Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mañana Mañana

It’s now Wednesday. We left Bee & Billy’s on Saturday; Gibraltar is only about an hour from their house and we haven’t got there yet. We detoured off the A7 into Estapona and didn’t come out again for two days. If you’re ever thinking of holidaying in Spain have a look at this place; clean, blue flag beaches, long wide promenade with a liberal dose of beach bars and a superb cycle path from one end to the other. The whole town felt friendly and welcoming.
We cycled into town on Monday; a bank holiday in Spain, and the place was full of happy people out for a stroll after lunch. We stopped at a beach bar for coffee and beer and sank into a lovely comfy leather sofa overlooking the med and the Rock. Heaven!
On Tuesday we did even less. It was about 300m from where we’d parked the van to the beach and that was as far as we went all day. Lazing on the beach, reading and a quick dip in the sea were the extent of activities for the day. We’re getting used to this Spanish way of life.

Camping for free is technically illegal in Spain. What we, and everyone else in motorhomes do, is park for long periods. As long as you don’t do anything obvious like wind out an awning or clutter the place up with folding chairs and tie a washing line to the nearest lamp post you’ll be fine. Although we’ve heard of people staying put for weeks, we always try to keep a low profile and only have one or two nights anywhere. Fresh water isn’t a problem, there aren’t as many taps with drinking water as there are in France but they do exist, and if we really come unstuck and run out then it’s only 69cents for 8 litres.

So on Wednesday we pulled the pins and set off again. We did intend to go to Gib, really we did, but after a morning spent in a huge Carrefour followed by an unsuccessful trip to Mcwifi, (where neither the wifi nor the coffee machine were working; Ronald may be getting a letter!) we put it off till tomorrow. Instead, on a whim half-way round a roundabout, we followed a little white road up to Castillo de Castellar; a smashing little fortified town on top of a big hill overlooking a beautiful lake.
Most of the climb up was round hairpins in 2nd gear apart from the last bit into the car park, which was in 1st. Poor old van. The final bit up to the castle gates we did on foot. Walking round inside the walls reminded us a bit of Cornish fishing villages; narrow alleyways going off every direction and signs pointing towards little art galleries and craft shops. Although it was all very lovely, it only took about ten minutes so we found a footpath sign and set off down an ancient cobbled path towards the lake. We were kitted out as well as we usually are when we start off on one of our ad-hock expeditions, ie sandals, no hats and no idea of how far it is. The path proper ran out about half way down the hill at an old charcoal burners hut; the vague sheep track we were following after that ran out in some prickly bushes at the edge of a field full of thistles. We like a challenge so we pressed on, finally getting to the water’s edge to be met by the bemused stare of a horse who’s field we’d just “ouched” our way through. As there was now no chance of finding the path back up, we skirted round the lake till we came across a track leading upwards through the wood. It soon became obvious that we were on private property, but by then we didn’t have a lot of choice. We slogged our way back up the hill, apologised in our best Spanglaise to the two guys building a wall at the top, and asked the way to the Castillo. They were very helpful and pointed us towards the road. When we reached the main gate we turned round to find we’d been trespassing on an Andalucían stud farm. Very beautiful, very expensive horses. Very stupid English tourists; lucky we weren’t shot as horse thieves!

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