19th February 2018 – 26th February 2018
We travelled through more poly tunnels, we were told they go on for miles and miles and they certainly do. What did strike us was the poor conditions the employees live in surrounding these plastic salad greenhouses. As the world demands cheaper produce it seems that it is the employees that suffer the most. Our destination was a site as close as we could get to visit my Uncle who has lived in Spain for the last 14 years and I last saw him 10 years ago when he came back for my Dad’s funeral. We arrived at Marjal and this was like nothing we have stayed on before. It was a mini city in it’s own right, absolutely huge and run with military precision. We find these type of sites completely soulless (just our opinion) and were scheduled to stay just 2 nights. The next day, David being the King of google maps and leader in our cycling life worked out a route to get us to where we needed to go. David said it would take us 45 minutes, so we set off with David towing Chloe and me cycling behind. We start heading out down this dirt track and it comes to a locked gate with no way round. So we turn around and cycle back taking another route. Still down a dirt track which looks promising and we cycle for what seems like miles with the tallest grasses growing either side of the track, which look like they can reach the sky. Now me, ever the optimist am thinking is this safe, we could get attacked and never be found again. David as always calms me down saying don’t be silly. I start breathing better and we carry on cycling on the bumpy track. Suddenly we drive through some gates and I shout to David, thank god the gates are not locked ! Was this an omen, oh yes. Not 500 metres further was a set of padlocked double gates that ran parallel to a river and no way round. Oh bloody google maps ! There was no alternative but to turn round and cycle through the sky high grasses again back to a main road. This time I said to David, we just need to cycle along the road. This was going to take us another hour and we were already over an hour late. I tried ringing my uncle but no answer, he’s 83 and slightly deaf and so I said to David he probably can’t hear the phone. We soldiered on and finally reached my uncle’s villa over 2 hours late. We rang the bell, no answer, we telephoned him, no answer, David shouted over the fence, no answer. Finally, David put his head in his hands, I tried to breathe deeply and Chloe had gone to sleep. Neighbours came out, after hearing David shouting in desperation over the fence and said that he could be at 2 different bars and so we set off to try one last attempt to find my elusive uncle. We never found him and cycled home. We cycled a 30 mile round trip, you can’t say we didn’t try ! The next day we were totally shattered and stayed another day to recover. The plus side was a fantastic 3 course meal in the restaurant with wine included for less than €10 each and the funniest waiter who provided the entertainment for the evening. We did give him a large tip when we left. We left the next day to start heading to Denia and I said to David, lets just try one last time to get to my uncle’s. I rang him and he picked up the phone and I told him not to go out we were on our way ! We finally got to see my uncle, he was waiting for us at his gate when we drove up in the Motorhome (no cycling this time !) We spent some precious time with him and for 83 he looks amazing and coping well with life on his own now. We have gleamed that the warm Spanish weather is of great benefit in later life and all the vitamin D works wonders.
Denia was our next destination after we were waved off by my tearful uncle. I have not been to Denia since I was 4 years old and a first time for David. I think my parents were quite adventurous driving to Spain in 1970 and I was hoping that I would have a whirlwind moment and remember some childhood memories. We passed Benidorm and saw the massive sky high buildings and drove on past. We arrived at our site just outside Denia, a rustic small site which turned out to be the perfect home for our last 6 nights on the Spanish coast. As usual we hadn’t booked and there was only 2 places left, under trees (oh no!) The site is quite compact and I am still in awe how David manoeuvres the Motorhome into the tightest of spots. Anyway, it turns out that we had sun in the afternoon, which was perfect as after nearly six months and saying we must get up earlier, we don’t and the morning sun would be wasted on us ! We walked into Denia the next day along the costal path with Chloe, as always trying to smell a beach. There are no sandy beaches just pebbled ones which did not bode well with Chloe, ball throwing was banned. We wandered around the town, me trying desperately to remember anything that might look familiar but alias no. The sun was out but the wind was cold and again trying to find a good lunch spot to include Chloe was a little difficult. However, we found a gem which was advertising Gluwien, just the trick to warm us up. The lunch was amazing, a set menu of meatballs, half a chicken each and chocolate brownie, finished off with coffee. All for €18 each. We walked the 40 minutes back to the campsite and of course a siesta followed.
The best thing about our time in Denia was our neighbours, Bob and Amanda. Now Bob is and always will be our inspiration. Bob is a keen cyclist, off he goes in the morning, returning late afternoon and when we asked where he had been, he points to the mountains and says up there, covering 100km one day and 110 km on another, no mean feat for any human, but Bob is 70 years old ! He looks our age and obviously somewhat fitter than us ! We joined them for a day in the mountains, with Bob driving his Motorhome as he wanted to show Amanda how beautiful it was. Up and up we climbed and we were in awe of the route that Bob had taken on his bike. We stopped in a small village for lunch and were lucky enough to get the last unreserved table, in the only restaurant in the village and sat down to a superb 5 course lunch. A memorable day.
We were sad to be leaving Denia, as it was the start of the long journey back to the UK. Bob and Amanda were heading off the same day to meet their son in Morzine. We said our goodbyes but with friendships firmly made and hopefully with our paths crossing later in the year, we left the little haven of Denia.