Thursday 28th January
We eventually left Sanlucar on Friday the 22nd heading south and after filling up with diesel at 86.5c (64p) we found a free spot overlooking Cadiz.
This is the view out of Frankies window. The beach looks like it has just been cleaned and it is about to be cleaned again. On the horizon is Cadiz, the oldest city in the world (depending on who you listen to) and scene of a few British victories against the Spanish and French fleets. To the left is a long breakwater and to the left of that is the mouth of the river Guadalette. A mile or so to the north of us is Puerto de la Santa Maria which forms one corner of a large triangle with Sanlucar and Jerez being the other two corners. Sherry can only be made within that triangle and Puerto de la Santa Maria was the largest sherry port (ha ha!) in the world.
We had parked next to a French couple who told us about the ferry across to Cadiz and gave us the timetable, it was only a couple of minutes to the ferry terminal so off we rushed only to miss it by a couple of minutes.
Instead we walked along the breakwater, this is the view looking back. My map shows it as being 1 mile long but it seemed to be much further.
The breakwater is home to hundreds of stray cats.
Saturday morning we decided to drive into Cadiz, we had been told about a parking spot to the north of the city so it seemed like a great idea. Above is the telecommunications tower which looks pretty unique to me.
Needless to say we couldn’t find any parking areas suitable for slim Frankie. Lucy spent most of the time flinching as we got to narrow bits, low bits or just confusing which way now bits so she forgot to take many photos. Above we have the Cathedral de la Santa Cruz de Cadiz but that’s all you get!!
We are starting to get to the point where we run out of clothes and we’ve seen an aire near to Conil which has washing machines so that is our next destination. When we get there our German neighbour from Mikki’s place is parked up and she introduces us to the owner. Bad news, we can’t stay. They are closing at lunch time and won’t be back until Monday but we are advised to park on the beach at Conil and wait for the next storm to blow over.
All the beaches at Conil have restricted parking so using a little bit of cunning I headed north. The idea is to get out of the built up areas and find a parking spot and here we are looking out the front window. We think it was a fishing competition going on, I counted at least 30 men all fishing in the same spot.
This is the view out of the door. This side of the post is a flat area perfect for putting chairs out (everyone else was doing it).
We stayed here for three days in the end, it was so nice and peaceful and my German neighbour insisted that I share a few bottles of wine while he waited for the perfect waves to come in so that he could surf. He has been travelling round Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the last 20 years and has now been signed off sick from work and has to do this permanently. We had lots of surfers coming in and out of the car park getting changed outside their VW motorhomes, I don’t really know why Lucy didn’t want to move on.
Did I say peaceful? This is low tide, when it is high tide the waves break on the cliffs producing a huge amount of noise. In the distance you can see a spit of land poking out, that is Cape Trafalgar.
In the end I closed the blinds so that Lucy could concentrate on getting the van ready to move on. We had co-ordinates for a self service laundrette in Tarifa and managed to get three weeks worth of washing done in one of the large machines. Whilst waiting we visited the Dia supermarket next door (San Miguel half price!) and then whilst we were eating our lunch Lucy noticed an aire service point further up the road. The service point also had it’s own laundry and petrol station (83.9c per litre). For €3 I got a gold token which is placed in the coin slot. A flap opens for the toilet waste. Press the button and the flap closes and the water tap switches on, all very clever.
Using my find a parking spot in Spain technique we found a parking place 400 yards from the laundrette and spent the rest of the day sitting in the sun. You’re not getting any photos, it was a bit of a dump to be honest.
Next morning we headed into Tarifa, the most southerly town in Europe. To the south of the town is the Isle of Doves, it used to be a greek shrine and the furthest point in the known world. Go past here and you could fall off the edge of the world. To the right is the Atlantic Ocean and to the left is the Mediterranean Sea. Straight over the water is Africa. There are fortifications on the island and we had hoped to be able to wander round but it was all closed of to the public.
Next stop, can you guess where we are? I’ve just parked, the Police have followed me in, do I get my chairs out. These are the decisions that us busy travellers have to make 20 times a day. It turns out they were just here for a look round, they aren’t bothered about chairs at all. It costs €3 to stay the night. Officially there are no services but if you talk to the right people (and most of them here are British) they will tell you where the manhole for the toilet waste is.
I did find the waste point with some help of another motorhome and it was a sight and smell to behold. Lift the manhole and watch hundreds of very large cockroaches run in all directions. I’ve seen cockroaches before but never any as large as these.
The border crossing, it’s all pound notes the other side of the border. We showed our passports and the border guards didn’t look at them.
I’m really not sure what I was expecting from Gibraltar but it was alright. Main Street is a bit like shopping in England but there are palm trees and sunshine. Most of the shops you’ve never heard of but BHS, Evans, Next, Clarks, Early Learning Centre and Mothercare were there. There were a few “pubs” serving a selection of draught beers (Carling, Fosters, John Smiths and Tetleys), lots of jewellers…
… and off licenses. These are all litre bottles. There is no VAT in Gibraltar which is why the prices are so good. Diesel was just 59p per litre here.
Our first day was spent wandering the shops and checking out the local quality draught beer whilst watching the other visitors.
On our second visit (this morning) we had decided to take a taxi tour. It was £23 each so not something I would normally do but it was very interesting. First stop was the Pillars of Hercules viewing point. From here you could see the ships queuing up to refill with diesel (or whatever they use). To get to this point we had driven up some of the steepest hills I’ve seen.
Next stop was St Michael’s caves. Part of the cave system has been turned into a concert venue, here we are looking down the seating and the stage is in the distance.
And now looking back
The lighting was constantly changing making it all look so pretty!
Next stop was the Barbary Apes feeding station. Sir Winston Churchill had the Apes put back on the island after the Second World War saying they will only leave when the British leave.
We had been warned not to touch (they bite), not to feed (they get fat), and to leave all bags and sunglasses in the taxi (they will steal).
Nearly at the top and right in the middle is the motorhome parking area between the stadium and the sea.
Next stop were the Great Siege tunnels. Whilst the British were knocking themselves out in America Spain seized the opportunity of taking back the rock by besieging it. After four and a half years they gave up but during that time the British started building tunnels so that they could defend the side facing Spain. There are over 30 miles of hand dug tunnels all offering excellent cannon points.
We were given 20 minutes to visit the tunnels which really wasn’t long enough, there were so many information boards. In hindsight we should have told the taxi driver that we wanted to walk back from this point because we missed the Military Heritage Centre and the WW!! tunnels. I know that the admission charge for the siege tunnels was £10 each, I think it was a similar amount for the caves so if we had walked up to the top (426m high, the road trip was 9km) we could have saved £3. Far far better to take the taxi and then leave him at the tunnels.
As it was he dropped us off by the shops, by which time we were starving and off we went to get a traditional fish and chips.