Puerta de Santa Maria – Seville (76 Miles)
We had always planned to do a return visit to what had become one of our favourite Camperstops on this trip, the location was ‘Puerta Gelves‘ near Seville and this would be our ‘fourth’ visit !! It was a couple of degrees warmer than Puerta de Santa Maria but more importantly the breeze here was only 2-3mph !! However, in all our travels this year on roads in Spain, Portugal and Morocco this stretch of just Seventy-six miles has to be classed as the most boring.
The first thing we observed whilst we were waiting for the electronic gates to open at the entry to the Marina was that there were no other Motorhomes parked up along the River side, this was good, or so I thought, we would have the choice of where to park. However, it was not to be, for some reason they have placed a barrier across the ‘entry’ road and we saw at least eleven Motorhomes parked up further down and even inside the fence where they store the boats during the winter, the ‘dry dock’ !! Fortunately, there was a ‘Big Momma’ sized space next to the ‘Toilet and Shower’ building with a very convenient EHU point. Okay, so we were not going to have the same wonderful views from our windows that we had had on our previous visits but that was all that had changed. We still had use of all the essential facilities and with the ‘Motorhome WiFi iBoost‘ we had a pretty good and fast Internet connection. Seville was still a short bus ride, or cycle, away and just down the road was a large retail complex with a ‘Mercadonna’ supermarket and opposite that were ‘LIDL’ and ‘ALDI’. We were just setting up when a chap approached and introduced himself as ‘Pete’ (Hudson), he wasn’t parked up here but checking the ‘Aire’ out for a future visit, he had been following my blog and told me that he recognised me, he understood how I had been feeling after our ‘Moroccan Incident’ as he had had previously had a problem with his van which took ten days to resolve !! Pete was formerly a Fireman and has been fulltiming himself for a couple of years, we had a good long chat before he left. If you are reading this post Pete, just a reminder that you were going to let me have your own ‘blog’ details !! We also met ‘Dave and Dinah’ who were staying on the ‘Aire’, they are ‘British’ but live in France and were driving a ‘French’ registered Motorhome so it was only when they said ‘hello’ with their English accents that we realised they were our own ‘Countryfolk’. You really do meet some lovely people when you are ‘on the road’.
We were within the last Twenty days of our current ‘Winter Trip’, I cannot say that either of us were yet ready to return to the UK. This is the longest single period of time that we have actually spent ‘travelling’, at the start of this, our second ‘Winter Adventure’, we didn’t know if at the end of the trip we would be ready for a concerted period of stability, to park ‘Big Momma’ up and just enjoy being static for a while, well the answer is a definite ‘No’ ! We can understand now why some people in similar situations, will ring up their respective Campsites and tell them that they have decided ‘not’ to come back, but we wouldn’t be doing that, so the appointment with a ferry on the 2nd March is still on !! With that in mind we did need to sort out some kind of a route and a timetable, we also knew that as soon as we left ‘Andalucia’ and headed North we would be experiencing much colder temperatures, we had been trying to delay that unwanted event for as long as possible.
We received a text message from our fellow Motorhome travellers, ‘Tom and Karen’, who we were supposed to be meeting up with in ‘Palencia‘ towards the back-end of this month. Karen didn’t go into too much detail but merely stated, “Due to driver error“, they were now going to be in Palencia much earlier than originally planned, much earlier being within the next couple of days !! That was too early for us to be that far North, although we had not seen them on our travels this year, they had arrived in Portugal later this trip, and with us heading off to Morocco we had missed them by the time they had reached the Algarve. It was disappointing, it is always good to meet up with people again, people you have met on previous trips and got on really well with, but I am sure that we will see them again at some point in the future. However, that did now give us a chance to reconsider our route back up to Santander, we now didn’t need to stop or go via Palencia, we had been there last year, it also meant that we could remain in slightly warmer climes just that little bit longer.
When planning routes it isn’t always just a matter of closing your eyes and placing your finger on a map, although sometimes that can be quite good, you need to decide how far you are prepared to travel in a day, how long you are going to stay and then, very importantly, if not using Campsites, what ‘Aires’ are available, to do the necessary with the on-board facilities, as not all ‘Aires’ have Motorhome Services but are merely ‘Parking’ only. Under normal circumstances, with no ‘end’ date the length of time is not an issue but for us we did have a ‘time-frame’ to work to. With our Guide Books, our maps and our iPads we plotted a reasonable route back, one which didn’t entail a ‘mad dash’ to the ferry terminal at Santander, we were still on our ‘Adventure’ and their were still places we wanted to see. The only difference now would be that those places would be visited wearing Coats, Scarves, Gloves and Boots rather than Tee-shirts, Shorts and Flip-Flops !! We both agreed the ‘places’ where we wanted to ‘stop’ and, dependent on the size of the place, and what the ‘Rough Guide’ advised of what there was to see at each location, we agreed a time-frame with a very limited degree of ‘flexibility’ built in, yes, we now had a ‘plan’, even after all this time I do still like the comfort of having some kind of a plan.
You may be forgiven for thinking that after already having had three previous visits to Seville that there couldn’t be much left for us to see or do, but you would be wrong. Although we had been here before, we didn’t go into Seville every single day so there were still bits that we had missed, although to be perfectly honest even we hadn’t realised just how much we had missed until we found them this time around !! Even if we had have seen everything previously, Seville is such a beautiful city that we could go back time and time again and not get bored with it, however, on this visit we had but one main purpose, to visit the fantastic Cathedral and do the tour, on our previous visits the queues were massive, it would have taken hours just to have reached the ticket desk.
The doom and gloom merchants, yes I refer to the ‘Works of Fiction’, had forecast a cool overcast day of only 14 degrees(c), so, not wanting to let the cold spoil our day, we dressed accordingly, sweaters ‘and’ fleece. It turned out to be a very sunny, near cloudless, blue sky day with temperatures just a little over 14 degrees, eight degrees over to be precise !! We didn’t go straight to the Cathedral, instead we wandered along streets that we had not wandered before, down little narrow cobbled alleys that were absolutely beautiful, shops and Cafe’s and Bars hidden amongst most of them, old stone built Apartments that grew up into the sky, many with balconies festooned with overhanging plants. Occasionally we would find ourselves back in the hub-bub of the main shopping areas so we would dive down another alley and follow it until we had to turn left or right. It felt good being in no rush, not needing, or actually wanting, to purchase anything, just feeling free to stop and look in shop windows when something caught our eye. We stopped at a nice little pavement Cafe and ordered ‘Coffee & Churros’, a quite normal mid-morning snack here in Spain, that or other delicious looking pastries. After coffee we made our way to the Cathedral where, fortunately, there were no more than a handful of people in front of us at the ticket desk, we paid our €9 entry fee (each) and were free to just wander around this vast and magnificent piece of Architecture at our leisure. You could, if you wished, have paid a little extra for one of those hand-held audio tour things, we didn’t bother and just used the free plan, conveniently numbered, to find our way about. Now I know that you know that I am a self-confessed ‘history heathen‘ but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying nice things when I see them, or being amazed at the magnificence of such a building. Shazza was particularly interested in seeing the ‘Tomb of Christopher Columbus‘, don’t ask me why, she just did, it didn’t do anything for me, especially when stood in front of it she announced, “DNA results on the skeletal remains were inconclusive that it was actually him“, I looked at her and said, “So basically, the bones in there may, or may not be those of Christopher Columbus, they could have been those of his Cabin Boy“, she just gave me one of her teachers looks and we moved on to the next item on the numbered plan, I felt suitably chastised for daring to utter such irreverence !!
However, I have to say that there were things to see in there that made my jaws gape wide open, but the best bit, and totally unexpected was getting an opportunity to climb up one of the bell towers, with viewing points at each level until you reached the top, well nearly the top, and had the most wonderful panoramic views over the city and beyond.
Anybody who visits Seville ‘must’ put the Cathedral tour on their list of things to do, it is well worth it !! We had spent a good couple of hours just strolling around inside, for non-history heathens you may just have to allow a bit more time, there are lots to see !! Shazza’s food clock told her that it was ‘Siesta’, the time that all good ‘Sevillians’ go to eat and when in Spain……………….. so we walked to an area that we knew had a row of pavement eating establishments, selected our hostelry, sat in the sun and whilst I enjoyed a nice selection of ‘Tapas’, washed down with a very nice glass of cold beer, Shazza chose a ‘
Columbus‘ Ceasers Salad (well we weren’t sure if it was Chicken or not) and Diet Cola, it’s good to know that one of us at least is watching our waistline !!
After our hearty lunch, well at least mine was, we resumed our wanderings, we had no particular plan it was just so nice to stroll and to feel the warmth of the sun. I am sorry to keep going on about how wonderful Seville is, I think that this, so far, has to be my most favourite City in Spain. One minute you are walking down beautiful narrow cobbled streets, the next you are in the hustle and bustle of a busy City and then the next you are walking through Plazas and large ‘Green’ areas with some amazing statues and stuff.
We eventually found ourselves walking through the ‘Maria Luiza’ park with the fantastic ‘Plaza Espana’, I published photographs of that in one of my previous Seville related blogs so won’t bore you with them again. Shazza checked her ‘Map my Walk’ Gizmo, we had walked nearly 20kms today, no wonder we were both beginning to wilt a little !! We decided to head back towards the bust stop and timed it to perfection, we were back at ‘Big Momma’ by 5pm enjoying a nice hot mug of coffee.
As we had eaten lunch out today we settled for a few rounds of toast and a nice hot Cuppa in the evening. Shazza was doing something on her iPad, which I thought may have been that irritating ‘Candy Crush’ game as she was so engrossed, I may enjoy it more if I could get past Level 86, she is on Level 200 and something !! But, I was wrong, which I only found out when she deemed to lift her head from the screen and made an utterance something like, “How do you fancy taking a look at Córdoba ?“, I looked at her in a confused sort of way, “When ?” I responded, “When we leave here on Saturday” she replied. I was waiting for the smile to break on her face, she was winding me up, surely ? There was no smile, “You do realise that Córdoba is well over One Hundred miles away and just a tad in the wrong direction” I asked, “Yes, but I have checked the route so we could soon get back to where we should be, but just a bit later” she said. ‘I thought we had a Plan” I stated, “Well we can change it can’t we and just cut down on the number of days we stop at the other locations“. I suggested that it really wasn’t a logical deviation and as we had already discussed coming down this route again later in the year, Córdoba was best left until then. Now I know that neither of us really want to start heading North sooner than we have to, but it can only be put off for so long. Shazza agreed, somewhat reluctantly that we would stick to ‘Plan A’. As a bit of a consolation for her, I had checked out our next destination, not only was the weather ‘forecast‘ to stay warm, not that I have any great confidence in that, but we were headed for a place that this weekend was due to hold its Annual ‘Iberico Pork Festival‘, the promise of lots of party atmosphere, bands and stalls with selections of grilled ‘Iberico’ Pork Sausages, Chops and Steaks all washed down with copious amounts of local ‘Grape Juice‘ of the red falling over variety, soon brought a smile back to her face.
It was all systems go on our last day at Puerta Gelves, we walked to the local ‘Mercadonna‘ supermarket to top up with some provisions, we ‘charged‘ all our electronic devices and camera batteries, as we would be staying on an ‘Aire’ with only the basic facilities for the next couple of days. The on-board facilities were sorted and Shazza used the laundry machine to do a couple of ‘big washes’ (€3 each), bedding, towels, jeans etc. she was keen to get an early start in the morning so as to try to ensure that we got a space on the ‘Aire’, which was very conveniently located staggering distance from the town centre and the festivities………………………………..