With the coast set firmly in our sights we followed the route back towards Seville and then onwards down toward Jerez De La Frontera stopping on the way for fuel and supplies. We arrived in the city of Jerez around lunchtime and headed for the parking area (which as is often the case in cities was just a large mixed car park). Unfortunately though our timing was all wrong as it just happened to be situated right next to a school and we’d arrived as the kids were about to leave for the day which meant that there wasn’t room for a moped to park let alone Boris. With the sat nav quickly re-programmed we made tracks straight for the coast and the resort of Rota there’s a free aire here with all services and right next to a rugged beach (GPS 36.63726-6.39198). With Boris parked up and the sun shining after a quick chat with our new neighbours from Belgium we headed off for a walk through the dunes to the beach. Just seeing and hearing the ocean on a bright sunny afternoon does something to lift your spirits, so with beaming smiles we walked and talked hand in hand and once again considered how lucky and fortunate we are to be on this incredible journey.
The beach near the aire at Rota
We eventually about turned and made our way onto a track that took us back through the dunes. Further along though we came across a guy scanning the area like he was on the lookout for someone. Thinking nothing of it we continued our amble a little further, hearing some voices we glanced around spotting this time a couple of guys (without clothes) barely concealed by the dunes and trees. With a couple more lone figures further along the route we can only presume it was some kind of meeting place for men – needless to say we may not take the same route next time! (No piccies of this!!!)
After enjoying an evening meal of aubergines stuffed with homemade garlic and tomato sauce and feta, we got out the games for another challenge, this time opting to try our newly purchased game of trianimoes. Maybe it’ll grow on us but both of us are not initially as keen on it as rummy cup.
After dinner entertainment – Getting to grips with trianimoes
With the weather forecast predicting rain the following afternoon we were up early and took advantage of the dry morning conditions to hop on our bikes and take a look at Rota centre. Before doing so though we had to search out some other motorhomers that were also parked here. A German couple Carlheinz and Bridget had been here last year at the same time as friends we’d met on our trip Julia and Ian so we made sure we said hi, unfortunately they were leaving for Portugal this morning so we wouldn’t have the chance to get properly acquainted, you’ve got to love how connected this little world of motorhomes is.
Rota is a sizeable town with a beautiful promenade along the sea front. The wide golden beach stretches the full length of the town and on this somewhat chilly December morning was deserted other than the odd dog walker. After a ride around the perimeter we locked up the bikes and wondered the streets of the old town stopping to have a coffee in a traditional Spanish bar. This is one of the things the Spanish do really well and it’s also surprisingly cheap (just a Euro a cup) it’s amazing that brands like starbucks survive here! With the sky darkening though we didn’t hang around too long and it turned out it was a good decision as we just made it back to Boris in time before the heavens opened. Although the rain does always sound much worse inside Boris it certainly let rip and hammered it down for the rest of the day and night. With the afternoon and evening stretching ahead of us we decided to bling up Boris ready for Christmas so out came the lights and our miniature Christmas tree. At least we can start to get in the mood even if it does feel like a very different Christmas this year.
Getting ready for Christmas on a wet afternoon
We also needed to decide on where we are going to be for the festivities so with books etc in hand we made plans to head for a campsite near to Zahora further down the coast from Cadiz. We knew we needed to be stationary for a few days so that we could receive a part that needs replacing to sort out the electrics on Boris and this would give us an address to get stuff sent to as well being able to access wifi for those all-important skype and facetime calls on Christmas day.
Now that we knew we hadn’t got too far to travel for our Christmas destination we decided to stay put at Rota for a few days. This would have been unheard of on our 1st trip out this year when 4 days in one place was about the most we did the whole trip. This time though we have both agreed that we maybe need to slow down and relax into it a little more rather than constantly being on the move. So with time on our side we spent our next few days were cycling or walking around the area whilst dodging the odd shower.
After 4 nights though we were ready to move on and so we went 20 kms down the coast to El Peurto De Santa Maria a typically Spanish town just across the bay from Cadiz. The first parking area we drove to felt a little isolated so we opted to pay 6 euros a night for secure parking. Although just a large car park with no services there were a couple of other motorhomes there and 24 hour security (GPS 36.598453-6.22157). The location is just a short walk across the river to the town and about 300m from the catamaran which runs every 30 mins to Cadiz. As it was a Saturday the town was busy with locals as we wandered the street taking in the atmosphere and the sights. It appeared the town was well and truly ready for Christmas as all the streets were decked out in lights. After a walk to the magnificent castle and around the local produce market the sun had made an appearance, so we found a nice sunny spot and enjoyed a couple of beers and some tapas in the December sunshine. Our timing was perfect as the tiny bar was soon packed out with Spanish families doing the same thing. After a few hours back at Boris we decided to head back into town to see the Christmas lights in all their glory now dark had fallen and after a little snack of cheese and biscuits and the intention to eat dinner on our return off we went. It just so happened the Spanish were well and truly getting into the Christmas spirit and a local bar owner had a live band playing Christmas songs (in Spanish but we recognised the tunes) and a large fire in the centre of the square outside his bar (you’d never get away with having a fire like that in the UK with all those people around, but the laid back attitude of the Spanish means that they take no notice of health and safety and just enjoy the moment). We grabbed a glass of wine and joined in and actually started to feel a little Christmassy for the 1st time. We have both remarked on several occasions how friendly the Spanish are in this area and tonight just cemented that opinion. As we sipped our wine the bar owner came over and offered us some free tapas from his bar a lovely bowl of mixed beans and Spanish meats and sausage with bread to dunk. With a little more food in our bellies we took the opportunity to ask him about a drink that we’d seen a lot of people with. It appears from what we could make out it was a kind of fortified wine -not too dissimilar to sweet sherry in taste – of course we sampled one each and although it wouldn’t have been our drink of choice we sunk it anyway. After the music finished we carried on around the corner in search of some more live music, we didn’t find any but did find an Irish bar and Paul fancied a Guinness so we sat outside enjoying a drink and the atmosphere of the place, the streets were packed with locals out to enjoy their weekend. We were soon to be surrounded by a group of Spanish who spoke very little English and with us having virtually no understanding of Spanish communication was difficult but they were determined that we should accompany them to another bar. Not wanting to be rude we went along with them to yet another bar with yet another live band. This place likes to party, eventually leaving them there and making our escape about midnight.
Enjoying El Peurto with the locals
The next day with a slightly thick head after bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast (we’ve been saving the bacon until now), we decided on a long walk along the beach to blow away the cobwebs from the previous night. A 5 mile stroll didn’t cure me but it did at least take my mind of it for a while!
A night in chilling should see us back to normal to head off to Cadiz tomorrow.
Until next time Andi and Paul xxx