged to drink at least a 1.00's worth of spirits every night.
 
A stop in Alicante at some English friends and a quick stop in Benidorm to see friends and refresh my memory on the 'Brits abroad' status and standing.(Low).
Another stop in Dijon at an old friend and a great tour around the crypt in the cathedral.
Home again.
 
What did I think to Spain? A little depressing in winter. That coastline... if you can't see a bloody holiday home complex or - 6 building cranes on the horizon building more holiday homes or - huge swathes of plastic covering crops or - a golf course - you're not on the coast. I know its got glorious scenery inland - but not for visiting even in a caravan in winter. I hear folk are now moving away from the coast and moving inland be quick and visit soon.
 
I've just looked through my photos of the trip and for the first time have really struggled to find a good photo. Was it really that boring! Well yes it was! It really was. Never again a caravan holiday for me. Life is very easy yes, but its thoroughly thoroughly boring. Take my word for it. Biking/camping by its very nature means you have to meet folk all the time and look for activities to do. I took enough baked beans and custard to last me 3 weeks so it meant never having to shop/interact in France and very little in Spain.  Add in fuel and tolls and caravanning ain't that cheap either.
Folk are very friendly on the campsites but once the sun goes down, its on with the telly and out with sudoko till tomorrow when you'll see 'em again on their way to the toilet to empty the toilet.
 
4 things I learnt in a month.
 
25,000 Rumanians and Bulgarians are entitled to vote this year in Alicante.
The landing fee in Malaga for a light aircraft is 8 euros. Its 330.00 in Gibraltar.
Sudoko puzzle books are the same in any part of the world (well nearly),
Gambling is illegal in Spain - so underground bingo exists in Benidorm
 
On the pedestrian mall in Torre del Marre is the attached statue.
 It sums up what I think to caravanning in Spain in the winter. Feliz Navidad.
 
Glynn and El Blondy

 

 

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