Day 1150 – Costas Del Sol / Blanca– 25 April 13

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Day 1150 – Costas Del Sol / Blanca– 25 April 13
Primarily this blog is aimed at keeping our daughter in the UK, Chloe, abreast of our adventures in Europe. Additionally, we hope that other readers will find snippets of info regarding campsites, prices and foreign travel interesting or perhaps just informative.
For piccies see

Hi Clo,

To quote Joni Mitchell – ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it's gone’.

We left Cabopino (15th) after bidding farewell to our neighbours and loading up Smartie. The 'van started OK and seemed to run quite well after 6 months being static, as we headed towards Camping Playa Laguna in Torre Del Mar. We tried to get some LPG at a garage in Malaga, but, surprise, surprise – they had run out. I really shouldn’t have been surprised!

Anyhoo, we got to Torre Del Mar and found Laguna Playa which is about 500m from the edge of town. Well, one does then realise just how GOOD Cabo is. The pool here is only open from 11-3 – when they decide to open it! No animation programme, restaurant and supermarket closed! Pitches on top of each other and campers parked higgledy-piggledy, so however you park, you are facing the door of at least one neighbour. Showers closed for cleaning at 6pm – just when you need one before going out. Free Wi-Fi though. As for the town, a long promenade with good cycle path, but many restaurants still shut and/or gone bust. We went out at 6.30 but could only find one beachside Chiringuito open and they were drumming their fingers well before we had finished.

The beach is undergoing a serious re-modelling and huge Tonka trucks are storming up and down the sand, covering all sunbathers in the horrible black, gravelly, volcanic sand.

However, to be absolutely fair, it's just another Spanish tourist town trying to get by and survive until the ‘proper tourists’ arrive in May – August. It's no Marbella – and never will be. Nevertheless, we’ve given it a go and sadly, perhaps, won't be returning. However, Laguna –Playa is part of the ‘Camping Red’ chain and if you stay for 5 nights at 5 of their campsites you get 7 nights free. Worth a look – and bring your bikes, they are needed here!

The intrepid explorers, Marc and Rosanna, continue their trip through Africa and have reached Gabon.:thumb:

Basically now just relaxing and doing a few jobs round the 'van. People don’t stay long here due to my comments above. We have changed our plan slightly and are going to El Pino at Torrox instead of Camping Nerja, which appears to be right on the A7 and way out of town.

On a slightly different tack, we heard via Paul that Mick, (Dotty’s husband) has been sent to the UK to have his tumorous kidney removed – as it was not urgent!!! Apparently, he was wheel-chaired onto the aircraft at Malaga, cringing with pain. Lessons to be noted there! Good luck, Mick.

We are also chasing the sunshine, as our weather forecaster – – is predicting some wet weather at Nerja after the weekend – so we will do touristing from Torrox for 2 days, run to Don Cactus further up the coast and then to Eco - Marjal near Alicante by Monday where the wx is nicer. And it's got a Spa.

We left Laguna Playa this morning (18th) through the construction at the entrance, and compared to El Pino it was veritably spacious. The campsite in Torrox is up a steep hill with a narrow entrance. The site gets steeper and narrower as you progress through it, and we made a really good decision to plump for a pitch near the entrance. I'm not sure whether we would have fitted onto any other pitch and the kerbs onto the pitches are vicious. However, it's only €14 and the staff are friendly, with a shop on site which is open. Although the pool is closed and it's certainly not bicycle country, the site is picturesque with avocado trees and nispera bushes (see piccies). So Smartie is going to take us to the sights of Torrox and Nerja. In retrospect, I suppose we could have stayed at Laguna Playa and travelled in Smartie from there – but you live and learn.

We went on a tour of the local area (19th) and started with Nerja. In the 19th Century, King Alphonso XII visited and declared that this was the Balcony of Europe, so tourism started with a vengeance! It's a pleasant enough place with white houses and a touristy Old Town, crowded with daily coachloads of visitors. However, just outside is a spectacular 19th century Roman style aquaduct with 37 arches. It carried water to the local sugar factory and is still able to carry water across it today. Excellent for a bridgeophile like me!

Then on to yet another ‘White Spanish Pueblo’ in the hills. Frigiliana this time and it is a twin for Mijas – minus the bull ring. We then lunched in a restaurant high in the hills overlooking a very hazy/misty Torrox Costa in the distance before visiting yet another ‘White Town’ – Torrox. No comment! Quaint, but clearly painted white just to get the German tourists up from Torrox Costa.:Doh:

Then back to camp and a quick visit into Torrox Costa to eat at about 7pm. Disappointing really, as it was deserted and we didn’t feel like sitting on our own in a restaurant. So it was back to camp once more for a ‘Friday Night Special’ at the camp restaurant – Fish ‘n Chips with a free bottle of wine.

The moral of this tale is that April is not a major tourist month in this part of Spain. I can't imagine how quiet the winter months must be. Everything is really quiet with businesses and restaurants still closed or prepping for the summer. Torrox Costa is a classic example of a purpose-designed resort aimed specifically at elderly German tourists. It is soul-less and really not worth wasting time in. On the other hand….. Marbella and Fuengirola are truly year-round resorts with so much more to offer.

We left El Pino mid-morning after manoeuvring gingerly out of our pitch. Many of these ‘off-the-beaten-track campsites’ were built in the 60’s when caravans were bijou and large motorhomes did not exist. Consequently, getting in and out of these places can be a nightmare. I could not have got out of our pitch without stout guidance from Shirl, who was running around like a wild thing trying to prevent me hitting trees, lampposts, concrete posts or slipping into deep gullies! I feel an article coming on for MMM.

A pleasant and uneventful drive of 1 hour to the next stop near Motril – Camping Don Cactus – another of the Red group. What a pleasant surprise. Easy access, friendly staff, ACSI, wide camp roads and spacious FLAT pitches with no lurking tree branches overhead. Loads of facilities and only 20 mins up the road to Salobrena Castle. The weather is cooler, breezier and cloudy but warm enough. Had a drink in the bar – not the Ritz by any means but friendly and busy. 5 wines, 3 large tapas - €8 – bargain!

It's getting quite nervy in the football. 3 games to go and only 3 points from safety. Playing Cardiff today and not looking good. Will probably end up having to beat Ipswich on the last day and rely on other results. Come on you Clarets! …and well done…a last minute equaliser against champions Cardiff. That might just save us!

Heard from Paul and Jackie (21st). He set off from Cabo towards Barcelona to meet Jackie on the 24th for the ferry to Italy. She is arriving as scheduled which is really good news, because it must mean that her mum is well on the way to recovery after her recent op. Bon voyage.

We visited the Arab Castle at Salobrena today and it was a pleasant stroll round an impressive edifice. It involved a 15 minute climb to the top of the town but was worthwhile for the views. We also spotted an Aire on the beach which may be useful in the future. Plus a family of Red Kites were flying out of the cliffs which support the castle. They got really close and it's times like these that I wish I had a better camera. Hint, Hint!

We are setting off to Eco Marjal near Alicante tomorrow (22nd) as the weather here looks wet. 3 camp sites down, 12 to go till we reach St Malo. It's lucky we've had Smartie so far as we couldn’t have got about touristing.

Up early-ish on Mon (22nd) and set sail from the pleasant Don Cactus, but now a midweek ghost-town. 5 hours and 2 short stops through uninspiring countryside we arrive at Eco Marjal. What a revelation. Only open 18 months but an out-and-out ‘Wonder World’. Wide open reception area and parking for a dozen motorhomes. A reception building bigger than some hotels I’ve been to. Polite, efficient and helpful staff. ACSI €14 per night which includes electricity, SPA, TV, water and grey water disposal on pitch. Huge pitch, level and only a minor kerb. Young trees but thoughtfully planted and in 5 years it’ll be a picture. Swimming pool, supermarket, bar, restaurant, entertainment programme, keep fit classes, Petanca, mini-golf, kiddies playpark out of the way, superbe and plentiful washing and washing-up facilities. The Spanish semi-permanents have their own area and many other permanents are spread about. It is very difficult to fault this camp site! A lot of thought and money has gone into it and they’ve got it right. They even consult and LISTEN to campers re improvements! :Eeek:

The only minor drawback is that it is in the middle of nowhere. Murcia and Alicante are 25+ kms away and Guardamar 18kms by bike. There is a train station but it's 15 mins by car. No car – you’re a bit stuck due to no buses! However, a 30 minute walk or 15 minute bike ride takes you into Catral, which has all you need.

Nevertheless, although the isolation is not a problem for some, we like to be a bit closer to civilisation and be able to get into ‘Spain’ a bit more easily. Having said that, many, many others love it here and it's not difficult to see why. Well done, Eco-Marjal.

Drove to Lidl via SatNav and when we got there – it was a Smart Car garage! Was this a supernatural message? Then we got back to camp and looked into the clear blue sky only to be confronted by this…….


Weather remains good but it is due to turn tomorrow (25th). We’ve used the Spa and had it to ourselves. Excellent facility. First REAL BBQ last night for 6 months. Yummy! Cycled into Catral and will go back tonight for the Quiz. And I found the biggest Chinese Shit Shop in Spain…..full of fantastic stuff.

Came last in the quiz – 80 questions plus tabletop! 10 pts behind winners! Never mind – it was fun and the cycle back in the dark with no lights was interesting!

Rain has arrived so we are catching up with housework.

All for now
M and D

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