Mazagon – El Rocio – Seville (87 Miles)
We were certainly ready to move on after our less than peaceful nights sleep, we never once felt unsafe, it was just that it would probably have been much quieter if we had chosen to have slept in Trafalgar Square on New Years Eve !! Our destination was now El Rocio, unless of course we discovered another ‘Wildcamping’ opportunity before we got there, something like a car park on the outside of a Monastery, ideally where the inhabitants had taken a vow of silence and didn’t much care for night fishing !!
As it happened, we didn’t find any other suitable ‘Wildcamping’ locations before we got to the campsite on the outskirts of the town of El Rocio. I cannot say that our first impressions of this supposedly ‘Wild West’ Style town lived up to expectations, okay so perhaps after watching all those ‘Cowboys & Indians’ films at the cinema as a kid, it gave me images in my head of what was going to greet us, although I have to confess at being mightily relieved that we didn’t get shot at when they saw a ‘Comanche‘ approaching their homesteads !! However, I had expected to see a few horses tied up to wooden railings outside the ‘Saloon‘, or even a wagon laden with planks of wood, a barrel of nails, sacks of grain etc. just purchased from ‘Hanks Hardware and vittles‘ store ready to take back to the ranch. What I certainly did not expect to see was a modern-day fuel service station and modern motor vehicles driving up and down the roads. But perhaps this was just the outskirts, maybe once we had checked in at the campsite we could ‘mosey’ into town, have a slug of whisky and a game of poker before finding a place to eat Ham & Eggs, I could already hear that ‘Clint Eastwood’ movie music playing in the background, my trigger finger was twitching by my side just in case ‘Billy the Kid’ called me out !!
We drove through the site entrance, the ‘Apache‘ raiding party had got there before us, bodies lay strewn in the street, pierced with arrows, some had been scalped, and what was left of individuals settlements were now just smouldering heaps of charcoal !! Well actually, it was nothing like that !! However, this did look like a poor excuse for a campsite but we would have coped, but when the Receptionist told me that it would cost €20 per night plus €4 per day for WiFi (one device only !!) we elected to keep moving, perhaps we were just getting ‘stingy’ with our money. But at least my version of what this place should look like was still in tact and firmly engrained in my imagination.
So, next stop ‘Seville‘, well to be accurate, ‘Gelves‘ a fifteen minute bus ride from Seville. We had planned to stay here for an unspecified number of days, the duration of which would be decided on how much there was to see and do in the City. The ‘Aires’ book reflected that this had secure parking, EHU, the all essential Motorhome Services, Showers, Toilets, Laundry and WiFi with a bus stop just a couple of minutes walk away. The Motorhome parking was at the Marina basin at ‘Puerta Gelves‘, I liked the instructions in the ‘Guide Book’, “……to a gated entrance. Press buzzer or walk to office or find a sailor to gain entry”, …………. Now I could imagine the look I would get walking into a Marina full of boaters saying that I was looking for a Sailor, so, ‘Shazza, a job for you me thinks………….?”
We arrived at the gated entrance, Shazza got out and pressed the buzzer but nothing happened, she was just about to go off, presumably to find a sailor, when suddenly the big electronic gate started to open. We drove around to the Marina Office, we could already see a handful of Motorhomes parked up, what looked like a very narrow piece of road, on one side, the Marina boat moorings, on the other, the river. A man with a clipboard was stood waiting when we pulled up, he was very friendly but spoke no English, he noted our registration details then pointed in the direction of the other Motorhomes. Shazza walked down the side of the already parked up vehicles, there were only about four, which surprised us a bit as we actually believed that we may have had problems finding a space, however none of the incumbents were the length of ‘Big Momma’. She gave me the thumbs up and waved me forward, indicating that I could get down past the parked vans and also turn around at the end of the line, a good job really as there was only one way in and the same route back out. Fortunately there was a ‘Big Momma’ sized space right next to one of the EHU points which also had a ‘fresh water’ tap on the side, this would do us very nicely thank you.
When we first arrived there was another ‘British’ Motorhome parked behind us. They told us that although WiFi was available they couldn’t pick it up on their iPad’s, at least not in the van and they had to virtually sit outside the Reception office. Aha ! I thought, this sounds like a good time to give the ‘Motorhome WiFi iBoost‘ another test, granted the office was no more than fifty metres away, but if the signal was that limited hopefully the ‘iBoost‘ would be able to pick it up. One thing was for certain, if the ‘iBoost‘ didn’t work this time, at this short distance, then it would be getting thrown in the river !! I had learnt a thing or two from my past ‘user error‘ mistakes when setting it up, so I remembered this time to ‘Apply the Changes‘ and………………………. Eureka ! it worked, so Shazza and I were both able to sit in the comfort of ‘Big Momma’ with our own ‘devices‘ and catch up on Emails, do our on the road ‘Admin’, download and install yet another ‘Apple’ software update on our iPads and iPhones, download photographs into my blog media library, Back-Up all our devices and make SKYPE calls. So, for now at least, the ‘iBoost‘ gets a reprieve, although I would be happier to see it work over a little bit better distance, but I do realise that this is limited by the actual strength and band width of the originating WiFi signal transmission. Blimey, I almost sounded as if I knew what I was talking about, scary or what !!
We just took it easy on our first day, we walked the short distance to the bus stop to check on the timetable, through the week the buses were every twenty minutes and ran until 11:30pm, Saturday’s every half hour and hourly on Sunday’s. We would make a day of it the following day (Saturday) and from that we would know how many more days we would need, if there were still more sights to see ? During the evening we received a SKYPE text from ‘Roy & Amanda’ (Twernt on Tour), who we had not seen since they left Albufeira over four weeks ago, they were making their way to this very spot and would arrive the following day. This was sheer coincidence as they did not know we were here !! They were only using it as a ‘night stop’ but hopefully we would get a chance to catch up with them once we had returned from our days sightseeing.
On Saturday morning we caught the 10:00am bus, €1.55 each (£1.26) for a one-way ticket, fifteen minute journey, right into the centre of ‘Seville’. We started to make our way to the main shopping area to try to find a ‘Tourist Information’ office but was stopped by someone selling the ‘Hop On, Hop off’ City Tour bus tickets. He explained where the One and a Half Hour circular tour would take us, we could get on and off as we liked, buses were every twenty minutes at various locations along the route and the best bit, the ticket was valid for 48 hours, but it didn’t have to be consecutive days. We said that we would probably want today and Monday and he said that wasn’t a problem, so we thought what better way of seeing the sights rather than wander aimlessly ourselves potentially missing some key areas. The tickets, for two of us cost €34 (£27.70) and armed with a city plan, with the bus route marked on it and our tickets, we made our way to the nearest bus stop. True to his word, once at the bus stop we exchanged the tickets he had given us for ones that were annotated and stamped with our dates of travel, 22nd & 24th. We remained on the bus for the full tour, selecting areas that we wanted to re-visit later that day or on Monday. As it happened, once we had completed the bus tour we decided that most of the areas that we wanted to re-visit we could do on foot, however, if we got tired then we could simply board a tour bus at appropriate locations. You probably would already have guessed, that armed with my camera, and a fully re-charged battery, I just clicked and clicked away all day, whilst Shazza ‘tutted and tutted’ away all day !! What I should say right from the outset is that this city has some amazing history and fantastic historical buildings, however, being the history heathen that I am, if you want to read a ‘cultural’ account of ‘Seville’ then I would recommend that you read ‘Lyssa’s’ superb blog (Adventures of Big Bird).
We had walked and walked, the City is divided into districts, each one walkable and with plenty of Cafe/Bars to take refreshments it wasn’t one of those excruciating ‘Shazza Expeditions’, although I had left my ‘flip-flops’ back in ‘Big Momma’ and elected to wear some ‘comfy’ shoes !! We had covered quite a lot, more than we had anticipated, stopping to view the stalls on the Christmas Market, watch some street performers and even to take a look inside a small part of the Cathedral, there were quite large queues waiting to enter the main part so we gave that a miss, we don’t like queuing!! There was one thing that Shazza really wanted to see, and that was a proper ‘Flamenco‘ show, not one of those ‘Benidorm‘ style Karaoke affairs, but a proper classical flamenco. It just so happened that such a show was on in Seville, it was only one and a half hours in duration and included either a ‘Tapas’ or ‘Al a Carte’ dinner. We were too tired to do it this evening so we booked for the 7pm show on Monday. There were still a couple of areas that we wanted to visit so we decided, Sunday would be a rest day and then we could finish off our sightseeing on Monday and round off our ‘Seville Experience’ with a traditional ‘Flamenco’ evening with ‘Tapas’.
It had been a long day, by the time we returned to ‘Puerta Gelves’ at 6pm we had been out for eight hours !! Roy and Amanda had arrived about half an hour earlier, we stood and chatted then agreed to go and eat in our vans and then meet up at 8pm and have a drink in the on-site Bar/Restaurant.
What a great night we had, although I am not sure if using the word ‘night’ would actually be factually correct considering that we didn’t get back to our respective vans until 12:40am !! We chatted about everything, not just about our respective travels and our vans, we laughed about things we had done, and then as is often the way, we got around to telling the occasional stupid jokes, well yes okay, they were like jokes just not funny !! But we still laughed at them, as you do at stupid o’Clock at night …………………
After a very long physical day followed by a late night we decided that Sunday would be as God had intended, a day of rest, well nearly ! After waving goodbye to Roy and Amanda we took a short stroll into the local town, quite literally across the road, and purchased some fresh bread rolls for our lunch. We just lazed away the rest of Sunday and to stave off the occasional ‘loose moment’ I emptied some of the ‘Grey’ waste and just generally pottered, as you do on Sunday’s. Shazza in the meantime did two lots of laundry and some ironing !!
It really chucked it down throughout the night, so much so that I could hear the water running off the roof of ‘Big Momma’, it sounded more like a fast flowing river !! However, by the morning it was back to gorgeous blue skies and sunshine, a good day for ‘Shazza Expedition’ Part Two and once again I left my ‘flip-flops’ at home and wore ‘comfy’ shoes again. There was no need to go back into Seville early, the day would be long enough with our pre-booked ‘Flamenco‘ show starting at 7pm. So after another lazy morning we set off for our fifteen minute bus ride into the city. I find that ‘second’ journeys are always a more relaxed affair than the initial one’s as once you know when and where to get off you are not spending your time trying to identify landmarks for the return journey, It was nice to be able to just look at the sights. Seville, like the majority of major Cities, is divided into ‘Suburbs’, or as they are called out here, ‘Districts‘ and we had covered most of these on our first visit on Saturday. Although you can get ‘Tapas’ everywhere in Spain, there was a renowned ‘Tapas’ area in one of the ‘Districts’ just the ‘other’ side of the bridge to where our bus stopped so that would be our first destination. The only other ‘District’ we had not visited was ‘La Macarena‘. Now ever since seeing this name on the tourist map I can’t stop singing that 1995 chart hit song ‘Macarena’ sung by ‘Los del Rio’, which is by the way a Spanish song about a woman called Macarena, see, this blog can sometimes be educational as well !! Anyway, to get there meant crossing the river again, fortunately, the ‘El Palacio Andaluz‘ was also in this area, the place where this evening’s ‘Flamenco’ show was being held, so it made sense to leave this area until later in the day.
Today’s ‘Shazza Expedition’ was torturous, not only was it very hot but we got lost in the maze of ‘Avenues and Alleyways’ in La Macarena !! I thought it may have been a tad confusing to refer to them as ‘Tony Christie’s’ again, especially in the same sentence that contained a song title that wasn’t one of his !! I was also beginning to get bored, there were some very impressively decorated ‘Churches’, if you are into that sort of thing, but basically it was row upon row of three and four storey apartment blocks, the miles upon miles of uneven cobbled paths and roads were beginning to make my feet hurt, even in comfy shoes !! We obviously had not, on this occasion, saved the best until last. After several ‘comfort’ breaks for Coffee, Tapas, Chocolate Muffins eventually the time came to make our way to the ‘Flamenco’ show.
I think that I may just have said on a few other occasions in my blogs, that we learn from our mistakes ! So, I now have to confess at making a real blunder, I had decided that we had taken plenty of pictures on our first visit and probably wouldn’t want or need to take many more, other than some from the ‘Flamenco’ show. My ‘Canon’ camera can become fairly cumbersome, so knowing that the camera on my iPhone took pretty decent pictures, this had been my ‘weapon of choice’. I now make apologies to you for the ‘poor’ quality of the pictures that you are about to see, however, it was mainly due to the lighting inside the venue and the speed at which the ‘Dancers’ moved, but I hope you at least get a taste of the ‘Flamenco’ experience………………
Seville has been a truly wonderful experience, although we have stayed here for five days and only been into Seville on two of them, they were full days, the first being eight hours and the other, eight and half hours, so I think we can say that we have done it justice. If you like walking around shops then you could easily justify a third day in the main ‘Commercial’ area, although each district has its own, but we are not shoppers so we are now ready to move on and see another place. The parking at ‘Gelves’ was superb and with local shops on the doorstep we didn’t have far to go when we needed provisions. Surprisingly, and I am considering get ‘Shazza’ checked out by a doctor, right on the doorstep, walking/cycling distance was a ‘ALDI’, ‘LIDL’ and a fairly large ‘Mercadonna’ shopping mall, none of which she frequented !!!!!
So, after the busy streets and noise of a City, it is time to perhaps seek out somewhere a little more relaxed. The ‘works of fiction’ are up to their usual habit of giving one forecast one day then totally changing it the next, however, we have used this location to get all our ‘devices’ charged up, the laundry is up to date including towels and bedding, we have LPG and Diesel and the leisure batteries are fully charged, so it doesn’t really matter where we end up next. I do somehow think though, that within the next week we will be in Morocco, but until then, this part of the Spanish adventure continues…………………………………..