Monday, 11 September 2017

Overlanders Way

Devils Marbles

Another BIG drive, from Alice Springs to Townsville which we did in stages. The longest part was on the Overlander’s Way which was the route taken by cattle drovers to move stock from Queensland to Northern Territory. The road is good but the scenery same-same. There are the termite mounds of course, quite a few wore clothes. Some looked almost realistic with hat, hair and tee-shirt. There is also roadkill and the carrion feeders to dodge. We passed lots of dead cows and kangaroos and one dead camel.  Live spotting is a big snake for Stu and an emu for me.
Road trains rocket past in the opposing direction; when it is my turn to drive I get as far over as I can and never stare at them in case I am sucked into their vortex. Mostly 55 metres long to our 7 and standing so high you can’t see the driver easily, they transport all sorts of essentials back and forth across the deserted Australian outback highways. High crosswinds and a rush of displaced air as they pass, has us hanging on to our steering wheel.
There are some cute settlements like Aileron and some not-so-cute like Tennant Creek where Stuart optimistically thought he would find a flat white coffee he could recognise, it all ended in tears.  
We stayed at a place called Devils Marbles with about 30 other campervans, there are huge circular concretions all around us, some balanced on top of others in stacks. This was the snake-spotting venue.

Friendly brolga

The settlement of Barkly Homestead is an oasis, sitting on the Barkly Highway which peels off the north/south Stuart Highway. We stopped for lunch and watched a family of bush cattle make themselves at home on the front lawn. I could almost hear the big bull say “look kids, I bought you and mum to a resort for your holidays, now tuck in at the all-you-can-eat buffet”.
We crossed into Queensland where the roads are poorer. We found another great campsite and were accompanied on a riverside walk by a Brolga, and we took part in a mining experience in Mount Isa where they served excellent sandwiches and pasties for afternoon tea. We missed the first half hour of the tour because we didn’t realise Northern Territories is half an hour ahead of Queensland. The obliging staff equipped us with orange overalls and safety boots, then chased the tour guide before the group descended underground.
We had travelled 1500km by the time we reached Mt Isa from Alice and after spending most of the day there we made ourselves at home at Mary Kathleen, or the remains of Mary Kathleen. It was the site of a uranium mine but all that was left was concrete slabs and a series of little roads where other campers made themselves at home under the gumtrees. (That clicking you hear isn’t a geiger, it is tinnitus!)
On our BIG BIG day we did 750 kms in 8 hours of engine time. We reached the cute town of Julia Creek just in time to catch the dunnart- feeding at the tourist centre. These particular dunnarts were thought extinct but are now being bred in captivity.  The cute little carnivorous marsupials can inflict a sharp bite and have to be kept separate as they fight to the death. We interrupted the wee chap having his workout on the treadmill for a meal of 3 mealyworms. He bit their heads off and feasted on them.

Julia Creek is a town of 400 that is a hub for pastoralists, a contrast to the other towns which have mining based economies. We saw cattle being herded by helicopter which we are told is preferable to the issues of employing men to do the job (HR in the outback!). Farms comprise of ‘downs’ and ‘bush’. Young cattle are grazed on the downs then moved into the bush area to fend for themselves for up to 10 years after they have calved for the first time.
Our plan is to head on to Townsville then down the coast to Brisbane, there are parts we have traveled before so we will visit some other spots this time.

Four tanks plus tractor unit
site of snake-spotting  It was 1.5m long and 90mm diameter

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Red Centre in a Roomy Country

Three flights and two shuttles later in the same day we were in Alice Springs. We are embarking on a toe-dipper of a trip to the red centre of a very roomy country.

 My ankle is not up to much walking so we took a taxi from our hotel to the Alice Springs Telegraph Office where a ‘Mcleods Daughter’ look-alike showed us the original Alice Spring. A bit of a misnomer as it was a temporary waterhole and not a spring at all that was named after the original surveyor’s wife. We walked back to town along an excellent cycleway, stopping to return the stares of a couple of ‘roos, (slipping into local lingo here). The nearby sign warning us about dingos being active was a little disconcerting but we pressed on and found the only decent coffee house in town.

Our campervan for this 3 week trip is not nearly as well appointed as our Chausson. I can’t get into the fridge without standing on my head, space being so tight. Never mind, it has its own bathroom if you can fit into it.

The West Macdonnell ranges deserved some attention and we camped at National Park camps. The gorges didn’t exactly flow with water but there were waterholes and the ghost gums overhanging them gave them their iconic Aussie scenery stamp along with the big blue skies and red rocky backdrop. Our fellow campers were very friendly even though we were emblazoned with a Maui logo. Spinifex pigeons darted underneath our feet pecking at the crumbs from our hors d’doeuvres.

We took a trip to “Glen Helen” resort  to look at another gorge but the prospect of having to swim the icy waters to get to the beauty spot stopped that idea in its tracks. Glen Helen Resort looked as if it had enjoyed a previous life as a POW camp.

We called back at Alice on our way to Uluru. A mere 440 km away. We restocked the larder and showed ID at the wine shop, passing the friendly policeman on door duty as we clinked our way back to the van with lovely Aussie Shirazs stashed in our bags.

A bit of a drive but we were rewarded with the sight of a purple monolith rising from the plains in the setting sun. We stopped to take photos whilst enduring a fly-fight. The flies were winning, Stuart was doubled over after swallowing one. They were on my glasses and trying to crawl in our ears.  Retreat back to the van and back up the road to a campsite we passed 5km ago.  No flies! Phew! We researched our guidebook for the next day and discovered the fly battle had been fought while we photographed “Fool-uru”. It was Mt Connor doing a passable imitation of Uluru that was the battle-site.

Uluru itself was just like  the pictures and postcards. Close up it was quite magnificent and there was a serenity about it that the Aborigines must treasure also. There was no rubble around the base, just a sheer pitted rock rising from the graceful gums and greenery that surround it.

The scenery along the roads is ever changing but there is a consistent theme of trees and vegetation specially adapted to life in a dry climate. We traveled through stands of Mulga and desert oaks as well as past wild flowers blooming in swathes amongst the spinifex.

The Olgas (Kata Tjata) are red rounded rock monoliths standing shoulder to shoulder about 50km from Uluru. After an unexpected (for me) tramp around their perimeter we headed 300km to Kings Canyon where another tramp was planned. It was my turn to drive and I took care to return the waves from fellow campers as I drove, these varied from sublime one finger lifts to something that looked like ‘Heil Hitler’.
We stayed at Kings Canyon resort paying $40 to park on an unpowered site surrounded by moon dust, but there is no overnighting in the National Park. The entrance to the shower block has strong high wooden gates and although we didn’t see dingos we saw their calling cards the next morning. I had a shower during daylight hours just to be certain!

The trek around Kings Canyon was a lovely trip and not difficult when fortified with Voltaren, glad I did it. Back in the van with Stuart fussing about solar charging, waste disposal … some things don’t change …. and on our way back through Alice up to Tennant Creek. Timing is crucial though, the wine shops don’t open until 2pm and beer is ‘too expensive”.

Friday, 20 January 2017

A few final thoughts

Snowfall at our final campsite
The trip is over, I am at Heathrow filling in more than a few hours before we fly home via Dubai. This morning we drove to Southampton docks, handed Chausson over to the shippers and caught a taxi to the coach station then on to London.

We left Spain on a Brittany Ferry arrived in Portsmouth and spent the rest of our time visiting with my Mum, Dad and other relatives in and around Herefordshire.  It was cold but not as cold as Spain had been when we were at altitude.

Now is a good time to reflect on the past 8 months and how we spent our time and the countries we visited.

Run down:

United Kingdom - Spent about 3 weeks kitting out Chausson and testing everything.
Loved the Elan valley in Wales.

France - 5 weeks in Normandy, Loire, Burgandy, Alsace areas in June/July
Another 5 weeks in the Alps, Dordogne, Pyrennees in Sept/Oct

Loved the food, wine, mountain areas, cycle paths, great aires and municipal campsites
Good roads, easy travelling except some of the smaller squeezy streets

Italy - only a week
Great food and wine
Not very good roads, dusty and a bit littered in places, also security worries so we were careful when selecting places to park.
Loved the Dolomites, Lucca, Montepulciano, Ravenna, Brunico and Venice

Austria - two weeks, but what weeks! Mid August peak holiday time in Europe but not crowded.
Pristine everything
Loved the mountains, rivers, cycleways, GrossGlockner High Alpine road

Southern Germany - 3 weeks in July/August
An unexpected delight, great cycleways, 
Loved Fussen, Deutsch Alpenstrauss (German Alpine Road), Bavaria.
Was hot when we visited
Food a bit too schnitzel and chippy, not to mention sausages

Portugal - Only a week - in November
Probably not the best time for Portugal. I have visited Portugal twice now and still think I should like it more than I do.
Enjoyed the Douro River area, cheap eats, friendly people 
Roads so bad we were forced to pay tolls!

Spain  - 11 weeks, November, December, early January - the longest time spent in one country
It was our first proper visit to Spain and it exceeded expectations.
Great heritage sites, fantastic roads, good wine, Best spots - Segovia, Granada, Avila, San Sebastian

How was our life on the road made easier?

The big fridge, running on gas, battery, mains

The refillable gas system, Gaslow, so we didn't have to worry about incompatible cylinders in different countries.

Howard and Hilda, the bikes from Halfords, - until stolen - made getting around easy-peasy

Large drop-down bed. A full size super-comfortable bed that dropped from the ceiling at the press of a button - no sore backs.

Webasto diesel heater that ticked away quietly in the colder times.

Big separate shower

Gas pull-out bbq, no cooking smells inside the little house.

Stuart's custom made shelf that held my morning cup of bed-tea and the dirty dishes at washing up time

Satnav, good maps

Mifi - our roving internet connection

What would have been better - some more space in the kitchen  . . . . 

Can you see Stuart's shelf and the secret photographer?

We will be home soon and looking forward to seeing Chausson again and planning some more trips.

See you later alligators

Campsite in French Alps, near Italian border

Monday, 9 January 2017

Hasta la Vista Espagne

In Abla, in the Alpujarra area
Where were we ????
Ah, yes, Cabo de Gata. The wild west cape of Southern Spain provided us with some lovely warm sunshine and views of the blue Mediterranean until it was time to make the trek back up to colder climes before flying home.
On our last day on the coast we had plans to visit the flamingos wading in wetlands near the saline lagoons, then to check out an old gold mining town (more shades of the wild west).
All packed up, the truck was idling, then another motorhome owner gesticulated.

A very flat rear tyre, no one gets punctures these days and Fiat only pro
vided a kit to get you to the nearest repair centre. Out came the kit and instructions, and with a Frenchman breathing over our shoulders the silicone sealant refused to be injected into the tyre. The compressor worked but it wasn’t making headway against the damage caused by a large nail. A helpful Welshman came to the rescue with a can of squirty tyre gunk that he and Stuart managed to force into the tyre. We abandoned our plans and set off carefully to find a repair-man. Luck was on our side and the first place we stopped at made repairs for a very paultry amount. So relieved we were that Stuart gave him some extra for his trouble.

We decided to make a start on our trek and visit Abla in the Alpujarra mountains. The houses were cosied up to one another on this hilltop town, huddled together against the bitter wind that swept down from the snow covered mountains behind it. In the other direction, multitudes of wind turbines were taking advantage of the conditions to produce energy. It was an immaculate little village on the Camino de Santiago trail. We stayed the night in one of the special motorhome aires that the town council had installed and before dinner we walked around some chalet developments that had been abandoned before completion, the rooms inside were tiled and really very close to being able to be inhabited. A sad sight.

In the morning Stuart set the cruise control and we took a dual carriageway for 600 km, there was very little traffic on the excellent Spanish roads that cut through vast areas of olive trees. Sometimes the highway went straight through the middle of a hamlet, under footbridges that connected the two sides of the town, no need to slow down.

Lighting little hot air balloons
One of the remaining ‘to dos’ on my spreadsheet was Avila. We had actually driven past it previously and re-traced our steps to find the town’s aire. It was dark when we walked the short distance into town. The whole central area is encircled by very well preserved walls illuminated in a golden glow in the cold evening air. The town exuded prosperity with ancient buildings converted into luxury hotels. The town was decked with Christmas lights; carols and iceskaters under the clear starry sky completed a perfect picture of Northern Hemisphere Christmas. It was the night before Epiphany, the Three Kings Day, where children receive presents.
We did a little shopping, buying new shoes for Stuart and a pastry for me and returned to find our truck along with 6 others in the midst of preparations for an ‘event’. We asked if it was ok to stay and shared a mushroom risotto and bottle of chardonnay. With Stuart on dishes I popped my head out the door and was greeted by the sky dotted with masses of little hot air balloons taking flight into the crisp night air. We grabbed our cameras and down jackets and joined the crowds. I bought a little balloon (fire and light – it can’t get any better!) and a helpful volunteer showed me how to light and launch it properly. Stuart’s camera got a flat battery at the crucial time so only one photo of my launch.

Major Tom and Coldplays Paradise were the music of the night as the stars were joined by these airborne fires. The crenelated city walls and turrets were the perfect illuminated backdrop.

Launching little hot air balloons

Much excitement before lift off

Medieval walls of Avila - they stretch off into the distance
The next morning was a hard frost, about -4, as we set off to explore the town proper and walk around the walls and up and down the many towers and city gates. Avila is a world heritage site, the highest provincial capital in Spain, built on a flat summit of a rocky hill that rises steeply in the middle of a brown, arid, treeless wilderness strewn with huge grey boulders and surrounded by lofty mountains.

Stuart on the ramparts
On this trip to the northern coast we had another couple of stopovers, one night in Palencia where we woke to a frost of minus seven. We put towels in the front to absorb the condensation – they froze to the windscreen, but we had been cozy with the Webasto diesel heater ticking over slowly during the night. It runs on some magical mystery heat-exchange system and fine tuning the thermostat took a little mastering. More shoe shopping and on the road again back to Cabaceno where we had taken a trip over the wildlife park in cable cars. 
The aire is next to the elephants and I watched them in the late afternoon sun. Just like cows at milking time, 5.30pm in this case, all 15 of them quietly stopped what they were doing and sedately trundled to the elephant house, waiting to be let into the warm. The youngsters were pushing each other while their mothers were probably thinking of the awaiting dinner.

We are on the ferry on a 28 hr trip to Portsmouth, it is nice but not luxury, still much better than the Cook Strait ferries, many trucks were loaded before our turn came. I reveled in the space in our cabin – I could twirl around if I chose. After living in such small quarters it is a wondrous feeling. Along the corridor I can see Chausson's bum through the window in the door leading to the cardeck. Just a stone's throw away.

We have ‘stuff’ to do in England, stuff that makes the last few days unable to be planned, but there is a plane to catch and home to a brand new 2017. We have lots to look forward to, Alex has just bought a house near Katherine in Beach Haven and Katherine and Jason announced their engagement at Christmas. The newly engaged are expecting a baby boy in late May so we will be grandparents. We have a household to unpack and restore and then renovations to undertake as it has been 20 years since we built and things are needing a freshen up to reflect our new status as ‘not in paid employment’ people.

Until next time  . . .

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sunny southern Spanish soujourn

Christmas campsite
Boxing Day and we headed a whole 10 km up the road from our Christmas campsite to Almerima. I had researched a marina that looked a good place to stay in what I thought was Almeria. Almerima/Almeria – what’s in a name – about 50km. Luckily we decided to have a quick look-see otherwise we wouldn’t have found the abovementioned marina, we would have ended up stranded among high rise apartment blocks in Almeria.

La Isleta, Cabo de Gata
Almerima suited us well, views in front of the moored boats and views behind of the beach with mountains rising in the background, the snow still present on the highest peaks. Our new neighbours were either English or in the case of Tanja, had spent time in New Zealand. We were even paid a visit by Tony and Ruth who used their electric bikes to whizz the 10km from our previous camp.

It was tempting to stay where we felt comfortable but tempus fugit and our days in Spain are numbered so we packed away the items that might fly around, clicked the door locks shut, wound down the hatches and away. Away past a huge area dedicated to the services associated with large scale horticulture, we had been oblivious in our little marina-world of the massive truck depots, processing plants, more plastic houses and factories that make the plastic. We left that behind fairly quickly as we ate up the excellent Spanish roads leading along the Mediterranean coast.

Coast road

The coast road is stunning and an engineering masterpiece in places, we drove past some huge hotel developments that stood half completed and abandoned, a result of the financial downturn in Spain. There was very little traffic and the sea twinkled turquoise and gently lapped the shoreline. We have not seen proper waves since we arrived, not exactly a surfers paradise.

The coast offers some excellent wild camping in picturesque spots as did the Cabo de Gata national park. The scenery in Cabo de Gata is straight out of an old fashioned western movie, and the area was used to film spaghetti westerns, but now it is a popular place for filming shows such as Game of Thrones. It is a stark landscape with crumbling pueblos/casas, tough grey-green sage brush and cloudless blue sky. Flocks of goats wearing bells were grazing on whatever nourishment they could find while their shepherds sat lonely and disconsolate. And you thought you had a boring job!
Hamlet close to wild campsite - Calabardina

December 29, 2016 – our 40th wedding anniversary, was celebrated with a selection of tapas and beer overlooking the aforementioned turquoise ocean. We parked right outside the bar and the owner told us during peak summer season when temps rose to 40 - 45 C the traffic would be bumper to bumper and no parking to be found. We hadn’t found a place for the night so too much drrrrrink was out of the question so we stopped to pick up some giant prawns and that night cooked them on the barbecue, washing them down with champagne. We (nearly) had the clifftop spot to ourselves. How those 40 years have flown.

Spot near Calabardina
December 31, 2016. New Years Eve – again we faced the sea, this time in a spot recommended by Tanja. We were the only vehicle with GB plates among the French and Germans. How I wish I could speak other languages! The site is large and there must be 30 vehicles dotted around the sage brush. The beach is called Playa del Arroz (rice beach?). Wild camping surrounded by some wild campers, it offers security in numbers which is a nice feeling. There seemed to be an unspoken division of vehicles with intrepid trucks and surf dude vans on the high ground and the sedate vehicles taking the low ground. We walked into the hamlet along the coastline and had a coffee at the only beachside bar.

Spot near Calabardina

We liked the Cabo de Gata so much that we have returned to its rugged coastline and red hills dotted with small cushions of grey-green vegetation. The sea has an indigo colour and small fishing villages have not been entirely overtaken by apartment developments.
We are in countdown mode before we make the big trek across Spain’s vast interior, very cold at this time of year and baking in summer. We are booked onto a ferry that leaves from Santander on the northwest coast, it is a 28 hr trip and we have a cabin (it remains to be seen what that is like!)

Catching some morning rays
In the meantime


What the .....

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Feliz Navidad and all that

"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain", not in our experience . . .

The weather seemed to rain on us around the coast line – throwing the odd sunny day then reverting to its wet side. We sat out a few days in a campsite about a 1km from the coast, ducking out for a walk when the drizzle abated then after the sun looked as if it was going to stay we packed up and headed for a spot we had noticed during a walk along the beachfront of Torrox Costa.

Wild camp, Torrox Costa
Services – 3/10, views 10/10, convenience 9/10. The weather was warm and sunny, the waves providing a white noise background, snow capped mountains making a backdrop behind us (with apartment blocks in between) and a pretty lighthouse to the right of us. The other trucks were all German but you can’t have everything.

Dancers at breadcrumb festival
When we were at our previous site in the campground we walked cross country through large avocado orchards to go to a festival. The festival was for the locals and called Fiesta Migas – breadcrumb festival.( Note for Tim – Stuart thought it was BYOB)

Migas is a traditional peasant food of breadcrumbs stirred in warm olive oil with a bit of something on the side. When I checked in Wiki it looked a lot more appetising and nothing like the migas I have been served here, the festival food certainly didn’t tempt me to give it another go. We watched Flameco dancing, men playing Spanish guitars, people dancing in the square.

Original houses in Balerma
 Our Christmas base is in Balerma in a coastal campground. It is a well appointed new site so hasn’t attracted large groups and is totally sunny as the shade is provided by removable shade cloths. It is close to a village that was targeted by developers; the economy and market took a downturn and the village has lots of half completed apartment blocks which gives it a strange unloved feeling. Such a contrast to Auckland where there is a shortage of housing, in these parts there is a surplus of apartments. A few of the original houses are left which would look at home in a cowboy movie – actually the remnants of a spaghetti western movie-set is nearby, recycled into a tourist attraction, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly was shot here

Original houses in Balerma
The other big point of difference in this area is the enormous number of ‘plastic houses’ used to grow produce for the supermarkets in Europe. These huge dull-green coloured constructions sit wherever a flat piece of land has been created. At one stage we were travelling with snow capped mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other but a sea of plastic houses filled the large gap between highway and water. They seemed to be seamless except for the odd access road. I peeked into a couple of these places near the campground and saw cucumber/aubergine/capsicum plants growing vertically. I could have plucked a huge red capsicum if we weren’t filled to the gunwales with capsicum already.

So cute, a little ice cream served with the coffee

A more adventurous motor home than ours

Part of lighthouse near wild camp at Torrox Costa

Torrox Costa

So here’s wishing you all a jolly good holiday – by the time you read this you will all be back at work wasting company time reading blogs, not that I would know any of that of course.

Feliz ano nuevo

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The noise, the gorge, the palace

For 9000 miles we traveled with “the noise”. It emanated from the large skylight above the cab area. The first time it happened I nearly jumped out of my skin, it was a huge hornet-scream above our heads and gave no warning prior to its start. It roared and whined at about 100 km/hr. “Make it stop it Jane, twiddle the latches, wind the handle out”. I became the conductor in an orchestra, jumping up and down, releasing the pressure on the latches, tightening or loosening the handle to stop the racket as our speed naturally altered on the road.

Stuart bought sticky foam in different widths and strengths to wedge between skylight and roof, ripping it off when frustration set in. We felt we were managing things however, with me “playing the levers” but the noise never ceased to frighten me with its sudden onset. It also played a little game of ‘brrrrriippp’ as we jolted over joins in the tarmac.

Then one day last week Stuart stood on the drivers seat and pulled out a thin strip of cellophane that was between the skylight and roof. “Whats that” I said, “nothing much” sez he and stuffed it in the rubbish. That was it – the reed in the flute of the truck, causing all that irritation. We have enjoyed silence (apart from the rattling of the cups etc) ever since.
A place in the sun - National Park wild camping spot
The Caminito del Rey was a ‘to do’ before we left New Zealand. Her in the satnav had spurned the normal scenic route and found us an alternative one that delivered us to the exit. After asking a couple of people about access to the walk, we found out it was Monday - “Monday is closed, you need to turn up early tomorrow at the start of the walk”.

We found an excellent spot overlooking the man-made lake in the national park and sat in the sun reading books. Our new deck chairs were courtesy of our previous Kiwi camp-mates, Keith and Brone in Marbella. Stuart fixed up their chairs to see us through until we leave.
Lack of information and language made organising the walk rather confusing, but we got there in the end. To buy tickets we walked 2.7km to the office to buy them, not a hardship as it was a nice walk in the pines and we were allowed to join a group already waiting.

Note the original path below the new one

The walkway was initially built in 1905 and used by King Alfonso XIII in 1921 as a means to inspect the progress of works on the hydro scheme – the name means path of the king. It had a reputation as being the worlds most dangerous walk due to the number of deaths and was closed in 2000, re- opening last year.The Caminito del Rey is now probably the worlds safest walk, also incredibly popular, tickets are usually only available on-line. We were kitted out with hard hats and had a safety talk before leaving. The new path was about 1 metre above the old path which looked horrendous. It hugged the cliff face and the drop down to the water was vertiginous. Garganta del Chorro is a massive natural fissure, 4km long, up to 400m deep and as little as 10m wide. It is above this fissure that the walkway is mounted. The narrowest part of the gorge used to be known as the ‘spurt’ as the volume of water came through the narrow passage with tremendous force spurting into the air and terrifying villagers. It is probably tamed now as the nearby hydro dam regulates flow.

A long way down
 After the pleasant but not frightening trip, a bus transported us back to the start.
The fissure - Garganta del Chorro

Photo credit: Stuart

Photo credit: Stuart

Photo credit: Stuart
Photo credit: Stuart

Photo credit: Stuart
Granada is about 100km inland from the southern coast of Spain, situated under the impressive snow capped Sierra Nevadas. It was the last stronghold of the Muslims against the Catholic church and the legacy is the Alhambra palace which was our main reason for visiting. It is a city with a gritty side as well as having elegant white high-walled houses, souvenir and high-end shops and an inner maze of small shops not unlike that in the grand bazaar in Istanbul – and indeed selling similar items. It was also extremely cold as it is quite high in altitude and receives cold air from the mountains. It is reputed to have the best churros and chocolate in Spain. The churros of course cooked fresh, and the chocolate I had to share with Stuart who says he prefers coffee but helps himself to my order.

Alhambra is part fort, part palace, and a world heritage site – all set in beautifully manicured and geometrically sculpted gardens. It was built by a Moorish Emir and converted into a palace by the Sultan of Granada but taken over by Christian King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in the 1500s. It is truly Islamic in architecture and one of Spain’s major tourist attractions. The detail inside the palace was amazing, in everything you looked at, but somehow harmonious and restrained, unlike some major cathedrals and palaces I have visited. 

Part of Alhambra
Suffice to say I went away well satisfied with the experience, there was water flowing everywhere with understated fountains that would provide a cool atmosphere in summer, however I was quite cold and regretted my wardrobe choice. Four layers were not enough, should have taken the down jacket. More churros and chocolate ordered, sitting next to one of those outdoor heaters warmed me up sufficiently for the trip back to the campsite on the bus. Chausson chucked out some good heat quickly that had us peel off a few layers and we rattled up a dinner of sausages and mash.

Looking at Granada from the Alhambra

Adios amigos, we are back off to the coast to seek some sunshine, we will be among British, German and Dutch motorhomers who flock to the Spanish Coast to escape the European winter. Hopefully we will find somewhere suitable to enjoy Christmas, which isn’t quite the same this year.

Photo credit: Stuart