Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?

We enjoyed a wonderful stopover in Albarracin and would highly recommend a visit to those touring Spain. Possible if you’re heading north either towards France (via Somport Tunnel) or to either of the ferry ports.

Sometimes, when you have no idea where to go next, the ACSI book supplies a corker!

When unsure where exactly to head we decide on a general direction and roughly how far we want to travel – then we simply get the ACSI book out and see what’s available!  (This doesn’t always work of course.  At which point we get out the ‘Motorhome Stopover’ book and/or defer to the internet).

On this occasion though we knew that we were heading for the Somport Tunnel as our way out of Spain (as we were towing the little car we were avoiding Northern Spain), so we were to head in the direction of Zaragoza – further away from Valencia than you would think!

We were originally considering the town of Teruel but on checking the ACSI map saw a site a little further on at a place called Albaraccin.  A quick check online confirmed that this could be a nice place so the satnav was set accordingly.  The A23 (non-toll) took us most of the way before we headed off onto the 234 just after Teruel, and finally onto the road running into Albaraccin.  This is where we really started to get a feel for where we were heading as the scenery was stunning as we headed through gorges and past ruins high up on the hills.

(This YouTube video from ‘Spain Speaks‘ gives a fair idea of what we experienced – but remember we are sat up higher in the motorhome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=MtIlBbAtbD0 )

Camping Ciudad de Albaraccin is located on the outskirts in the ‘new’ part of town.  By going this way you also understand that there is more to this region than just the beautiful old town (cave paintings/bouldering/walking/dinosaurs…)

Once parked up (with amazing views of the old fortification walls forming a spine on the mountain) we set off to explore immediately (we were only staying overnight).

The old town beckoned.  With little time we took the little car and headed back out to park in the big car park we’d seen as we took our first left towards the campsite.  Even this was pretty with a little stream running alongside.

Wandering through the lower part of town we found a couple more carparks (possible for motorhomes perhaps to park –  not sure about overnighting though) before starting on the long climb up to the main old town.  One thing we didn’t manage to find though, on a warm Tuesday afternoon near the beginning of March, was a cafe!

No matter, what we did find more than made up for the lack of a beverage 🙂

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After finding the Torre Blanca (sadly closed for visits) and the stunning scenery surrounding it we made our way towards the castle, the el Salvador cathedral and, eventually after a wander around the narrow, steep, winding cobbled streets – at times together, at times separated by my desire to explore a little set of steps or a covered alley, we found the Plaza Mayor (from where the main picture was taken).  On my circuitous route to this spot I also found the base of the wall snaking it’s way up the mountain.  Although there were 3 lads clambering up towards the wall itself it was definitely way beyond my capabilities!

Entering the Plaza Mayor is shown in the following video which will, hopefully, also give you an idea of what to expect from Albaraccin. Continue reading “Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?”

el Cabo de Gata – Volcanoes and Views

Moving further north-east along the Spanish mediterranean coast we finally made it to visit Cabo de Gata, an ancient volcanic area which is the driest area in Europe.

We had been looking forward to visiting this area for some time, so were a little disappointed to find that the dreaded plastic  came right up to the edge of this protected natural park.  Not only that, but it was worse than anywhere else we had been so far – shanty huts and towns (complete with garages and satellite dishes) were in evidence everywhere.  The saddest sight was massive sheets of plastic discarded amongst the landscape..

This did all stop, of course, as soon as you entered the park proper, but only right at the edge.

We found a camper stop in Albaricoques; Camper Park Olivades, which was absolutely perfect for us (at 13Euros per night we had toilets, showers, laundry and electric).  There are many film locations (particularly spaghetti Westerns) in this area, and Albaricoques is no exception hosting the stars of For a Few Dollars More (film name of the town – Agua Caliente), amongst other films.  The streets pay homage to this history, bearing names such as Calle Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and Ennio Morricone.

On the edge of the park (near the main N344 road) there are 3 big theme parks based on Westerns – I would love to have visited one of these, but they were prohibitively expensive (in that we weren’t prepared to part with that sort of money!)

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You need to either be a serious cyclist or have a car to explore the area properly.  In our few days there we drove around the whole area, but perhaps missed out on some of the internal villages.  We enjoyed Las Negras on the coast not too far from Los Albaricoques (there were many, many campers wild camping in this area), Isleta del Moro (a small village with many sailing and surf schools – and again, many wild campers) and San Jose, which is perhaps a little more commercialised.   It has a lovely beach, though fully overlooked by the restaurants in the harbour.

On the other side of San Jose you can access some wild, windswept beaches down a rough track.   The one we stopped at Monsul beach which is back by a huge dune; the walk down to the beach from the car park shows evidence of outdoor showers – I don’t know why that stuck with me; I guess you’d probably be more interested in the couple sunbathing nude on top of the dune….. (no pictures, sorry!)

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Of course, we also visited the Cabo de Gata itself (which is a little like visiting Lands End or The Lizard in Cornwall).  We continued on for a while and then went back to get the car and take the narrow, really rather scary road (pot-holed track), up to the lighthouse.  I’m glad Calv was driving….   (Don’t attempt it if you care about your car..!)

There were some spectacular views from up there (plus lots of tracks off the main track taking you down to hidden beaches and coves).  We could also see that it was possible to walk (or even drive if you had the keys to get through the gates) along the edge of the cliffs to get to the beaches at San Jose.  I wouldn’t have fancied driving that track at all, but Calv would have liked to have a go!!

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Probably our favourite day (well, mine anyway) was when we went for a walk into the caldera of an ancient extinct volcano, Caldera de Majada Redonda.  Not a particularly long walk (but long enough) but lots to see along the way, including the site of a house high up in the hills and an abandoned (?) car filled with rocks!  (Calv insists that this car shell must have been carried up the mountain..)

I would definitely recommend taking a couple of hours to do this walk 🙂

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Before heading back to the van we quickly visited the coast again at Las Escullos, where there was a trio of men taking photos of jeans laid out on the rocks!  Some more unusual landscapes to appreciate here.

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A definite recommendation for a visit when in Spain – certainly different to what you normally see in the Costas 🙂

 

We stayed:  Camper Park Olivades

Previous Post: Almeria

Next Post:  Banos de la Fortuna #2

 

Campsite Reviews aimed at motorhomers.

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):-

SPAIN

FRANCE

 

Ronda – a little Gem high up in the Mountains

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.

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Our first discovery was the Iglesia del Espiritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit).  Fairly unassuming from the outside it’s a different story inside Continue reading “Ronda – a little Gem high up in the Mountains”

Malaga – an Under-appreciated City?

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 🙂

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Seafront Promenade, Malaga
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Seafront, Malaga

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.

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Muelle Uno, Malaga

After a quick bite to eat (I won’t tell you where as it’s embarrassing…) we crossed the busy road behind the car park, headed through the gardens and then started making our way up towards the castle (the Gibralfaro – a remnant of Moorish rule)  perched high up on the hill and overlooking the city.  Continue reading “Malaga – an Under-appreciated City?”

Castello Dali and a climb to see Castello de Montgris

Our first stop in Spain – loving the discoveries of the partially completed Castello de Montgris and the Castello Dali (bought by Dali for his wife, and restored for her).

Cycle Ride around l’Estartit

The next day we stayed local and used our bikes.  There are many opportunities for cycling around this area and numerous cycle paths (we tend to make up our own routes!)  We first headed right out of the campsite, finding la Gola, where the River Ter meets the sea.

Unfortunately, due to the recent storms, the beach area was a bit untidy.  However, there were people there busy clearing it all up.

We then headed back up towards the campsite and the other way towards the marina.  This entailed cycling through the floods (we weren’t meant to, but I followed Calv – although I but managed to hit a large bit of debris and ended up jumping into the water to stop myself from falling off completely!  It was deep enough to come up to my ankles, so the rest of our ride was completed with me in sodden trainers….)

Any upset was alleviated though when we found a bar open near the marina.  A coffee soon turned into 2 glasses of wine and 2 beers sat out in the sun. Continue reading “Castello Dali and a climb to see Castello de Montgris”

Discovering Chateau de Chenonceoux and Amboise nearby

We moved on towards Tours after leaving la Ferte-Vidame.  This route was chosen after much deliberation regarding our route – resulting with us eventually, and reluctantly, deciding to abandon our plan to cross the Millau Viaduct (boooo….); mainly due to the seeming lack of campsites open for us on that route 😦

Having decided on Tours, I thought that we might actually stay for 3 nights, having seen a weather forecast suggesting full sun and a high of 21C on Monday.  Sadly it turns out that there are several towns called Tours in France, and my app had decided to provide me with information for a different one, rather than the main town of Tours located in the Loire Valley.  So we just stayed for 2 nights after all.

We could have hopped on the cycle path and ridden into Tours to visit the old city (about 4 miles away, with the cycle path passing within about 50m from the site – albeit across a busy road); but we didn’t…

Instead we used our 1 full day there to visit the Chateau de Chenonceaux.  There are so many chateaux to choose from to visit; we chose this one as it actually spans the river Cher.  It turns out that it is actually a Unesco World Heritage Site.

We paid 14 Euros each to visit the castle and gardens – other attractions within the grounds include a maze, wine cellar (caves), gourmet restaurant, tea-room, self-service restaurant, 16th century farm with carriage musuem and donkeys 🙂

But the main draw is without doubt the castle itself, where many rooms are open to the public.  One of the interesting facts we learned was that Continue reading “Discovering Chateau de Chenonceoux and Amboise nearby”