Second night done at the campsite, we’ve got 300 miles to Malaga Airport for V on Saturday. In this van, that’s at least 6 hours driving. Gotta move on.
I went to pay. When we parked up, I’d asked M about the prices, he wasn’t sure, the manager had been a bit vague. There was an allusion to €7 a night, so we weren’t expecting it to cost too much.
If you rocked up to a Premier Inn, in the middle of gorgeous nowhere, for a room-only rate with amazing mountainous views, a reasonable restaurant and shared but beautifully clean bathroom facilities and they said, €18 a night for a double room, you’d probably shrug shoulders and get your wallet out.
Say to a camper-vanner who wild camps for Nada Euros, in perfect privacy (albeit without the luxury of a ceramic loo) that they have to pay THIRTY SIX EUROS for two nights stay and you’ll see the tears in their eyes as they try to stop coughing in distress.
That’s probably why the manager didn’t tell us the price (which, let’s face it, is peanuts) – he’ll have known that all but most dependent of caravans would probably have driven on. And we benefitted from the electric hook up, M got the batteries sorted (yes, sorted!) and the fridge got a steady 110 volts for a change. I got three hot showers where I didn’t have to dry out the shower curtains or the shower tray before we trundled off… don’t be so tight…
The AP7 took us from Sierra Espuna, to Murcia, and cross-country to Granada. We wound our way through four different Sierra regions, the van chugging like a lazy salmon, swimming upstream in a wide dark river.
Rounding the foothills, a sky-high bowl of rock peaks looms to our left, seemingly marshalling the storms, like a food-processor on a slow whisk, turning white, black, purple nebula over and over on themselves until they doubled in volume. Like milk in a saucepan that unexpectedly reaches boiling point, the clouds suddenly frothed over the mountain edges, tumbling down steep edges, deluging everything in their path. Including us. Suddenly we were in a waterfall of precipitation, deep cloud, grey obscurity. Windscreen wipers ineffectual at clearance, we slowly crawled our way through the inclemency.
I peered into the distance; sharp spikes of sunlight punctured the cloud to let the rainwater through. Otherwise, the world was now dullness, obscured magnificence around us, cowering us to the tarmac. Like a dogged snail we travelled, leaving tyre-track trails behind us in the rain.
Eventually, we descended to Granada. It might have been magnificent, we were just glad to discern the 20 feet in front. M tussled the van through grumpy rush hour drivers to a Park4Night spot on a hill. Supposedly, this was above the Alhambra. There was no way of knowing.
It rained all afternoon, all-evening, when I stirred in the night, I heard the rain. So this morning… yup.
Stan whimpers and it takes me 20 minutes to unearth waterproofs, boots, warm clothes. Finally ready, I open the door and step out, expecting Stan to do his normal of shooting past me into the outdoors.
Have you ever seen a Labrador wearing a look of utter horror? He looked at me, glanced at the rain, then tried to lie back down in a tightly curled ball in the corner of his bed. He hid his head, like Winnie the Pooh, if he couldn’t see me… The coward was miserably resisting leaving the comfort of his warm and snuggly pit.
“Tough do-dah, Stan, I’m dressed now, you are definitely coming”
After very firm ‘persuasion’, dog and human stride through the drizzle. We’re beside the city walls, 4 feet thick of stone in broken places. Exploring through brick-built archway and in the distance, nestled in the valley, is the up-lit Alhambra. Magnificent, enormous, enticing.
We all have bucket lists, and The Alhambra has long been on mine.
I’m like an excited child by the time we’re at the 2pm slot for the palace. It doesn’t disappoint. Here is a world created by older, wiser civilisations: Moors, Muslims. The city is festooned with water hydraulics, fountains, pools, gushing gullies to rival the Romans’ work, on whose remains the Alhambra rests. This magnificent city laces its way through more than twenty centuries of European history. I walk open mouthed, ear hooked into the €6 audio book that tells me of it’s past.
I won’t wax lyrical, save to say that if you have chance to visit these gardens and palaces, gawping to the sound of bubbling waterways and lark-shy birdsong, then go. It is worth it.
We’re now at the second site for the evening. The first, was a gloomy and glowering sea-side spot. It boasted public loos, apparently now employed for much more than their original intent. I don’t know what you use a teaspoon for, but I tend to stir my hot drinks with mine. I’m not often seen boiling up substances in one, like the poor scrap of a human being, down by the underpass was doing tonight.
Our second place sacrifices WCs for a tranquility. It’s a flattish car park, largely populated with other campers, considerably more peaceful. We’ll rest here before wandering over to get V tomorrow. As I finish this latest epistle, the wind has picked up again and I can hear the familiar sound of rain battering the side of the van. Hey-ho – It is still winter.