Tag Archives: sightseeing

Barcelona & Gaudi

When we spent a few days in Barcelona 5 years ago, at the end of our Camino Portugues, we did quite a few touristy things including visiting Montserrat, La Rambla & the Cathedral, the beach near where we were staying and Gaudi’s Casa Battlo. We also ate a lot of tapas.  This time, at the end of 5 weeks of travelling, we’ve seen about as much touristy stuff as we can take, but there were gaps in our Gaudi experience so we concentrated on filling them a bit.

After sorting out our rental car extension at the Avis counter at BCN airport, we headed straight to Park Guell as it was on the way to our campground. Greg has been using a very handy app and website called Parkopedia to find us parking in cities, towns and at tourist places where getting a park can be tricky, difficult or (often!) impossible. Everywhere around Park Guell  was crowded, partly because it’s a residential area, but also because the day we went was a public holiday. So we headed to a parking station a few blocks away. Easy. We took our lunch to the park and joined lots of other people out and about enjoying the weather and the park. When Gaudi designed it right at the beginning of the 20th Century, the area was located outside of Barcelona. A wealthy count purchased a tree-covered hillside and commissioned Gaudi to design up to 60 houses for wealthy people in landscaped grounds, but it was a commercial flop and abandoned in 1914. It was purchased by the city in 1922 for use as a public park. Gaudi spent most of the last 20 years of his life in a house in the park which is now used as a Gaudi museum of memorabilia and some of his furniture from his home and others he designed.

The following day, Friday, we visited Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia The Church of the Holy Family. Wow, what an incredible place! Nothing I write could even begin to describe it, but Greg’s photos will probably give some idea. However I will just say that if you visit Barcelona and only see one thing, it should be this place. It is absolutely awesome, in the true sense of that oft-misused word.

We’ve spent the last few days camping at Camping Barcelona, which is about 35kms north of the city. It’s easily the best campground we’ve stayed at in Spain. Lovely sites, excellent facilities, late check-out – we can stay until 8pm on the day we leave. The campground offers a regular, frequent bus service into Mataro the nearest town, plus a bus to Barcelona and will organise tours to popular tourist places including La Sagrada Familia and Montserrat. They have a bar, restaurant, mini-market,  nice looking swimming pool and give discounts for stays of longer than 5 days. Wifi is included in the camping fee and it’s good and fast. We paid a bit extra for power. It’s been lovely staying here.

Plenty of sign of Catalan agitation at Spain
Park Guell Plaza
Looking down to Barcelona from Park Guell
Park Guell walkway
la Sagrada Familia showing the old Nativity gate versus the newer extension
la Sagrada Familia Glory gate, a long way from completion, it started in 2002
la Sagrada Familia building new towers
la Sagrada Familia the top of the Passion gate
la Sagrada Familia stained glass windows on the western side
la Sagrada Familia, the stained glass in the afternoon throwing colours throughout the church
la Sagrada Familia eastern stained glass
la Sagrada Familia
la Sagrada Familia Nativity gate
When the cheap hotel room doesn’t have enough chairs, table, stove, pressure cooker and more, you just bring them instead


Holy Toledo!

My friend Char reminded me of the saying used by Batman’s sidekick Robin in the 1960s TV series, and it seemed appropriate to use it as a title for our visit to the medieval Spanish city as the 3 main things to see are the Cathedral, the Mosque and the Synagogue.

Long-time readers of our blogs know that we’re not … hmm, how to put this nicely? …. drawn to popular tourist places. Being only about 60kms south of Madrid, Toledo is a very popular tourist place. Tour buses, tour groups, school groups, entire streets full of souvenir shops plus lots more activities and things designed to extract as much money from tourists as possible. We walked around the narrow streets, got lost a couple of times, looked at the outside of the cathedral and the synagogue then decided we’d had enough and descended the 7 or 8 flights of elevators back down to normal street level.

Narrow streets of Toledo
Toledo Cathedral
Looking down to the Toledo Cathedral

A Tale of Two Churches – Cordoba

We left our lovely Airbnb house in Seville on Saturday morning and headed north to Cordoba. I had a chance conversation with a friend on Facebook and discovered that there are 2 Costco stores in Spain, one in Seville and one in Madrid, and I’d brought my Costco member’s card! So we dropped into the Seville store on our way out of town. It’s amazing how similar these stores are worldwide, but with local differences of course – this one had a lot more fresh, frozen and tinned seafood than the ADL one, but the layout was almost identical and the carpark had Costco’s usual very generous parking spaces. The only thing we bought there was hot chips to have with our bread rolls for lunch. My latest favourite condiment is sherry vinegar and it went very well with those chippies.

And then on to Cordoba, to see the Mezquita, which is regarded as one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings, and one of the best things we’ve seen on this trip. It is beautiful, spacious and serene, with a Patio de los Naranjos on one side, like Seville Cathedral. The site of the Mezquita has had a church on it since 600AD, originally a small Visigothic temple, then a mosque which was enlarged several times, and then in the 16th Century a Gothic/Renaissance-style cathedral was built inside the existing Mezquita. Sounds like a crazy cacophony of styles, but in reality it all works beautifully.

One of the highlights is the mihrab, the mosque’s prayer niche  which faces Mecca. It’s not particularly large, especially not in comparison with the overall size of the whole space, but it is beautifully and richly decorated and a focal point of the Mezquita. I had to go back for a second look after we’d seen everything else.

We walked through some of Cordoba’s side streets in the late afternoon. Bars and restaurants were getting ready for their evening customers, people had started coming back outside after their siesta and tourists cooled their feet in a series of ponds that went along a path by the city wall. We pointed the car in the direction of Toledo and found a municipal campground near a large lake at Villaviciosa and spent the night there.

It wasn’t until the next morning that we realised the GPS was taking us to Toledo in Portugal, not Toledo in Spain! So we set it to the right one and headed north.

the very narrow streets of Cordoba with a garbage truck driving through
inside the Mezquita
inside the Mezquita
inside the Mezquita, also the cover picture on the Spain Lonely Planet
inside the Mezquita
the Villaviciosa campground was three quarters full of permanent sites. This is common in Spain (and Italy). People build structures around their caravans
Villaviciosa campground permanent site
Villaviciosa campground looking down the row of permanent sites

A Tale of Two Churches – Seville

It was the best of times, it was …. oops, wrong cities, wrong centuries.

On Friday we visited the amazing Seville Cathedral, then on Saturday we visited the even more incredible Mezquita – the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba. Seville Cathedral is huge, third largest Christian church in the world, the largest cathedral (because the other 2 are not the seats of bishops) and the largest Gothic church. Like many of Spain’s churches, the site was originally a mosque, and the mosque’s minaret, El Giradillo, still stands beside it. The rest of the original mosque was knocked down in the early 15th century, and when the Cathedral was completed 100 years later, it was the largest church in the world by volume. Some sources claim that it still is.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is a major point of interest. It’s very impressive for its size and there has been a long-standing debate over whether the remains are actually Columbus’ (DNA says they are). Also impressive is the cathedral’s collection of art and treasure, including a very decorative crown which contains the second-largest pearl in the world, and is used during the Feast of the Assumption. Another surviving remnant of the original 12th Century mosque is the Patio de los Naranjos Oranges, a lovely cool open area with a large fountain in the centre.

We walked a few blocks to the Plaza de Espana and the adjoining Parque de Maria Luisa. The Plaza was built for the 1929 Exposicion Iberoamericana and has fountains, mini-canals with boats for hire and a huge curved brick & tile building showcasing Seville tilework. It was a hot day and we opted to sit under a huge Australian Grevillea Robusta in the park rather than walk around the Plaza. Then we headed back to the car via the river. We’re listening to the audiobook of Ken Follet’s Column of Fire, Part 3 of his Kingsbridge series, and the Rio Guadalquiver is mentioned several times as an important asset to Seville because ships were the main form of transport to and from the city. It has silted up over the centuries, but is still an impressive body of water.

On the way back to our Airbnb, we drove a slightly different way and came to a deserted suburb. There were tram tracks with a big bridge going to who knows where, parking area, roads, street lights … everything except houses. We’ve been through another Spanish ghost town where there were houses, some finished and empty, others never finished, but this suburb with everything but the houses was really different.

We’re heading north now, towards Madrid andSegovia, and will then head west back to Barcelona. This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll write about Cordoba later.

Seville Catheral
Christopher Columbus Tomb
Seville Cathedral
Old graffiti (from at least 1884) in Seville Catheral
Plaza de Espana Seville
Walking to Plaza de Espana we knew we were getting close, we could see the tour buses lined up
Abandoned suburb with parking for the tram station
A bridge for the tram line
New footpaths and trees overgrown with weeds







We’re spending a few days in the city which is described as ‘quintessentially Spanish’, and is the home of Carmen and Don Juan. Seville was founded by the Romans, but only really began to flourish during the Moorish period which began in the 11th Century. After Columbus discovered the Americas, Seville was awarded an official monopoly on Spanish trade with the New World and it quickly became one of the biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth.

We did another short drive to get here on Wednesday, calling into Ikea at Jerez de la Frontera for lunch. Swedish meatballs for Greg, an assortment of tapas for me. The Ikea carpark has an immense solar panel array, which doubles as shade for the cars parked underneath. Jerez is a grape growing area and one of its main industries is sherry production – ‘Jerez’ means ‘sherry’! Jerez is also regarded as the ‘cradle of flamenco’, although Cadiz and Seville also like to make that claim. We didn’t stay in Jerez long enough to do any sherry-tasting or flamenco dancing, but we did visit the Avis desk at Jerez airport to try and sort out our rental car contract.

Avis in Europe has this weird rule that a car can’t be rented for more than 30 days, although it is possible to do it via a third party. Because of Avis’s rule, when we rent a car for longer than 30 days, they have to write 2 separate contracts. When we travelled in Central Europe last year, the guy at the Munich airport desk just did 2 contracts for us when we collected the car. This time, the guy at the Barcelona desk only did the 30 day contract and told us the subsequent contract would be emailed to Greg later. Greg has emailed Avis several times and got no reply. Well, the Avis person at Jerez airport wasn’t much help, the 30 days expires today, and now Greg is emailing again to try and sort it out. Yeah, Spanish (lack of) customer service bites us again.

We’re staying in an  Airbnb house on the outskirts of Seville, at Alcalá de Guadaíra. It’s huge – 2 storeys, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and about a mile of marble floor tiles. It’s the first place we’ve stayed at on this trip that is actually someone’s place. I’d know that even if there weren’t photos on the walls and toothbrushes in the bathrooms, because this is also one of the few places where there have been hooks to hang bath towels and tea towels on, and it’s the first kitchen that actually has chopping boards! Sometimes it really is the little things. We haven’t ventured into Seville yet, but we went to the local shops here yesterday. Nice shopping streets with a large plaza pedestrian mall. It was very busy in the morning, with lots of people out and about, but Greg went back in the afternoon at around 5.30 and it was almost completely deserted. Apparently everyone here takes siesta time seriously!

Traditional spanish food – Swedish meatballs at Ikea
Marble in the Kitchen
Marble on the stairs


Marble in the hall
All the shade for cars at ikea is solar panels


After our epic trip to another continent on Monday – ha! – we just did a short drive on Tuesday. We headed a bit further west to Cadiz, which is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe, founded by the Phoenicians in around 1100BC. Cadiz sits right out on a piece of land that’s almost an island which is reached via a narrow sand spit from the east, and a huge impressive new suspension bridge on the western side. We drove to a big municipal carpark which seems to take up a very large area below street level, then parked and walked around the old, interesting part of town. We got to the Central Market just as they were closing up for the day at around 3pm, then headed to the cathedral and walked across the street to look at the bay east of the town, ie: where we’d come from. We spotted an official Camino de Santiago sign, which made sense to us … most Camino routes start at a church or cathedral. This one marked the start of the Augusta route, which is an add-on to the Via de la Plata route which starts at Seville. Only of any interest to Camino nerds like ourselves.

Our Lonely Planet Guide tells us that ‘the distinctive urban model of Cadiz provided a blueprint for fortified Spanish colonial cities in the Americas and the port with its crenellated sea walls and chunky forts is heavily reminiscent of Cuba’s Havana and Puerto Rico’s San Juan. ‘

We had called in to a big Carrefour supermarket on the way to Cadiz, to get some bread for lunch and a few other things, and I was horrified to see Disney branded non-alcoholic wine for kids in the alcohol section. Really a low point in marketing, I reckon.

And then another short drive to Rota, across the bay from Cadiz, to a campground. Not bad as far as facilities and campsites go, with each site screened by bushes and easy access to the beach. But I was extremely unimpressed when a gardener revved up his chainsaw the next morning and started chopping the bushes near us. No eye or ear protection, for him or us! When he got to the bushes about 2 metres away from where we were sitting, I asked him to stop and go somewhere else. He wanted to keep going, telling me it would only take 2 minutes. I told him that I hadn’t paid to stay there and have my hearing damaged. It went on like that for a while, but finally he went elsewhere, or maybe just stopped – Greg saw the chainsaw sitting outside the reception area when we were leaving. Spanish customer service shines again … not! And it’s also more proof that I’m just a grumpy old woman.

We’ve decided not to go to Portugal. We’re running out of time and during a conversation where we tried to figure out where in Portugal we wanted to go, we realised that we’ve already been to most of the interesting places anyway. So we’ll have a look at some of Spain’s interior, now that we’ve covered just about the entire Spanish coastline.

Cathedral in Cadiz
one of those yellow camino arrows
The sea wall around Cadiz
Camped at Rota
Kids non-alcoholic wine
Solar panels providing shade at Ikea Jerez





Better write about our day in Gibraltar yesterday before we move onto the Next Thing, which is a day trip by ferry from Tarifa to Morocco tomorrow!

Lovely sunny day & we had great views of both The Rock and Africa. We walked the 2+kms from our apartment to the border, where border control on both sides barely even glanced at our passports. On the way back, Greg didn’t even get his out of his bag as there was no-one at Passport Control. Driving into Gibraltar is a much more tedious process, if the long line of cars waiting at the border was any indication. The runway at Gibraltar Airport intersects the road, so we got to tick off another ‘bucket list item’ – walking across a runway. When a plane lands or takes off, the road is closed. Gibraltar is also the first British Overseas Territory we’ve visited.

If you want to know about the history, you can start here. I’ll just add a couple fun facts in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Gibraltar Sovereignty referendum which was held in 1967 … the vote to remain under British sovereignty was an overwhelming 12138 for, 44 against and 55 invalid. Franco was so pissed off that he closed the border in 1969, and it was not fully reopened until 1985, 10 years after his death.

So, Gibraltar was interesting but kinda weird, like going back to 1970s or ’80s England in a time machine. Main Street reminded me of the High Streets I used to visit when I spent a few months in London in 1984, and not only because it was full of English people! The shops had a quaint old-fashioned feel about them, althought I do remember more off-licences in the average High Street than there were in Main Street. Being a little part of the UK, all prices are in GB pounds, although euros are readily accepted at most, possibly all, places, probably at a very disadvantageous exchange rate. Street  and public signs are all in English and there are old-style British phone boxes & letter boxes.  One thing I really liked was that many pedestrian crossings had ‘look left’ or ‘look right’ painted on the edges to remind people before they step out. I think every country in the world should do this.

The enormous P&O ship Azura was in port and had disgorged nearly 5000 people for the day – 3500 passengers plus crew. It has the Union Jack painted on its bow, and I guess most, if not all, passengers were British.  We visited the supermarket nearest the port and found that there was no Cadbury’s chocolate on the shelves! Oh, the disappointment! We did find both fresh and canned rhubarb which we didn’t buy, plus Bakewell tarts and English pork sausages which we did buy. Last night’s dinner was a fry-up of sausages, potatoes and eggs.

We sat in the main town square for a while and I thought it might be fun to count how many people were wandering around wearing socks with sandals, but to my complete surprise, I only counted 6 people the whole day. Maybe the fashion police wouldn’t let anyone disembark if they were wearing socks with their sandals.

The big drawcard for most people, us included, is the Top of The Rock. We thought we’d walk up the Mediterranean Steps, which would get us somewhere near the top, then take the cable car back down. Information about how to actually get to the Steps was not plentiful, so we decided to get the cable car up and maybe walk down the Steps if we could figure it out. Return tickets for the cable car were 2 euros more than a one-way trip, so we got the return tix, just in case. Good thing we did, as it turns out. We had to wait a long while in the queue for the trip up, and while we were waiting I had an allergic reaction to something. Sore, streaming eyes, runny nose, felt awful. Which is all a rather dramatic way to say ‘I got hayfever’, but I’ve never had it before and it was horrible. I guess I’ll be adding an antihistamine to my first aid kit. It started resolving as soon as we walked back into Spain and I feel fine today.

I just wanted to sit somewhere out of the wind and away from the apes, so headed for the snack bar area on the top floor of the cable car building. Great views of the northern peak of the rock and over to Africa. Greg went to find those Mediterranean Steps and walked down them for  few flights, but we had arranged that he would come back and meet me where he’d left me, then we took the cable car back down. The P&O ship had left and was replaced by 2 smaller cruise ships. None in port today, because nothing much is open in Gibraltar (or Spain for that matter) today, Sunday.

We were really lucky with the weather yesterday – clear skies, warm but not too hot. Today it was very overcast and The Rock was shrouded in cloud when we left La Linea.

Crossing the airport runway to get into Gibraltar
We must be in Gibraltar
Main Street Gibraltar

The cable car
The Southern part of the rock
Africa across the Mediterranean
Down the Mediterranean steps
Our apartment in La Linea from Gibraltar







After our epic morning at Alhambra, we headed back to the apartment, walked up to one of the nearby supermarkets to get some stuff & noticed a little stall selling churros & coffee just around the corner from us. It wasn’t open until later, so we went back intending to ‘eat dessert first’, but the serve of churros & chocolate was so huge that it ended up being dinner. These churros were cooked differently from others we’ve had, in that a continuous spiral of batter was poured into the deep fryer until the entire surface was full, then when it was cooked it was chopped into lengths of about 15cm. Every other churro we’ve had has been piped, usually through a star-shaped nozzle, and cooked individually. However they are cooked, though, they are all delicious!

Yesterday morning we packed up to leave Granada, met our Airbnb host at the apartment, then drove into the city centre to have a bit more of a look. Greg picked out a parking station not far from the cathedral and the food market but we ended up on one of those city streets that are only accessible to buses, taxis and cars with special permission between 0730 – 2230 … aargghh! So we did a few quick right turns to get away from there and found another parking station which was a bit further away, but we got to walk along more of the streets in town. We found the cathedral but didn’t go inside, then the food market which was … erm … unimpressive after Valencia’s gorgeous Central Market. At least half the stalls were closed, and most of the ones that were open were selling seafood which looked great but not what we wanted to buy. I did have a nice glass of wine which included some tapas – prawns and some kind of squid thing on bread. Cost about $2. Bargain.

Then we headed to the streets below the Alhambra, to see what it looked like perched up there on its hill. We found a tapas bar that seemed to be aimed at locals rather than tourists, wandered in and had lunch … tortilla espanol, patatas a lo pobre (poor man’s potatoes), croquettes, artichokes with anchovies. And then, just in case we hadn’t had enough potatoes, the waiter brought us a plate of chips, on the house. Plus orange juice for Greg and a fino jerez sherry for me. I’ve gotta say, that sherry didn’t taste anything like the cream sherry my nanna used to consume by the flagon. I might need to do some more ‘research’ into Spanish sherry.

Campgrounds are not all that common on the Costa del Sol, but there seems to be an over-abundance of apartments and resorts. It’s a bit early, ie hot, in the season for the major influx of tourists, most of whom come during the Northern Hemisphere winter to get away from whichever cold country they live in, for weeks or months. Greg did a Google search and found Camping Tropical at Almuñécar, on the coast about 80kms south of Granada, so we just had a short drive to get to it. Run by a German guy, it is one of the best campgrounds we’ve stayed at. As Greg pointed out – the 2 places we’ve liked the best have both been run by non-Spanish people. Anyway, this one had some extra little bonuses like a really good washing up area with scourers and dishwashing liquid, and nicely decorated bathrooms with toilet seats, toilet paper and hand towels. Most of the trees in the grounds were fruit and nut trees; I picked a pomegranate and a couple of avocadoes this morning.

And now we’re in La Linea de la Conception, which is the town on the Spanish border with Gibraltar. We can see The Rock from the front of the building. We’re spending a couple of nights in this Airbnb and will walk across to Gibraltar tomorrow. Wow, that’s another of those mythical places I never imagined I’d ever see in my lifetime.


Parking in Granada, first you drive into the car lift and take the car down 1 level
A mechanics opposite our apartment. You took a ramp up to the 3rd floor where the mechanics workshop was located
Tapas and wine at the Central Market in Granada
Tapas and fino jerez
a selection of Tapas
Fruit trees outside the Cathedral in Granada
Capella Real, the royal chapel in Granada
The road that runs downhill from La Alhambra
Camped at Camping Tropical at Almuñécar
2,000 year old roman aqueduct
The less than desirable stoney beach at Almuñécar
The view of the rock from outside the apartment in La Línea de la Concepción



Granada, Andalucia

We lobbed into town on Tuesday afternoon, met our Airbnb host, settled into the apartment and then started to figure out what to do while we’re here. Here’s where we stayed … it’s lovely!

Granada’s top tourist attraction is La Alhambra, whose red fortress towers sit on a hill above the town, with the mountains of the Sierra Nevada behind them. Indeed, it is regarded as Spain’s most beautiful monument and one of the best examples of Islamic architecture and art anywhere in the world. There are many millions of column inches (plus the online equivalent) written about this beautiful place, so I don’t need to add anything about the history or descriptions of the buildings and gardens – you can start reading about it here. 

Getting tickets to Alhambra ranges from ‘not easy’ to ‘impossible’, depending on what you read and when you want to go. Greg had a look at the official website and discovered that the next available tickets are for November 1st. Hmm. So a bit more research yielded the information that a limited number of tickets are available ‘at the door’, on the day, but you have to be very keen and very early. Okay, we can do that, even though neither of us are natural early risers.

We got up at 5.45am, Greg programmed the GPS to take us to the parking area near the Alhambra ticket area and off we went. It still felt like the middle of the night because current sunrise here is just after 8am. The GPS took us through the middle of the city, down streets that are only accessible to buses and taxis between 0730 – 2230, and down many one-way streets. We only went the wrong way down one street, as far as we know! Eek! Reached the parking area which was already filling up. Found the queues, one for cash payments and one for credit card payments and divided our responsibilities … I joined the cash queue, Greg joined the credit card queue. The plan was that we would keep in touch via SMS and hopefully one of us would get lucky. The woman at the head of my queue had got there at 3am! As I said to her: ‘Respect!’

I’d brought my e-reader and settled in for a nice long read. No one around me spoke English, so I was glad to have something to help pass the time. Greg got talking to an American woman from Houston who had researched everything very well. She passed on lots of helpful information, in addition to telling him about her experiences with Hurricane Irma. Ticket office opened just after 8am, the queue started moving and after only a few minutes an announcement came over the loudspeakers that all the daytime tix for the star attraction, the Nazarine Palace, had sold out. But general tickets and night time tickets for the palace were still available, although the night tix also sold out fast. At some point, the queue that Greg was in just completely stopped, then started again, then stopped as all tickets had sold out.

But I kept on waiting in the queue, and was about 10 from the front when they announced that there was a final 30 general admission tickets available. I think all of us so close to the front did a head count … and probably sent up a little message to whoever they believe in as well! I was finally let into the ticket sales area, joined the wrong queue and had to join another one, but GOT TICKETS!! Yay! We also paid for audiovisual guides in English on Android phones (like an ipod, but I had to make it technically accurate because Mr Adventure might read this) and spent the next 4 or 5 hours walking around this incredible place. The gardens are magnificent, the use of water (in ponds, pools, fountains and water channels) was brilliant and the architecture was amazing. Enough superlatives, I’ll let Greg’s photos tell the rest of the story.

I should just add for anyone planning on visiting Alhambra .. it is possible to see some of the public parts of the complex for free, by entering through the Puerte de Justica, but I was really happy that we were able to get tickets and see the palaces, Generalife and Alcazaba, the original citadel.

The queue for tickets at 7am in the dark
One of the gardens in Generalife
Generalife pomegranates

part of the very detailed plaster with arabic phrases
the water staircase. The water flows down both sides of the staircase
Looking down to Granada from La Alhambra
One of the aquaducts that used to provide water to La Alhambra
The roof with holes providing lighting in the Muslim bathhouse
Wine gate


Los Baños De Fortuna

Heading south from Valencia, we thought about going to Murcia, but then got distracted by a nice-sounding campground about 20kms north at Los Baños De Fortuna. We can be easily distracted.

In fact, I probably wouldn’t even mention this place except that something happened during the night while we were (not) sleeping.

We were woken at about 1.30am by running footsteps on the gravel near our tent and someone trying to get out the locked gate nearby. Then more running and someone yelling. I needed to go to the toilet and WALKED PAST someone hiding in a bush! Gah! What to do? So I just kept on walking to the bathroom block then walked back to our tent. Apparently the person hiding had tried to steal a car (which was unlocked and had the keys in the ignition) from a guy who seems to live here permanently. He stopped it at the boom gate at the entrance to the campground and must have dragged the thief out.

But then he drove his car out of the campground, probably thinking the thief had left the campground. We got up and stood outside and watched the thief run past us carrying a laptop that he’d probably just pinched from the guy in the car! Sorry, senor, but I wasn’t about to risk getting beaten up to save your laptop.The guy in the car drove back and I pointed to where the ‘thief’ had run to, he wanted me to call the police, but he went to the local police station himself and they followed him back.

Everything settled down until the next morning, when of course it was the talk of the campground! I talked to our French neighbours who told me that this young man has been hanging around the campground for a while. He’s been in at least one other RV while the French occupants were asleep in it!! All these canny old French folk will get him for sure! Our neighbours have been ‘taking the waters’ and staying at that campground for over 20 years and they do not want their holiday ruined, thanks very much. It was a bit disconcerting talking to them cos Monsieur was only wearing a g-string and I had to concentrate on looking him in the eye, not … you know …. lower down!

Anyway, hopefully that was the only real excitement we have on this trip. We are always careful about locking our car and keeping our valuables with us, and it’s hard to undo tent zips quietly, but on the other hand, if someone is desperate enough, they may try hard to find a way.

camped at Los Baños De Fortuna