Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fun in the sun and good company

written 9th February

I forgot, of course, to say that the only thing we didn't manage in Seville was for Will to get his hair cut, so I don't even get to shoehorn a barber of Seville reference in - so hard being me :)  He won't let me have a go at cutting it - says it might cause him to lose all his fettling strength which would be disaster - so long it is staying for now.  I am just wondering when it will stop growing straight upwards...

Anyway, we have had a lovely few days.

Chipiona, a seaside town recommended by Laura and Cedric was lovely for a one night stopover after Seville - beaches are much easier to arrive at in the dark than big cities - and after wet start...

...followed by a nice long sunny morning beach walk

and some paddling in rockpools, we were ready for a city again.  Seville was a nice change after the easy-going Algarve - bit of a buzz, people out and about with a purpose - but it was more of a culture shock than we expected coming back into Spain.  Petrol is cheaper - €0.30 cheaper per litre just by crossing a river! although still more expensive than northern spain - but coffee is more expensive - €1.20 as opposed to the €0.50 we have been used to - but as Jules drinks more than we do this is definitely for the better! although looking at those numbers next to each other, you suddenly realise that 2cl of coffee costs more than a litre of petrol, maybe we should switch to petrol too ;).  And we have to remember which language we are trying to mangle in our quest for things - still all good fun.

Heading on southwards, we made sure we arrived in Cadiz in plenty of daylight and whilst the tourist office was open and all round, a nicer arriving experience was had :)

Cadiz is apparently the oldest city in Europe, having been originally settled by the Phoenicians in 1,100BC and has considerable archeological value from so called 'pre-history', through the arrival of the romans and beyond.

It is one of the most fortified places in the whole country - apparently, along with all the rest from roman times, even our friend Vauban got a go when the french were allied with the spanish against the brits! - and became quite important some time in the 19th century when all the administration for trade with the indies was moved to it from Seville.   It is also where the first constitution of spain was signed in 1812 so all in all, quite an important little city as far as spain is concerned. 

It sits on a near island - the old walled city area is only 1.8km by c2km with some modern urban sprawl leading up to it - at the head of a large natural bay/estuary and is connected to the mainland only by a spit of sand dune land the width of a dual carriageway plus a bit and by a large bridge, the view from which was quite impressive on our arrival.

It should feel crowded and cramped - and to be fair, some of the roads are quite small and overshadowed with high rises - but somehow, with the white painted buildings, tree filled squares and occasional glimpses of the sea in all directions, it is actually quite nice.

We managed to bag ourselves a seaview parking spot with a view of the beach and old town and close enough to walk in easily and all was much easier than expected.

We didn't do much - had planned to try and find a bar and live music the first night but even though it started at 11pm, we lost track of time so it was too late once we realised - and spend the next day wandering the old town and the various battlements and fortifications.

The sun shone most of the day, the tourist office lady was helpful, there was free wifi all over the place, the walking tours were interesting - and actually marked on the road in coloured lines so there was no chance of getting lost! - and all in all it was rather pleasant. 

We went up the Torre de Poniente in the cathedral - the highest of two tourist attraction towers in Cadiz at 74m -

which has 360 views of the city, labelled information panels at each window and a recorded audio guide telling you what you are seeing and waxing lyrical about the beauty and wonder that is the city of Cadiz.

The tower  doesn't have steps, rather a spiral slope in between the inner and outer walls - the first we have actually been up which is like this although apparently the moorish Giralda tower in Seville is like this, as was the original design for the roman Torre de Hercules in A Coruna - and was designed such that soldiers and watchmen could ride their horses up and down.  Not sure I would try it on a horse but it is an easier climb than stairs!

We also went to the museum of Cadiz - largely because it was free and on the walking route - which had an interesting archeology section and a less interesting fine and contemporary art section (although the contemporary art at least looked like art, unlike some... ;) ) and would have gone to the roman amphitheatre - also free and on a walking route - but got there 2 minutes after the girl shut up shop 10 minutes early - ho hum, such is life.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend Cadiz as a specific holiday destination just in itself - other than as a beach holiday with some city sights and history thrown in - but as a stopping point on a tour of this little part of spain it is rather nice.

So onwards once more, this time with a plan of a cheap few days on the beach to off-set the expense of Seville, and towards Conil de la Frontera, an area recommended by Wandering Wayne for good beaches and free camping.

Conil itself is a nice little town, full of dazzling white painted houses set on the cliff top running down to the sea and seems to be a quite lovely (we even saw someone walking his horse with his car!?!)

but is not terribly campervan friendly - big signs threatening fines everywhere - so after one night, we set off on a coast road once once more and ended up in El Palmar where we happened upon Tony and Hilary, Marcus, Yan, John and the dogs Charlie, Luca and Indy, in a variety of vans ranging from a little modern VW, a transit, a "normal" sized motorhome and a 7.something litre monster RV.

Bill, if you get this far, turn left at the roundabout on the sea front in El Palmar guaranteed to be some surfers to chat to if no one else... :)

They pointed us in the direction of free water and wifi (Conil sports centre and La Roche respectively) and, properly stocked up, we headed back and settled in to a few days of beach living (in alternately rain, shine and torrential gales!), surfer watching, van jobs (definitely not lazing Dave, whatever you may think... ;) ), bbq's, driftwood fires, excellent company and far, far too much cheap wine (on the first night at least - I stopped drinking then after feeling rotten all day sunday :( not felt that bad for a very, very long time - Tony, you are a bad, bad influence ;) ).

Will has done some fettling and thinks he has fixed all the airleaks in the engine bay by encasing all the air hoses with spare bike inner tube - it seems that, according to the butane he sprayed around the engine bay, all of them were leaking hence the problems with the airflow sensor readings and the resulting air/fuel mix issues.  And once I felt better (ie Monday!) I caught up with my daisies and tackled the rust bubbles we found under the mats in the footwells not so long ago - nothing serious but I don't want my feet to fall through mid journey!  although with flintstone-esque foot power, we might go that little bit faster... :).  We are mid-second panel with the daisies now so progress clearly made and Jules is also now proudly sporting the blog address too - which turned out rather well even if I do say so myself!

Thanks to Marcus, we also managed to find radio 4 on Longwave so were able to listen to 'Just a Minute', the newsa and the Archers whilst the rain lashed down around us...

Could happily have stayed longer with our new travelling friends - happy birthday Tony, hope you had a good one!,  and happy onward journeys whenever and to wherever all of you! - and El Palmar definitely rated that larger daisy - commemoratively situated near the bottle opener! - but by today we had run out of battery charge and things to fettle and Will needed a drive to see if his electronics were working so, with a lot of world still to see, we are back on the road and heading south once more...


  1. Glad you moved on from Conil. We are not keen on freeloaders here, who are not evem prepared to buy even a bottle of water from a local trader, but want to dump the contents of there toilet on the street.Good ridance to tourismos basura!

  2. Sad to see that last comment. Tarring everyone with the same brush - and you haven't even got a toilet to empty on the street!

    Overall the Spanish business must benefit hugely from motorhomes/campers spending - certainly far more than UK benefit from their tourism (can't blame them for the latter though).

  3. How rude of anonymous. Moving on, your comments on Will's hair are nothing without pictures. I take it Will is the photographer on this trip as the only photos with one of you in it seem to be of you (Becky)? We need to see Will's hair so the internet can advise on future styling directions...