Thursday 1st April
Woke up with nothing for breakfast, still we were surrounded by supermarkets, so we could have a shop. Outside though, nothing was open! We had probably chosen the worst weekend to come back, Easter Bank Holiday weekend. The Spanish take their religion seriously, especially holidays, so everything was closed!
Driving on the roads last night and now this morning, it seemed very strange to be back in Europe, almost boring. We decided to head for Gibraltar to have a look around and hopefully as it was British, the supermarkets might be open. We parked up with other motorhomes, on some wasteland next to Gibraltar’s small airport and runway. With passports in hand we walked over the border and into Gibraltar, then hoped on a red double decker bus, paying with sterling! Very strange. We then headed off to the centre passing lots of high-rise flats and housing estate’s, it seemed a very British housing estate vibe. The town centre was full of British shops and British pubs, plus lots of Jewellery, electrical, cigarette and alcohol shops. We stopped for a cold pint in the sun and some overpriced pub grub, before continuing our look around. After the first impressions of the centre, as an English small town in the sun, we soon had had enough of Gibraltar. Everything we hadn’t really liked about Britain was here in abundance, on this small rock on the edge of Spain. Think British bulldog in the sun and you have Gibraltar really, some people’s cup of tea but not ours. Before leaving we headed into Morrissons supermarket, this again was a very strange experience. We could have been in a Morrissons anywhere in the UK! We loaded up on shopping and then got the bus back to the border.
Back at the motorhome, we tried again to fix the fridge ignition that still wasn’t working. With the help of a German motorhomer parked next to us, we were still not able to get completely to the ignition cup. So decided to head off to find a garage with pressurised air, to try and blow out the debris. After a few good blows and a lot of bits flying out, the ignition started to work again. While we were at the garage we decided that Hymer was long overdue a wash. So set about cleaning her of the Moroccan dust, sand and grease she had accumulated. Then headed back to the ground next to the airport to spend the night.
Friday 2nd April
Just as we were tucking into our tea and toast, the Spanish Police turned up to move all the motorhomes. Some motorhomes looked like they had been here a while, with awnings, chairs and other paraphernalia out. So no wonder the Police decided it was time to move everybody on. They came around knocking on people’s doors and asking us to leave, as we couldn’t park there. We didn’t mind, although it would have been nice to finish our breakfast, we’d had enough of Gibraltar anyway and were in no rush of experiencing again, the bizarre small sunny British piece of land. I think people still think we rule the world! We are really a small island and like most western countries we conquered nations through mass bloodshed and then took all the resources we needed to progress, suffering of others is never anything to be proud of. Still I suppose that is what our western society is built on and everyone seems to want to be part of it these days, I wont go on though.
We decided we wanted to get away into the countryside. After only just coming back from Morocco, it was slightly hard adjusting to the European world. Spain and then little Britain had been enough of a culture shock for the moment after Morocco. There were no donkeys on the road and people coming up to us, everyone just seemed miserable.
We headed up into the Spanish hills to Ronda, picking up two hitchhikers on the way. Well we picked them up on the outskirts of the town and sort of missed the road they wanted dropping at, so we probably gave them a bit further to walk! Still it was our first time picking anyone up. Ronda was a lovely old Spanish town sitting on top of a Gorge. We had a walk around the streets and the front of the town, to view the bridge they have over the gorge.
We then set off to find some parking for the night, this proved very difficult. We first headed up to a lake a few miles above Ronda and after a couple of drives around, had no luck. So we then set off through some small country roads, till we finally found a spot just above Grazalema overlooking the hills as the sun was setting.
Saturday 3rd April
Decided to take a walk through the Andalucian countryside, from where we were parked. It was very beautiful in the hills with the sun out, I can see why people move to this area. There were plenty of walkers about, as it was a bank holiday weekend and near the start of the walk we passed a small farm in the hills with goats galore. We kept on walking through woods and over hills, believing we were doing a circular walk around a mountain. We ended up at a clearing with a few cows, sheep and a couple of pigs. It was here very hot and dehydrated, as we hadn’t brought any water, we realised we were not on a circular walk. We where now near a separate village and it didn’t look like a road would simply head back to where we had started. We only initially set out for a small walk, so didn’t bring anything with us. Including any money, so we wouldn’t be able to even get a bus back! We came almost face to face with a large bull wondering about, so we decided to take this opportunity to head back the way we had come. The bull though seemed to want to follow in our direction continuously staring at me! The rest of the journey back we were very weary, thirsty and hungry. When we arrived back it was 4pm and we had left for our short walk at 11am. Next time we will make sure we take water and maybe a snack!
We decided to head back to the coast and check out the Costa del Sol, mainly as Lorna hadn’t seen the British seaside resort abroad. We stopped in Fuengirola and had a walk around. We knew straight away the place wasn’t really our cup of tea, more like a sunny Blackpool, still I suppose that is what resorts are like everywhere. The place had many British bars serving British drinks and food. Sometimes it’s nice to go to Spanish bars and eat Spanish food, but saying that we went for a curry! I imagine though some of the people who come abroad and only go to British places, maybe the type who moan about people coming to Britain and bringing their own culture with them!
Sunday 4th April
Decided to head away from the Costa del Sol and into the mountains to see some of Spain. We were on route to Granada, but went off to find a hot spring, Stan and Barbara had told us about, in Albramha de Granada. It was a free spring coming out into the river by a hotel. The locals had built with stones some small pools in the river catching the hot water. It would have probably been a lovely spot had we come in the week. As it was Easter bank holiday weekend, the small road to it and the pools themselves were packed out with people. After putting our feet in the water, we decided it was too busy for us and headed off to find somewhere else to stay. After some driving around we managed to find a spot under some tree’s by a reservoir.
Monday 5th April
Today we got up and headed straight for Granada to have a look around the city and to find some parking we had been told about. We travelled around trying to find the place called Hazza Grande, but with no luck. Our map didn’t show it and Tom Tom didn’t recognise the name either. I think it was more of an area name than a street name, where other travellers park up. We headed up towards the famous Alhambra, but all the parking there was very expensive. Up there we found a track heading up into the hill and thought we might be on to something. At this point we met someone else trying to find Hazza Grande and after a call to his friend, he headed off in his car down through the town, saying it was on the other side. We checked out our track first for anywhere to park up, but to no avail. We then headed back down into the city but couldn’t get down one of the roads, as it wasn’t open till after 10pm.
We headed back to the outskirts and found a spot with a couple of other motorhomes, by some new flats and offices. Deciding to wait until later, to try and find the park up again. In the meantime while sat in the motorhome we witnessed what seemed a strange occurrence. A police car kept coming down the road stopping and checking a few cars and bins. Then on one occasion they came and parked by us, having a look round a van parked opposite. They tried to get in the van, but had no luck and after a while gave up and drove off. As soon as they had gone a woman who had been waiting around near the van, while the police were there, came back to the van and quickly got in. Started the van and drove off, all the time though she appeared to be talking into her lapel! All very strange, a few minutes later the police car came back around realised the van had gone and sped off. We were left wondering what we had just witnessed.
We decided to make a final attempt at finding the travellers park up. After a few turns in the city we were suddenly faced with a road narrower than our motorhome! The traffic built up behind us and a Spanish guy came beside us telling us to continue. Lorna got out and told the traffic to stop while I reversed back a little and managed to turn around! We at that point decided to give up and head back to where we had been to park up for the night.
Tuesday 6th April
Knowing the roads in the city centre were very narrow, we got our bikes out and decided too have a look around on them instead. I also took my travel guitar, with the intention of hopefully selling it at a music shop. I wasn’t really getting on with the sound of it and thought it would be better to get some money for it and buy a cheap Spanish guitar instead. After getting a map from the tourist office and finally being able to see where the traveller’s park up was, we headed for the old city. The old part was lovely and there seemed a hippy vibe about the place and a link with Morocco. As there were plenty of shops selling all the items we had seen in stalls so many times in Morocco. We locked the bikes up and on foot wound our way up through the narrow streets. Eventually we came up onto a square overlooking Granada and the Alhambra. The square had a big group of gypsy musicians playing away their Spanish flamenco vibe. We stopped a while enjoying the sounds and sights, before moving on back through the old streets.
After no luck finding a music shop, we decided to head out of the city and up to the mountains of Sierra Nevada and the ski resort. Heading up the winding roads to the ski resort, we found that a full toilet and mountain roads don’t mix well!!
Arriving at the ski station we found the motorhome parking, but as this was about €15 per night we decided not to stay there. We parked up near the centre and went off to sort out the hire of the ski’s and boots. The skiing was some early fun for Lorna’s birthday, at least that’s what we told ourselves. We then found some free parking on the side of the road overlooking the ski slopes and station.
[b]Wednesday 7th April
Got up early for the slopes, as we only could really afford one day skiing we were determined to get the most out of it. We walked up to the main car park carrying the equipment. Thirty minutes later we were knackered, but had eventually reached the slopes ready to start. With the gear on we then had to ski down an intermediate run to the main station, to be able to get onto the easy runs. Lorna picked it straight back up, me on the other hand was having some difficulty turning and stopping and well just skiing! I needed to get to the green runs to practise the skills I seemed to have forgotten, only problem was I still had to get there. Eventually we arrived at the main bustling ski station and after some food to top up my low energy levels, I remembered how to ski. We then enjoyed the rest of the day skiing the slopes in the sun, stopping every now and then for a rest. The ski station was very busy as it was still the Easter holidays, but the slopes away from the main station were ok. As the day was coming to an end we decided on tackling the higher slopes and making our way down across a series of long blue runs to the bottom. We thoroughly enjoyed the skiing, but by the time we were on the last run our muscles were struggling to cope with actually turning. Arriving at the bottom we managed to muster the energy to hand back our skis before collapsing for a beer in the nearest bar.
Looking back up the hill to where Hymer was parked we didn’t think our legs would make the walk, so ended up taking a rather expense bus back up. Still it was a great day skiing and very hot in the sun, I also ended up with a slightly red face!