Category: Blog Post

Our Greek Odyssey

13th April 2018 – 30th April 2018

We departed the overnight Ferry from Italy in Igoumenitsa Greece and headed for a spot on the beach that had been recommended. Now at 6am in the morning, in a country we had never visited and trying to find this beach proved very stressful. Our Sat Nav taking us down a road that was blocked and trying to turn round in the dark wasn’t easy but finally we found where we needed to be and parked up and slept for afew hours. When we woke we looked out to the most beautiful beach on one side and a lake the other, it was stunning. A beautiful introduction to Greece. We stayed here for 3 days as it was so lovely, before heading South to the island of Lefkada. The access to the island is by an amazing little bridge that swizzles and turns to let the boats out of the harbour, turns back again and all the vehicles are on the move, on and off the island. The main town of Lefkada is a Mecca for the sailing community with flotillas of yachts waiting to be chartered for the summer. We would quite like to learn how to sail and if they allow dogs on board we are going to try it out. The restaurants and bars are scattered around the harbour and it has a great vibe about it with the Saturday fruit and vegetable market, individual people selling what they have grown and a truck full of fresh strawberries that smelled devine. We also found Kalos the Vet who we visited to get Chloe a new flea and tick collar. He advised us of the dangers of Leishmaniosis to dogs and as we left with flea treatment and a new collar for Chloe, David raised his eyebrows and said, another thing for you to worry about (meaning me, who has to worry about something !). We headed out of the town and stayed a couple of nights in Ammoundia, right on the beach with a great Taverna which produced the most delicious lamb chops. We found a very small supermarket in the village, not sure it was open, but poked our headed round the door and suddenly the light come on in the shop and we were welcomed in. The elderly owners looked liked they had been there forever, just like the milk that was several weeks out of date ! However, we bought what we needed which was in date and waved goodbye. We have found the Greek people to be the most friendly and hospitable.

Our next destination on the island was a campsite, the co-ordinates stored in the sat nav and as we were going up a very small road near to our destination we passed a motorcycle who did a quick u turn in the road and out of his back pocket produced a brochure to his campsite. ‘You must come to our site he said, it is on a beautiful bay’ David and I looked at each other and thought how can we say no. He revs his bike and we follow, suddenly as the road gets narrower, the grip on my seat is getting tighter and the sweat on my palms is building. He turns right and there is a massive drop in the road, I scream to David ‘we can’t go down there !’ We stop, tell him our van is too big to get down there, he waves his hands and says it is OK and we end up following as we can’t turn round. At the bottom of the steep road is a rustic campsite that looks out onto the most idyllic bay, we park right at the front and as my heart starts to beat normally we look out and think what an amazing place. The site is empty, as the the season hasn’t started. There are several tavernas on the bay front but none are open and a couple of fishing boats that are moored in the bay. One evening I was outside with Chloe, it was pitch dark and we were walking among the 800 year olive trees that fill the site and  I saw these flashing lights; they were fire flies. I ran back and got David. We have been lucky enough to see these before in Malaysia, but to see them on the campsite was stunning. We stood there in the darkness with them flying all around, their little bodies flashing like fairy lights. It made that drive down the steep road so worth while. We stayed 4 nights at Santa Mavra before being escorted up the hill to make sure nothing was coming the other way and waved goodbye to Nikos. The roads in Greece are not too bad, better than Italy in fact, but as you wind round mountains and come into a village, the roads suddenly get narrower and if there is a sharp bend it makes it more difficult to manoeuvre our van. Luckily David takes it all in his stride and I just hang onto the seat.

We leave the island of Lefkada and head south into the Peloponnesus passing Patra and are currently at a beautiful campsite that had no steep road into it, and have been chilling in the warm weather for the last week. We leave for Olympia on Thursday.

Whistle Stop Drive through Switzerland & Italy

06th April – 12th April 2018

We left Germany with a fridge full of bockwurst and crossed into Switzerland, stopping at the border to complete forms we could not understand, handing over €32 hoping that this would be enough to allow us to drive through Switzerland. Basically, if you want to drive in Switzerland you have to pay, but we think it is worth it. The scenery is beautiful and as we passed through the snow capped Alps in the sunshine, to our first stop in Brunnen a beautiful small town on the edge of Lake Lucerne, David said that this is the most stunning place we have visited so far. The sun shone, we were in the holiday mood and thought, let’s blow the budget have have two beers ! We did check the price before we bought them and at an exchange worked out just over £6.60 which we didn’t think was too bad for Switzerland. We spent only one night in Brunnen as we had now booked our ferry to Greece and had a time scale to keep. Next stop was Lugano, now all we can say is WOW. This is where the elite hang out. The most expensive jewellers, selling the most expensive watches we have seen, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Moncier, the list is endless. We wandered the streets, found a vintage market and then onto the lovely park. Chloe was happy, she had found some grass and we tasted the most delicious ice-cream. The cars just dripped money and it did remind me of Southend Seafront with cars cruising along the front, obviously these ones were slightly more expensive ! Switzerland is so beautiful and when we leave Greece we would like to spend some more time exploring the country. We then crossed into Italy, the 7th Country in less than 3 weeks. Our destination for our overnight stop was Igea on the East Coast. All we can say is, Italy have the worst roads we have come across so far in all our travels. Trying to avoid as many pot holes as we can and we had got use to this, after our visit back home for 3 weeks. But we can honestly say that Italy does have worst pot holes than the UK. Finally we arrived at Igea, thankfully with our suspension still intact. Igea is a seaside resort and was a ghost town when we visited. The season doesn’t start until mid May, nothing was open. But they were painting everything and anything getting ready for the season. The next day more driving and a trip to Lidl to stock up the fridge and finally we arrive at Bari Port to catch the 10 hour ferry crossing to take us to Greece. The crossing was overnight and we had sleeping on board, meaning that we could sleep in our own bed, but we were landing at 05.30am and so not so much sleeping was going to happen.  We boarded quickly and were surrounded by tightly packed lorries mainly from Bulgaria but in front of us was another Motorhome from the UK and a lovely couple Liz and Paul from Wiltshire. They were in their first Motorhome and had been travelling since last September and were heading to Patras further South than us, as we were disembarking at Igoumenitsa. It is lovely to meet fellow travellers, to share places we have visited and sharing the same passion. Talking of passion, Liz has the same passion for Baked Beans as us and craving them after 8 months on the road. Now we have a few tins, having stocked up before we left, and knowing that craving we gave them a tin. We hope they throughly enjoyed them

The Wanderers Return…..

27th March 2018 – 05th April 2018

We spent a whirlwind three weeks with as many family and friends that we could get to see and left a day later than planned as we couldn’t believe where the 3 weeks went, time just flew passed. As we were leaving, me thinking have we got everything, passport, money, dog. David says as we are getting in the car ‘have we got my sausages?’ Always thinking of his belly !

Now to give you an idea of where we are going on this ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Part 2 adventure, we are heading to Greece through Germany, Switzerland, into Italy and catching a ferry to Mainland Greece. We plan on staying in Greece until the end of June and then when it is too hot, leaving on the ferry back to Italy and the rest is still to be finalised.

Back to current events, we caught an early tunnel crossing out of the U.K. and our first stop was to the beautiful little town of Gouda in the Netherlands/Holland, famous for it’s cheese. We stayed within walking distance of the town and spent a couple of days enjoying Gouda cheese, wandering around the many canals and windmills around the town and eating Gouda Cheese soup and cherry beer (well me !). As it was Easter, a chocolate Easter egg was on my radar and with David saying in the chocolate shop, have whatever one you like, I chose the largest possible. This lovely shop called OLALA (quite appropriate), had the large mixing bowls full of melted chocolate swirling round at the back of the shop, which David had to stop me diving into !

Our next destination was to Keukenhof Gardens. This spring garden, said to be the most beautiful in the world, only opens for 8 weeks a year and is filled with over 7 million spring bulbs. To make it even better, Chloe could go into the gardens as well and she became quite an attraction herself with the Japanese tourists wanting to have their picture taken with her. It has been on my bucket list to visit the gardens and it did not disappoint. With the cold weather the flower beds outside were not in bloom but the gardens still took our breathe away. The bulbs displayed in the indoor gardens were amazing, just stunning in colour and in full bloom. If you love flowers and gardening, try and get here once in your lifetime. It is the best garden we have ever visited.

We spent a further couple of days in the area, getting into the cycling mode of transport. It is such a joy cycling in Holland, at the traffics lights the cycle lane goes green before the car lane. The country is covered with cycle routes and everyone cycles, you feel safe, cars don’t cut you up and there are plenty of places to leave you bikes. We loved Holland.

Now as we want to spend some time in Greece and with our crossing booked we are on a schedule for driving. Next stop Germany. We stayed for two night just outside the small town of Ladenburg home to Karl Friedrich Benz, famous engine designer and posh cars ! It was Easter weekend and buzzing with people strolling around eating ice cream. Since we have been in Germany we are amazed how many people are eating ice cream ! It’s not as if we are having a heatwave here, very strange. We of course joined in, each consuming a small tub of ice cream and not sharing, much to Chloe’s annoyance. The following day we cycled a 14 mile round trip into Heidelberg. A tourist destination due to it’s landscape, Heidelberg Castle, the Philosophers walk and the lovely old town. Situated on the river and home to Germany’s oldest and Europe’s most reputable universities, we spent the day eating, drinking and being tourists. Again, Germany have designated cycle roads which we took through the lovely spring countryside. It makes cycling a complete joy and Chloe has now got into her mode of transport laying down in her trailer with David pulling her, just watching the world go by. What a life she has. On the way back we passed two small farms with little farm shops attached so we stocked up on some provisions, fresh fruit and vegetables. No sausages ! Talking of sausages the following day as we near the border into Switzerland we stop for a couple of days in the countryside and needing some fresh meat we walk to the butchers that I spotted on the way to our campsite. To say David was in heaven was an understatement, the shop was full of sausages and he left very happy after buying several packets of bockwurst. This shop also had a vending machine outside full of packets of sausages, just in case you fancy a midnight feast. ! I think David would quite like to live in the village of Burgunderstrabe.

The last week ……

February 2018 – 6th March 2018

Our destination on our way back to the UK was to our friends in France near Limoges. We visited them when we set off back in September and left our spare tyre in their barn and now needed to collect it. As we set off from Denia, we had no firm destination for the evening, just drive as much as we could suffer for the day and stop. Our first stop was near the border of Spain and France, Olite, a small town with a beautiful Gothic castle-palace. By the time we arrived it was early evening and freezing. We hastened around the town to give Chloe a walk and snuggled back up in the Motorhome, snow was forecast overnight. We woke up to thick carpet of snow, the first we have seen in the Motorhome. David was stressing about getting out, I said we would just have to stay another day as the weather was due to warm up the next day. The only one that loved it was Chloe, beach, snow, it’s all the same to her. David was avidly watching the road and the traffic flow and just after midday said, we are leaving ! The biggest obstacle was to get out of the area we were parked in, if we could do that it would be OK. The Motorhome is quite a heavy beast and we didn’t want to get stuck. As usual with David’s excellent driving we were on our way, as we left the town and headed onto the Motorway the roads improved. The reason the roads are so clear is that Spain have plenty of snow ploughs and gritters. We saw 3 in the space of 20 minutes. Now as it gets dark, I start stressing if we haven’t found anywhere to stay, as we had left a little late it was dark by the time we arrived at our stopover. In France no campsites are open until the end of March and we have to stay on an aire, which are areas set aside specifically for motorhomes, which are situated in or around villages. The aire was nearly full, but we squeezed in, cooked and slept ready for the drive to our friends the next day. We arrived to a warm welcome as ever from our lovely friends, a log fire, wine and a hot shower, pure bliss. Chloe was dragged to the vets to complete her pet passport and the poor vet had to get the worming tablet into her three times before she actually swallowed it. We should have wrapped it in a sausage roll and then she would have eaten it ! After two lovely relaxing days we set off for the final leg of the journey. Again we drove until late afternoon and started to look for a place to stay. The first aire we came to was shut and as we were discussing where we were going to go, a car pulled up behind us and a couple got out. Now I start to panic and think the worse. The French couple inform us that they also have a Motorhome and show us where we can stay on the map. With our limited French and their limited English they said to follow them, now I am thinking this doesn’t seem right. Anyway, we start following them, with me thinking we off to our graves ! After around 25 minutes we pull over and they get out of their car, hand us a hand drawn map of where to go from here and wish us “Bon Vacance” Wow, now I felt really bad thinking they were going to kill us. ! By this time it is dark, we ignored the map and found the nearest aire, around 10 minutes away, cooked and slept. The following day was forecast rain all day and so we decided to drive as much as we could. Our destination was Wimeraux, our first destination when we left in September. It was like coming full circle. The weather was certainly different from September. In September we were on the beach in the sunshine and now we were wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves (well me !) We had a final Moules & Frites for lunch and our final walk along the cliffs with Chloe.

This have been an amazing part one of our Once in a Lifetime journey, 167 days, 4 countries and over 9,334 miles. We have seen some amazing places, met some really lovely people and formed some firm friendships. I have had no sclerosis since I left. David has caught up on all the years of sleep he has missed, Chloe has reversed her age and we have learnt what is important in life. We are very, very lucky and are looking forward to Part Two. Blog will resume at the end of March.

Murcia & Denia Spain

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.

Majocar & Cartagena Spain

13th February 2018 – 18th February 2018

Now as we have said before, happiness on a site depends on the sun on your little pitch. At Cabo de Gata we had a lovely spot, full sun with a olive tree and singing birds and complete silence at night (no barking dogs). As we were departing an English couple with smiles of glee on their faces were looking to take our pitch. They told us that they had tried to get in another campsite for a week and it was full up and so they had come to Los Escullos. It turns out they only lived an hour or so away but had come for a break, to relax and chill out, strange if you ask me ! Anyway, they asked where we were going and as we didn’t really know, you know us ! They said, oh you must go to Majocar, right on the coast, beaches for miles, no high rises, bars, restaurants and cafes within walking distance. David did ask him if he worked for the Majocar tourist board ! Anyway, when we left we thought we would head there to see what it looked like and then decide if to stay or not. We drove through the miles and miles of poly tunnels containing the tomatoes we are all eating and fields of lettuce, although with the cold weather Spain has had this year apparently most have been lost to frost !

We stocked up with a food shop and headed to a great spot right by the beach. Majocar town is slightly inland but we stayed on the coast and the English couple were right, it was lovely. We chilled out, as if we needed more chilling, walked along the beach and tried out the numerous cafes within walking distance. The other positive thing about Majocar is Jose the Doctor who gave me a 30 minute consultation for my ear infection that I have been fighting for weeks. I was so impressed and haven’t stopped going on about Jose. David is sure we are going to live in Majocar, just because of him. Anyway, we left with numerous pills and drops and departed.

Our Sat Nav knows we are a Motorhome but for some reason likes to take us up mountains, on small winding roads that send my heart rate sky high. (Another trip to Jose hopefully !) As we made our way to a stopover for the night with me hanging onto my seat we go up and down mountains passing some of the most beautiful tree blossom I have ever seen. This did distract me for afew seconds and David did stop whilst I took some pictures. We finally get to our stop for the night right on the beach in the middle of nowhere or Puntas de Calnegre. The bread man in his little van woke us up in the morning honking his horn and we departed for Cartagena.

The city of Cartagena had it’s heyday during the Roman Empire and it was one of the most important naval ports in Spain. It has the most amazing Roman Theatre and a plethora of amazing Art Nouveau buildings as a result of the bourgeoisie and we saw it all. We walked the 35 minutes into the centre, spent the whole day wandering the streets, gauping at a £360M yacht that was in the harbour and looked like a space ship. After googling the boat, David found that it is owned by a Russian Oligarch. Heather shopped (it was my birthday !) and David visited the Roman Remains. It is a great city to explore and as it was a Saturday the buzz with the locals all dressed up for the weekend, relaxing, enjoying a long leisurely lunch with plenty of vino tinto. Our lunch was dictated by where we could sit outside in the sun with Chloe and we found a great restaurant. We struggled to read the menu but ordered a starter and main course. David’s starter came up, a huge bowl full of galician octopus and my main came up, two plates of squid risotto. Then my starter turned up a huge bowl of chips covered with a rich cheese sauce and ham. David’s main then came up, stuffed chicken and more potatoes. Oh how we wished we could get the ordering of Spanish food right. It was a great birthday, finished off by drinks with friends back in the UK via the amazing power of technology.

Los Escullos,Cabo De Gata, Spain

04 January 2018 – 12th February 2018

As we left for the coast David said ‘shall we go the coastal route or through the mountains ?’ I said ‘through the mountains’. Something I did consider was a big mistake as we set off on the journey to Cabo de Gata, the only dessert in all of Europe apparently. Not 30 minutes into our drive on the A92 we passed through Parque Natural del a Sierra de Hunter and as we were nearly 2000 metres above sea level it started to rain and the rain soon turned to snow and then a blizzard. As the temperature dropped to 2 degrees and with my heated seat warming my bum, I turned to David and said, this wasn’t such a good idea, was it, shall we turn round ? Luckily my panic moment was short lived as I saw more snow ploughs on this small stretch of road than I have seen in all my lifetime in the UK and felt slightly rest assured. As we descended, the snow eased as quickly as it appeared and then it was gone. We passed through the edge of the Sierra Nevada National Park and to our home for the next week, near Cabo de Gata, the Sierra del Cabo de Gala. As we parked I looked out over the mountains with no road noise, or barking dogs, with the birds singing in the olive tree above me. I turned to David and said, this is what l love best, David agreed. We love the open spaces and greenery of this world. The next day we took a short walk to the beach and there are miles and miles of tracks taking you up and over the mountains, to the beaches and through the small rugged coastline. There are an abundance of birds fluttering by the cliffs and in the shrub land and so many plants flowering in all their glory.

Three days in, we were running out of provisions and the nearest little supermarket was 30 minutes cycle ride and a 10.5 mile round trip. No Tesco Express here ! So, leaving Chloe to guard the van we set of with our rucksack and pannions on our bikes. We arrived in San Jose and tracked down the little supermarket and stocked up on provisions, I think that they shut after we left ! After a tapas lunch and a beer we headed back, David cycling all they way and me putting my bike into turbo mode and taking it easy !

We also spent a day walking through the mountains, well we thought they were mountains but it turns out that they are extinct volcanos ! You can tell we have read up a lot about where we are. Lunch stop was David sitting on the edge of a cliff looking out to sea and me, some metres back with Chloe. It was a beautiful day and Chloe is like one of the mountain goats that we saw on the side of the volcano face, just minus a bell around her neck.

Sunday we walked to the next village along the coastal path which was up and down several ravens and arrived at La Isleta, a tiny village with afew bobbing fishing boats moored in the bay. The two restaurants that were open were packed with local customers, the traditional Sunday outing. We decided to try and walk along the beach on the way back, but came up against the sea, the tide is going out David said, how long will that be I asked, 3 hours he said. David decided to embark on taking his shoes and sock off to see if we could walk around the rock, to the beach the other side. I could just see disaster looming and so we decided to play mountain goats and up the cliff face we went to try and find the coastal path again. Do other people do this or is it just us ?

As usual we stayed longer than we anticipated and decided it was time to venture North along the coast, when our next door neighbour left. George with his gorgeous Labrador named Jack. Jack is 13 years old and has been with George since he was 5 weeks old, they make a great team. We are hoping to meet up again in Spain or Greece. Fingers crossed.

Cabo de Gata is the most wonderful place, we absolutely loved it, it is beautiful. The mountains and the beach all in one place. It is rural but you can walk and cycle for miles or just spend time on the beach. A hidden gem in Spain.

Granada Spain

31st January 2018 – 03rd January 2018

As we left the concrete coastline of Marbella and Puerto Banus and headed for the hills, both David and I both said it was like a breath of fresh air to be heading inland. Now obviously this is just our opinion and we would have left earlier if it hadn’t been for hiring our little Fiat 500. The Fiat 500 was the best thing about our week around Marbella, followed by our first English Roast in four months (except for the ones I have cooked) and a traditional English Fry up ! We felt our wings spread open again as we travelled to the mountains and glimpsed the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The trees are blossoming and there are some beautiful purple flowers scattering the countryside. Olive trees are in abundance with Spain being the country with the highest number of olive trees (more than 300 million) and is now the world’s leading olive and olive oil producer, with Andalusia accounting for 80% of production and the largest olive growing area on the planet. Orders being taken on a first come fist served basis for delivery in early March.

We settled into our little stopover a traditional Spanish site, small and personable and we could see the sky, no trees above us, hurrah. (Oh the little things !). We decided to stay for 4 nights which would give us plenty of time to explore the city of Granada and the Charles V palace in Alhambra (The Red One). The ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid 13th Century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wow, our list of visits to these sites is growing!

Our first day we set off on our bikes, again only because no dogs on buses, in taxis etc. David attached Chloe’s mode of transport to the back of his bike and with me behind we set off for the 30 minute ride into the city centre. I wish I had a Go Pro on my head, because the look on people’s faces as we passed would make a great YouTube video. Chloe’s buggy is obviously very unique in Granada. The other thing with Granada is that they have no places to leave your bikes, mopeds yes, but not bicycles. Obviously, with our only mode of transport being our bikes and Chloe’s buggy to get around, they are precious and so we always worry if they will be there when we get back. In the end and to stop David getting even more stressed we attached them to a lamppost outside the cathedral. David took photos and we hoped they would be there when we returned. First stop was the nearest cafe and two caffe con leche to calm the nerves, before we set off to explore the city with it’s cobbled winding streets. Due to time of year a lot of the restaurants, cafes etc were closed and it must be amazing during the warmer months. It is a great place to wander and loose yourselves. As we climbed the cobbles and heard the soothing sound of the traditional Spanish guitarist, we forgot about the bikes.

The next day with tickets booked we headed off to Alhambra. Now we had been advised on various forums to purchase your tickets in advance and so the site we are staying at booked them the day before with entrance to The Palace at our allotted time. If you ever visit, book in advance ! It was the coldest day of our ‘Once in a Lifetime’ adventure so far. With 4 layers on, minus my hat as I couldn’t find it. We set off in the taxi leaving Chloe on guard in the van. David even had trousers and his thick coat on ! It is beautiful and we think even more beautiful on a warmer day when it is not so windy. The Palace is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting Islamic architecture. The gardens are planted with oranges, roses and myrtles and there is a dense wood of elms said to have been brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. There are fountains and cascades all over the gardens. The detail in the wood carvings and the inlaid work is stunning and it is a place to visit, just on a warmer day in Spring or early Summer !

Our 4 nights are up and with the snow covered mountains in the distance we need to head South again to the warmer weather. We are turning into geckos.

Cabopino Spain

22nd January 2018 – 30th January 2018

We arrived at our stop for a week to find that it was nearly full and as we wing it and didn’t book, we found ourselves in an area sheltered by trees and no sun. Now the saga with shade and sun continues in our little world where ever we are ! In addition to this, there are the abundance of the pine processionary caterpillar. Never heard of them ? Well neither had we, until our other trusted motorhome friends on facebook posted information about them. They are little but deadly caterpillars that devastate pine trees but the hairs of the caterpillar larvae cause harmful reactions in humans and especially dogs if they come into contact with them and in severe cases kill your dog. Now, once I heard this I have read a whole library on these deadly beasts. Now armed with antihistamines to give Chloe immediately if she comes into contact and water to flush the tiny hairs from her mouth, I was constantly on guard if I saw any of the tennis ball size nest in the trees, which look very much like candy floss. This year is one of the worst for the infestation and this area had a high level of candy floss ball in the pine trees.

We decided to hire a car to see the area and booked a Fiat 500 for a week. Now what a great little car these are, loved it and so did Chloe ! We visited Rhonda in the hills with the oldest Bullring in Spain, although our little car did struggle up there, glad we didn’t take the motorhome. A picturesque Spanish town, as was Mijas, again in the hills and visited by coach loads of Chinese/Japanese tourists who love riding about on the famous donkeys with their selfie sticks. We cruised up and down the coastline, from Estapona to Nerja over the week, Torre del Mar and Nerja lifted our hearts after visiting Puerto Banus but after a week we couldn’t wait to escape. Especially after a fellow neighbour had told David that when he had visited Puerto Banus last year and was walking along the marina, he saw a beautiful looking woman in a skinny bikini walking along with a long gold lead, and on the end of the lead was a leopard !

The Rock of Gibraltar

19th January 2018 – 21st January 2018

We have heard a lot about Gibraltar and although not up there on our bucket list it was a place we wanted to visit. We did our homework and decided to stay in the Marina just outside and walk over to ‘The Rock’. After a difficult navigation into the Marina, we could see where we wanted to go, but couldn’t get there (it’s not easy doing a quick turn in our Motorhome) we parked up and had the most beautiful view across the marina with the yachts and boats. As we had arrived early afternoon we decided to pop over to Gibraltar and have a look around. We left Chloe in the Motorhome and headed off, as I was walking over I said to David that I was quite excited. That’s the child in me ! Passports at the ready we passed through customs and headed for the bus which is right outside, taking us into the main town. The main shopping area is one long street filled with the most jewellery shops and pharmacies we have ever seen ! What it did have though was an M&S and I was over the moon, so I stocked up on as many biscuits as David would let me buy and left happy. The next day we took Chloe across, with Pet Passport at the ready and vaccination card in hand, the security never even checked, just waved us through. When we got through a young woman did stop us and tell us to be careful with the dog as the famous monkeys are vicious, oh great I thought. Our hearts lightened though when Chloe was welcomed on the bus into town and for free. David was keen to see the famous tunnels and so we headed off to the Moorish Castle and entrance to the tunnels. Well, the climb was bloody steep and although I would like to say we are fitter, not fit enough for this climb. Anyway, we got to the entrance to the castle, I said to David to check with security if there were any monkeys in the area, he came back and said that apparently there were afew around with babies. So being on the safe side, after walking up the ‘the rock’ Chloe and I walked back down again while David disappeared into the tunnels. Lunch was looking over the Marina and an £8 million yacht being cleaned by staff ready for it’s occupants. How the other half live !

We stayed another night looking out into the Marina before heading off to the Costa del Sol with dread in our hearts in what we would find.