October 2018

While we had a week or so to spare before our friends from Adelaide arrived, we decided to go further south. We headed for Tarifa, which is not far from Gibraltar. On the way we drove through valleys filled with wind- farms, literally hundreds of windmills as far as the eye could see.

Then as we neared Tarifa we saw beautiful multi-coloured kite- surfers. Many, many of them for probably 10kms, all swooping and leaping. It was a really pretty sight.

 

There is a reason why Tarifa is full of wind-farms and kite-surfers : wind! It’s a very breezy place! It’s also only 15km from Africa and the meeting of the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. So there’s fast ferries to Africa and lots of whale and dolphin watching tours.

Of course there’s also an interesting old town with lots of nice restaurants and shops.  Particularly because the kite-surfing means lots of young people so it’s very hip and trendy. We spent time walking along the beach and went to a terrific restaurant one night that we had been recommended to visit. Gigantic bbq ribs and very spicy pizzas.

We also took ourselves off to Algeciras, a little further south, where we will catch the ferry to Morocco in December. This is a busy, modern place and a very important port. We took the opportunity to speak to the people where you buy ferry tickets and got the low-down on taking Grubie to Morocco and even more importantly, getting her back to Europe.

After 5 lovely days in Tarifa we headed back to El Puerto de Santa Maria. We met up with our friends from Adelaide, Sue & Chris Greening in Cadiz. Much chatter about their recent travels and laughing and dining out and then a quick dash by us to the last ferry home.

Sue and Chris visited us at our campground to check out the van and the life of a vagabond. We cooked dinner for them and we sat around talking and drinking. So much so that they missed the last ferry and had to catch a taxi back to Cadiz. Oops!

 

One of the highlights of our time together was a private tour of the Caballero winery in Jerez De La Frontera. Yalumba had organized this for Chris and Sue and we were hosted on the private tour by Frederico, the Brand Manager. He had really excellent English and a wonderfully dry sense of humour, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of all things sherry and of the local region. The winery was in a series of buildings dating back to 1830. It was stunning! The way they naturally managed humidity and temperature in the barrel halls was fascinating. They used the same soil used for bullrings and wet it down when the humidity fell below a certain level. The great height of the ceilings, the spaces between the halls covered in plants and the high window openings covered in rattan blinds, all played a part. The barrel halls held thousands of barrels and some were as old as 280 years! The tasting Frederico conducted was very generous. He opened a bottle of each of their whole extensive range, talked about the varieties and then said – pour for yourselves. It was just as well we weren’t driving! Michael really liked their Lustau Manzanilla. Both the Sues loved the new addition to the range – a vermouth that was highly botanical. You could taste the rosemary, bergamot, chamomile etc and it was just delicious! Sue bought a bottle and has been enjoying it poured over ice as an aperitif. Michael bought a few bottles of sherry and has developed quite a taste for it.

Next day we picked up the Greenings in Cadiz and we all drove to Gibraltar in our camping car. Chris and Sue enjoyed the walk through the border and across the runway into Gibraltar. It really is quite unique and won’t be there much longer as they are building a road around the airport. We had time for a quick wander around the town, focusing on all things British from the letterboxes to the stores such as Debenhams etc. We managed to fit in a Guiness followed by a beef and Guiness pie in an Irish pub. We showed them where to catch the Rock Tour next day and then left them to it. They were heading to Valencia and then onto Barcelona before heading home. We stayed again at the aire in the marina, just for the wonderful views.

Mid-October saw us back in Torre del Mar, our favourite campground on the Costa del Sol. We are staying here while Michael and then Sue each separately return to Adelaide for two weeks. It’s a great safe spot and an easy ride into the town, which has all the shops, businesses and restaurants you would want. It also has pilates classes and a sauna as well as two pools. The weather has been rough some days, so the ocean is brown near the shore and not suitable for swimming.

Two Australians in Spain at an Octoberfest German beer festival on the Spanish National Holiday (like Australia Day)- how very multicultural! But it’s what we did late one afternoon in Torre Del Mar. It was a long weekend for the Spanish holiday and we rode our bikes into town to join the frivolities. It was more like a street party than a beer festival but without the drunken yobbos and the people, particularly the women, were very well-dressed. There was plenty of live music and we listened to 3 bands:  the first one was definitely the best and the last one was pretty ordinary. All three bands obviously were playing popular tunes because all the locals seemed to know the words and people of all ages were singing along and dancing.

Our friends Juergen and Claudia introduced us to a tapas bar they had found that was totally yummy as well as cheap. Four glasses of wine and 6 tapas for 11.80 Euros – we’ll be going back there again! We have also re-visited what we call the ‘potting-shed restaurant’ that is just down the beach. The lady prepares the most amazing meals from her little shed and charcoal grill.

On Saturday October 13 we were told to expect Tropical Storm Leslie at some time during the night or early the next day, with wind gusts of up to 52kph. We dutifully took in our awning and put away outdoor furniture etc. Then nothing much happened, so everyone in the campground got it all out again. Wham! The wind came out of nowhere and was more a brief mini-tornado than a gust, as it seemed to be coming from all directions. And the rain was torrential! Fortunately we didn’t sustain any damage but many people did, losing awnings, satellite dishes and one person having a flying plastic cutting board embedded in the side of their van. Sue was huddled in the back of the glass-walled laundry at the time and got a scary view of the whole event, with palm trees bent by the wind and debris flying everywhere. Michael was busy at home calming Grubie and hanging onto our awning. It’s amazing how quickly the damage was recovered. The sun shone, the water dried away and the campground staff cleaned up all the fallen vegetation. By late afternoon it was back to siestas in the sun!

We spent a few days with Jeurgen and Claudia planning our trip to Morocco. We also met some new German friends, Inge and Harold, who took their camping car to Morocco a few months ago. They were a wealth of information!

Michael had his birthday while we were in Torre Del Mar. He celebrated with  morning drinks and a present of some lovely St Emilion red wine from Juergen and Claudia. For lunch we rode along the beach to the next town of Caleta and had lunch in the marina – lovely seafood and local specialties such as oxtail stew and roasted ham knuckles, washed down with some good red wine.

The weather has been quite changeable while we’ve been here. Some sunshine, but also some periods of heavy rain and gusty wind. On Michael’s birthday we sat in the sun for lunch then rode through a gale going home!

Michael and Sue are both looking forward to their trips back to Adelaide to see family and friends.