Cut a long and boring story short – drive a long way to campervan shop at Malaga, find campervan shop closed down, still no water cap. Slightly fed up as we aren’t too keen on the area anyway, its just a bit too busy for us – decide to leave the coast.
My extensive Google research (which didn’t included checking shops are still in business) also had another potential water cap supplier near Seville and as we wanted to visit El Rocio it was a perfect excuse to take A45 up and up, just a few miles and we were well away from the metropolis and mile after mile of olive groves lined the roadsides. Hardly a car on the road for hours, then suddenly three cars in a ditch, a lorry on it’s side and another car parked on the outside lane! Not sure how on earther they had all managed to be in the same place at the same time but everyone was milling around on the road waiting for the police so there weren’t any serious injuries.
We had visited Humilladero a few years ago and remembered there was another small site a few miles away on the side of the gigantic lake so we agreed to give this one a go even though we read a few reviews that said it was too good. Five minutes up the road and Laguna Fuente De Piedra loomed ahead, as did the little eponymous village next to the lake. The campsite, Rosa De Los Vientos (N37 7 44.4 / W 4 43 59.4) was at the end of the village, looking very rural and as if it has been there a long, long,long time. A kindly chap let us in and told us to park where we wanted, as no one else was staying we had all the choice we could want. Nothing there for us not to like, old, a bit worn and seemingly seen a few better days – bit like us then :).
From the campsite we walked down through the groves to the Laguna and the visitor centre, which although open all year was for some reason closed the day we were there. A walk around the village showed a reasonably lively place, few shops, but many bars so easy to see where the locals priorities were on the food versus entertainment.
Another couple of hour up the road and we found Campervan heros, Hidalgo caravans yard, shop and aire (N 37 19 43 W 5 48 20) was in our sights. We pulled in, parked up and were told its fine to stay in the guarded parking overnight for just €4.50. Cheap as chips will do us, Iain went into the parts shop and found a watercap with key – hurray that’s another €17 gone, and whilst we are there our bike rack needs a stronger bar, €20 – right so a €4.50 stop just cost us €41??? That said, it’s a life saver place where they carry out repairs in their workshop and stick pretty much any parts and accessories you could think of. I did feel the need to be honest with Iain – this company has a shop less than a mile from the one that didn’t exist in Malaga – oops should have mentioned that when we were then!!
As we were stopping we had a quick look on internet and the town of Alcala De Guadaira looked worth a visit. I checked it out thoroughly and assured Iain it was less than 3 km walk to the centre, see the stunning castle, coffee and 3km back. What could be better and easier. A good couple of hours later, at least 5km and no sign of any castle, just lots and lots of houses. We gave up and trudged back, our only success being a 10 km walk. I double checked my information, ah it was an 8km walk to the castle, no wonder we didn’t find it. On the flip-side, sun was out, skies were blue, tans were improving and we visited somewhere we wouldn’t have seen otherwise – so all was good.
El Rocio – always on our lists, always the last time we will go. Couldn’t resist so yet again we checked into La Aldea, on Sunday morning and walked the 10 minutes into ‘cowboy’ town. We have seen a few fiestas there before but this one was certainly bigger than our previous experiences, hundreds of people around, many of whom were posing on their horses strutting around outside the church whilst the parades wait to enter church. We tried to go into the church, not a chance – sardines would not be as tightly packed.
For me, one of the attractions is always the tacky shops selling religious paraphernalia. I cannot resist a bit of tatt, this time a very swish bracelet that in some way is related to the Virgin Mary, who cares €3 well spent, the sun beating down and fireworks cracking in the air no where better to be on a Sunday morning.
The other main draw here is the Donana National Park, the large National Park in Spain and home to some of the best bird spotting anywhere. There is a visitor centre on the edge of the village, we walked down and spent a couple of hours treading the board-walk. Our ‘tick’ list had hoopoes, storks, glossy ibis and even purple swamphens with 10 minutes of arriving. Obviously, we (well I) love a bit of spotting, Iain will trudge along and actually is the better spotter, if not the better identifier. Not being content with a morning here we rode the bikes the 10 km down to the next visitor centre the following morning and sat amongst the azure magpies eating our picnic – it feels like being in the desert in Africa, fascinating place and so worth visiting I cannot praise it highly enough.
As we have battery bikes now (lazy we know before anyone else tell us – but so much fun we 🙂 ) we tackled the ride down to Matacalanas on the coast. Down the main road but a good hard shoulder with plenty of room and not too much traffic. Considering its is literally miles from anywhere it was much bigger than we imagined, with more than its fair share of 1970’s eyesore hotels and apartment blocks. Take that away though and the beach still makes it a place worth seeing. Miles of sand, gentle breakers – oh and bizarrely it’s known for having an ancient upside down tower on the sand called Torre la Higuera, a base of one of the seven defense towers built in the 16 century by Philip II – left in the sea for aesthetic purposes only, as the sign nearby says it’s a €200 fine if you jump off it.
That’s Spain for us, time for a bit of Portugal next :).