Barbate and camping Pinar san Jose

We have now arrived at what will probably be our winter base and have started to explore the area to make sure there is enough to do to keep us occupied for the next few months. The site is very good with on pitch facilities throughout. 16 amp electric as well, just the job! We are only one mile along the beach from Trafalgar lighthouse.
We have already made some new pals and some old pals have called in to say hello as well.
Looks like the weather is still remaining warm and sunny even if the last couple of days have been a bit iffy, can't complain as we are still in shorts and t shirts.
We will post any new events as we go but obviously not on such a regular basis. Hello to all our friends out there who keep up with us and we will update the blog when there is something to show.

There was a horse dancing demonstration on the beach at Conil de la Frontera with the men dressed in traditional costume. One was pretending to be a matador with the stallion as the bull. Great show of skill.

Alcala and Parque natural de los Alcornocales

We are still chasing our bird list and the supposed migration route of the large Birds of prey, or Raptors as they are called so we are now in this area to do just that. Our campsite is just outside of Alcala.
It is very nice but barking dogs and flies are a pest so time will be short here
. We set off on a beautiful route around the area on our trusty scooter again. We were soon rewarded with flocks of Griffon vultures circling above our heads. Round the next corner Sarah signalled me to stop quickly with a quick jab to my ribs, as is her usual method. There on a hill side were hundreds of them perched on the ground and others in the air, an amazing site and worth the trip.
 Again some beautiful Dragonflies.


Having given Ronda a big build up to Sarah ever since we first came to Spain, we were both hoping it lived up to its reputation and my memory, which is not always reliable. But it delivered and we both loved it. We walked through the new town to the Bull ring.
Then across the bridge into the Old quarter.
 There were street musicians everywhere playing classical guitar, harp and other instruments.
We visited the Palacio Mondragon, which is now a museum and has original Moorish mosaics and plasterwork.
 We then took a trip down into what they call mines below Casa del Rey Moro. These have 365 steps leading through a rabbit warren of tunnels,but we thought they were just an elaborate way of getting down to the river.
The Town hall or Ayuntamiento has a two-tier arcaded fa├žade with Mudejar ceiling and was remodelled in the 20th century incorporating older buildings.
All in all a very pretty town in a dramatic setting on top of a high ridge,even the new side is very pleasant with all the modern shops.

Quick visit to Gary and Bren's new home

We called in for a few days visit with our old pals Gary, Bren and Val and the dogs to check out their new villa in Albanchez. As usual we were made most welcome and had a guided tour of the area.
 A day trip to Almeria with a nice meal on the front in an Italian Restaurant was delightful and on our final night we ate at a local restaurant with our meat cooked on an open fire. Very nice to see them all again.

Delta de l' Ebre

We dropped further down the Mediterranean coast to the Delta de l'Ebre for a return visit, We were last here for only one night on our way south in 2009 and wanted to spend more time exploring this amazing wetland area.
It is a delta with a prosperous rice growing business, and enclosing a 70 square kilometre nature reserve.
 It is well known for its flocks of wading birds and we spotted some species to ad to growing list. An Osprey was fishing and caught a large fish and flew of to eat it sitting on a post
Also new for us was a flock of Glossy Ibis feeding in the fields. This is just one example.
And a Squacco Heron
 There was also an abundance of Dragonflies.
And the Flamingos were in good colour.
Our campsite was right on the shore in L'Ampola and was a
good base for our visit.

Tarragona and camping Torre La Mora

Cutting now across to the coast we found a lovely site at Torre la Mora, one which we had tried a few years ago when we had the bigger van and decided it was not suitable. Thankfully we got a good pitch and settled down for a few days R&R in the sunshine. The beach was lovely and the sea warm and we enjoyed time swimming and sunbathing.
Also on the agenda was a trip into Tarragona on the scooter. First day in we got lost in the back streets and walked down to the Fort and along the front. We sat having a coffee watching the fire fighting aeroplanes practicing their approach to the bay where they scoop up the water to carry to any fires that break out.
 Then on up to look at the Amphitheatre. We decided we had had enough for the day so left our visit until the next day.
Trying again we managed to get right into the old centre with the scooter and continued our visit. The Praetorium,  a Roman tower which gives access to cavernous passage ways of the excavated Roman circus built in the 1st century AD. This was well worth a visit.
 We crossed the road and into the Amphitheatre, which like the Praetorium was free admission on a Sunday. Again it is in very good order and worth seeing.

Next day we finished our historical tour with a walk to the Aqueduct de les Ferreres. This was built in the second century AD to bring water to the city from the Riu Gaia 30 kilometres to the north and is in amazing condition.

Santes Creus and Santa Maria de Poblet Monasteries

We decided to continue our cultural theme with visits to both these Royal Monasteries, and as we were staying near Montblanc we were in easy reach of both.
We started with Santa Maria de Poblet one of the "Cistercian Triangle". The original building was founded in the 11th century but most of this was in ruins by the 19th century when it was recaptured from the Moors. Restoration began in 1930 and the monks returned in 1940.
It is a very tranquil place with some lovely architecture and well worth a visit.

We now drove over to Santes Creus to see the second of these edifices. This one is set in a tiny village and was founded in 1150 and is the prettiest with beautiful Gothic cloisters


Montserrat Monastery

We parked up at the rack railway station for this visit as Sarah has a thing for trains. The journey up was exciting with great views of the area, not one for people with vertigo as there are sheer drops all the way to the top. The Monastery itself is set in a bowl beneath the highest peak of the chain which is 4055 feet high. The present building dates from 1844 because the original was destroyed in the war of independence in 1811. We arrived just in time for the choir performance in the Basilica, unfortunately so did the rest of the world. To say the least it was it was like an unruly football crowd but not so well mannered. We could barely hear the choir with people shouting and pushing. We left and returned later when the crowd had died down . The queue of pilgrims to see the Blackened Virgin was so long we gave up on that idea and viewed from a distance.
Worth a visit but we thought that the setting was more impressive than the buildings, a bit to touristy for our tastes.