We were up early and finished packing everything away and left the campsite at about 9am. We followed the sat nav route out through the town but at a complicated junction with a pedestrian crossing and trees hiding road signs so we went around a section of the town for a second time before turning onto the correct road to the motorway. At the junction with the motorway we went into the Eroski shopping complex and filled up with cheap fuel. This was another circle around one way roads to get back to the motorway junction where we joined the A7 coastal motorway. We ran along the coast for many miles with the blue sea to the right and the mountains to the left. The road was undulating and had tunnels and was in good repair. As we got closer to Almeria city the poly tunnels started, they are a real blot on the landscape extending from the coast to the mountains for mile after mile. The road surface got quite rough once we were in Almeria Province as they don’t seem to maintain the road surface as well as Malaga Province. There was a severe shortage of service areas along this section, about 11.15 we saw the sign for a service area just off the motorway and so we stopped for coffee. There was no room in the car park for two motorhomes and so we stopped on a gravel area opposite next to a JCB. There were two bars to choose from and so we chose the one that the Policia Local were using as we suspected that it would be the better of the two, and it was.
We rejoined the motorway and continued our journey home. We stopped at Lorca at about 1.30 for lunch, the road too and from the motorway junction was very busy with a complicated roundabout junction. We found a hotel with a cafeteria where we had a bocadillo for lunch. After lunch it took us a while to negotiate our way out of the town and back onto the motorway. Around Murcia the traffic got very busy and we ended up stopping in nose to tail traffic which is unusual for Spain. We continued on the A7 and again as we skirted Alicante the road was pretty busy. As we were part way through the long San Joan tunnel we were passed by a Guardia Civil Trafico car on ‘blues & two’s and he stopped on the hard shoulder just outside the tunnel where there was a car on fire, although it was nearly extinguished by this time. The rest of the journey to Ondara was uneventful and we pulled into our parking spot at about 4.45pm. A long day and a 550km+ journey without incident for us.
We stayed at Camping Torre del Mar for these four days as part of the MCC Spanish Groups May rally. Tony and Ann were our hosts and they arranged a busy schedule for us. We had an excellent meal one afternoon at a beach bar with live music, a petanque competition won by Mike, I need more practice. One evening we had a karaoke event with all of Tony’s gear and Ingrid even got up and joined him for one song. One morning we went to the market, which was huge, I got a new pair of shorts and Ingrid bought a new sun dress. Tony also arranged a whole series of quizzes on different subjects, some of the answers were challenging and others less so. Whilst we were in England recently we were given a T light candle container by our son and daughter in law and that is now used regularly on the outside table. The pitch we were on sloped quite a lot at the front so I was glad of my new Milenco leveling ramps.
We left Camping Villsom in Dos Hermanas at about 9.15am and headed back towards the A4 and according to the sat nav had to turn back towards Seville and take the first junction onto the SE40 but, unfortunately, for the first time the CoPilot software let us down as the SE40 is still being built at the moment. We continued back to the Seville ring road and then turned off onto the A92 and headed south and east towards Malaga. The road surface was smooth and well maintained and we saw several birds of prey soaring on the thermals looking for prey. The landscape was undulating plains with mountains in the far distance and the road curved around olive groves, fields of corn / wheat and also fields of sunflowers where some of the flower heads had started to appear. Just past Osuna we passed a convoy of tractors towing ‘gypsy style’ caravan trailers heading in the opposite direction, there must have been around 50 of them complete with a Guardia Civil escort. We stopped for coffee at about 10.30 and in the car park of the bar there were another 10 or so tractors with their caravans and an escort of two GC motorcycles.
After coffee we rejoined the A92 and just before Antequera we passed another large convoy of tractors towing trailers heading in the same direction as the others. We turned onto the A45 and headed south for Malaga, this road winds along a river dvalley and has several tunnels, sharp bends and steep hills with various speed limits and speed cameras. Going round one sharp bend one of the cupboards came open and the crockery fell out and knocked the kitchen sink tap on which caused a small flood. Ingrid temporarily stowed everything whilst we were on the move, turned off the water and put a tea towel down to soak up the worst of the water. At Malaga we joined the A7 and headed east towards Torre del Mar. The sat nav took us straight to the campsite where we checked in and settled and tidied up the fallen crockery properly. An earth / gravel pitch under the trees close to the beach.
We decided to have a bit of a lie in and a lazy morning as we were still aching from all the walking of yesterday but Mike and Sue wanted to do some more sightseeing and so they caught an early bus into Seville. We took a later bus and agreed to meet them at the restaurant for lunch at 3pm. We tried to find a cab to take us from the bus stop to the restaurant but every one that we saw already had fares and so we had to walk, we still arrived on time though. The girls had chosen the restaurant, it was an excellent choice, we all had something different but all courses were excellent.
After a lazy late lunch we had a short walk around the area and had a couple of afternoon liquid refreshments whilst we waited for the Flamenco show to start. We returned to Casa de la Guitarra just before 7.30pm for the show. It is a small intimate location for about 60 or so visitors with a small stage for a guitarist, singer and dancer. Due to the lighting and the inability to use flash the photos all have a red caste but give some impression of the show. After the show we took a slow walk back to the bus stop and took the last bus of the day back to the campsite. Again the bus dropped us off right outside the campsite even though it took the long route back.
As planned today we wanted to visit Seville and so took a walk into town to the bus stop where the bus ran into Seville every 30 minutes for a very reasonable €1.70 each for the 12 km journey. The bus stop in Seville was at the rear of Plaza Espana, as we got off the bus another British passenger said ‘Don’t be put off by the back of the plaza make sure you go round to the front’. So we took him at his word and were amazed at what we saw once we walked around to the front of the plaza.
We then took a 45 minute ride around Seville on one of the many horse and carriages that were available for hire, €45 for a 45 minute trip for four of us was very reasonable. We saw all the important buildings and received information about each of them from the carriage driver. After the ride we walked into the centre of town and found a restaurant that Mike and Sue had been to before for a snack lunch that was excellent. After lunch we continued our exploration of Seville, booked for a Flamenco show for the following day and also a late lunch at a restaurant. With all the walking we were pretty exhausted and so took the bus back to the campsite, it dropped us right to the door so that was good for the tired legs.
We packed up and left by 9.45am and negotiated our way through the morning traffic in Cordoba. With all the traffic lights and one-way systems, it took us over 15 minutes to reach the A4 motorway. We headed east towards Seville and stopped at the first services to fill up with fuel, €100 poorer we continued on our way and saw some stork’s nests on electricity pylons and a couple of storks roosting on the street lights. The road surface on this section of the A4 was better in some places than the routes from Santa Elena to Cordoba but in some places, it was equally as bad.
Alongside the motorway for the first section of the route we were passing through more olive groves and these gave way to open green fields with some solar farm areas. We routed around the Seville ring road which was pretty busy to Dos Hermanas just to the south of the city and on to Camping Villsom, arriving at just before 12noon. The road outside the campsite is being re-routed and was marked as closed but as the campsite was only 50m past the road closed sign I took a chance the road closure was immediately after the campsite entrance. We checked in and the first pitch we were shown was too small and the front half of the van was still in the road. We were then moved to a large pitch opposite which was excellent.
We decided on a quiet day today after all the walking and sightseeing of yesterday. We had lunch under the trees and then Mike and I took a ride on our bikes to the local shops to buy some food for dinner as the campsite restaurant was closed for today. I rang the local caravan repair firm to see if they could come and look at the awning but they don’t have anything to do with Fiamma awnings unfortunately.
After rain overnight, we woke up to grey skies with occasional light rain. As a result, we decided not to go into Cordoba but to walk to the local shopping centre only 10 minutes away. There the girls did some shopping and we picked up a few bits of food from Carrefour. By the time we left the occasional light rain had stopped and we walked back to the campsite for lunch.
After lunch we took a taxi in to the old town. We walked around the area looking at the shops and various sites and took some more photos. We stopped in a bar for a cold drink which had loads of bull fighting memorabilia in it that we weren’t interested in but it also had a display of various Venetian masks which were interesting. We took a cab back to the campsite and started to pack up ready to leave in the morning. I found a problem with the awning in that it would not retract into its housing properly. I was unable to adjust it but eventually managed to get it stowed suitable for travel and will have to find a firm to adjust it properly.
We woke to heavy mist in the campsite, whilst picturesque not ideal for travelling. Luckily by 9.30 it had started to burn off and we left just before 10 o’clock. Today’s journey was due to be around 140 kms from Santa Elena to Cordoba straight along the A4. This was a different journey today as the road was more undulating and had many long curves and fairly sharp bends but what made the journey worse was the poor road surface. This was very rough with many repaired pot holes in the nearside lane, this is probably the roughest most worn out road surface I have ever experienced in Spain. I suspect that this is due to the large number of lorries using the road. The grape vines of yesterday gave way to large Olive groves today.
We arrived on the outskirts of Cordoba about 80 minutes after leaving Santa Elena and found some large multi lane roads that wound through a busy town with lots of sets of traffic lights. The sat nav was flawless and led us through the town to the Municipal Campsite El Brillante where we checked in. This is one of the most expensive campsites we have ever stayed in at €27 a night plus an additional €5.50 per night for electricity. We were assigned plot 90 which was at the far end of the campsite over a narrow bridge with a width of about 2.5m when the motorhome is 2.32m wide it needed some accurate driving. Immediately behind our pitch was a wall and the other side of the wall was a school playground, which made it a little noisy when the children were out playing. We set up and had lunch.
After lunch we took a cab into the old town and paid a visit to the Mesquita which lived up to expectations. It is a fabulous huge old Muslim Mosque with a Roman Catholic Cathedral created in the centre of it. Entrance was €10 but it was worth it, words cannot do it justice, it is a ‘must visit’ place in my view I took a large number of photographs of the inside and a few of the outside which are here. We left the Mesquita and found a bar for a cold drink and then walked alongside the river to the old Roman bridge and as a light rain started to fall we took a cab back to the campsite stopping at Carrefour on the way for some supplies. During late afternoon and evening there were brief very light rain showers. We then settled down for the night, more sightseeing in Cordoba tomorrow.
We met up with Mike & Sue at the Lo-Cost petrol station in Ondara and filled up with cheap fuel before heading on to the AP7 motorway north towards Valencia in 19 degrees and bright sunshine. We had an uneventful drive to Valencia and then on to the A3 in the direction of Madrid. We stopped for coffee at a motorway service area near Utiel then continued along the A3 and then turned on to the A43 in the direction of Albacete. We stopped for lunch at another motorway service area, unfortunately a coach had arrived just before us so there was a queue at the ladies conveniences. After lunch we continued along the A43 and then onto the A4 in the direction of Cordoba. The scenery along the way was varied from undulating plains with straight roads, some fairly steep uphill sections and some large fields of grape vines. The sat nav took us off at junction 258 to Santa Elena our final destination for the day. The route it to us to the campsite was a little more convoluted than it needed to be BUT the route was wide and trouble free and avoided taking us through the village centre. We pulled into Camping Despenaperros and found a picturesque site set amongst trees. It was €17 for the night for a fully serviced pitch with drinking water, electricity, waste and free wifi all included. This is definitely a site we would stay at longer on another occasion when we have more time.
The restaurant in the campsite was not yet open for the season but we were given a 10% off voucher for the restaurant in the local hotel about 100m from the campsite. We had an excellent reasonably priced meal and I can recommend the venison with mushroom sauce (really a lovely stew) the girls had the cod with garlic and Mike had a steak all were excellent as was the wine. Whist we were in the restaurant the thunder that we had heard earlier turned into a small rain shower which had stopped by the time we left the restaurant. Once back at the vans there was some lightning but no more rain.
We woke up on Tuesday morning to a misty cold day, hopefully it will burn off soon.