Moving down the coast, we stayed in an Aire right in the centre of Pineda de Mar which translates to ‘Pines by the sea’. This town had an incredible long, flat beach with not a cliff top to be seen.
The town also had some beautiful old town houses and it felt very much like a Spanish resort for the Spaniards.
This place seemed deserted but we found a good cycle path right by the ocean and decided to cycle to the next town. Exploring the area on our bikes we soon found what looked like an empty campsite however, on cycling through we discovered where all the winter campers were hanging out. There must have been 50 or MH’s of all shapes and sizes and all nationalities. We stopped to chat to an English couple who had been there since December and we were soon joined by a guy on a mobility scooter, also English……I was trying to imagine our van amongst this tribe and although there was a space on the front row right on the beach, we couldn’t bring ourselves to part of this mass winter migration.
We cycled off home and Carlos’s cooked one of my favourite meals…..sausage & dauphinoise potatoes!
Tossa de Mar, a beautiful memory from my childhood of my first holiday abroad with my parents and my sister Rebecca. I was 6, she was nearly 4. We still have some old photos taken in Tossa, one in particular is of me and my sister sitting on a wall in the old medieval town of Tossa which sits high above the beach and the new town below. We managed to replicate this image years later when my sister and I took our children to re-visit our childhood holiday. Barlie was 16, Izzy 13, Natalie, 10 and Sam 7 and we were camping in a nearby campsite called Cala Llevado which was a fantastic site with it’s own beach. Another great holiday. Unfortunately, the site was closed in February so we were unable to stay here. So yet again, for a third time, I find myself sitting on the same piece of wall contemplating all the holidays of my lifetime.
My memory of our accommodation is a fuzzy image of a small hotel reached by a steep road. I remember the waiters wore black with long white aprons and I do remember they were very friendly. One sat me on the side of a deep well filled with water which when my mum found me nearly gave her a heart attack! I tried to find our hotel on this trip and I think I did but even if it’s the the one! It’s very close…..
Tossa has still managed to remain a small seaside town unlike it’s infamous neighbour, LLoret de Mar which should be avoided at all costs!
We were able to park the van on a nearby piece of land within walking distance of the town which was flat…..and important factor as this part of Spain is very hilly and most of the seaside resorts are down extremely steep roads. This we discovered the day before when Carlos found a parking spot in Canyelles…..the road down into the village was not for the faint hearted!
Tossa became famous in the 50’s when they used the town as a location for a film with Ava Gardener in it called ‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ also starring James Mason. The town have even erected a bronze statue of her! We watched the film which was very cleverly edited but you can clearly see the beach which really hasn’t changed at all. Tossa has retained it’s charm and managed to avoid masses of high rise hotels and you still get the feel of a small time fishing village. The Costa Brava is a beautiful part of Spain and leaving Tossa, we took the coastal road, a very windy, steep road which hugs the mountains on one side whilst providing breath taking views of the ocean on the other. Once again, not for the faint hearted! Our next destination, Pineda de Mar a province of Barcelona.
Girona, a city I have wanted to visit for a long time and finally, here we are! The Aire is located in the centre of the city and not only was it difficult to find even with our sat nav, it was also difficult to negotiate the narrow streets. On arrival, we were somewhat dwarfed by towering flats on all sides!
We decided to stay 2 nights at a cost of €26, which considering we have been camping free, felt like a lot of money!
The weather was not on our side as it was freezing but the old medieval city did not disappoint and once again we found ourselves amongst cobbled streets staring down through the eyes of history. This city was also used in the Game of Thrones and it was not hard to understand why.
We visited the Cathedral which was enormous and boasts the widest Gothic nave in the world, with a width of 22 metres. Inside were many impressive artefacts. The location was once again used for the Game of Thrones!
Whilst in Girona, we decided to treat ourselves to an evening out, a tapas bar in town recommended by the Aire. However, it wasn’t the best tapas I’ve eaten but certainly not the worst either! It is a great way to sample local dishes and there was certainly a huge choice, it was hard to know what to choose. The wine was good €8 for 4 large glasses of red. Not bad.
When considering our next destination, we try to find Aires which are free, have facilities and are within a place of interest. Sometimes we are lucky and our next port of call did not disappoint. Besalu really was breathtaking. A medieval town entered by crossing the Veijo bridge built around the 11th century, which has a magnificent toll gate in the middle. It really does look like a film set from the Game of Thrones.
Walking through the city gate through tiny cobbled streets, you can’t help but wonder about our ancestors and how they lived hundred of years ago. It must have been a wealthy town as it has a large Jewish quarter and many fine houses.
Besalu was the capital of this region before Barcelona and it’s steeped in history. We stayed 3 nights in this beautiful town and I was sad to leave.
The road from Le Boulou was very windy and began through green pine trees gaining height all the time towards the snow-line. Carlos was driving and I was enjoying the beautiful views of the snow capped mountains in the distance. The road I have since learnt, is classified as potentially dangerous, as some sections are more than 11% steep. However, todays driving conditions were good and there was not much traffic on the road. On reaching the summit of Col d’Ares at 1513m, we found a place to park for lunch and admire the view which is the photo at the top of the post.
Our next stop was a free Aire at Sant Joan de les Abadesses which we nicknamed, St Joan the Badass! Another deserted town with no-one around and it was freezing. The only building of interest was an extremely steep an angled bridge. One night was enough.