Casares – Charming White town. Birthplace of Blas Infante

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.

Before heading inland to Casares we went back to the same spot and visited Castillo Duquesa which was free to visit.  The castle is clearly used by the community still as there are meeting rooms in the old rooms as well as 2 museums, 1 archeological and the other a fencing museum Continue reading “Casares – Charming White town. Birthplace of Blas Infante”

Advertisements

A couple of Secret Swimming Spots ‘found’ in Andalucia #2

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…

20190113_182116

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before heading up into the mountains towards Casares we had a lovely lunch in Marlowes Fish and Chip Restaurant – we have missed fish and chips 🙂

Next stop the motorhome parking area at Casares (which we resolved to definitely use)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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..!

Related Posts & Pages:-

Secret Swimming Spots #1

Review for Cabopino

A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge

We did a lot of walking in the North York Moors – even when we were ‘going’ somewhere!  So this post will deal with 1 of the days that we were, sort of at least, heading somewhere and I will do a separate post for the days we actually set out just to walk (to the top of Roseberry Topping and to see Captain Cook’s Monument to be precise).

On day 2 in the Moors we headed to the nearest decent sized town, Stokesley, which turned out to be extremely pleasant.  The parking system was disc parking and, not having a disc, we drove through and parked as soon as we could, giving us a short walk back into town.  There are an awful lot of old buildings in Stokesley and the centre has a really nice feel about it, with lots of independent shops and several butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

We also found a dedicated running shop here (I needed a new water bottle).  The 1st bottle they showed me was £35 – I politely explained I wasn’t actually THAT much of a runner!  I did get what I wanted though, and then realised that I recognised the couple from my previous morning’s ‘run’ – I had stopped to wait for them to pass me with their 4 dogs as I was embarrassed by my shambling and didn’t want them to observe it!  These 2 are proper runners – he went up the hill like it  was a Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas I had to bully myself up this hill (all 20m or so of it…).  The shop is called Let’s Run, and they are very involved in coaching and getting beginners out with groups.

From here we headed towards Middlesborough as we both wanted to see the Transporter Bridge that crosses the Tees there.

We found it, and we went across the river on it (£1.30!), a very quick crossing after which we found ourselves in an area called Port Clarence, which used to be very busy, but which is now less so.

We had a quick drive around Middlesborough and were impressed by the evidence of past grandeur, and also the clear evidence of ongoing regeneration.

Making our way back the, slightly long way, we saw another bridge that appears to lift.  I have since discovered this to be the Newport Vertical Lift Bridge which is no longer in use, so no chance of seeing it in action unfortunately 😦

A couple of days later we decided to head south through the moors towards Helmsley.  Continue reading “A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge”

El Rocio – another WOW!

First off, this post is out of sync as I haven’t yet managed to get my thoughts about Camino del Rey down in words.  Also the WiFi here is pretty bad and I’m having trouble uploading photos.  I’ve managed a couple so I’ll put these on, but will add more to the gallery at a later date.

After El Camino del Rey we didn’t think we’d have many more ‘wow’ moments on this trip.  But we were wrong…

Some other travellers told us about El Rocio weeks ago and we were quite keen to visit, so were very happy to find there was a site right at the entrance to the village, Camping La Aldea.

The day after we visited El Camino del Rey we relaxed at the van for much of the day, did a wash, started packing up, I made a chicken and bacon pie for tea (well I made 2 actually, 1 ready for another day – today, Friday, as it happens!)  We also spent an hour or so at the beach and in the evening met Chris and Elaine halfway between us and them at Luna Beach, which turned out to be a very nice little bar with nice views.  On the walk there, along the beach, we could clearly see Africa (as we had been able to all day).  We also said goodbye to Roger (aka ‘Good Looking’) as we knew he wouldn’t be up by the time we left in the morning.

For once we were ready to leave quite early, and so were saying goodbye to Jill (Good Looking’s wife) before 9am and then on our way by 9.

We had to head back towards Malaga before going north and then west towards Seville.  From what we could see of Seville as we bypassed it (we went the wrong way onto the ring road, but it didn’t matter as going north or south was much of a muchness), it looked like rather a lovely city.  As we drove through the outskirts we saw a temperature gauge reading 32degrees!  We had a good run and no toll roads were needed!

We finally made it to our new campsite at about 3.15pm (we had stopped on the way for breakfast and then lunch and a spot of grocery shopping).  There was plenty of space and we could see that we were indeed right on the edge of the village.  Unfortunately the swimming pool doesn’t open until Easter, otherwise we would have been straight in there!

After a dirty burger for tea we decided to go and have a quick look, via the site bar, before it got too dark.  It was still warm enough to be out walking in a vest top (and we had eaten outside as well).  In the bar we met the young couple who were pitched next to us – they have a 5 month old baby and are taking their parental leave as 5 months travelling in their motorhome.  How wonderful is that?!

We walked around the village for a while.  It’s all sand roads and you can see that all the houses have ‘bars’ outside to tie the horses up to (sorry, I don’t know what they’re called).  We also saw many, many lodgings for particular ‘Hermandads’ – these are the brotherhoods from different provinces who come here on a pilgrimage at Pentecost (50 days after Easter) – apparently up to 1million people descend on this tiny village for the weekend of festivities.

On the way back to the van we walked along to a serenade of crickets and frogs.  In the mornings we are waking up to cockerels crowing, donkeys braying and beautiful birdsong.

Friday morning, once we’d properly woken up, we set off to explore the village properly and this time we found the main square containing the Ermitas and where no cars are supposed to enter…  We saw many horses and horses and carts (we’ll take a trip tomorrow) and also found out that the nature reserve starts immediately in front of the main area.

This is a horse village, many of the bars have high counters outside so that people can stay on their horses to have a drink!  We were told this morning, by a British man, that apparently Americans still come over here to buy horses that have a gene going all the way back to the original wild horses, and that the breed, Mustang, originated here.

The high point of the pilgrimage is on the Monday when the statue of the Virgin Mary is taken out of the church and paraded through the village to visit every 1 of the Hermandads (brotherhoods) – there were 106 of them shown on a sign we saw in the village.  Apparently the campsite charges 50Euros a night during the week of the pilgrimage (we’re paying 17…)  We saw the statue in the Ermitas and it’s huge.  We have no photos as individuals make pilgrimages here throughout the year and there were several people in there who were clearly on their own personal pilgrimage.

At lunchtime we sat in 1 of the bars at the top of the main square and had some tapas.  We tried patata Ali Oli (garlic potato) – which I would have liked if it had been hot, but it was straight out of the fridge and I’m not keen on cold potato – and Pimiento asados con atun (peppers with tuna), also cold, but I really liked it (sometimes I surprise myself!)

While we ate we watched the swallows flying around the Ermitas and into the eaves.  There were hundreds of them!

There was also a fenced off grove of Olive trees nearby.  These were fenced off as they’re all over 100 years old and 1 of them is over 600 years old.  It seems that those attending the pilgrimage used to touch them (maybe hug them??) and they needed to be protected.  It would be interesting to see if fencing them off actually had the desired effect!

By 2pm we were beginning to flag as it was so hot so we headed back to the campsite to relax for a while.

But by about 4.30 Calv was getting bored!  So we got the bikes out and headed for the lakes to see what birds we could spot.

This gave us another view of the main square and we also saw horses grazing in the shallows.  Calv made a friend of a stray dog that seemed to want to play, but I was a bit concerned that he was going to bite him – he just wouldn’t leave him alone…!  He got some good photos of the birds (including flamingos, spoonbills and black kites), but nowhere near as good as our Swedish neighbour next door, who visits us regularly and brought over some of his photos to show us this evening – truly amazing (mind you he has rather an impressive lens!)

Tomorrow we will go back into the village and hopefully take a trip in a horse and cart, and perhaps visit the ornithological centre to find out what some of the birds that we’ve seen are.  We might even get closer to the flamingos and get a better picture of them 🙂

It’s now tomorrow and we’ve had a lazy morning before walking back into the village.  It was hot again today and we were hoping to get some got pictures of the various wildlife.  I think Calv did get some pretty got shots, but we’re having trouble uploading at the moment so I can’t put them on here.

It’s Saturday today and there were, as expected, more horses around.  Naively we thought that perhaps there would be fewer cars in the village, but there were many more + many coaches…  Before we came here I had a daft idea that there would be no cars in the village.  In fact they’re only barred from the area around the Ermitas – however, being in Spain, this rule is regularly flouted…

We took a 25 minute trip, just the 2 of us, in a horse and cart, at a cost of 20 Euros, which we were happy with.  The driver spoke to us in Spanish, and we managed to communicate in some small way.  We now know there’s a famous singer living in El Rocio and he knows we also visited the village yesterday!  Also that El Rocio is pronounced El RoSio – I thought it was either El RoKio or El RoTHio.  (they also say GraSiaS here, rather than grathia…)

The Spanish love to come out to play at the weekend which is great to see.  We saw them having picnics, family gatherings, a wedding party in full swing, ladies practising playing their castanets and their flamenco moves by the water.  It was all very uplifting!  (Actually that’s another thing that’s big here, flamenco.  There are several shops dedicated to selling flamenco outfits – and they’re not cheap…..  There was also a show in 1 of the bars, but we missed it!

We also now have a party of scouts, or equivalent, here on the campsite – we could hear them this morning before they set out for the day, playing games and singing.

We saw horses at the bar – raised counters so that riders don’t have to dismount in order to have a drink.  People sitting in their carts outside bars drinking.

We saw several different species of birds plus frogs and a couple of lizards.  All in all we were pleased that we stayed an extra day.

Hasta manana 🙂