Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Benicassim to Roses - Spain - Day 90 - 97

Tuesday 27th February - Sunday 4th March 2018  (and in there somewhere in that time we said πŸ‡πŸ°πŸ‡πŸ°)

Well, England may have been cold and snowy but Spain has definitely been wet and windy - maybe because we're catching the fringe edges of Storm Emma!  As planned we left Azahar Campsite on Thursday but both of the preceding 2 days had suffered with lots of the wet stuff so we'd been more or less confined to quarters for most of the time!  And since then we've moved onto a huge parking area that has spectacular sea views - but apart from  Saturday our activities have remained restricted by more inclement weather.

As you can see from the pic above the area is very popular with motorhomers  - and why wouldn't it be -  it's free, it's backed by the mountains of the Parc Natural del Desert de les Palmes and the sound of the Mediterranean's waves lulls you to sleep!  That's if your not being rocked by ferocious winds, deafened by thunder racketing around in the mountains  or disturbed by rain drumming on the roof!  Do I sound as if I'm moaning - well I'm not!  It's a lovely parking area and watching other campers performing van ablutions where non should be done does provide an element of entertainment!

There are no services here (for emptying grey and black water - (sink and toilet waste) - because the area is really only a car park where motor homes have staked a claim - but some of the vans look as if this has been their home for a long duration!  Therefore it's not unusual to see folk toddling off to the 'proper' Aire (which is about half a mile away) on their bikes with their toilet cassettes precariously balanced on the back, or nipping across the road to the fresh water faucet to replenish their tanks - and some even empty their grey water down the roadside storm drains!  However, this 'car park'  wins out over the site down the road because that one is usually full to overflowing and has the horrible disadvantage of being extremely sung - the pitches only provide about a yard between vans and if your neighbour snores that would be another noise to disturb your slumber!  Our original plan was only to stay here two nights - but so far we've taken advantage of this lovely spot and been here 4!  And once again, when we've managed to dodge the rain, we've spent out time walking and cycling along this lovely bit of Spanish Coast!

Our entertainment has also been enhanced by pics of the antics of our Grandchildren as they've frolicked in the snow that the Beast from the East delivered so generously to most areas of the UK!

And also shots of new cousins getting to know one another!

However, we are going to move on tomorrow (Monday), and our target is another free Aire on the Ebro Delta - a 320 square kilometre nature reserve that is made up of huge salt lagoons and paddy fields. 

Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th March 2018

As planned yesterday we spent our time travelling the 80 ish miles to the Delta, but before we left Benicassim we had some essential shopping to do!  Our time in Spain is now running quite short so we needed to restock our 🍷🍾🍷🍾🍷cellar with some of their lovely (and cheap) Reds!  In the end we brought about 30 bottles and our only problem then was to stop them chinking while we were in motion!

We arrived at the Aire in the early afternoon and by total coincidence we ended up parked right next door to a German couple who we'd been parked right next door to on the Aire in Benicassim - and even though we couldn't communicate very well this resulted in us all having a good old  πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£!  Then it was a quick lunch before a stroll out to see where we'd landed - and to start with the 🌞 was smiling nicely on us but we hadn't gone  far before we started to wish we'd brought our πŸŒ‚☂🌦🌦!  However, we didn't really get wet and our walk enabled us to see one of the big lagoons - Llacuna de l'Ecanyissada, along with some of the paddy fields and also it allowed us to suss out the lay of the land concerning the cycling routes, and additionally to check out some of the info about the area and it's history.

Pic of the Delta courtesy of Google
The Delta nature reserve is mostly made up of saline lagoons and paddy fields, and in times gone by many hundreds of tons of salt were extracted from this area.  However, salt production ceased in 1950, and then the lagoons were used as fish farms.  That stopped in 2003 and since then natural evolution and conservation projects have taken over to provide a fantastic area for tourism, but along with that  an element of farming still persists.

On Tuesday we cycled out towards the sea and as we went we were treated to superb sightings of Harrier Hawks swooping down to catch their prey, kestrels hovering over the paddy fields, egrets, herons, glossy ibis, common and not so common ducks, and the most beautiful of all,  hundreds of wading pink flamingos

The only thing that seemed to be missing from this lovely area were picnic benches - we needed somewhere to sit to scoff our lunch - but as often happens in Spain - there wasn't a bench in site!  So in the end we had to make do with one of the many bird hides - but it was a bit drafty!

And then after lunch the dark clouds loomed large - they drifted over the mountains and seemed to be heading our way at a rapid rate of knots.  What had started as a fantastic warm sunny day now had an ominous gloomy chill with a dampness in the air - so our big decision was whether we should continue on a longer ride and risk a dousing or if we should dash for home and just admire our surroundings from T4rdis2's windows whilst sipping a cool beer!  Predictably the later won but the rain never really amounted to much!  It just occasionally pitter pattered on our roof but the surrounding scudding clouds provided a very colourful show as the evening came on, so we were quite content and snug in our little chariot.  We also felt that although our stay here has been quite short, our ride out today had allowed us to see the best that this area has to offer and we've always got the option that if we want to see more we can  put it on our itinerary for next year!

Tomorrow we're going to start on the first leg of our homeward journey - a 265 mile trek to the town of Roses - a place we have visited twice before on our outbound routes into Spain.  We're going to relax there for a couple of days and then the big drive back across France will  commence and hopefully we'll be on the ferry from Caen to Portsmouth on the 15th, then home to a CL just outside Ripley on the 16th.  So by the next time you hear form me we're likely to be on very familiar territory and enjoying a fantastic reunion with all our family and friends!

Take Care 😚😚

Click here to see our Spanish camping spots