I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Spain 2017 - Days 29 & 30

Monday 30th January

We woke up to sunshine which was streaming into our room.  We had our breakfast and set off about 9.30am. We had a quickly nosey at the beach which looked lovely.

We were soon back on the motorway and watching the miles disappear.  We were listening to The World According to Bob (the sequel to A Street Cat Named Bob) and I was busy crocheting too.  It was a fascinating journey with some of the mountains jagged, others smooth and the distant ones covered in snow.  The crops were now olive and almond trees with the odd orange tree thrown in for good luck.  On the other side of the road we could see the snow topped mountains of the Pyrenees.

Signs for the French border started to appear and before we knew where we were it was goodbye Spain and hello France.  We stopped at an Aire to buy a sandwich and I so nearly said "hola" to the woman at the cash desk! 

The scenery was lovely all the way until we went into a long tunnel at the end of what looked like a huge gorge - as we came out the weather changed and from then on we didn't really see anything.  I had been so looking forward to going over the magnificent MillauViaduct but it was raining so hard and was also very misty so we couldn't really see anything.  The viaduct holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower), 2460 metres long and touching the bottom of the Tarn valley in only 9 places.

I’ve pinched this photo off the internet so you can see what the bridge should look like

The rotten weather was with us all the way to Clermont-Ferrand where our hotel for the night was.  Richard had to negotiate the Clermont-Fernand roads in the rain, in the dark, in the rush hour and on the wrong side of the road - he only swore once!

We stayed at the Campanile Hotel or at least one of three in the area.  It was the most expensive hotel of the trip at €79.  It was very nice and had a lovely bathroom but it wasn't worth the money.  I guess it was because the hotel is in the town - we will stay out of town next year.

We couldn't decide whether to eat in the restaurant and put Muffin in the car with the risk of him complaining or whether to get a takeaway.  We chose the latter and set off to find a McDonalds I had seen on our way in.  By this stage the rain was bucketing down and we got soaked just going into the restaurant.  Muffin appeared to be quiet so we ate our burgers in the restaurant.

We watched another film back in our room and drank the last of the Baileys.

445 miles today.

Tuesday 31st January

The rain had finally stopped when we peered out of the window this morning.  We packed up ate our instant porridge and set off - it was only 8.30am.

As we left Clermont-Ferrand we saw this electric car charging centre – I wonder if we have anything like this in the UK.

The scenery was pretty boring so I concentrated on my crochet and got on a lot quicker than trying to do that and look out of the window at the same time.

The satnav wanted to take us too close to Paris for Richard's liking so we took a slightly longer route round Chartres and Rouen.  Chartres was a nightmare.  The road was a ring round the city/town and consisted of more roundabouts than road or so it seemed - eat your heart out Milton Keynes!  It will Paris next year.

We stopped for a sandwich - we had hoped for a proper meal but of course the Aire we stopped at didn't have a restaurant.

We soon started to see signs for Le Havre and a black cloud settled over my head.  Our lovely month in Spain, that I had so lovingly planned for, was over and we were going back to grey, wet England.  I realised that I had sometimes moaned about the weather in Mojacar when I really shouldn't have done so.

We crossed the Seine over the Tancarville Bridge.  The bridge was completed in 1959 at a cost of 9 billion francs.

We got to the ferry port about 2 hours early - the check-in wasn't even open!  However, we didn't have to wait long before we were through and queuing up to get on the ship. We were the only car in the "dog" lane and in fact there were only 12 cars going on the ferry though there were about 40 to 50 lorries.

We settled down in our cabin but there was no doggie bag and I was just thinking that an email to a Brittany Ferries was in order when there was a knock on the door and a lovely Frenchman said that he had a gift for ze dog :-)

The crossing was a bit choppy but I didn’t feel sick though I knew if I moved I might do!  It didn’t really seem to be too long and before we knew where we were we were we reversing into our dock.  With only 12 cars onboard we were soon off loaded and on our way home.  The great thing about living so close to Portsmouth we were home in 20 minutes!

We had travelled 359 miles today.  A total of 1212 miles.  Now the strange part of this is that that is the exactly the same mileage as going down to Mojacar but we did two very different journeys!  Our total mileage for the month was 3277.

We had a wonderful time in Mojacar and are really looking forward to our return in January 2018 – however we have a full summer of canal cruising in front of us plus a different kind of cruise in May but you will have to log into the blog in the early summer for more details!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Spain 2017 - Days 27 & 28

Saturday 28th January

Our last day and the sun shone for us :-)  Last night the owner of La Cabaña, Jorge, sat down with us and said that it has been the worst January for many, many years and that he is sure it will be better next year!  I do hope he is right.

We went down to the Parque Commercial as I wanted to get a few bits and pieces then returned to the apartment.  We were going to have tapas but I remembered that there was stuff in the fridge that needed eating.  I did a bit more packing then we took Muffin onto the beach for the last time.  It was a glorious day but that seemed a to make me feel worse about going home tomorrow.  We walked almost up to Thomas's roundabout and then went up onto the promenade as I wanted to see if we could see next year's apartment - just about! (It’s the apartment between the two palm trees!) It took us ages to walk back as we kept getting into conversation with other British dog owners!

Back at the apartment I finished the packing and sorting.  We brought far too much stuff and clothes but now I know what do need and don't need.  I have about 6 lists on the laptop which I must follow next year!
The last of the sun on the beach 
Richard cooked the dinner, well heated up a chicken dish which I had cooked a few days ago, and frozen along with microwave rice (what a brilliant invention!)

We finished watching Downton Abbey - we just have the last Christmas special to watch now but that will have to be at home as I didn’t have it downloaded.

Sunday 29th January

The alarm went at 7am -yuk :-( However we had the most amazing sunrise – we aren’t normally awake in time to see them!

Last minute packing and before we knew where we were it was 9am and Sue, Andy and Roly arrived to help us get all the stuff downstairs.  We had put very everything out on the landing as we were the only people living on our floor and the crew were rather amazed at how much stuff we had!  We got a good rhythm going with me loading up the elevator and taking it down, unloading it then Andy and Roly would take it to the car where Richard was loading.  It didn't take long and it was soon time a fond farewell and chants of "see you on the canals this summer and if not in Mojacar next year".

Richard and I went for breakfast at Cafe Moca before starting our journey - we had about 1200 miles in front of us. 

As we had come down to west side of France and we decided to go back up the east side of Spain and through the middle of France.  It was a lovely drive watching the landscape changing from barren mountains and dry valleys to lovely trees and pretty spectacular mountains.  We stopped to eat the sandwiches we had bought at Cafe Moca and then drove on.

There are two motorways.  One is a toll and one isn't.  There doesn't seem to be much difference in the mileage but it cost us €28 to use the toll one - we will use the other one next time!

We arrived at our hotel just before 4pm - we had been on the road for 6.5 hours and had covered 408 miles.   The hotel seemed nice enough and the chap behind the reception desk spoke excellent English and was extremely helpful.  Our room was big and had a sea view (which I had asked for when I booked).

We took ourselves off into Tarragona which was declared a "World Heritage City" by UNESCO on the 30th November of 2000.  In the year 45 BC the Romans built the walls and a port and called it "Colonia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraconensis".  It was getting late but we found the old town square and a cafe with outside seating where we could eat with Muffin.  Next year we will have 2 days in Tarragona so we have time to explore.

Back at the hotel we watched a film before falling asleep.  This time I have an HDMI cable with us which I can use to connect the TV to my iPad where the downloaded films are.

408 miles today.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Spain 2017 - Day 26

Friday 27th January

Market day in Turre but first Muffin had to have his exit check at the vets to make sure he is fit to travel and to have a tapeworm tablet.  He was very good and even took the pill without too much trouble.  While we were in there we saw a greyhound bitch with puppies in the nursery.  This is very sad story with a happy ending – read about Vera here.

We then walked through the market to check if my purse had been handed in but of course it hadn’t :-(  I bought a couple of things but no fruit or veg as we are off home on Sunday.  The wind got up and it looked as if some of the stalls might take off!  We met up with gang at the Indian restaurant for tapas before heading back to the apartment via the most amazing shop.  I mentioned once before about the Euro Market however this place is similar but HUGE!  Richard need a new electric razor so I wandered round – I was a little concerned that we might never meet up again!  It’s probably just as well that we found the place just as we are about to leave otherwise I might have spent a fortune in there!

I did some sorting out and packing in the afternoon – it’s more or less just the clothes left to pack now.

In the evening we met the gang, minus Bev who was unwell, at the La Cabaña for our last dinner and then moved on to the Emerald Isle where there was live music.  Ashley and Dainius are great musicians and played our type of music!  It was a lovely evening and we will miss everyone though hopefully we will see them on the cut somewhere this summer.

At the market I found a stall I hadn’t seen before and bought a silver Indalo man pendant.

Over the years, the Indalo has become the best known symbol of Almería. Some see this figure as a man holding a rainbow, but it might also be an archer pointing a bow towards the sky. The Indalo lent its name to the artistic and intellectual movement of the Indalianos led by Jesús de Perceval and Eugenio d'Ors which was a movement of nostalgic attraction by the people of Mojácar. The people of Mojácar painted Indalos with chalk on the walls of their houses to guard against storms and the Evil Eye.

Spain 2017 - Day 25

Thursday 26th January

We have had a couple of busy days so today was a quiet one.  I spent a lot of time researching yesterday’s journey – it was frustrating as I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for.

After lunch we went to Pirulico Tower.  We parked up and walked the last bit – it was a really lovely walk.

The tower has been recently restored. The steps are steep but well worth it as the view is stunning.  Climb the last iron steps into the tower and then up the stone steps and the view is even better!  The tower is Moorish in origin and it yet another of the forts built for coastal defences. 

The cliffs either side of the path to the tower are interesting.

It was then a quick visit to the supermarket to stock up on our favourite sparkling wine to take home - €1.89 a bottle!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Spain 2017 - Day 24

Wednesday 25th January

Today we headed for the mountains and Sorbas where the gypsum comes from.  The village’s history is old - several prehistoric settlements dating to the Neolithic period have been found. However, those found in the early twentieth century have been dated to the Bronze Age, circa 2000 BC.  The village is also known as Cuenca la Chica and is located over the Río Aguas.  Its houses look as if they are suspended over the ravine. 

From Sorbas we drove up to Uleila del Campo and then took the wiggly road up the mountains of the Sierra de los Filabres – Richard’s choice as he was driving. 

This is looking directly down on a small settlement

Up and up until we were in the snow!

We came across this building high above us – I would like to say it’s the Ermita Deze la Virgen de la Cabeza but I’m not too sure.  Maybe it is part of it.

We could see the snow topped mountains in the distance.

We then came across this just outside the village of Cobdar.

Close up

It is a marble quarry where they produce Amarillo Cobdar marble.  The whole area is famous for its marble and produces over 1.3 million tons.  The marble has been used in the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Cordobas and the Monastery of Escorial. 

From Cobdar it was on to Los Molinas, Los Dioses, La Rambla Aljibe, El Picoco and Bedar.  The area is covered in, what look like, dead trees and olive trees.  At first, we thought that we had come across deciduous olive trees as, apparently, their leaves can fall off when it is very cold.  However, we stopped and I picked what I thought was a dried up olive only to find it was an almond!  Some of the almond trees are beginning to come into blossom – another few weeks and the area should be a riot of colour.  We will definitely go back at the end of February next year.  Almond processors processed more than 40,000 tonnes of almonds last year, most of which were sold to the confectionery industry and to nougat manufacturers.

By the time we got to Bedar we had had enough!  I know quite a few ex-pats live there and now I understand why.  It is beautiful!  There are lots of small hills each one with a house on the top with views to die for and the village itself looks lovely.  Stupidly I didn’t take any photos so you will have to wait a year!

We hadn’t had any lunch and ended up stopping at Martin Morales Restaurant & Café where we had a very good menu of the day for €13.95.  Lots of choice for each of the three courses.  The restaurant has only just opened - it is a short walk for our apartment next year :-)

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Spain 2017 - Day 23

Tuesday 24th January

Today was all about what we came to Spain for.  Blue sky, sunshine and warmth – how it makes everything so much better. 

We went back to Mojacar Pueblo to see it in the sunshine and I’m so glad we went back as it was really lovely.  We had hoped to get some lunch but could only find one place open with outside space and we didn’t fancy their food.  We walked right round the town – I’ll let the photos tell the story.

As we hadn’t had lunch we stopped off at Café Moca for some sustenance.  I had a smoothie and cheesecake and Richard had a beer and chips (man food!)

Back at the apartment I did some research into Mojacar – this is from Wikipedia.

Mojácar has been inhabited by many different groups since antiquity. Populated since the Bronze Age around 2000 BC, traders such as the Phoenicians and Carthaginians arrived to serve the growing communities. Under Greek dominion, the settlement was called Murgis-Akra, whence came the Latinized Moxacar, the Moorish Muxacra and finally the current name of Mojácar. The North African Islamic Moors established themselves in Spain in the early 8th century and the province of Almería came under the authority of the Caliphate of Damascus, and was later ruled by the Umayyads of Córdoba.

Under this second enlightened rule, Mojácar quickly grew in size and importance. With the coronation of Muhammad I of Córdoba in Granada, Mojácar and its lands became incorporated into the Nasrid sultanate, and the town found itself on the frontier with the Christian forces to the east. Watchtowers and fortresses were built, or reinforced, during the 14th century, which nevertheless did little to discourage Christian incursions and fierce battles such as the bloody event of 1435 when much of the population of Mojácar was put to the sword.

On June 10, 1488, the leaders of the region agreed to submit to the Christian forces, although Mojácar's alcaide refused to attend, considering his town to be already Spanish. At that time there was a meeting at Mojácar's Moorish fountain, where a pact of free association between the local Moors, Jews and Christians was agreed. Mojácar, once again, began to expand until the early 18th century, when the census of the time recorded 10,000 people. Around the middle of the 19th century, Mojácar began another period of decline.

Several severe droughts brought about this drop in the town's fortunes, with a consequent emigration to northern Spain, other parts of Europe and to South America. The depopulation of the town was halted in the 1960s when tourism began to reverse the trend.