Jul 242017

This post covers are trip back home and then comments and costs about our holiday.

We left the campsite at about 10.30am and had an uneventful trip through the village and back onto the A3 towards Valencia. There was a small queue at the junction with the A7 motorway and we made our way south, the motorway was much busier than normal presumably because it is ‘tourist season’. We left the A7 at Ondara and drove back to Parking El Vergel where we left the caravan as usual. A nice lunch in the ‘Chicken Shack’ a quick shop in Lidl and then home to Orba.

The first thing we found on arrival home was water flowing down the stairs from the tap outside the underbuild, the gardener had left the tap on and in the sun and with the pressure the hose burst at the joint with the tap and water was pouring out of the tap. Probably for more than 24 hours. We then went inside and found the the hot water pipe had also burst in our bathroom and that was flooded with the cabinet ruined along with medicines and toiletries stored in the cabinet. The next few hours were spent mopping up everywhere. A call to our insurers and it turns out we are fully covered for water damage so now waiting for the plumber and then quotes for the new cabinet.

To summarise our holiday:

25 Days away
6 Campsites visited
€753.20 in Campsite fees
2,776 Kilometers travelled
€348.03 for fuel
€31.32 in motorway tolls
€156 Cattery bill for Mika

A review of our campsites:

1: Las Corralizas near Bronchales, this is the highest campsite in Spain at 1727m. A lovely site set amongst trees with vaguely marked plots with friendly helpful staff. A long electricity lead and long hose for water are required. Nice modern wash rooms. Excellent restaurant. If we were in the area we would definitely stop there again.

2: Camping Entrerrobles near not far from Soria. This was a nice grass site with large plots and electricity but no water or grey water disposal on plot. The restaurant is superb with a menu using lots of the local wild mushrooms. Very friendly helpful laid back staff. Unfortunately no wifi coverage. We will definitely visit here again.

3: Igueldo near San Sebastian. This was a terrible site, how it gets such a high rating from ACSI I don’t know. The office staff and security guards were disinterested and unhelpful, however, the site workers were friendly and helpful so this made up for it to a limited extent. The pitches are exceptionally small even though we had booked a large one our pitch could only just accommodate our caravan with no room for our car. Wifi patchy, restaurant reasonable. We would definitely not stay here again.

4: Caravanning Oyambre near San Vincente de la Barquera about 40km from Santander. An excellent site with large grass pitches with water, electricity and waste on pitch. Very helpful friendly staff but a bit of a walk to the central washrooms. Very good reasonably priced restaurant, wifi coverage good but need to login every hour.

5: Monte Holiday near Gargantilla del Lozoya a nice site with grass pitches for larger caravans and motorhomes. Staff are welcoming, friendly and very helpful. Very busy at weekends but deserted during the week. Poor internet reception on the grass pitches due to the distance from reception. Can be a long walk uphill to the central washrooms. Very good restaurant with cheap lunches but more expensive evening meals. A well stocked on-site shop. We will definitely stop here again.

6: Kiko Park Rural near Villargordo del Cabriel a nice site with large gravel pitches about 8km from the centre of the village set in a restored tiny village which is now the entire campsite. Very pleasant helpful staff, choose your own plot was what we were told, close to a large lake and the high speed rail line to Madrid but that didn’t disturb us. Very good wifi coverage. Excellent reasonably priced restaurant. We will definitely stop here again.

Total route

Jul 212017

Well the final day of our summer holiday 2017, it was supposed to be raining but luckily it didn’t. We have had a lazy day with a lie in this morning followed by reading and slowly but surely tidying, packing and cleaning. Not much left to put away in the morning and then we can head back home, it should only be about 2 hours from here. No photos today as you don’t want to see us lolling about.

I will do a final post of this trip over the weekend with details of mileage, comments about the campsites and a synopsis of highs and lows as well as costs.

Jul 202017

A bright hot and sunny day today. We decided to drive in to Utiel for a bit of food shopping but first we would drive down to the lake and take a look and some photos. We turned right out of the gate and followed the rough tarmac campo road in the direction of the lake and we slowly made our way down and then the road turned to pot holes and gravel so we decided to stop and walk down as far as we wanted to. We got a fabulous view of the lake but it was obviously very much lower than normal probably nearer 20 meters rather than the 15 I originally thought. The photos don’t do the turquoise colour justice.

We turned around and drove back towards the campsite and then on into Villargordo, rather than joining the A3 motorway I decided to use the N111. This road was incredible with one lane in each direction and completely straight for about 10 kilometers but it did undulate so from the tops of the hills you could see a long way in each direction. We drove into Utiel and looked for the Mercadona supermarket but even with directions from a local bar owner where we had a coffee we didn’t find it but we did find a large Consum instead. After doing our shopping there we went looking for a Tabacos for Ingrid, a very nice lady lead us through the back streets to the main square and there was a Tabacos opposite the large church. The church was inaccessible as it was undergoing building works, the lady explained that it needed a new roof. After finding that Ingrid was out of luck we made our way back to the car and headed back down the N111 which had large fields of grapevines on both sides of the road and the high speed rail line ran alongside the road too. Back at the campsite we had lunch and settled for a quiet afternoon reading.

I walked around the campsite late afternoon and took some photos of the area. As an old village it was picturesque with the old village houses being turned into rental chalets.

Wasp enjoying leftovers

For dinner we had a BBQ of fillet steak that we bought from Consum. It was excellent and even the wasp who joined us when we had finished enjoyed it.

The last two night we have been treated to spectacular sunsets and here are some examples.

Jul 192017

After breakfast we completed packing up and paid our bill at Monte Holiday. The receptionist said that she would sort me out a deal on the price when we changed pitches, and true to her word she had given us a discount. We left at about 10.15am and made our way back to junction 69 on the A1 and headed in the direction of Madrid. We still couldn’t see junction 67 as we headed south although there was a small unmarked turning on the entry slip road from junction 68 so maybe that was it. The campsite was at 1100 meters and according to the sat nav we climbed quickly to 1200 meters and then crept back down to around 800 meters and throughout the rest of the journey today we varied in height between just under 600 meters to about 850 meters. We left with a temperature of 26 degrees with a little cloud.

On the outskirts of Madrid we turned off onto the M50 ring road, if only the M25 in the UK was as quiet. We followed this around Madrid and stopped briefly for coffee and a comfort break. We rejoined the M50 and then turned onto the R3 toll road to cut off a big chunk of M50 and A3 and then onto the A3 in the direction of Valencia. We stopped for lunch about an hour before arrival at our next campsite and had a quick snack before rejoining the A3. We passed field after field of yellow sunflowers, and also several rows of windmills for electricity generation. The whole of the journey today was subject to some gusty winds which were quite noticeable at times.

The A3 was undulating with some long but not too steep climbs in most cases. We dropped down from Castilla La Mancha to Valencia provinces and crossed over the wonderful turquoise lake that we were due to stop next too. The colour of the water was incredible but the water level was at least 15 meters below where it should have been looking at the marks on the rocks. Through a tunnel and then turn off the A3 onto a side road for the campsite passing through Villargordo del Cabriel, the sat nav played its usual trick and took us through the village roads to save 100 meters instead of following the main road, Garmin does really need to sort its caravan routing out. We followed a twisting  rural road down hill towards the lake and then passed alongside the high speed rail line from Valencia to Madrid. We turned into the campsite up a wide road to what turned out to be a quaint old village which was now the campsite. We checked in and were told to choose our pitch and let reception know which one we had chosen.

We chose a large plot which was made of compacted gravel, which all of them were, unlike the lush grass we had had at the previous two campsites. We set up and chilled with a beer in 37 degree heat and working wifi which made a pleasant change. We had an excellent meal in the campsite restaurant in what was the old village church and returned to the caravan for a quick drink before bed and were treated to a lovely sunset.

Jul 182017

Our final day at the Monte Holiday site. It was the usual bright sunny day and as we needed a few supplies we headed off to the local Carrefour Express which was near junction 67 on the A1 according to the map provided by the campsite. We headed south along the A1 from junction 69 came to junction 68 passed it and then the next sign was junction 66 so needless to say we took it and we headed into Lozoyuela and found the Carrefour.

After buying our provisions we had a coffee in a local bar and then spotted the ubiquitous Chinese shop. We popped in there and bought a fly swat as there were quite a few around the campsite and some of which came inside. We headed back to the campsite and for lunch we took advantage of the campsite buffet menu del dia which was very good and reasonably priced.

We spent the afternoon reading and started to pack up for our trip to our final campsite of this holiday tomorrow. The wifi was so bad I could not get this article posted until today.

Jul 172017

The day started a bit grey and Ingrid and the washing got an early cold shower when the grass irrigation sprinklers turned on. It soon brightened up to a clear blue sky. We decided to explore a couple of the local villages and to visit a lake shown on the local map. We drove down a narrow campo road to reach the lake and then partially circumnavigated it until we found a parking area. We walked down to the lake shore and took some photos; the panoramic view was incredible and there were mountains on the far side of the lake.

Embalse de Pinilla

We continued along the M-604 and explored the village of Rascafria but it was just a normal working village with nothing much of interest except for the rough cobbled road surface right through the centre that encouraged vehicles to travel slowly. We left there and returned along the M-604 to Lozoya which was a much prettier village where we found a nice bar that did enormous boccadillos for lunch. Ingrid couldn’t finish hers as it was so big. We stopped off at the petrol station on our way back to the campsite and filled up.

Once back at the campsite we settled in the cool air-conditioned interior of the caravan for a bit. I then went for a swim in the large campsite pool, not too cold and it was a refreshing first swim of the holiday. The settled down with a beer before dinner. A long power cut meant that this was initially typed in Word before being copied here.

Jul 162017

A bright, hot sunny day. Lots of other residents started leaving from 10am onwards and soon our end of the campsite was like a ghost town. I took the chance to go up to reception and ask to move as there were lots of plots free and to move closer to the wash rooms and the reception area to get a chance of WI-FI reception. The women in reception were really helpful and moved us and did a deal on the price of the new pitch as it was larger than the one we had before.

We packed everything away roughly in the car and the caravan and an hour later we were all set up on our new plot which is larger and has better views. It is much closer to the wash rooms but the wifi coverage is intermittent but better than no coverage.

I went and sat in the picnic area just below the restaurant in the shade of some trees and managed to watch the Grand Prix from lap 7 to the end so I missed the start and the safety car unfortunately. Ingrid did some more washing and managed to finish a book that Sue had given her and she has started on another.

Chicken on the BBQ for dinner tonight and tomorrow we will explore the area. A British motorhome arrived this afternoon and parked opposite us but they are only here for the night as they are catching the ferry from Santander tomorrow.

Jul 152017

We were up early and found the car and caravan covered in dew as it was cold overnight. We packed up and then following advice from neighbours who had been on site for 7 weeks I drove the caravan out of the pitch along the gravel road and down the hump to the main road using the mover rather than it hitched to the caravan. Even doing it this way I had less than 2 inches of ground clearance and the front end of the caravan came up at one stage. I parked the caravan on the hill and reversed the car onto it and we drove out of Caravanning Oyambe at 9.15am.

We followed the re-programmed sat nav and joined the A8 motorway without issue. We continued towards Santander and then turned off onto the A67 south in the direction of Valladolid. This section of the route had lots of viaduct bridges and tunnels. We then turned off onto the A231 towards Burgos. Google maps had suggested turning off the A67 much early and going to Burgos on the A74, that route would probably have been shorter but we decided to trust the Garmin. However, the last 30kms or so of the A67 were decidedly uncomfortable with the road surface heavily rippled and caused us to slow down. Maybe we should have followed the Google maps route.

We stopped for coffee and to refuel on the A231 for about half an hour, just after we left the coffee stop we saw a flock of 20-30 birds of prey hovering over one spot alongside the motorway. There were also large fields of sunflowers along this section of the route along with an incredible gold painted bridge followed by a silver painted on. We followed the ring road around Burgos and joined the E5/A1 heading south towards Madrid. This section of the A1 was very undulating with some very steep climbs, at one stage we were down to 60kph as the climb was that steep. Looking later we had reached over 1500 meters. We stopped at a motorway service area for lunch for about 30 minutes or so and noticed the increase in temperature it was now 28 degrees having left Oyambe at 16 degrees.

After lunch, we re-joined the E5/A1 and continued south and turned off onto the M604 towards the campsite. Following the signs and the sat nav we turned off onto a campo road that was poorly maintained and crept up the hill towards the campsite arriving at 3.15pm and 33 degrees. We checked in after the receptionist eventually found us in their reservation system and it looks like we had the last grass pitch, which are the large ones, available. I think that we are the only Brits on the site, all the other occupants seem to be Spanish. The site itself is on the borders of a national park and is some 1100 meters above sea level.. The receptionist said that they were full but the site would quieten down tomorrow evening when the weekend visitors returned home. We may look to move pitches as we are so far from reception there is no Wi-Fi coverage here.

We are a long walk from the only toilet block that is quite small so hopefully we won’t need to queue. We went for a pre-dinner drink on the terrace outside the restaurant and admired the views and the cooling spray from the mister all around the terrace area, it certainly needed it. We reserved a table for dinner and both had an excellent meal but it wasn’t as cheap as we are used to but as it was so good we didn’t mind.

Jul 142017

Turned the laptop on this morning and initially all was well but as it warmed up a couple of problems developed every time I pressed the space bar an = sign and a space appeared and every time I pressed the delete key it deleted and also increased the volume. Looks like if cleaning when I get home and take it apart doesn’t work then it will be a new keyboard.

We headed into San Vicente to pop into the Chinese shop for a new external keyboard and a couple of other bits. We then followed the signs for Mercadona supermarket but they suddenly disappeared and we could not find it. We drove west out of San Vicente towards Oviedo and then took a road to the north to one of the villages and had a picturesque drive back along the coast to San Vicente.

We then headed to Comillas to find a restaurant for lunch. We eventually found a car park with some space in Comillas and then we found the reason for the full car parks, it was market day. AS it was late by this time the market was starting to close down so we didn’t bother to do any shopping. We found an excellent restaurant in one of the squares that had a €14 menu del dia. We got tapas ‘on the house’ as an appetiser and then our first course arrived, it was huge, we were full by the time we had finished. Luckily, unlike a lot of restaurants, they were not in a rush to bring our main course and when it turned up it was equally large. We took our time eating it but still couldn’t clear the plates much to the waiters concern. We couldn’t fit in any postres and so we just had coffee.

We had a slow walk back to the car to walk off the excess food. We drove to the supermarket and bought a few provisions so we don’t have to worry over the weekend. We then drove back to the campsite. Unfortunately, the bluetooth Mac compatible keyboard that I bought would not connect to my laptop so it was back in the car to San Vicente and I changed it for a wired one that I am now using.

Back to the campsite and it is now time to pay and then start packing up ready to leave first thing in the morning.

Jul 132017

As it was a dry grey day yet again Mrs Wishy Washy decided that she would do some more washing and that we would have a lazy day reading and taking it easy.

This we did and I finished yet another book unfortunately in the afternoon two glasses of white wine made friends with my Mac laptop. I turned it off quickly and shook the wine out and allowed it to dry with kitchen towel soaking up the excess. Hopefully there will be no lasting damage and this is also the reason for the late posting of this entry.

More in tomorrows blog.