Day 1313 – Bonterra Park – 5 Oct 13
For piccies see www.eastmidlandsdea.co.ukPrimarily 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.
One really amazing thing I noticed regarding the rain. It poured down whilst we were in Oberammergau for over 24 hours. But it must have been pure Alpine water falling, as when we got to Lake Garda, the 'van was sparkling. None of that dirty rain sludge you get in England or Spain. There were no black rubber streaks and the windows are the cleanest they’ve ever been. What pollution we must have in the UK and that red dust in Spain is even worse. Clearly, in this case, every cloud really does have a silver lining.
The Clarets won…again and again and again and again and again…..and are now top of the league and have W Ham in last 16 of the League Cup. Has a feel of 1973 when we and QPR went up. Here’s hoping.
Walked into Maderno last night (21st) and met Sue Mac. Spent a great evening over a pizza and prosecco. She is on a tour of Venice and The Lakes with Titan and goes to Verona on Monday. She and Carole have made arrangements for Sue to visit Cabo in January and also to organise a get together with Jan next summer. Great to see her.
Last day at Camping Promontorio was spent packing up and getting the blog pictures uploaded. All completed successfully, but folks in the UK may not really understand how irksome access to the internet in Italy really is!
It's been an enjoyable 9 days, but we’ll go to a new site next time just to be somewhere different. However, I’d recommend Promontario.
Got up and on the road by 0830 (23rd) and had a really easy trip south to Camping Delfino, on the Italian Riviera, about 50 miles west of Genoa. The autostrada was basically traffic free and the 5 hour journey zipped by – even Shirl did a 2 hour stint! (tolls, €26 for 300km)
Now, it must be something about the Ligurian coast because we've stayed here thrice and thrice experienced 3rd world sites. Wijnstock and Miraflores in 2010 were appalling and remain the worst sites we’ve been on (158 now). Delfino is not much better. It was closed for a 3 hour lunch when we arrived and the access road was so steep we scraped the tow bar. They advertise bike hire, but when Shirl enquired, the receptionist almost had a thrombo! Then, they demanded BOTH our passports even though the ACSI book states they accept the ACSI ID card (no other ACSI site has done this). It closes on Saturday for the winter and the staff are on RDP – Run Down Period! Shirl asked the really helpful and friendly receptionist (not) which showers were open and after giving the brief, he neglected to tell her it needed a 50c coin. She was running to and fro for 20 minutes trying to get a coin and then her shower flooded. Don’t even ask about the toilets – 3rd world squatters everywhere but only one bowl and no paper! The swimming pool advertised is at a hotel 300yds away and it's PAYG – much like the fitness room. It advertises that it's on the beach – but it's a 300yd walk. There is a Wi-Fi Zone but it's €5 for 3 hours! Then there is the noisy train line only metres from the pitches and at 1900 precisely – the bl**dy dogs started howling – all through the night. Add to that 3 amp leccy and intrusive noise from the road outside, and it's just about perfect! These people are just taking the mickey. It doesn’t have to be this shabby – we know because we've experienced much, much better.
The other major question to be answered: When is Italy going to move out of the 50’s regarding shower blocks and toilet facilities? The camping experience is spoiled by the 3rd rate facilities just about everywhere. It's a beautiful country with so much to offer but it refuses to catch up – and the further south you go – the worse it gets. We used to laugh about it in the early days, but since we’ve experienced other countries, quite frankly, Italy is trailing far behind in this respect. ACSI is far too generous in its appraisals of the facilities – but why am I surprised if they are being paid to advertise in their book. Our advice: choose your campsite carefully and take second opinions from the CC or C & CC or from the personal experiences of acquaintances.
By complete contrast, we drove along the coast into France and Camping Prairies de la Mer, near Port Grimaud. Excellent welcome, waiting area and site. It's very busy and we can see why. Great facilities and only a 2 minute walk to a fab beach. Lovely wooded area for our large pitch, with shop, boulangerie, washerama, restaurants and wifi all on site. The town is only a 5 minute walk and a bus for St Tropez or Frejus stops outside. We cycled into the Port last night for dinner with Penny and Gordon (of cruising fame last year). We’ll stay till Saturday and enjoy the ambience.
Walked along the beach and chilled while Carole went for coffee with Penny. Skype was good for a change. Those wedding plans will all come together….
Market today and a big wash in machines that are not from the 60’s. Boat to St Tropez tomorrow and then to Avignon on Saturday to beat the thunderstorms which are predicted for Sunday. Tarragona via Narbonne by Monday and Benicassim by Friday. Looking good.
St Tropez was worth a visit, with a short boat ride from P Grimaud (€11.50 rtn). It's a touristy little place but you don’t feel as if you are being ripped off – although the likes of Chanel and Gucci wouldn't even let us in the door! We ate some Tarte Tropezienne – don’t ask – and walked round the Old Town. Pleasant. There’s a big sailing event on this weekend – Voiles de Tropez – and some big yachts were in.
A last meal of moules/frites in the Disney-esque P Grimaud and off early to Avignon. We tried Lidl on the way but clearly St Tropeziennes don’t get up that early as it was closed at 0830. The trip to Avignon was fine except for an electrical issue, (see below) and we pitched up by 1200. Straight into town and onto the famous bridge where your mother insisted on singing and dancing to the famous refrain. – Sur la Pont D’Avignon. She wasn’t the only one!
Avignon is a hidden gem with a magnificent walled old town, palace and cathedral. Should not be missed by anyone down this way. The campsite, Bagatelle, is only 5 mins from town. We’re expecting rain tomorrow so we shall just whizz off to Narbonne and sit it out until Monday when the sun reappears. Shirl is currently sitting on the river bank sketching the bridge.
Electrics: another problem en-route Avignon. Although the engine power issue has not re-occurred yet, we started getting weird lighting issues. The hazards came on when I indicated and only half the rear lights were working and the brake lites failed. Then I remembered: when we left bl**dy Delfino and hit the bump which dented the stabiliser arm, the cables which feed the lights to the trailer were completely severed. So I had just scrunched them up and taped them to the bumper. BIG MISTAKE. All the wires started interacting and we blew 2 fuses and had all the symptoms described above. DOH! So I taped up the live ends properly, replaced the fuses and all is now well. Another lesson learned!
And yet another! Don’t stay on an allocated pitch that is mud based when you KNOW it's going to rain – even if it's bone dry and rock hard. We did at Avignon and woke up to heavy rain which turned the pitch into a quagmire very quickly. Of course, all the French vans had been given level, stone based pitches whilst the Brits were up to their ankles in clay!
However, this did not spoil a nice day in Avignon and we got away by 0845 as the rain looked locked in. Within an hour the sun came out on the A9 and we arrived in Narbonne to a lovely sunny day. The pitches all have a private shower, toilet and water supply. If it wasn’t for the giant ants it would be perfect. Shirl has cleaned all the mud we gathered at Avignon and gone for a swim. We heard from P and J in Corsica that the site they are on is Naturist..with nowhere else to go. Oo-er!
The weather for the next fortnight looks set fair – so we can't complain – and Bonterra Park will be great.:thumb:
Had a SEVERE attack of gout during the night – no sleep for either of us – so the trip today was touch and go. However, I'm drugged up to the eyeballs and Shirl drove 40% of the trip to Torre del Sol near Tarragona. I'm on a gout free diet now till we get to Cabo!
ACSI Torre del Sol is basically a huge holiday complex with loads of facilities – pools, bars, beach, restaurants, great facilities and recreation – and a supermarket! Phew, we were running out of grub! Only one word of warning, there is a 3.1m height restriction on entrance and it's very narrow. ACSI neglected to mention this! Our old top-box would have snookered us.
It's a very good campsite and fantastic value for money and well worth a re-visit. Beware holiday periods as it can be loud from the teenagers enjoying themselves, but the secret is choice of pitch.
We set off to Bonterra Park at Benicassim on empty toll roads and found the campsite all but full. Friends already in place said it was empty a month ago, but in the last week had just exploded. We got a half-decent pitch but it's a bit of a trek to the facilities and with my gout it's an issue. However, we are glad to be back and have renewed old acquaintances with Maggie/John, Finbar/Susan, Vic, Ted and Ian/Ann and I'm sure there are many more hiding from us!
Well, today is the first real shop in 5 weeks and 15 campsites since we set off in late August. Hopefully, this bad bout of gout will ease and we can get down to enjoying the good company.
All for now,
M and D
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