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Monday, August 14, 2017

ALL HOT & BOTHERED


We are glad to check out of our hotel, drop off the BMW, while away a few hours in Zaragoza before heading back to the workshop. We finally get out (with GR2) at 7pm as they are closing the gate for the night. Then we head south - planning a fast route through the rest of Spain, so that we can cross to Morocco ASAP! We finally stop at sunset – thoroughly enjoying sitting outside as the last pink vanishes from the sky.

Many more miles as we move south. Motorways & smaller roads with narrow winding gorges. There is a circle on my map at the tiny town of Canete – so we stop to wander town & stretch our legs. Naturally there is a castle & a few churches thrown in for good measure. All is decorated for a fiesta in a few days, but no time to tarry!  As the day warms up (40 deg) so does GR2. So much so that we make the decision to return to the workshop. We can’t expect them to fix it under warranty after wandering all around Morocco.  We end up camping on a lovely Embalse/lake formed by a dam. Finally, back on what I hope is a relatively flat motorway. Of course, it is no such thing… magic views & more mountains.    In the worst heat of the day we stop to explore Catalayud.    Finally, we get to the workshop, ready for the guys to arrive on Monday morning!

Mid-morning, we head off on a test drive to see if all is sorted. John starts getting hopeful…. Until GR2 gets hot. Oh well. Next check is the radiator. It is pulled out and sent away. We are towed outside for the night. Another hot night & day. We are finally towed back inside at 5pm & finished by 6pm. The blockage has been cleared. Fingers crossed & waving mechanics who say “Don’t come back.” and we are away yet again. Off down that motorway to Madrid, only stopping when it is nearly dark. All looking good.

On his regular morning check John discovers GR2 is still using water, and we make the decision to miss Morocco totally this trip & head back to our workshop. They have no more ideas so we decide to meander north towards Germany. Back to those maps, & we set Barcelona in to the GPS. As it gets late in the day I spy notes on my map about great free camping (from our trip years ago), so we head there for the nigh - a dammed river where fisherman are trying to catch sturgeon. A French guy shows John pictures of one over 2 metres that he caught earlier in the day.  Catch & release only – and if you could see the water you would know why! And definitely no swimming for us, but a nice spot for the night.

Muck around a bit in the morning. After all there is no hurry now! Head on to Lleida & squeeze in to a tiny spot right near the centre of town. In the past, we have bypassed this city as it really didn’t sound that exciting in the Lonely Planet, but it is a pleasant surprise. We do not have to walk all the way up to the castle –there is an escalator & a lift for most of the way! The Cathedral is amazing & totally unrestored. Cloister superb & tower exhausting (especially in this heat!) Finally, time to move on to Barcelona.  We end up heading to the beach town of Vilanova I la Geitra. I have spied a marina on the map, & we often find camping on these. But better still we find Platja del far de San Cristofol (a beach) with a huge carpark. Enough people have left so that we can fit in. How lovely to swim until sunset in the Mediterranean Sea!

Shall we move on to Barcelona or shall we stay at the beach. The beach wins easily (we have been to Barcelona before). So, the whole day is spent floating in the sea & lazing on the sand people watching. And that is a whole new entertainment in itself. Do you know how many Spanish women go topless (and I wish they wouldn’t!) John reckons about 8.5%. Later as we sit by GR2 our next entertainment is watching cars get stuck in the sand. They simply cannot resist it! We meet & chat to a few people as well. That is how we know that it is a fiesta tonight on the nearby beach. Music & fireworks. Great to sit at the beachside bar/restaurant with new friends watching some pretty impressive fireworks. We realise it will be a late night as our park is full to the max with people going to the fiesta. But that is not what keeps us awake. We wake in the wee hours to a boom box blasting in the car beside us. Their mates are parked in front of us & they are all partying very hard. Finally, all quiet by 3.30am Sometimes there is a downside to free camping.

Time for a swim before we head out. Don’t want to get jammed in as these exuberant Spanish arrive by carloads. So, we head north following the coastline, first past Barcelona, then on to the Costa Brava. We thought Sunday would be pretty easy traversing Barcelona, but roadworks have closed our motorway & all 3 lanes are diverted through the port – a very slow exercise. Then it is beach after beach. As car parking is at a premium every spot is full.  Finally, we wind around the jagged coastline of The Costa Brava – a truly magnificent drive with lots of Sunday drivers.  Fortunately, John does love a challenge. There are very few motorhomes along this stretch. Some gorgeous towns running down valleys in to the water, but not for us when all the side streets are choked with parked cars.

We start the process of hunting for a beach for the night. On the map L’Estartit looks hopeful – holy moly, not a carpark in sight. So, we find a back track to Plague de Peyrefite. It looks like the back of beyond on the map, but the dirt track is full of parked cars. We squeeze in, go for a cooling swim. Later, when the cars thin out we find a better spot. 

Today we are heading to Calaques as recommended by a lovely Spanish girl we met. She says it will be untouristy! But it is in the Lonely Planet so we will see. Head off early on the lovely drive up through the winding mountain road/track. There is already lots of traffic. When we arrive, we are sent away from the carpark (we are too heavy) and have to head to the hills. Phew, we find the spot – and it is not very big. Then set off to explore town, and gosh it is packed with tourists. But it is a gorgeous seaside village. When we leave our carpark is full & there are cars & even motorhomes still streaming in – good luck finding a carpark!

Lots more narrow winding roads, with even more traffic. And of course, the road keeps winding through villages with those narrow roads. Fortunately, we can stop at lookouts to take in the views – just magic! By now we have crossed in to France. At another lookout, we can see down to a beach with large carpark & yes, a row of motorhomes, so we decide to find our way down. Perfect – the carpark is full, so we find a spot up the hill, so that in the evening we can come down to the beach. To our surprise we are at a Marine Reserve with a special snorkelling area. Perfect. We pull out our gear & head on in with heaps of locals. We stay for 2 nights right on the beach at this gorgeous spot.  Oh, the joys of motorhoming……..

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