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Published: September 13th 2016
Kiko Park my God we have done it again!!!
You ask me why I make my home in the mountain forest and I smile and am silent. Even my soul remains quiet. It lives in the other world that no-one owns . The peach trees blossom . The water flows. We are again up in the national park at Kiko Park Rural . Sounds good doesn't it? Rural has a certain ring to it. It is to be fair out in the middle of nowhere. Scrub and trees stunted by the hot midday sun. White villages painted to repeat the suns rays. Even I am getting a sun tan in this incessant heat. We have never had it so hot for so long. There is little sign of rain. The wide rivers have turned into small running streams. The small streams are just a dribble of water and the gullies dry. The reservoirs look half empty. It has been a long hot summer.
We arrived to what looked like a hacienda, a street from a western scene. Houses up each side and a church. The church was in fact mock and was the reception. The house were a mixture
of accomodation for holidaymakers or the cafe / bar. Kids screamed in the tiny swimming pool . Oh Oh we said. It looks fairly empty but things can be deceiving. On the face of it Kiko park surely cannot be just a smaller version than Villa nova. We paid our ACSI rate of 18 euros and were told to find a pitch and report back. We chose after a lot of deliberation, walking , driving and considering plot 76. Far enough away from the bungalows that were filled with very loud Spanish ladies talking without drawing breath. We felt safe. I walked back and could not get in reception . A family , a father and mother very young with a couple of young children and a small dog blocked my way. Being British, polite, used to queuing I just gently squeezed past with an excuse me. The little dog came out on a long lead almost tripping me up. I climbed over his lead and the little creature bit me. Not a huge bit just three fang marks just below my knee. It stung and I rubbed my leg. Luckily I had thick shorts on, long enough to cover
my knee and rolled over at the bottoms. They took the bite rather than my leg. I got abuse hurled at me as if it me that bit the dog. I am starting to feel rather unlucky this holiday. First the fridge, second the tyres and now a bite of sorts. I jokingly said to Glenn to watch out for the strange behaviour and the foaming mouth. He grinned as if to say what strange behaviour.
We settled in and then the young arrived. Screaming, shouting into the chalet next to us. We moved . Not the best of starts. The Brits from the red panel van followed us in. AGain there is not much choice of campsites in this area and beggars cannot be choosers.
We ate at night in the cafe bar. It was not gourmet eating and there was no Raphael. We drank more rose wine to dull the noisy night we knew we would have ahead. We ate potato bravas covered in paprika- a favourite of ours when in Spain, a rather nice mixed salad and pork cooked tenderly but rather shoved on the plate.
We did not sleep. At 10 the children
were still out shouting It went on until 11. Some guy went out to tell them to shut up and go to bed as the hours of silence were upon them, They ignored him and carried on telling him to speak to them in Spanish. I would have thought the tone of his voice should have done the trick. They carried on again until midnight and beyond until in the end at almost 1 someone else got very annoyed and shut the hell out of them. Kiko park lovely area lots of walks, reservoirs but noisy. Another campsite for us to miss if we ever venture this way again.
Life though is good on the road even if things like this upset you. I thought of my friend Bob whom I have never met but through Travel Blog I know well who is walking the Carmino. I hope his journey is spiritual and brings him the joy he deserves. I hope the weather is kinder to him and his feet hold out. The weather can be so cruel with this fierce heat.
We were heading for Ubeda and Baeza both world heritage sites so they must be good.
Ubeda was a nightmare to drive Suzy through. Narrow streets with trees along the middles. We passed a Carrefour supermarket and could not get in to it . We parked on a dedicated parking ground for motorhomes next to the Guardia Civil. Always a good sign seeing the police about and even armed ones at that. A lovely spot that you could actually overnight on for free. How good is that?
We had a map. Always a good idea but sadly the map is small and even with glasses we cannot read the street names. We ask a local the way to the Centro Historique. He points the way, gabbles in Spanish, we pick up the odd word here or there and we walk on. It is steaming and we cannot get out of this draining heat. Ever upwards. Why is it up when it's hot? Why not down? There was a maze of little alleyways but no sign of the centre. We found the bullring. Much bigger than the one in Alburracin. We located it on our map which meant we knew where we were in relation to the centre. We hung a right surely this would bring
us out somewhere near the old city walls. No it did not but it did bring us out in a square full of people. We sat consulted the map and drank fresh orange juice , cold and juicy . Spain does oranges so well. We consulted the map again , got our bearings and walked up to Trinidiad church. A huge baroque affair with high lofty white ceilings painted with red decoration. The only thing of interest was a massive black wrought iron and gold gilded cart. On top a figure of Christ or a saint . Obviously brought out of the church, paraded round the town on the festival of the saint in question.
We found the walls. We sat beneath them in a cafe eating another thing Spain does well. Chocolate thick and creamy. Not quite milky nor dark but rich and thick and dunked in churros. Those sweet long lengths of donuts. Greasy, sugary , bad for your cholesterol levels but really good. We were in an who cares mode.
Having found the walls we eventually stumbled upon the long street lined with trees and impressive houses that lead to the historic centre. In the square was a statue to an unknown man - well he was unknown to us, a number of 17th century impressive palaces and a church or two. Ubeda pronounced Ooooo beee da comes from Arabic Ubbada al-'Arab . We have started to see both ferry ports sales offices along our way selling tickets for Africa and signs in Arabic. It is quite a large city with some 36,025 inhabitants. Both this city and the neighboring city of Baeza benefited from extensive patronage in the early 16th century resulting in the construction of a series of these Renaissance style palaces and churches, which have been preserved ever since. By now having walked miles we thought we might just give Baeza a miss. There is only so much walking these old legs can take .
The most outstanding feature of the city is the monumental Vazquez de Molina Square the one we were standing in. It was surrounded with imposing Renaissance buildings such as the Palacio de las Cadenas named after the decorative chains which once hung from the façade. We have seent these chains when we were in Toledo. The chapel of the Saviour or Capilla del Salvador was constructed to house the tombs of local nobility. Both the interior and exterior are supposed to be decorated with metalwork screens although having to pay put us off going in. The Hospital de Santiago, designed by Vandelvira in the late 16th century, with its square bell towers and graceful Renaissance courtyard, is now the home of the town's Conference Hall. Ubeda has a Parador hotel, housed in a 16th-century palace which was the residence of a high-ranking churchman of that period. Typical of Spain they keep the best for hotels and you are denied access to them unless you pay top dollar to stay the night .
The city possesses 48 monuments, and more of another hundred of buildings of interest, almost all of them of Renaissance style. I cannot say we found 48 such monuments nor did we see another hundred interesting places . It is a fine town there is no doubt about that but we guessed it was like many in this region and each one would seem the same.
Our journey back to Suzy was equally fraught. The narrow high sided streets and alley confuse. We went round in circles despite our map ending up back where we started. We got frustrated as we increasingly got lost in its maze. I stopped a street cleaner to ask where were we on the map. We got a rough idea and set off again. Thwarted - same place again . We were going round in ever decreasing circles and in this heat it was not much fun. Eventually we stood on a shady corner and a nice Spanish gentleman stopped and asked us in Spanish if we were lost. He took our map, we showed him where we wanted to go he explained and pointed and to be fair we got the gist and eventually found our van safe and sound.
It was for us on the road again , this time to a small rural campsite in the middle of yet another national park . Would rural truly mean rural I wondered? Ah well we are on holiday full of chocolate and churros. What more can a girl want ? Gibraltar perhaps. I went in 1966 on a school cruise. I have the old black and white photographs. I saw the Rock. I saw the caves and the monkeys . I would love to go again. We shall see if I manage to persuade the driver he wants to visit to Marks and Spencers for some good old British fare .
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