23rd March 2014
Where did they go ? As after a restless night following the big mac, we headed to Almeria for no particular reason.
Malc & Christine decided to alter their original plan and come with us as we were having so much fun and alcohol was now back in centre stage. We went to Roqueta del Mar, which was a lovely resort and super campsite close to beach with cycle paths in both directions along the coast which we all explored together. M& C only stayed 3 days as they had a ferry to catch, K&J stayed till Saturday then left to meet friends at Alcossebre and we stayed 6 nights till Monday.
Stayed near Cartagena one night then to Valencia to visit Terry & Jackie who live behind us at Martlesham, have a villa in the hills and have always told us to stop off and see them.
They were home at Christmas and knowing we would be heading up the west coast this trip after Morocco rather than our usual route through Portugal ...( you're right..... no port this year)....we made tentative arrangements to call in.
Fortunately, the timing was perfect as this was the week of the Fallas where they set fire to the town and try to lose fingers with fireworks thrown at random, with the big finale on Wednesday night......albeit at 2am.
So we arrived on Tuesday lunchtime to a magnificent valencian paella cooked on the patio which was so delicious we took some away with us when we left 4 days later.
We were driven into the city (25km) for the evening to get a flavour of what was happening........every crossroads had a giant tableau which was a real work of art, some over 40ft high, as high as the buildings only feet away, extremely complex and colourful and satirical, exotic,....spitting image meets Wallace and grommet and the muppets....festooned with fireworks and waiting to be burnt. Every 'parish' has a committee who vie to be the biggest and best and compete for prizes in numerous categories. And making a lot of noise is paramount. Fireworks are thrown around like confetti, sold openly on the street from stalls and are incredibly loud. Children everywhere were dropping thunderflashes down the drains and walking around with a wooden box of bangers over their shoulders and a slow burning fuse in their fists.
Terry worked in Spain for ford for some 20 years, is a fluent Spanish speaker and a mine of information so was the perfect person to take us on a tour, Valencia being his patch.
We spent all day Wednesday in the city, going in by train at 9.30 and not getting back till 10pm, as a million people hit the streets for the last day. We didn't stay for the bonfires, but saw a fireworks display and the parade of fire which was unbelievable......mainly because it happened on the street 2 feet away as dragons and devils danced with huge sprays of fireworks spitting flames inches from the crowds,trees,shops lining the roads without a barrier in sight or a jobsworth with a fire extinguisher....absolute magic. And the noise of the mortars made the ground shake. I can only imagine that a barrage on the Somme might have sounded like that.
We then got shown round the area outside the city and the fabulous science museum and concert hall buildings set in pools of water, through the vineyards with a visit to the local cooperative for tasting and buying........a terrific 4 days of superb hospitality........I'll gloss over the heart stopping acrobatics of getting the van into their driveway, turning it round and then getting it out again. Suffice to say damage was minimal and easily remedied........
On Sunday to Zaragoza with intention of crossing Pyrenees to Pau through Somport tunnel but weather forecast for heavy snow at Jaca so changed plan Sunday morning to Pamplona and St. Jean de luz.......... Ran into strong winds and snow after Pamplona over the mountains, hillsides covered but snow turning to rain as we dropped into france .