Archive for January, 2011

Spanglish mates

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We were feeling rather weary after our overly exuberant new year celebrations in Benalmadena and after a night of recuperation we drove southwards in search of sunnier climes. We decided to return to one of our favourite Spanish campsites, near to the Cabo de Trafalgar (where Nelson fought the Spaniards).

The area is famous in Spain for its pine trees. They were planted by Franco to stop the endless march of sand inland. The trees still produce pine kernels and in January provide a home to an apparently very poisonous caterpillar. We were told by other campers that said caterpillar was both attractive and fatal to dogs. Luckily we only saw a couple of dead specimens and Odie was not at all interested in them, so they can’t be such a delicious doggie delicacy.

There are some fantastic cycling routes which thread though the natural pine park. We were looking forward to using our bikes to discover more of the area. Unfortunately our ambitious plans were rudely interrupted by some enterprising bicycle thieves who nicked our bikes in the middle of the night. They kindly left our bike cover, which means we don’t have to replace it for a third time! After discovering our loss, I had to make a trip to Barbate police station to report it and during this tedious exercise found out that the campsite had been targeted the previous month and that eight other bikes had been nicked in one night not long before we arrived! Pity no one had mentioned this fact when we turned up or we would have locked them to our van instead of to a tree!

We did not let our loss detract from our stay in the lush Costa de Luz, there were plenty of walks to the beach, lighthouse and along the surrounding hills. We were blessed with sunshine for most of the month and this meant David could work outside, although he had to defend his laptop from the sunshine and his legs from mosquitoes!

We squeezed in a visit to Cadiz, Europe’s oldest city, with narrow streets, exotic plants and hardly any parking spaces. We replaced our bikes with some cheap mountain bikes from Decathalon, and David purchased a mound of new clothes to replace his crusty look with a smart sporty style.

The campsite was a very sociable place, which was a major draw for us to stay for a month. We participated in 2 quiz nights (one sober; one with a very random combination of drinks) and played bingo for the very first time (besht played when tipshy!)

We met Padget, a bearded collie, and his owners, Bill and Jane, who are on a traveling adventure like us. It was fantastic to have some mates about again. We went for long lunches, played some hectic tennis and table tennis, went for long walks and drank quite a few beers together. If you want to check out their blog go to: http://www.getjealous.com/Billandjayne

We also met another couple, Paul and Tracey, and all 6 of us played an interesting match of TT which involved running around the table and trying to hit one ball each before stepping out of play. It made me feel rather dizzy and David was complaining of stiff obliques the next day.  This was soon followed by a boozy curry night before we hit the road once again! Months of social deprivation were made up in just a few weeks. Keep in touch guys!

12 Grapes

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Our new friends in France gave us a great tip about where to spend New Years Eve, so we hurtled down the coast of Spain to Benalmadena.  David had picked up another bug from the kiddies in Manses so he spent two days in the back of the van suffering with ‘man flu’ whilst I drove endlessly southwards.

Benalmadena, like most towns on the Costa del Sol, is full of British (and Irish) pubs, betting shops, greasy cafes and the usual seaside shops we try to avoid at all costs.  However, unlike other towns on the Costa del Sol, it is not inundated with high rise apartment blocks and still has a pleasant holiday feel.  We parked the van near to the main drag and, in preparation for our hangovers-to-be, stocked up on groceries.  We went for a very reasonably priced Chinese restaurant for dinner, followed by complimentary shots – a warm up for what was to come!  After dinner we headed to the Alien bar where we met a great crowd, mostly made up of pub owners, and partied into 2011.

It is a Spanish tradition to consume 12 grapes, one for each chime at midnight. We chose instead to down some ‘herbal’ tasting shots recommended by our fellow pubbers and to let off some massive party poppers.  At 1am we celebrated new year all over again on British time.  It was a great night and we’d thoroughly recommend the bar and its crowd.

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