We arrived in Camping Los Pinos at Denia having booked to stay for 7 nights. I can’t deny that there was an economic reason to choose a week’s stay. The nightly price drops to 15€ a night if you stay for seven so it was an obvious choice. In my email I had explained that we had a large trailer but when we squeezed our way in through the gates and saw the apparent close proximity of everyone’s vehicles we began to wonder if this was going to work. The very pleasant lady at reception dismissed my concerns and led me through the pine trees to a large pitch near the back of the site. I asked her if we could decide later whether we wanted to stay longer and she explained that the over wintering crowd from Northern Europe were expected in their droves within the next week so we would need to make our minds up quickly. She also told me that from eight days onwards the price dropped again to 12.50€. It didn’t take us long to work out that an 8 night stay would cost less than 7 and we quickly changed our booking to include the extra night. For this you get a decent pitch well separated from your neighbours with bushes and trees, electricity, water, good showers, toilets and laundry facilities. There is also a small bar and you can get your daily bread from the site if you like that kind of thing. We like it but avoid it most days in an attempt not to return home chubbier than we left.
The approach to our pitch with the van and trailer was a bit tight and we were soon puzzling how to get the trailer around all the trees and hedges. Getting it on the pitch looked like a challenge that might beat us. Seemingly out of nowhere a Dutchman appeared and asked if he could help. We hesitated for a nano second and then thanked him exuberantly for his kindness. “Right,” he said, “I think you should unhitch the trailer and we’ll push it in together.” Shirley was doubtful of our ability to push it slightly uphill over gravel but he smiled and said, “Don’t worry. You are stronger than you think!” and with that he swung it around and between us we got it onto the pitch and settled in about two minutes. He then pointed out his own motorhome and said, “I’m just there if you need me.” In all the years we have been caravanning and motorhoming the vast majority of offers of help we’ve received have been from Netherlanders. We can only assume that they have a culture of co-operation and kindness because it has happened so often. Not only were we mightily relieved, we felt warm and safe within minutes of arriving on the site. Very soon we had the van in place, the outside mats and chairs in a small patch of sunlight and the kettle on. This was to be our home for the week and it felt good.
Through a small gate at the bottom of the site, you step out onto a lovely path along the water’s edge. The beach is rocky but the Mediterranean is just feet away creating that unique lovely music of water over stones. The dogs were ecstatic when they could be let off their leads and allowed to wander but Boo soon registered his objection to walking on the large pebbles. Poppy hurtled about, oblivious to the uneven surface while Boo stood back, looking on superciliously.
The site is a couple of miles from the centre of Denia and we were told that the seafront path would take us all the way into town. It wasn’t long before we opted to cycle via the road route into town … the path surface shook our bones and our bikes leaving us with a strange tremble when we got off.
Denia is unusual for a resort town in Spain. It is very much alive as a working town with a healthy mixture of local folk and winter visitors. Tapas bars, restaurants and hotels are still in full swing despite the lateness of the season and there is a great selection of shops to browse around if that’s your thing. The most likely explanation for the town’s life is the enormous marina and port. Ferries run from here to Majorca and Ibiza and hundreds of enormous gin palaces and cruise liners regularly pull into the marina. The real town feel of the place along with the fabulous light from the deep blue Mediterranean makes it a lovely place to visit. We could completely see why people settle here for the winter, although we would personally prefer just a little bit more heat. Mornings and evenings have a distinct chill making it necessary to wear a jacket for walking the dogs and riding our bikes. Afternoons reach about 16c although we’re told that better weather is coming. Apologies for those sitting in sub zero temperatures reading this …
The Social Bit
A couple of days after we arrived, Melanie and Biz rolled into town and opted to park up in an open space beside the sea, rather than come to the campsite. The generous rates we benefitted from are for retired people and these two pals have the mixed blessing of being too young to qualify. They had a magnificent spot close to the sea however so we didn’t feel too sorry for them. We met up for coffees, drinks and a couple of meals before they were obliged to leave town when their water ran out and their loo filled up. There are no motorhome facilities here in Denia and given its busyness and popularity they probably don’t feel the need to provide them.
The four of us were in a local eatery one afternoon enjoying the Menu del Dia (a three course meal for a set price, in this case 12€) and listening to Biz speaking Spanish to the waitress as he tried to find out on our behalf what the different items on the menu actually were. When it came to dessert, Melanie wanted to know what the fruit of the day was. The waitress said something that none of us could make out but Melanie decided to risk it anyway … what arrived was something none of us had ever seen before. A white fruit with large black pips and a very sweet taste, it had us all dumbfounded. Eventually, by getting the waitress to say the word very slowly we could use a translator app. and found out that this was a custard apple. The waitress, clearly a natural performer, went on to imitate someone eating the fruit, dribbling the juice and spitting out the pips. By then we were reduced to helpless laughter, made more hysterical when Melanie looked up Custard Apple and solemnly read out that it was a good cure for constipation. We all agreed that given the fact that their toilet cassette was pretty close to full, the choice might have been a bit risky.
Spaghetti Security and the Handbag
I mentioned before about the additional concern that owning expensive electric bikes has given us. We love the bikes and enjoy the freedom they give us when we’re staying outside a town, but we get a bit anxious when we lock them up and leave them. We’ve got good quality, Gold category, D locks with extension cables and they are well insured but we still worry about them. The other day we paid a visit to one of those wonderful Chinese Emporiums where you can find almost everything you could ever want to buy and a massive number of things that you wouldn’t. Parking the bikes outside we decided to use both locks and both extension cables, creating an impossible to unravel mess that a passing thief wouldn’t be able to untangle before attracting attention. Pleased with our spaghetti junction of security I picked up my little rucksack handbag ready to go into the shop only to discover that I’d somehow threaded it through the cables and it was stuck fast. The time it took to get it out, even with the keys, reassured us that those babies were going nowhere.
In the Emporium we wandered through miles of shelves before buying a small whiteboard to write our shopping lists on, a reel of wide sellotape, a packet of paper napkins, some doggy poo bags all for the grand total of 8 €. Satisfied with our purchase we stopped by a nearby bar, had two coffees and a toasted sandwich and pronounced the afternoon a success. It’s the small things that make us happy.
Cycling the Green Way
There are a number of cycle routes around Denia and we opted to try the one recommended by fellow motorhomers Ray and Irene. This one goes through orange groves and is traffic free, landing in El Verger, a nearby town. The problem is that it’s only traffic free when you get to it and it’s on the other side of town. We checked the way to the start on Google maps and set off. Cycling through the town was scary, although we’ve found that Spanish drivers tend to be careful of bikes and treat us with respect. Despite this, the roundabouts with numerous exits, the delivery lorries, motorbikes and cars all whizzing past us made it a hairy journey, particularly as we had no idea where we were going. Eventually we pulled off the road and got the phone set to Google Maps and I popped it into my bag with the volume up high so that I could hear the instructions. It didn’t help as Google Maps seems to insist on telling you the names of roads and streets. If I knew the names of streets I would probably know where I was going. Also, not wishing to be picky and irritable, the pronunciations of the aforesaid streets are completely unintelligible. After numerous false starts and shouts of turn around from Google Maps we got onto the bike path and it was brilliant. We swished quietly along to the sound of silence interspersed with bird song and the occasional baa of sheep.
By the time we got to El Verger I needed a pee. One of my great regrets in life is that I haven’t ever got comfortable with peeing behind bushes or indeed in the open air at all. Previous blog posts have recounted my disasters with a Shewee device (if you don’t know what that is look it up but don’t believe a word of the instructions… trust me). Ray and Irene had mentioned that there was a place to have lunch at the end of the path and I approached it with a song in my heart. Sadly it was closed. Going into town we searched for an open café but the place was deserted so I adopted a confident air, walked into the Ajuntament (council offices), strode through as though I owned the place and went into the toilets. Oh joy!
No longer distressed by the inevitable bumps in the bike track, I was much happier on the way back until half way home when I noticed that the battery on my bike was registering only one pip. If you have ever tried to ride one of these things with no power on you will know why my heart sank into my boots. Making sure I was on the very lowest level of power and riding at a much slower pace than my normal sprinting at full speed I nursed that battery all the way back to the van. It was flashing by the time we pulled up and I vowed never to use it for nearly a week without charging it up ever again. Even short rides add up when you’re using it every day especially when you tow a shopping trolley.
Should I have been a Salesperson?
Speaking of shopping trolleys, our Burley Travoy Bike shopping trolley attracts a lot of interest from fellow motorhomers. I often end up demonstrating its clever design, the speed and ease with which it folds up and down, attaches to the bike, unhooks at the shops and morphs into an ordinary shopping trolley. The other thing that attracts a lot of interest and attention is our Debon Trailer. The other day we were sitting with our coffee when a Yorkshireman rocked up and asked to look inside the trailer. He examined every corner of its clever design and pronounced “Aye, it’s a good ‘un. Perfect for my big motorbike”, thanked me and went on his way. If Debon trailers or Burley ever read this I’m open to offers of commission.
Other people ask us what we are carrying in the trailer and, depending on our mood at the time, we sometimes fabricate the answer. Granny, a shetland pony and 400 cases of beer are some of the possible replies but usually we tell the truth and even let them peer inside. Interest in other people’s travelling gear is a normal feature of the motorhoming life and we’re happy to engage in gadget chat with other motorhomers.
Time to Move On?
I was walking the dogs along the sea front on the morning of our planned last full day on site when an idea popped into my head. Why are we moving on? There’s no rush and we like it here. Popping back into the van I put this thought to Shirley and we looked at one another and agreed. There’s no good reason to leave when we love it here. There’s plenty of time to make our way to the Algarve by mid December. So after a quick trip to the office where we requested another week on site and received a warm smile and a thanks for our compliments about the peace and friendliness of the place, we were happy. We can stay!
More stories of life in the slow lane in Denia will follow the next time …. in the meantime it’s time for some more chilling. Adios amigos!