Saturday 22nd November 2014
– Leaving Camping Ria Formosa, Cabanas de Tavira, Portugal and heading for Puerto Gelves, Seville, Spain –
On the Portuguese side it was another Twernt-shaking experience, not as bad as our IP2 experience but anyone with a man/machine empathy would be cringing, wondering what was being shaken loose and these rattle-testing Portuguese roads excel at conducting such tests – in the event we discovered that our water pump had been persuaded to detach itself from the four mounting points and I also discovered a loose nut lying atop the engine block (still haven’t found where that belongs) – we also have a diesel leak from the diesel filter and a leisure battery problem that, although I can’t pin the problem on the Portuguese roads, may be related to these road conditions – I would also point out that I am a careful driver, usually pinging along at 55mph, but, on these roads, I reduced speed to 20-25mph – much to the annoyance of the tailback behind us – this IS a major ‘trunkroad’ in Portugal and 20-25mph is SLOW!
Not impressed – and not keen to put my tourist $ their way again but we shall see. What you save by way of generally lower costs in Portugal you may end up forking out those ‘savings’ and more for vehicle parts.
Was I being over-critical? Only if you compare it to adventuring in the deserts or ‘third-world’ countries but this was neither and I had chosen to do neither – nor would I want to do either in the MoHo that we have.
Next trip to Portugal will be on a R1200GS Adventure – if I ever get another one – which I won’t – Portugal – approach by sea only.
I think that it’s only fair that I should declare my bias. Having broken my hand and suffered other injuries in a motorcycle accident back in 1987 – and that was due to a nut/bolt shaking loose on a custom fender and wrapping the fender under the front wheel whilst taking a left-hand bend. All steering control was lost. Fortunately a car became our buffer instead of the houses beyond or a larger bus/truck – I was flung up and over the car. Amanda and 3 of our children were in the sidecar and escaped unscathed.
So if I am being over-critical of poor road surfaces it’s with good reason.
Once we crossed the bridge into Spain the road surface IMMEDIATELY improved – my experiences of Spanish roads is that they are amongst the best in Europe but then I’ve only driven in the UK, France, Portugal and Spain. Oh, and Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary – is Finland in Europe? – maybe not.
Switzerland? – must ‘do’ that!
We had discovered on the previous day that Eric & Shazza were also at the Puerto Gelves Aire and we looked forward to saying hello and having a catch-up.
We hoped to be in time to invite them over to Twernt for ‘refreshments’, however, in the event, we arrived late, and, although Big Momma was in the line, there was no sign of Eric & Shazza (I knocked their door but no answer – no, that big fist sized dent in Big Momma’s door wasn’t me Eric!) – I can just imagine Eric going to check his door when he reads this – hope it’s raining in Agadir Eric! – OK, so there’s no dent – I actually called out for him, “Eric, put Shazza down, we’re here”.
Eric & Shazza did trundle back to the Aire from their day trip into Seville, they were somewhat jiggered after a long day out and also we were keen to get away early the next morning to find a wilding spot at Cabo Trafalgar, so we arranged to meet them at the Marina bar at 8:30pm for a drink and a natter once we had each completed our respective dining arrangements.
A quick drink and catch up and then early to bed for an early rise and get away – Fat chance!
We are so totally at ease in their company and after a few drinks, lots of chat and a quick bite to eat from the bar (what was that?) we looked at our watches and it was approaching 1:00AM!
We have a lot of lifestyle common ground and also our approach and attitude to how we live this lifestyle is similar – by and large we both like to do ‘our own thing’ with smatterings of interaction and catch-up times like this. What was a fledgling friendship transformed on this night and ‘took off’ as we drank, ate a little, restrained our dogs whenever another dog (or person) came within 2/3 feet of our table and we nattered about all manor of things, PLUS Eric is a top joke teller, not sure what the other bar visitors thought of us at our table but I think we ‘did’ them all in the ‘Laugh Out Loud’ department – and with good reason! Cheers Eric!
Shazza is now a retired teacher and three of our four children are also teachers, as is my sister, Jill, so we also nattered about education.
We talked about the impact of early-age experiences and the part they play and influence that they have in providing a foundation from which they start to develop the skills and ‘mind-set’ that take them into their futures.
I was reflecting on this as we drove to our destination the next day and it brought to memory an event which probably bears out this theory: (perhaps Eric could pass this ‘evidence’ on to Shazza?)
About 26 years ago when our son, Ed, was aged just 4 years, we lived in a house where a new housing development was taking place to the rear of our house.
Ed was fascinated by the comings and goings of the tradesmen and their activities and we took to chatting with some of them from time to time.
One, a ‘brickie’, didn’t object to answering in ‘child-speak’ the many questions being asked by Ed as we chatted.
This grew to a ‘friendship’ between Ed and the ‘brickie’.
So much so that he took Ed over to see how he laid bricks and Ed was fascinated – all of this within view of us in our house.
Once we were comfortable with what was happening, Ed said that he wanted a ‘snap-sack’ to take over and snack with his new friend – we’s seen the chap stop and take a thermos flask from his ‘snap-sack’ at times.
Of course the next thing was that our 4 year old ‘must have’ his own ‘snap-sack’ complete with drink and chocolate, etc.
This became something of a daily routine whereby Ed would take his ‘snap-sack’ over to the building site at about 9:30am and he’d be back at around 10:15am to 10:30am having ‘worked’ on the house behind us and taken his tea break at 10:00am.
This state of play went on for 2 or 3 weeks and the routine was always the same until one morning when Ed left at the usual time – 9:30am – but returned home at between 9:35am and 9:40am.
Amanda asked Ed why he was back so early and Ed, aged 4, replied “Because we’ve run out of f$$£ing bricks”.
Boom – boom – ‘It’s the way I tell ’em’ – another one for Eric’s database – if he doesn’t already have it!
We had a great relaxed catch-up evening with Eric & Shazza and we look forward to when next we meet-up with them!
We had information that there is ample ‘wild’ parking for MoHo’s on the road up to the Lighthouse at Cabo Trafalgar – we checked Google Earth and it looked to be easily accessible so we fed the co-ords into the SatNav and headed south past Cadiz.
Once at Cabo Trafalgar we were guided to into the lane leading to the Lighthouse – although we did note that bollards dividing the in/out traffic had been placed down the centre of this not too wide lane.
No problem, Twernt will fit…. and Twernt did fit ….just!
We drove on beyond the last property on the right side, a restaurant with an incline down into their car park, and, 100 yards or so further along………..a barrier across the road!
We could see the sandy parking areas beyond the barrier but this barrier was unmanned with no visible signs of any way of having it raised, no vehicles on the road beyond it and ……. half a dozen or more cars behind us that had made the same assumption that we could get on through to the Lighthouse.
Plus those bollards down the centre of the narrow lane!
Only one way out of here and that was to reverse.
Amanda indicated our dilemma to the cars behind and, cursing and spluttering, I reversed back to the car park entrance of the restaurant.
A lot of folk were milling around and many were walking down to the beach and Lighthouse having parked their vehicles before entering the final stretch of road leading to the barrier. They knew about this!
Audiences don’t bother me, unless they get in my way and this lot did. So I showed my intent by continuing to reverse ‘through’ them and I reversed Twernt into the tight entrance that dipped away down into the restaurant car park ……. until I heard some yelling!
The yelling was my ‘marker’ that I was about to hit the far wall with Twernts nearside rear corner (stay calm people), so I did a multi-point turn until we were in position to get around the mid-lane bollards and scoot on out of here with a ‘What the F do we do now’.
We turned right at the end of the lane to maintain our required ‘general’ direction but also had hopes of finding a suitable park-up along this road.
The road took us into Los Canos de Meca and, if you own a MoHo, don’t go to this place!
Narrow streets, no chance of parking and then the road through the village appeared to end with a small unsurfaced turning area ahead of us.
No chance of a reverse out here, well, OK there was a chance, but it would have caused untold misery for the cars behind me.
I parked Twernt in the middle of the road (definition of ‘middle’ – we had 5 inches spare on the left side and maybe six inches spare on the right side, had I parked 3 inches to the left, I could have claimed a ‘left’ parking position or 4 inches to the right for a ‘right’ parking position – we were in the ‘middlle’) and I walked forward to where the road appeared to end.
Lo and behold, a hidden sharp left turn in the corner of the turning area that led to onto a track – worth a punt!
Back to Twernt, we then trundled forward slowly until we came to the track (probably built by the Portuguese) and it took us on a 2 mile ‘fun-run’ leading behind the village and through woodland until we eventually reaching a tarmac road.
I pinged the Snooper Satnav into action and headed for the next coastal town – Barbate.
We drove along a two-lane narrow road edged with steep drop-off’s, get one wheel over there and Twernt will be history.
We arrived at Barbate and found a large empty parking area.
And it was gross.
It was facing a large unattractive wall of an industrial area, the parking area was debris-ridden – too much glass around to walk the dogs – plus – dubious characters rooting through garbage bins were left, right and centre of us.
A large parking area – but no other MoHo’s in sight.
Stuff this for a game of soldiers, we’re not staying here!
Snooper was set for the Aire at La Linea – an Aire that overlooks Gibraltor.
We found the Aire – except there were bollards placed across the entry/exit points!
The day was not going well!
We joined a long line of other MoHo’s parked in the ‘layby’ that fronts the former Aire.
Expletives filled the air, we could stay overnight in this ‘layby’, others looked like this was their intent.
‘Nah’, I think not, it’s a busy area and we there was a good chance that we could be asked to move on.
A day later and forum-engaged, we discovered that there is an Aire at La Linea near the Sports Ground – our 2014 guide had the wrong co-ords and we had arrived at the same Aire as pictured in our 2014 guide but it was either closed short-term or it is now forever closed. Google , Google, Google if you want up to date info, check the forums and check the date on any info that you come to rely on.
Time was pressing on, this was, by far, the worst experience of finding a stop-over that we’ve had to date, but, hey-ho, it can happen and I’m happy to drive around all night if that’s what it takes.
I set the Satnav this time for Finca de la Piedra, near Coin and hoped that we may find a camping site en-route.
We did! – and what a gem!
At Manilva we happened upon Camping Bellavista situated on the Med.
217 miles of faffing around for our over-nighter and we found a site that we will happily return to should we decide on a longer stay – it was expensive for just one night, didn’t see an ACSI sign but they do have a reasonable rate for 30 day+ stays.
Great location not far from Estepona and all that is accessible from there – Marbella, Puerto Banus, etc.
The ‘facilities’ were also the best that we have seen since Oakdown, Sidmouth – no wonder there were so many Brits on this site!
When you find a stop-over like this one, the trials and tribulations of a not so great day soon fade into insignificance – doesn’t take long to put things right when living this lifestyle!