Costa Barba

Published: June 17th 2012
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Monday 11 June – OK – here we are again..........still at the super-efficient German –run campsite at Sant Pere Pescador on the Bay of Roses surrounded by Dutch & Deutsch all with their multi-accessorised motorhomes/caravans.....if a gadget has been invented, they’ve got it. Each pitch is immaculate, lots of sweeping/cleaning, duvets are aired every morning and all meals are eaten at cloth-clad tables with flowers and candles. By contrast the pommy slobs (well one pommy and one Ozzie slob) go at our own pace.

The morning was cooler with mixed cloud/sunshine. We got on the bikes and cycled into the slightly inland town – 3 k’s – mainly along a sandy beach-side cycle path. After a tootle around this small Spanish town , we found a bar....for coffee and very local white wine (reminders of Grecian white wine). We amused ourselves by watching a Spanish family at the next table (with 2 very stroppy teenage girls), whose relatives kept arriving and chairs had to be found ........and the chaos caused by a local chap drawing up to the bar in his car and parking it just there – causing any subsequent motorists to squeeze between the parked car and our table!

Back to the van for a lazy afternoon, lying in the sun which was now emitting a pleasant 75-80 degrees of heat. Later, we checked out the supermarket selling everything you could possibly dream up – at least 9 different sorts of bread, barrels of wine which you buy by the litre and so on. The other facilities include an amazing sanitation block with the pishest of posh washing up area, kiddies rooms/playgrounds, a superb restaurant with a terrace laid out with goldfish-filled ponds and beautiful planting and so on and so really is an 8 star place.

One of us spotted an England v France footy game being shown on a giant screen in one of the public lounges, so the other one got on-line and had an amusing al fresco Skype session with Norma & sister Helen. Then, from no-where a mini tornado got up, Baz appeared and we had a mad panic to wind in the awning as it was threatening to be blown away. After another delicious supper (we DO eat well) we settled down to watch a video....but only about 20 mins in, something went wrong – the cd? The computer? Who knows. So reading instead and a good nights’ sleep.

Tuesday 12 June – The day dawned the most clear, glorious blue – so after a few quick chores we went to the beach, 80 metres from door to shore. It’s all very attractive as the setting is totally natural – the undulating sand dunes and the only buildings in sight being a cluster of white houses in the distance at each end of this vast bay. A lovely on-shore cool breeze was blowing and it was only hunger that finally drove us back to the campsite. The couple of hours of grey skies and even some rain allowed us to do more chores – fridge cleaning, load of washing etc .....and then more lovely sunshine.

At about 6.30pm, since we are fairly close to the main building, we were entertained by half an hour of kiddies songs from the organised kid’s club.....Agadoo, Hokey-Kokey, Head, Shoulders, K & T etc. One of us uttered Bah-Humbug, the other was so intrigued, she went to watch the little ones dancing for 10 mins or so...............ummmmmmmm, bit of homesickness for little ones setting in. However watching our new neighbours whom we have christened Cedric and Cecil (the only gays in the campsite) cook their dinner on their ‘camp’ stove, has lightened the mood!

And that’s it. Have a lovely bit of beef for a stir-fry tonight and we’re thinking of hanging on here for yet another night, if not two.

Wednesday 13 June – Last night one of us was tucked up in bed snoring by the time the other one came home after a night out! After our stir-fry came the strains of a ukulele being played a few pitches down from us. On investigation a small crowd had gathered to watch/listen from a distance, as this Dutch chap strummed away singing The Wild Rover!..........needless to say I joined in the chorus/clapping and gradually the others joined in too –then a couple of the other Dutchies brought their chairs over and in the end there were about 18 of us (the others all Dutch) gathered in a circle. It was BYO booze and a jolly evening was had with me la-la-ing to the endless repertoire of Dutch songs, some of which, from the little I was able to understand, were somewhat risqué! The evening also solved the mystery of why the 6 varieties of wine from the barrel sold in the supermarket were soooo sweet. Before purchasing you can request a little taster cup...............tasted them all and chose the least sweet one. The singing Dutchies also brought their ‘wine’ containers and it suddenly clicked, when I was offered a drink, that it was Sherry!

So today........well a good lie-in and the decision to stay another day. At about 11.30 we set off on the bikes and ended up cycling right back to L’Escala, about a 16K return trip. Most of the ride was along cycle paths just back from the beach, then through the tiny village of Sant Marti d’Empuries, past an enormous ruined Roman settlement (viewed from the cycle path and not ticket buying at the entrance) and on around the promenade ‘til we reached the edge of l’Escala....quite pleasant, not the heaving mass of humanity further into the resort. The coastline at this point is really lovely – little sandy bays and rocky outcrops reaching into the sea.

We’d taken swimmers, a small towel, snorkels & masks with us, but the bouts of sunshine through a largely overcast sky made it too chilly. We lunched on delicious pizza at an agreeable bay-side restaurant, then journeyed home. It was a enjoyable outing though one of us (the one with dreadful psoriatic feet and throbbing, badly swollen mozzy bites on legs and arms) did whinge somewhat when the track was too sandy or pebbly.

After a lazy rest of afternoon, at 9ish we strolled to the on-site restaurant and enjoyed a terrific meal (large pork tenderloin steaks cooked on the grill, etc) sitting on the terrace surrounded by palms and exotic plantings with the goldfish cruising around the little waterways. As we were eating we heard great whoops and cheers go up, and a few groans from the live Germany v Holland footy match being shown on the giant TV. There was no way of knowing at that stage who had scored and since this campsite is 74%!G(MISSING)erman/24%!D(MISSING)utch/2%!o(MISSING)ther there was quite a tense atmosphere......needless to say, Germany won. (B watched the 2nd half/J retired to read).

Thursday 14 June - Time to move on, so we set off up the coast to Roses – a largish busy resort but quite pleasant and few high-rise buildings. We drove through and out following the coast through Roses’ outer suburbs, charming landscape, lots of villas, great sea views. We finally parked up fairly high and took steep steps to the pretty bay below, Platja de l’Almadrava, where we lazed in the glorious sun and sea breeze. One of us swam and snorkelled, the other was too chicken as the water was quite chilly (no stamina these Aussies)

We had not intended to eat out but couldn’t be bothered to lug a picnic down with us – so.........another lovely lunch out – Calamares, whitebait and salad and a delish bottle of white. Then a siesta and more reading on the beach before heading on at about 6.30 into the wild, wooly and dramatic scenery of Cape Creus. Up, up, up – then down, down, down....much of it ziggy-zaggy until we finally drove in to Cadaques. This pretty whitewashed small resort, only accessed by one road is the most easterly point in Spain. It used to be a bit of a spot, at the turn of the century when Picasso was in this neck OTW, and later when Salvador Dali painted and lived here.

We got into a bit of trouble trying to negotiate the back streets to get to the harbour – very narrow, very steep, lots of no entry signs etc. In the end a Spanish chap on a motorcycle led us through a maze of streets, back to the edge of town where there is an enormous carpark. Much to our surprise the young parking attendant said 24hr parking was OK for motorhomes (at a price! 20 Euros). So we decided to go for it and have parked at the far end of what is, at the moment, a virtually empty carpark. It’ll be a great day tomorrow being on the spot to wander around and maybe spend time on the beach. So, ‘til then...

Friday 15 June - As predicted, a fabulous day – although unfortunately it had to start with an arduous Supermercado trip. Since we have different shopping styles, infinite patience is of us wants to examine and read the label of every product in the shop, whereas the other one would make an in-and-out affair, grabbing anything edible on a ‘that’ll do’ premise! Further patience required when you’re 4th in line at the butchery counter....the 3 preceding ladies seeming to buy a kilo of everything (and needing it boned/flattened/seasoned) and then, after queuing at the check-out, waiting whilst the assistant has to insert our creditcard several times before it’ll work. THEN, cycling back to the van laden with shopping bags...ho hum.

However, that out the way we took off again, cycled down and around the port with a couple of shingly beaches, then continuing around hugging the coast for about 4km, admiring a series of beautiful rocky coves – one of which had a tiny island just off-shore with what we think was Dali’s house on it. Finally, back into town – very pretty and original looking (not too tarted up and not trippery) but obviously quite moneyed, also mainly Spanish although quite a few French. We checked out the church (via sharply cobbled alleyways – not good for the feet) then back to the van for lunch.

After a suitable pause, we set out again with beach gear, cycled back some way to a small beach, fairly well protected from a strong on-shore wind. With there not being a great deal of sand and being quite crowded, it was quite chummy – and enough topless ladies to satisfy male tendencies. We BOTH swam (one snorkelled too) and at about 6pm we headed back to the van and moved on.

The next bit of the route needed good driving concentration as the road was narrow, bendy and in some places the wind was gusting. However after 9 miles or so we came we’d rounded the cape and arrived at the town of El Port de la Selva. We know nothing about it as we immediately took a dead-end road (pardon the pun) up by the cemetery. With a magnificent view of the bay, we parked up, showered al fresco and have settled in for a relaxed evening.

Saturday 16 June – Up, away and onwards. Today has been another day to confirm that despite fears that no unspoilt areas of Spanish coastline exist, there is still a vast stretch of coastline, pretty much the whole of the Costa Brava that retains a wonderful mixture of low-key tourist needs (restaurants/beaches etc) with Spanish charm. There are parts of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar that may not appeal (although the scenery is great and ‘old towns’ still exist) but from there up to the French border is terrific.

We cruised around El Port de la Selva , which was appealing, then on through Llanca where we tried to drive near the beaches, which looked good but they proved inaccessible from drivable roads. There are many ‘No Entry for Motorhomes’ signs in this area. We drove on to Colera parking up as near as motorhomes were allowed to go and attempted to walk to the beach...but it was too far, so we turned back. This meant our next and final Spanish town was Portbou, a larger town/resort but a great looking place. However parking near the beach was difficult so after filling up with cheaper Spanish diesel, we drove up and out of Spain, crossing the border. In our first town, Cerbere we stopped for a walk around and a dink ( coffee/one white wine) – it was really strange ordering in French rather than Spanish and a bit sad in a way as we’ve had such a good time in Spain and it was a poignant moment.

A short way on – and we should mention that the scenery we’d been driving through was superb – a mixture of everything – hills, mountains, sea, beaches, villages; vineyards and so on........ we stopped for our lunch on a headland with terrific views either side. After that we were heading for a campsite at Argeles Plage, so simply drove through the wonderful holiday spots of Vanyuls sur Mer and Port- Vendres. Argeles Plages was much more touristy – signs of a real heaving resort. However we located our chosen campsite, only to be told they were full! This must be another case of Kismet or Kay-serra, serra because it made us drive inland to another campsite at Elne, which is where we are now. It’s not got German facilities but it’s quiet, shady, very pleasant and has a pool. Having established ourselves we spent a couple of hours pool-side – no shade, very hot.....but a fun twisty water slide. Bla, bla,bla and here we are in the van writing this and looking forward to supper. We purchased the meat in Spain (me having to do an imitation of a rabbit as I didn’t know the Spanish word)..... however since we are eating it in France, B (with his excellent French vocabulary but not-so-hot pronunciation) insists of calling it Lappin’.....just as he complains when the odd Chee –en barks! (Chien?). In summary, how good can this get? 8pm and a pleasant 76 (or 24 for new school readers) degrees and all is well with the world.....’til tomorrow

Sunday 17 June – What a lazy day! We had intended to move on, probably back to the coast as it’ll be our last chance on the Med. However we woke and breakfasted late, then had to wash up all last night’s dishes as well. Then we unearthed all our French brochures/maps/books from the boot to try and decide on a rough route home. When you put one finger on where we are and another finger on Dunkerque (our 17 July crossing point) – they are at the furthest extremities of which way? It took ages but we finally think we’ll head up past Toulouse, through Cahors, west of Limoges and Poitiers, past Nantes and hit the Brittany coast.

By the time we’d completed this exercise it was nearly midday....check-out time. So we have decided to spend another night, allowing us a relaxed day ......the pool, a game of boules and maybe a cycle into Elne. Since we have free Internet, it’s a good time to until the next one – au revoir!

Since Sant Pere Pescador: Sant Marti d’Empuries; (L’Escala again); Roses; Platja de l’Almadrava; Cadaques; El Port de la Selva; Llanca; Colera; Portbou; (BORDER/FRANCE) Cerbere; Vanyuls sur Mer; Port- Vendres; Argeles Plages ; Elne;

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