RV Roadtrip From Gibraltar to Peniscola
After Gibraltar we needed to put some miles behind us so rather than taking a winding road up the coast we opted for the toll roads and freeways. I was a little disappointed to not drop into the resort town of Marbella as some of the vlogs I’ve seen from there make it look amazing. Maybe next time!
Our first goal for this leg of the trip was a small campsite north of Granada. With the long driving days, it was really nice to stop at this spot, just a few km from the highway and no town to navigate through. We were also pleasantly surprised to have some amazing views of the Sierra Nevada range capped with snow. The whole site was peaceful and quiet, it would have been nice to spend a few more days there. We also would have loved to have gone into Granada as it’s supposed to be amazing, but the bus from the campsite didn’t run on Sundays and we doubted they would have welcomed Sebastian on board anyways.
Alas, that was not to be. Next destination, Alicante. Here I nearly tossed our plans aside as we encountered a catering van travelling the highway promoting Gastronomia Mexicana! I was willing to follow them to their destination in the hope of finding a good burrito! Of all the things to miss, Mexican food and burritos are the thing I miss the most. We’ve been generally lucky in finding corn shells and taco seasoning and have Taco Tuesday when we can but that’s a pale shadow to the real thing. Real corn tortillas have been impossible to find and black beans are a unicorn. A motto that we had in Saudi for shopping has carried over for this adventure; “Catch as catch can.”. And so we stock up when we get the chance, which, heading further to the east may prove a bit more challenging.
In the traffic I lost sight of the light blue Corazon de Agave catering bus and the burrito detour was averted. We pressed on to a camping site near Alicante. This was a tough bit of maneuvering. It seems all the people tent camping and bungalow camping decided to park on both sides of the street. Slowly, but with great enthusiasm! Getting in to the pitch was even more of a challenge. This campground was a nightmare, so narrow and all the large spots were taken by other big camping cars. We got lucky and snagged a relatively easy spot only after the other campers left in a huff, disgusted at the camping options.
A very difficult passage, inches only on either side. After our stay, the glorious GPS sent us down some pretty narrow streets, at one point Shani was sure we were doomed but a twelve point turn later and some furrowed brows from a local dude and we were on our way. We had a bit more of maneuvering to do and a stop at the local Lidl, all with their complications, but soon enough we were back on the road.
The real prize for this part of the trip was the village of Peniscola and it was a real surprise for us. Here there was a bit more navigation of the village involved but it wasn’t too bad. We may have had to turn around a time or two but our GPS, Google and the Navigatrix got us there. The final stretch was along the water which was beautiful even if the road was a bit skinny. The camping village is just a few hundred feet from the ocean, and while we didn’t have a view the location is still hard to beat.
The beach at Peniscola was awesome, as good as anywhere we’ve been. There were a couple of kids with surfboards but there weren’t any waves while we were there. The sun was shining and the weather was warm but the water was not. As it was the off season quite a few of the restaurants and bars were closed but we found a few open and popped in for a sundowner and a snack at a small bar with an outside patio. Sebastian was a trooper and got into the shoulder bag and had a little nap while we enjoyed our drinks.
The next day we set off to explore the fort on the peninsula. I have to say, it was amazing! We (or I at least) hadn’t researched this at all and were pleasantly surprised to find a medieval village full of shops and restaurants and bars. Our big mistake was setting out after noon, and as a result most things were closing down for siesta. We missed the opportunity of drinks and a spectacular view and instead just had the spectacular view. As we wound our way up the streets of old cobblestone, we were continually impressed with the little village and the views it afforded us. An unexpected little gem, well worth the visit.
Apparently, this fortress had been a refuge for the Pope back in the day and there was a secret entrance on the ocean side that would only be accessible via boat. I’m not sure if the Pope’s Landing was ever actually used or if that story is even true but it wouldn’t be that surprising given all the shenanigans they used to get up to. We’ve seen quite a few cathedrals and basilicas that had a Pope only entrance so it’s not out of the question.
One thing to note, Sebastian was not allowed in the garden terrace of the fortress complex. It was rather expensive too, so we opted to not have a look, though what we could see from the outside did look quite lovely.
Peniscola was a pretty amazing spot and we would (will) return. However, our experience is in the off season. I imagine that it is quite a different scene in the middle of the summer and I can only imagine the chaos! As it was, the camping was still relatively full of pensioners from Northern Europe soaking up the sun.
One of the things we had read about and hoped to do in France was stopping in a local farm and filling our bottles from the barrel. While we looked and never saw the opportunity we were still quite keen to try. We saw the signs sometimes in Spain but the roadside vendors were M.I.A. in the off season. There were ‘local’ wines to be purchased in the gas stations but we never pulled the trigger on barrel wine in a plastic jug. That all changed in Peniscola. There was a small market next to the camping and the lady assured me that the jug wine was muy bien! It was also stupidly cheap and even though I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t go blind after drinking it I brought a 3 liter jug back to the camping car.
It was actually muy bien! I didn’t go blind and quite enjoyed it. We picked up another 3 liter jug for the road ahead. And that was Peniscola, a very enjoyable stop on our trip back through Spain from Gibraltar. Stay tuned as we cross back into France, go to Aix En Provence, visit Cannes and take Sebastian to Monaco for his birthday.