A few days of relaxation in Oliva

A place to recharge the batteries on the way south

After our few days in Vilanova we chose our next site to be Kikopark in Oliva.  This represents a long drive for us (we normally try to stay below 150 miles, and this was 250 miles).  We eventually settled on Kikopark even though it appeared that we were heading into the area where only 4kw of electric is included within your ACSI card rate (this was the case for our next 3 sites, Kikopark, La Fuente and Mar Azul – all with varying degrees of cost attached.  Kikopark was the most expensive).

We were happy when we arrived, and not just because it had been a long stint!  The site is right on the beach and is very well maintained.  We also met a fair few more Brits than we have done so far (we have no problem meeting other nationalities, of course, but we are finding that many Germans just won’t engage at all… which is a shame).

What did we do during our 4 nights/3 days here?  Very little is the honest answer!

On the first day we had a wander around the site and along the beach.  It is a lovely beach, but unfortunately there is a very short section where the plastic washes up.  Calv spent a very happy 30 minutes clearing much of it up!  I wander along the beach and found some locals fishing – well wrapped up of course against the 22 degrees of cold.  I, of course, had on a vest top….!!

Me on a warm sunny day in Oliva
The locals on a warm sunny day in Oliva

We went off for a bike ride, taking in a bar where there was a group of Brits getting drunker and drunker, and louder and louder (it was about 3pm!)  Carrying on Calv took 1 of his detours onto the beach, so I tried to follow him (not actually on my bike – my bike doesn’t do sand…).  Of course, as usual, as soon as I caught him up he changed his mind…  At which point my bike and I had a minor argument.  Of course, I didn’t fall OFF – oh no, I fell ONTO my bike….

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The bruises did get even better than in these pictures!!  I’m sure people thought that Calv had been hitting me as a couple of days later I noticed that I also had some pretty bad bruises on my right arm!

Anyway continuing on we went down a random path and found ourselves cycling through beautiful orange groves (there are thousands of orange trees growing in any possible space here).  They taste pretty good straight off the tree too 🙂

We had decided to go out to eat that night and got all dressed up (well, sort of!) only to find that the site’s restaurant on the port wasn’t open during the week.  Change of plans meant that we ate instead in the restaurant at the entrance to the site, which was perfectly pleasant.  We did have a brilliant evening though, chatting to a British couple who were having a drink in there before our meal and then spending the rest of the evening chatting to Jane and Sue, basically being entertained by Jane!

The next day entailed a walk into Oliva.  As ever we went at the wrong time of day – when most places were closed!  The part of the town that we visited didn’t really float our boat, but when we left we noticed the signs for the old town and we did see the castle up on the hill, but decided it didn’t look interesting enough to warrant a cycle ride up the mountain!!

That afternoon we went for another little wander and found that the bar/restaurant in the marina was actually open.  A nice little spot with a lovely swimming pool (obviously not open at this time).  They serve an extremely strong sangria – I only had the 1 but believe I will be forever known as ‘sangria girl’ by our neighbours, Roy & Jackie…   I particularly like the ‘girl’ bit of that nickname!! 🙂


So that was our time in Oliva – not very exciting, granted, but a well needed spot of relaxing.

We were going to move on to a site that we had previously stayed at (Los Modriles in Isla Plana) but in the end decided to head a little inland instead to a site slightly to the north of Murcia, La Fuente in Banos de Fortuna.

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Site used: Kikopark, Oliva (click for our review)


1st few days into France/Spain 2018/19 – Brighton-Newhaven-Dieppe-La Ferte Vidame :)

6th November was the day we left home for our next adventure.  We said our goodbyes and waved to the house, with barely a backward glance.. except we had to go straight back before we made it to the motorway as Calv had left his phone behind…!!

1st stop Brighton for an overnight at the Caravan Club site situated just inland from the marina.  We had a bite to eat in the marina; a first ever visit to Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and later in the afternoon (although it felt like the evening by the time we came home (by which I mean ‘van’) at about 6.30pm, as it was so dark), we headed into town to visit the Pavilion and the ice skating rink.

We drove around for a while trying to find somewhere to park for less than £10 for 2 hours; on the seafront you will pay £6 for 2 hours closer to Palace Pier, but we parked nearer to West Pier where we paid ‘only’ £4.20 for 2 hours.

I’m glad we did though, as it was just a 15 minute walk back to the Pavilion which looked perfect all lit up for the ice-skating.  We didn’t partake (we didn’t want to risk either of us breaking a leg before going away!) but it was great fun to watch.  (We have no idea who these lads are in Calv’s photo – but they seem very happy with themselves!!!

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Our ferry was leaving Newhaven at 11.30am so we didn’t have to get up too early – we just headed off about 9.30am and were at the port by 10.15am – so in plenty of time for our crossing.  It was a bit rough out there, but I managed to ignore it!!  Until we headed out of the safety of the harbour that is…  See videos below for a small taster of what we experienced! Continue reading “1st few days into France/Spain 2018/19 – Brighton-Newhaven-Dieppe-La Ferte Vidame :)”

What we learned about Spain in 2017

  • We knew Spain was mountainous, but perhaps not quite HOW mountainous
  • As a result the Spanish are very good at tunnelling and building viaducts, through mountains and spanning valleys.
    • Most roads are very, very good
  • I don’t speak Spanish very well and really need to up my game (I now realise how good my French actually is…)
  • Spain is a massive country
  • The toll roads are excellent, and not usually very expensive
    • However, I have read that the prices change according to demand in some areas, for instance, along the Costa del Sol (AP7) prices are far higher in the summer
  • There is however a choice of roads to use so you don’t have to use the toll roads.
  • Toll roads are denoted by the ‘AP’ designation
  • It is well worth using a map that shows Michelin recommended towns and villages (shown by a green box).  You may not know what the point of interest is, but it is often worth investigating (we visited Olite, Aguadar, Ciudad Rodrigo and Fromistas as a direct result of using the green boxes on the map)
  • Fuel is cheaper in Spain than the UK and diesel is cheaper than unleaded.
    • Fuel is much, much, much cheaper in Gibraltar (80p per litre……)
  • Supermarkets are very good in Spain.
    • Our favourites were Mercadona, Lidl and Supersol (in the south)
  • San Miguel is extremely cheap (all beer is, but Calv drinks San Miguel if given the option)
  • The A7 along the Costa del Sol is not a nice road.  Although there are several proper slip-roads there are also just normal junctions joining this fast road, which also has bus-stops and a walkway just the other side of the crash barrier.  Out of season we would always suggest using the AP7 (the toll road)
  • You must head inland for some lovely views and attractions.  Visit some viewpoints, climb some mountains and walk along the Camino del Rey!
  • We actually preferred the North of Spain, definitely the North West…..
  • Salamanca is absolutely beautiful and you need at least 2 full days to see it all.
  • There is not much variety in the food you’re offered in most cafes and restaurants
  • Spanish drivers are, in the main, respectful towards cyclists and there are road-signs advising that 1.5m space should be given.
  • Cycle helmets are to be worn on urban roads where the speed limit is 50kmph or more.  There is a fine of 100 Euros each for transgression.  It’s not heavily enforced, but we did get stopped (although not fined..)
  • Many of the beaches on the Costa Del Sol and Coasta Blanca are not actually that nice, quite gritty and black.  The best one’s (the exceptions that we saw) are those at Benidorm and Alicante.  Where we stayed at Cobapina near Marbella there was a lovely sandy beach.
  • The beaches in Northern Spain are lovely – we saw Zarautz and Oyambre in particular.
  • Antoni Gaudi built a house in Comillas in the north – El Capricho.
  • The ACSI card is extremely useful – in low season participating sites will cost a maximum of 19 Euros per night
    • However, it’s always worth checking the site’s website as sometimes it can work out cheaper to use their own deals.  Especially if you’re planning to stay for a while.
  • With a couple of notable exceptions, Pamplona and Salamanca, the cycle paths were generally pavements shared with pedestrians (who were, however, generally fairly good at staying on their own side).  (I’m sure that there are other exceptions – we only saw a tiny fraction of this huge country!)
    • On the quieter roads cycling was perfectly okay, even for novices like me (I prefer traffic free routes wherever possible!)
  • As in France there were many, many tumbledown, abandoned buildings dotted around everywhere.
  • Spanish TV.  Obviously we didn’t watch much TV that was in Spanish (although we did at times!), but there were a lot of American shows on channels like Paramount and Energy.  At first we thought there weren’t any adverts.  How wrong we were!
    • The TV programme might be on for upwards of 1/2 hour before any adverts.  Then the programme will just suddenly be interrupted – not at a natural pause, not even mid-sentence.  No the programme will stop and the adverts start mid-word!  Then you will have anything up to 7 or 8 minutes of adverts…  Sometimes you will then just have another 5 minutes of programme before another set of adverts.
  • In Benidorm there are several English speaking radio channels.
    • Some of them are almost good……
  •  There are areas of Spain that are more British than Spanish
  • We will definitely be returning.  Next time we will probably head west along the north coast from the ferry, and therefore spend more time in the north and the interior than in the resorts in the south

4 weeks from now…

…we will have moved out of our home (the house is sold!) and will have arrived in Spain!  We’ve made the decision this week not to book any sites before leaving.  This is because our ACSI card arrived (giving us access to 1000s of sites at a maximum of 19Euros per night).  However, we can only book ahead through the camping & Carvanning club (which incurs a charge of £25…). So we’ve decided to take it as it comes 🙂

I’ve now been off from work for almost 3 weeks, although I did return last Friday for the annual Secret Santa & Christmas quiz afternoon, followed by our Christmas do onboard the Princess Caroline out of Ocean Village.  A great night out with my brilliant work family – Bal, Jo, Jenny, Matt, Hayley, Lauren, Karen, Simon & Susie (there are others, of course, Ali, Rob, Mike, Debs, Ange, Kelly, but they weren’t at the do).  I have been ordered to include this photo by the lovely Bal! (Thought I’d include 1 of me and Jo too 🙂 )

There still hasn’t really been any downtime since leaving work – we’re thinking that we’ll stay at whatever campsite we first end up at for a fair few nights, just to recharge our batteries.  Don’t forget we’ve got Christmas, new year, sorting all the selling paperwork and packing up the house to deal with in the next 4 weeks.  It’s all quite daunting really.  I’m so sorry – I can hear the cries of derision from here!! Yes, we will have a year to get over it all 🙂

All Christmas do’s are also now complete and I’ve had a great time at all of them – I think that I’ve actually worn make-up 3 or 4 times this month.  And worn several dresses…..That’s enough of all that until my niece’s wedding in May (in Ibiza…)

The trees are up, all presents are wrapped (bar 1), tomorrow I start baking ready for Christmas day and boxing day (and Sam’s birthday cake of course).  However, I don’t have to cook on either of those days!  And I’m very much looking forward to spending 25th with no. 2 sister and her family, and 26th (otherwise known as Sam’s birthday) at no. 1 sister’s with almost all of my immediate family.

This week we had a bit of a result with our Vodafone contract.  We found that we could switch over to a different tariff whereby we have 5gb of date (each) per month, of which we have 2gb per month to use when abroad (and free calls from Europe too), for £22 per month – then we were told it was actually on offer for £15 per month (less than we’re paying now!)

With all this going on I think my next post will be from Spain!  I can’t believe it’s less than a month away now 🙂

Hope you all have a brilliant Christmas and New Year.  I will see you in January 🙂