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):-
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.
A spa town in the hills north of Murcia. Amazing thermal pool – well worth paying a little extra for 🙂
On leaving Oliva we were going to head to Isla Plana to stay at Los Modriles (1 of our favourite Spanish sites in 2017), but instead decided to head a little inland to try a new area and different site.
We found ourselves slightly north of Murcia in a little town called Banos de Fortuna, just a few kilometres past the town of Fortuna, but otherwise pretty much in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains.
The clue is in the name ‘Banos’ meaning ‘thermal’. We didn’t immediately realise this or that this was a proper spa town. Not until we took a different turn on coming home from the mountains one day and found lots of people wandering around in their dressing gowns!
We did struggle to find the original spring, although there were a couple of contenders. There were also 2 campsites; we were staying on La Fuente – not an amazing site but it was home to the, simply amazing, thermal pools 🙂 I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we revisited on our return journey!
The area is very special with the underground water providing a particular environment for rare grasses. The main picture was taken from our van as the sun went down – and this was our view every morning and evening.
The area was settled originally by the Romans and we rode up into the mountains to find the Cuevas de Negra. Amazing views but steep inclines on the way – Calv rode his bike all the way up to the caves and then had to come back for mine, as I’d resorted to pushing and was really struggling…
At the bottom of the final incline we found a large abandoned building which was completely open – so we had a look. This answered some questions about why there are so many ruined buildings around. There were massive cracks running down the walls. Calv says that these buildings have no foundations and that is another explanation. (Also, we’re now convinced that all Spanish buildings are rendered to cover up the diabolical brickwork – we have now seen the backs of many many walls – it’s a shocker!)
We took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up in the traffic in the, fairly busy, town of Fortuna. We discussed going further this way, but didn’t really like the feel of the town so headed back up the main road to the site.
On the way we found an English bar, Tina’s Bar, so stopped for a quick drink. It turns out that there is a large ex-pat community in the area.
The next day we headed out again in search of the original spring and evidence of any roman settlement. We still have no idea if we found anything, although we did manage to convince ourselves that we might have done! It was a mini-adventure though coming back down the ‘mountain’ that we had gone up, as the way we went was marked as private land and we ended up clambering down the terraces (which wasn’t as easy as it might sound), and then making our way to the road via an unofficial rubbish tip (that’s what it felt like anyway!!)
Our final day was spent by the pool. It cost 6 Euros (which is the normal price for non-campers, but we didn’t purchase ahead of time so got no discount).
It was worth every penny. Not only was there a constant temperature of 38degrees, there where jacuzzis and massage jets that were every bit as good as having a real massage 🙂
All in all a fitting end to our time here. Our next stop was back on the coast at a site we’d previously stayed at, Mar Azul – we weren’t initially heading there but more of that in my next post 🙂
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….!!
The locals on a warm sunny day in Oliva
Me 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….
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.
Amazing city with a rich Roman history – also a strange tradition of building human towers..!
One of the places on my list to see whilst in Spain was Tarragona – so for just the 2nd time this trip we managed to actually tick something off of the, admittedly very short, list (the other being Carcassone).
From our campsite we had about an hour drive. We took the non-pay road. Well we fully intended to, but accidently ended up on a pay road for about 2 mins – we came off as soon as we realised – but it still cost us 2.13 Euros!! This was the C-32, and it happened as we believed that all toll roads began with the designation of ‘AP’. We now know we were wrong on this! The fact that it was a ‘peage’ road was shown by a small sign next to the road name with ‘peage’ running through the middle – if I could find an image for you I would, but let’s just say it wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kind of sign! Anyway lesson learnt we carried on along the C31 through Cubelles and beyond.
About 1/2 hours out we realised that whilst we had remembered to put our hi-viz jackets in the car (this time – we keep forgetting), we had left all the other documentation AND our passports and driving licences in the van – doh!! This caused the stress levels in the little car to rise somewhat, as the police in Spain have a habit of stopping cars, pretty regularly, at the entrance to roundabouts for spot-checks.
We’ve been stopped twice, once on the way to Tarragona…. Luckily though, as soon as they realised there was no steering wheel when I opened my window, they waved us on (this happened the first time as well) – phew 🙂
Once there we took a left by the ‘ampifeatre’, following the road towards the train station and the sea and found a car park immediately. We were right in the centre of things and ended up paying 10.75 Euros for about 6 hours – we were happy with that (even though we hate paying to park!!)
So our first stop was to see the ampifeatre. To be fair you get a really good impression of it without paying to actually go in, but it is worth wandering Continue reading “Sunday in Tarragona”