Since arriving in Spain nearly ten days ago we’ve had some rain………..boy have we had some rain! Whilst parked up at the aire in Sanlúcar de Barrameda the rain came and went in waves for nearly forty eight hours.
In the one extended break in the weather that we did have we had a mooch around the town, but, alas, we didn’t manage much of anything else! Sanlúcar was the departure point for Columbus’ third voyage in 1498 but it’s probably better known for its light, dry manzanilla sherry made by, amongst others, Bodegas Barbadillo.
Sherry producers are in evidence all around the town. Nik, one of my oldest friends, will be disgusted with me for not doing a tour of one of the Bodegas as sherry was one of our drinks of choice on our nights out in our younger days! (No, we weren’t normal!) Ah well, maybe we’ll do a tour if we go to Jerez de la Frontera which is the capital of sherry production and not far away!
What we’d really come to this area for, though, was to see Càdiz so after two nights in Sanlúcar we made our way further south to an aire at El Puerto de Santa Maria which is across the bay from Càdiz.
We didn’t fancy driving into Càdiz as it’s very compact and options for overnight stays were limited. The aire at El Puerto, another 24hr manned carpark similar to the aire we stayed at in Seville, is convenient for the ferry which shuttles regularly to and from Càdiz and takes about thirty minutes.
We had only intended staying two nights at the aire but another thirty six hours or so of rain had us confined to the van. Normally we don’t let the weather dictate to us but it really wasn’t worth venturing out as the rain was torrential and would have been no fun at all to be out in. We were super lucky though to be able to pick up some free wifi whilst at the aire and managed to watch the England v Wales rugby match on the laptop.
That was a bonus as I’m not sure Tim could have coped with the disappointment as he’d set his heart on seeing it! It was easy in Portugal the previous weekend as we just went to an English bar in Lagos to see it but no English bars were to be had in El Puerto.
We finally made it into Càdiz on Monday 13th February, albeit by bus as the ferry wasn’t running due to the weather. I’m not sure why that was as it was sunny and calm and looked alright to me. We got there though and it wasn’t raining which was a huge plus as we’d been beginning to get cabin fever in the van!
Càdiz, purported to be Europe’s oldest city, is set on a peninsular, and is almost completely surrounded by water.
Looking back at the old town in Cadiz.
We started our exploration by walking the waterfront and then, after some lunch, walked the myriad of narrow streets and alleys in the old town.
It really is very compact, with a slightly run down look about some of it, but all the more interesting for it.
It wasn’t as clean and well kept as Seville but had some pretty Plazas and green spaces.
A day in Càdiz was enough to see what we wanted to see and, with the sea now looking like a millpond, we were hoping to return to El Puerto by ferry but, nope, it wasn’t to be and back by bus we went.
After three nights at the aire at El Puerto, which doesn’t have any facilities, we needed to find somewhere to empty and replenish so to speak. The aire at Rota, half and hour’s drive away, fitted the bill. It’s free and a short walk from a sandy beach so was a good stop for a couple of nights.
We got out on the bikes and, whilst not exactly all picturesque, had an interesting cycle along some of the local cycle tracks around Rota and Chipiona.
It’s completely flat, which cheered Tim up no end, and a bizarre mix of farms and smallholdings haphazardly sprawling inland with holiday homes and apartments equally sprawling along the coast.
It was good to get out on the bikes though and get some oil on them after all that rain. We need to replace the bike cover we have as it has several rips in it now as the fabric is completely rotten.
Whilst at the aire at Rota we did a much needed clean of the inside of the van and a revamp of everything we have stored in the outside lockers. In the planning stages of our big trip we had discussed whether we should maybe change our van, ‘Ollie’, for a slightly bigger van with more outside locker storage. At the time, we felt that if we were living in it full time we’d need to carry more stuff than we did when on holiday. However, having been on the road for ten months now, we are feeling we are much happier when living with less!
A couple of weeks ago we sorted through our clothes and shoes and dropped a bin liner of stuff into one of those charity clothes bins. Whilst tidying the van yesterday we managed to fill another bin liner full of clothes to donate. If we haven’t worn it in ten months we just don’t need it right? There will be more to go – I’m looking at you flippers – before we get back to the UK I’m sure. So, we’re glad we stuck with ‘Ollie’ and saved our cash instead of changing him for a more alluring model!
Anyway, I’ve gone off piste and this is getting rambling. We moved on today to do a tour of the ‘Pueblo Blancos’, white towns, which dot the hills inland from the coast. We’re starting off our tour at Arcos de la Frontera and we’ll make our way round several towns probably finishing in Ronda.