Wednesday 28th January
Did you guess why we were aiming for Olvera?
Olvera is the nearest town to Pruna where Mick and Jennie, two of our oldest friends, (we’ve known them a long time, not just that Mick is older than me) have their Spanish home. Unsurprisingly we are sat outside a bar chucking back €1 drinks (with tapas).
Mick and Jennie came to visit us in the aire at Olvera (number 124 in the Spain Aires book) which is about 4 miles from Pruna, for an evening planning session which if you know Mick quickly degenerated into a drunken binge. Mick was showing me the delights of €1.25 a bottle red wine and I was showing him my 59c a litre plonk but obviously it wasn’t the red wine that did Mick in, it was the bottle of brandy that we drank, this one being an Aldi special reduced to €3 a bottle and all the way from Greece. I might go back and buy some more, Lucy says it is lovely in hot chocolate and she is now drinking four of them a day!
The aire at Olvera is built next door to Olvera train station and you can just see Olvera Castle and church on the hill on the left.
Here’s a better view from the aire. The train line was built, all the tunnels dug and viaducts built over a distance of over 35km but at some point it was abandoned and the track was never laid. It has been since turned into the Via Verde, an absolutely fantastic cycling / walking path. Unfortunately my camera ran out of charge and I could only take photos on my phone, but can I get them into the computer? Lucy and I did try and cycle along the path but it wasn’t easy going. Train lines are meant to be level and flat but it looks like one of the mountain road gangs got hold of a few bottles of Aldi brandy and planned a route that was more up and down and squiggly than some of the roads we’ve been on.
This is the view in the other direction from the aire. Mick did tell me that his house was on the top of the hill but I’m not so sure! The hills/mountains are the remains of volcanoes from the triassic period and they are all around, you can’t look in any direction without seeing a mountain. The aire was nice, as I said the views were nice but the taps were missing off the water points and the grey water point was blocked. Still, we did have three nights of free electricity.
This is the view from the bar we were in earlier towards Mick & Jennies house, you can’t actually see their house but it is along the back road with just grass and cactus plants behind them.
And this is the view from their terrace. Jennie let Lucy use the washing machine and after visiting the local market and bars we sat on the terrace (out of the breeze) while the temperature got up to 28ºC. The next day the temperature got up to 40ºC
A typical street in Pruna, most of the buildings are white, the roads are steep and narrow and many front doors are open showing lovely tiled hallways. All good things come to an end and after having a typical Spanish restaurant meal on Saturday night we moved on.
Lucy managed to get a nice shot of Olvera as we were leaving, this is from the other side to the aire. We were aiming for an aire at La Bosque (aire number 123) because it was towards the coast, it had water and waste point and it was along one more of the roads in our Drive around Andalucia book.
It started off fairly uneventfully, there was another small village with tiny roads but we coped and found the peaceful village of Zahara just across from the resevoir.
And then Stella started showing us a silly squiggly line (apologies about the photo but I wasn’t about to stop to switch the flash off).
Here the road bends to the right then across behind the tree to the far left then across to the far right again and then back to the far left. This was getting serious, the roads aren’t very wide and there is always a ditch to one side. I think that once the railway guys had finished their drunken railway they were looking for a new project.
Eventually we got to the top and stopped to let Frankie cool down and for some blood to get back into my knuckles.
Yes mum, I am eating, I’m looking pretty good if I do say so myself.
Griffon Vultures were circling overhead catching the thermals.
Here are two of the birds, we could see 15 of them at one time but they were spread all over the sky and not getting too close to us.
Obviously once we get up to the top of a mountain we have to go down and that is when it all went Pete Tong. It’s Sunday, the weather is lovely and the Spanish have got nothing better to do than go out for a Sunday drive, what happened to siesta time? It was bedlam trying to get down, all the cars were bunched up with the old boy at the front of a long queue driving in the middle of the road, not willing to move over to get past Frankie, Frankie bricking it when I tried getting close to the kerb. It was awful, travel this road on a motorbike but do not use it on a Sunday when you are in a motorhome.
We got to La Bosque and spent some time calming down with lunch. The aire itself is roadside parking but to be legal you had to park in the bays which were less than 6m long and it was surrounded by houses so we decided to move on after filling with water and emptying the tanks. There was another aire 20 miles down the road at Arcos de la Frontera which was closed down when we arrived so we headed off to an aire at Sanlucar de Barrameda (aire 121 in the Spanish Aires book) which is highly recommended.
And here we are, the Rio Guadalquiver which allows ships to travel all the way to Seville is behind us over the road, footpath and cycle path. Lovely sandy beach and views of the sea to the left. We’ve reversed in because there was a breeze from the North and the sun is in the south. When we arrived there were 80 plus units but it has thinned out a little bit. The Germans and Dutch have found manholes for waste and water, not sure if they are legitimate service points, the water point is a manhole in the footpath! The Guardia has been round this afternoon telling off all the naughty people sitting out in their chairs, we saw them coming and hid the chairs inside the van. We’ve got free wifi as well, almost. You get 30 minutes at a time but the signal is weak and only the tablets seem to connect.
The town of Sanlucar is a short walk away and has all the shops and markets plus more that a man could ever need. We went to the local supermarket and knowing that this area is famous for it’s sherry were looking at some bottles. A vey helpful lady pointed us at a bottle of Manzanilla, gave us a thumbs up and since it was the cheapest bottle in the shop (nearly €3) we gave it a go.
Sanlucar is the only place in the world producing Manzanilla, attempts have been made to make it elsewhere which have failed but we’re not sure why they even tried! It’s a bit of a cross between dry sherry and wine, neither one or the other but I am willing to persevere and see if I can get a taste for it. Maybe we need to spend a little bit more on it.
I’ve not managed to get any shots of Sanlucar so this one will have to do. As you are walking along looking at the shops you’ll suddenly see a doorway with a courtyard beyond, you can’t help but to notice them and they all look lovely and cool.
Top Tip. When I last had Frankie serviced I managed to talk myself into buying a super dooper spray on cleaning fluid for the front windscreen. I was thinking of all the flies that I was going to flatten but it is dusty in Spain and I have been cleaning the dust off every time we move on. Unfortunately this stuff leaves the windscreen smeary which isn’t so great when the sun is shining and restricting the views. One morning I was taking out the empties and noticed that there was a splash of Vodka left in one of Lucy’s bottles and tried cleaning the windscreen with it and guess what? Perfect result so now I am using vodka to clean the windscreen. Yes, Karen, you read right, now you have something to use all that unloved vodka on. It might seem like a waste but the super dooper stuff was £10 per litre, vodka is €6 a litre!
Another two top tips but only if you’re not of a sensitive disposition. We’ve been chatting to a lovely Welsh couple today and we swapped sites to visit, they are travelling anticlockwise and we’re going clockwise. Apparently to make the toilet tank last longer he uses a 3 litre bottle to pee in which can be discreetly disposed of (up a Dutch van’s offside wheel for example) and all toilet paper goes into an air tight box next to the loo. Not two tips we’ll be using.