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”
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?!
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)…
We have, so far, visited sites throughout Spain, France and the UK. This spring/summer, coronovirus allowing, we are hoping to add Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany and Belgium to that list (and perhaps Switzerland, Lichenstein and Luxembourg…)
Within each review will be contact details, location details (ie. GPS co-ordinates), access issues and anything that’s particularly good or bad about the site. We will also include links to blogs giving you ideas of where to visit during your stay (this might be on foot, by car or bike).
Every site for which there is a review has been visited by us. Many of them have been found via the ACSI card book, but we are now starting to branch out and there are reviews for the free overnight stops that we have found (some of them just amazing and not limited to 1 night – Algodonales springs to mind; we stayed 4 nights with electricity provided…)
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’.
Please do comment with your own views of any campsites I review that you have also visited – it’s quite possible we’ll have differing views! Any suggestions for other campsites or parking areas are also very welcome 🙂
Just a bit of background information on our set-up then:-
We are Mandi and Calvin and we have a 2012 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):-
A visit to a renowned white town high in the mountains above Marbella. Steeped in history and with unbelievable views.
On arriving at Cabopino we knew that one of the first things we wanted to do was visit Ronda, as we had run out of time with the hire car during our trip in 2017.
This time, of course, we have the little car with us, so a few days after arriving we set off in the sunshine on our daytrip up into the mountains.
Our climb started behind Marbella so we passed some lovely looking complexes on the way, as well as a good number of villas hidden away behind high gates.
It’s quite a long way to Ronda, winding up and up and up, and round and round and round the various mountains! There are several viewpoints but we left those for the way back. It’s a very good road all the way, though that doesn’t mean I enjoyed the mountain road anymore than I usually do!
We parked up on the road just before the gates of the old town, completely by accident! So we chose to head in this way – leaving the area of town opposite the gates for another time.
Perhaps you’ve not considered a visit to Malaga, beyond the airport that is! The city though is well worth a visit and should be on everybody’s itinerary 🙂
Although we spent 3 weeks at Cabopino back in 2017, only about 30 miles away from Malaga, and I flew into Malaga with the kids when they were younger (we were staying in Benalmadena), I have never actually been TO Malaga itself.
The perfect opportunity presented itself just before christmas when my son came to visit us during our latest stay at Cabopino, aided by the fact that we have brought the car with us this time 🙂
When we picked Sam up from the airport it was getting on for lunchtime and a little late for a day exploring the city, so we saved our visit for when we dropped him off a few days later. This was on 20th December 2018 – the ‘Day of the Drones’. And Sam was due to fly into Gatwick. However he was advised to turn up and we watched him go through to security with no problems, so felt confident in leaving the airport and heading into the city.
With no particular plan (or clue to be honest) we headed towards the marina, as we felt this is always a good place to start. Thinking we were really close and could walk from a spot near the beach we parked up and had a wander along the boulevard. What a lovely first impression! A wide tree-lined boulevard teeming with parakeets, a dedicated cycle path, ‘boris-bikes (although it appears you need to have registered in order to use them), several outdoor gyms (they’re everywhere in Spain – we suspect EU funding is involved) and chiringuitos galore 🙂
However, on checking google maps we found we were still about 3 miles away from the marina (and also the alcazar and castle), so back in the car we headed further into the city.
We parked easily in Parking Muelle Uno, an underground parking lot located centrally for the marina and the alcazar, cathedral, bull-ring and castle. At just over 4Euros for the first hour and a little over 2Euros thereafter we were pleasantly surprised at the cost (only because it was so central to what we wanted to see and the main attractions – we normally balk at paying to park!) (Just as an observation I hate the way the charges are shown in Spanish car-parks – they’re not per hour, they’re per minute and will have different rates for the 1st 15 or 30 minutes, the next 15 or 30 and so on – hugely confusing..)
We emerged into the sunshine beside the Centre Pompidou, an art gallery whose facade is a multi-coloured cube – a good landmark to head for when you’re looking for your car-park at the end of the day! Beyond this was the shopping area by the marina of Muelle Uno – a fabulous choice of shops, restaurants, cafes and stalls awaits you – or simply a nice stroll admiring the boats and the water and the general ambience.