A wonderful discovery in the mountains above Manilva 🙂
Finally tearing ourselves aware from the comfort and familiarity of Cabopino, we were aiming to spend a night or 2 at the spot in Puerto Duquesa that we had scoped out on the day we visited the Banos de la Hedionda (click here for relevant post), followed by a couple of nights in the free aire on the outskirts of Casares.
If you’ve been reading regularly you will know things don’t always go according to plan! This time everything seemed fine to start with. We arrived in the car park by Castillo Duquesa, parked up and had a cup of tea. All was fine as a policeman did his rounds and was perfectly happy, so we spent a couple of hours on the beach – which was idyllic at first as we had it pretty much all to ourselves, the sun was out and the van was but metres away! It was lovely even though the beach is not the nicest (slightly grey and gritty sand), and after about 1/2 hour the sandflies decided they liked the look of me!
So after a lovely couple of hours relaxing we returned to the van, to find 2 more vans parked behind us, and popped the kettle on again. At this point (it was after 5pm by now) the police returned, there were 2 of them this time, They proceeded to move everyone on, saying camping wasn’t allowed – indicating our step being out as being ‘camping behaviour’… We’re pretty sure the problem was really that whilst they will tolerate 3 or 4 vans, anymore causes an issue. The 2 vans parked behind us took the number stopped there to half a dozen.
Not wanting any more run ins with the police we moved – being our first time trying to park free of charge – to the nearby site of Bellavista (at 31 Euros for the night…) In the morning I went for a run along the seafront promenade and saw that 3 of the vans were still parked up where we had been – possibly confirming our theory relating to why we were moved on.
I visited Benalmadena years ago with my boys (staying in the Flatotel which was perfect for us at the time). Whilst we were there that time we visited the theme park, Tivoli World (I was never going to get away with not going was I with 2 young boys in tow!)
This time though we were determined to go up the mountain in the cable car. We tried twice…. The 1st time we got to Benalmadena before realising that the weather wasn’t as warm there as back at Cabopino, and would, of course, be cooler still at the top of the mountain – plus neither of us had bought any sort of warm top with us. So we had to abort. The trip wasn’t a complete wash-out though – we sat and had a drink in a cafe and found a cheap perfume shop where Calv managed to buy me a birthday present 🙂
A month later we finally found the time to return to head up the cable car. This time it was much warmer but we went fully ready for all eventualities – except for the fact that the day before we arrived it had closed for a month (as, apparently, it does every year…) We are completely useless and really must be better prepared. Continue reading “Delights on our Doorstep – Days out from Cabopino”
The 2nd of a couple of wonderful days out from Cabopino – Banos de Hedionda was quite possibly my favourite day out of this trip so far!
We had been told about a couple of places that we could park for free and were keen to check these out, never having parked for free before. Along with these 2 spots we had been told about the Banos de la Hedionda, a Roman Baths that you can still swim in.
I’m telling you about this separately as it turned into a trip of 2 halves!
We had planned the day out with Steve and Denise for a Sunday and we were almost ready to go when Calv decided that we should fill up with fuel before we actually left. So over to the fuel station opposite Cabopino we went – cue a little confusion as signs on the pumps suggested that we had to pay before filling up, so Calv decided to see if the pump worked, it did. ‘Is this the right fuel?’ ‘Gaseole’ I read, ‘Diesel; yes’ And Calv proceeded to fill up.
We then all piled into the little car with our supplies for the day and set off along the A7 towards Marbella. After about a mile and a half Calv said ‘We’re breaking down…!’ , the engine management light came on and we started to limp. Luckily there was an exit handy (which turned out to be into the car park for the abandoned Marbella Roc hotel – shame as it looked really lovely). This is where we realised (as I am sure you already have) that we had put the wrong fuel in the poor little car and we weren’t going anywhere until we’d sorted it out 😦
This is where knowing several people onsite came in handy! We rang Alan, who was in a caravan so definitely had a towbar, to come to the rescue – which he did and really quickly too 🙂 (Thanks again Al 🙂 ) He firstly took us all back to the site before he and Calv returned to pick up the car (using the A-frame).
Calv then spent the majority of the next 7 hours emptying the diesel out (which wasn’t easy) and then putting some unleaded in (if only we’d done that in the first place!); and finally turning the engine over and over to expel the remaining diesel from the pipes…. Steve kept him company for the first hour or so, then I went into the car park to see if there was anything I could do – this turned out to be going and fetching more fuel (using Graham’s, of Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun fame, spare fuel can) and later turning the engine over and over again and again (we also had use of Jill’s – Jill and Roger, also seen frequently on Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun, car hooked up to the jump leads).
When the engine eventually fired it was a good moment, but also very dramatic! It looked like the car was on fire…
All’s well that ends well and we re-organised our trip for a couple of days later 🙂
We decided in the end that this was actually for the best because just imagine how busy it would have been on a Sunday!!
We were going quite a way, beyond Estepona to Manilva. Our first stop was to have a quick look at a campsite, Bellavista, which we didn’t really like (and at 31Euros had no intention of staying there – only we did…)
From there we took a walk along the boardwalk towards the marina of Puerto Duquesa (where we had a quick drink), which took us through the 1st of our suggested stopovers, in the car park in front of the Castillo Duquesa. Overnight parking is usually tolerated here, but we think that there is a limit on numbers as when we tried, a few weeks after our initial visit, the police were happy at first but when more motorhomes turned up they came back and moved us all on… So our first attempt at free camping failed (and that’s why we ended up in BellaVista).
Next stop the motorhome parking area at Casares (which we resolved to definitely use)
And finally to the best part of the entire day – the Banos de la Hedionda. Although they don’t look much from the outside (when you eventually find them), this is one of my favourite activities on the whole trip so far. We were literally swimming in history – the baths are believed to have been originally built by Julius Caesar, when the waters were recognised as having healing properties. They were later modified by the Arabs when they conquered the area.
You can swim inside or outside – we went inside (apparently it was warmer outside). I would recommend water shoes, simply because I’m a bit of a woss and don’t like putting my feet down when I can’t see what’s on the bottom! I could put my feet down in a couple of places; you could also swim down the tunnel where there was a shallow pool that you could climb into – there was also another passageway that was so dark you couldn’t see someone literally a foot away! Without a torch I wasn’t willing to venture down there, but might well do on another visit (with a torch!)
There is clear evidence that this was once a thriving attraction, but when we went we were the only people there (although I understand that in the summer you now have to book your place (free of charge though). On the walk back we also found the old aqueduct across the river.
I cannot recommend a visit here highly enough – although remember to remove any jewellery; it turned somebody else’s Pandora jewellery black..!
A couple of wonderful days out from Cabopino – Banos de Hedionda (which I’ll tell you about in #2 post) was quite possibly my favourite day out of this trip so far!
Our friend Steve has a wonderful book, Wild Swimming in Spain (we have the equivalent for the UK) which we borrowed for a couple of nights, finding a couple of spots that we wanted to visit. Charca de Canalon and Embalse de la Concepcion.
So we decided on a day, packed our sandwiches, towels etc. and headed off on the road up into the mountains above Marbella. We followed the instructions, both on the SatNav and in the book, which took us along narrow roads until we weren’t even on a road at all, noticing evidence of recent rockfalls along the way. It was one of those drives that Calv enjoyed, and I didn’t quite so much…. And it culminated in us NOT finding what we were looking for!! On asking a group of Spanish men as we made our way back along the road it would appear we didn’t go quite far enough – and they looked at our car and expressed doubt that we would have made it. Having said that we were expecting to have to park up and walk a couple of km to get to the pool anyway. We think the SatNav stopped us immediately above where the pool was, but of course it wasn’t visible from the top. See the video below for just a small section of the drive. Continue reading “A couple of Secret Swimming Spots ‘found’ in Andalucia #1”
Apart from a visit to family in Spain almost 25 years ago I have never spent Christmas outside of the UK.
Now I have not only spent christmas abroad, but also New Year AND whilst staying in the van no less 🙂
Plus a New Years Day dip in the mediterranean
It took a while for me to be persuaded to head out to Spain before Christmas and therefore to spend Christmas away from home, but once persuaded I did my best to throw myself into the preparations!
We knew where we were going to be – it’s necessary to make sure you book somewhere if you’re intending to spend christmas/new year touring in Spain; just to make sure. So we had booked our pitch at Cabopino (as seen on Channel 5’s Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun – and yes we are friends with one of the couples featured, Roger and Jill). This meant paying a deposit of 60Euros and losing it if (or rather when) we didn’t stay for the full 3 months. However, we still averaged only 15.98Euros per night so we were perfectly happy.
We arrived on site on 6th December, caught up with friends who were already there (Steve & Denise and Jill & Roger), and quickly set about meeting new friends at the various events that you just can’t help joining in – such as Friday Happy Hour in Jorges Bar and live music in Andy’s Beach Bar on a Sunday afternoon.
Some of these new friends featured in our christmas and new year plans (Jim & his dog, Corrie; Alan & Tracy and Joe & Gayle).
We already knew that we were spending christmas with Steve and Denise (who we met at Cabopino back in 2017) together with Denise’s daughter Marie and her boyfriend (also Steve) and their other friends Sue & Pete (and Pete’s brother, John). So we were already catering for 9 between 3 of us (me, Denise and Sue)! But when we met Alan & Tracy who had just arrived and were on their 1st trip abroad with their caravan, we couldn’t leave them to be on their own on Christmas Day. Then when we found out that Jim didn’t have anything arranged for Christmas Day we couldn’t allow that either – so now we were 12…!
We all put some money in the kitty and, even if I do say so myself, we produced quite the feast between us 🙂 We had the works! Turkey, beef, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and christmas pudding (provided by Denise & Steve), ham, yorkshire puds, pigs in blankets, carrots, peas, sprouts, roasted parsnips (& carrots) & 2 homemade cheesecakes (provided by me) and red cabbage, cauliflower cheese & roast potatoes (provided by Sue). And we even had crackers (courtesy of Denise 🙂 )
My Cracker challenge was to take as many selfies with my christmas dinner as possible..!!
Alan, Tracy & Calv
Me and Marie
We set up a couple of tables and requisitioned several chairs in addition to our own and all fitted nicely onto Steve & Denise’s pitch (which was immediately behind ours. Calv had ‘made’ a gate between the pitches so it was fairly easy to make our way from the van to the table (we had steps beside the 2 foot wall that we had to negotiate).
All cramming ourselves around the tables it wasn’t that much different to having a houseful at home tbh! Unfortunately the sun didn’t really shine, but it wasn’t cold and we had a lovely time – it was, almost, like christmas at home!
When it got too cold we were down to 9 of us, so we were able to spend the evening in our van (we even all managed to sit down). We got out the Chase card game and managed to get through it – taking it all a little more seriously after, young, Steve the Quizmaster, told us that ‘We could either play it properly, or not at all!!’ We gave in as he had a bad hip and was on crutches 🙂
So we then had a week to get over our christmas excesses (or rather add to them…) and prepare for New Year’s Eve. We eventually decided that we would host at our van, but outside if possible. Although the days are warm at this time of year in Spain the evenings really aren’t!
We set up with a couple of windbreakers, the table, some chairs, lights and lanterns. We were joined by Steve, Denise, Marie & Steve, Alan (Tracy wasn’t feeling well) and Jim. As it got colder I brought out all our woolly hats and gloves (which for some reason we have in abundance in the van – they came in very useful) and we just basically drank (6 bottles of champagne were lying on the floor in the morning – the boys weren’t drinking champagne….), sang, quizzed (with the same quizmaster..) and danced (my fitbit recorded me having 19 minutes of aerobic activity at 2am on New Year’s Day!) the night and the early hours away 🙂 We even managed to get in ‘the game’, which we play as a family every year (we managed this on Christmas Day as well 🙂 )
Before midnight we were joined by Joe & Gayle who had been over to Alberts to celebrate, but left early as their friends wanted to. I do remember the alarm on everybody’s faces when it looked like I might try to do the ‘Dirty Dancing’ lift – to be fair Calv didn’t look scared even though I was running full tilt at him 🙂
Steve & Denise before it got too cold on New Years Eve
The woolly hats are out! NYE 2018
Alan on NYE
We turned the music off at the same time as the camp bar (2am) but the night eventually ended at 3.20am.. I must admit that I thought we were quiet after 2am, but apparently not.. Sorry (but it’s 1 night a year tbf)
In the morning whilst Calv remained comatose I started the clean-up, accompanied by ‘mornings’ and massive grins from our fellow campers. It was definitely a night to remember!!
But our new experiences weren’t yet over. There is a tradition at Cabopino beach of a mass swim on New Year’s Day. Now you might think that this is a bit of a cop out being in Spain, but I promise you the water is not warm. In fact it’s pretty cold!!
Down on the beach for the off at midday, we found cooking stations set up providing bacon butties and sausage sandwiches together with drinks etc. This is all done by a group of residents and they won’t take any money for it – all they ask is that once you know about it you bring some supplies down so that the food will go further. Wonderful.
There were hundreds of people thronged on the beach, most of them there to watch but probably about 60-70 of us went in. You had to just keep running and get in as soon as possible or it would never happen – but once in it was really lovely 🙂 I was in treading water with a group of ladies (including Hannah from Cornwall) when someone notified us quite calmly that there was a jellyfish within feet of us – that was my cue to get out!
New Years Day 2019 – Cabopino Sea Dip
New Years Day 2019 – Swimming at Cabopino Beach
Cabopino on New Years Day 2019
I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be there to do this again next year 😦 Maybe in a few year’s time though?!
When Sam came to visit we knew we had to give him an experience to remember, so we scheduled our return visit to Camino del Rey to coincide with his visit and my birthday (18th December). We didn’t have much notice – he sent me a text on Saturday to say ‘do you fancy a visitor’ and arrived on Monday!
The weather wasn’t as kind to us this time, just in that it was rather cloudy with the odd sunny spell. But we did need our tops most of the time we were walking.
As we approached the gorge this time we could see lots of soldiers in evidence. It seems there were some exercises going on in the area. I have to say they didn’t look very professional at all; a bit sloppy!
Honest 1st hand campsite reviews from the perspective of motorhomers with a fairly large unit (and often towing a small car). Currently covers sites in the UK, Spain, France and Portugal – hopefully in the future we will be adding sites in Germany, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland and beyond!
Hi to all you motorhomers out there (and caravaners, but being motorhomers ourselves we know what they need :); well we know what we want/need and suspect many will have similar wants)…
Back in the UK having spent 10 weeks at the beginning of 2017 travelling through Spain and Portugal, and having visited France a couple of times, we thought some campsite reviews would be in order. We visited 20 sites this year in Spain and Portugal so please bear with me as I get my thoughts down!
Knowing what’s important to us we are going to use a set format to complete, with key questions (access, pitch, facilities etc.) + the description set up under ‘The good, The bad and The ugly’.
Before I start I should say that I have already done a couple reviews which aren’t under this format but all that I write from now on will be.
Please feel free to comment with your own views of any campsites I review that you have also visited – it’s quite possible we’ll have differing views!
Just a bit of background information on our set-up then:-
We are Mandi and Calvin and we have a 2011 Bessacarr E769, 8.56m long and 2.3m wide. We have been using the ACSI book for our travels on our last 2 European trips, and have found it invaluable (although we have had to resort to the internet a couple of times).
We have also invested in an Aguri SatNav for this trip (the one we had previously, from a different manufacturer, proved to be completely useless!!)
And, of course, if you find the campsite reviews helpful you might enjoy our blog cataloguing our travels!
I will be adding to these whenever we travel 🙂
Happy travelling 🙂
Jump straight to relevant reviews below – separate pages created for each country – simply click below for relevant list (most recent trip is shown first):-