After the very shaky start to our week at Camping Aquarius we now love the place – it’s fabulous. Just as well we didn’t pack up and leave after a couple of days. At the start we were convinced that a huge site full of families roaring around on bikes would drive us stir crazy. Our friendly neighbour of the dire weather warnings told us that there would be a party at the Beach bar on Sunday. “Not to be missed” he said in that gruff and solemn way that our German neighbours seem to adopt even when speaking of something fun. We promptly forgot about the party until Sunday lunch time when, sitting out in the sun, we heard an Eagles song being played full blast. “Hotel California” was booming through the air and we started to wonder who had that much audio power in their van. After a minute or two the music stopped abruptly and we heard a guitar retuning and four drum beats before the music started again. It was a live band practising. Of course it wasn’t The Eagles but it was a pretty excellent cover. Shirley, ever the nosy one, popped the dogs leads on to ‘take them for a quick walk’. Back within ten minutes she was full of glee – the beach party was starting and it looked great.
We arrived at the Bar a few minutes later to find the live band in full swing, the bar selling any drink for 1€ and a BBQ selling plates of food, also for 1€. Apparently it is a traditional end of season thank you and everyone is welcome. Designated drivers were served soft drinks or coffee free of charge, there were two live bands and a crowd of friendly people having a really good time. I asked for a G&T at the bar and it came in a half pint glass. No danger of me having another one. Shirley had a couple of beers, we enjoyed enormous German sausages with bread and jigged the afternoon away. Boats were pulling in at the beach to listen to the music and children played in the sand while their parents enjoyed the chat and the music. It was amusing to watch the teenagers trying to disown their parents when they started dancing. Every generation goes through this trauma. The languages were different but the faces said it all, “My parents are so embarrassing!” The band played a massive selection of rock music from the Beatles through to the 90s and their set ran for three hours.Every cover was an impressive one and, given that they were a local Catalan band, their mastery of the English lyrics was superb. They even managed to sing in American or British accents, depending on the song. We left before the second band began their set – clearly we have no staying power at all. The gin, the food and the sunshine had all taken their toll and all we wanted was a quiet snooze.
The following morning we decided that there was enough in this part of Catalonia to keep us happy for a bit longer and we arranged to hire a car for three days. The Reception here at the site manages all the arrangements for the hire and all we had to do was turn up the next morning with our driving licences and collect the keys to a Fiat Panda. We put in quite a lot of sight seeing in the three days including a boat ride on the amazing residential marina of Empuriabrava, exploring the pretty resort of Roses and the absolute cherry on the cake – Cadaqués. It is a small coastal town, famous for the fact that Salvador Dali often visited in his childhood and then bought a house nearby as an adult. The journey there is a hair raising 16 km drive from Roses over mountains on a narrow road with hairpin bends and local drivers taking death defying risks to overtake the slower visitors. The views from the tops were amazing, as were the cyclists doing the trip for fun or a dare – who knows? They were pouring sweat on the way up and flying on the way down. Neither option looked safe to us but it was probably great fun for adrenalin junkies.
We fell in love with Cadaqués – it was one of those places that captivates you the moment you arrive. The beautiful bay, quirky houses, interesting little shops and Dali’s influence everywhere were so different from anywhere else we have visited in Spain that we played that ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could have a place here?’ game. The game didn’t last long – the prices of property and the approach road made us realise that it was a once every few years place to visit. If you’re thinking of going and you’re a motorhomer, the best advice given to us is don’t take the van. Even in our little hired Panda it was tough – in a big vehicle it would be hellish and parking when you got there in a big vehicle probably impossible. There are coach trips and buses from Roses going regularly – next time we’ll go for that option.
Yesterday was our last day with the car so we tootled down the bay of Roses to L’Escala and Cala Montgo – two places we know well and often visit when we travel down this coast. We enjoyed a couple of gentle strolls on the sea front before heading out of town to a big Mercadona supermarket. We chose it because it has cool undercover parking and we knew we could safely leave the dogs in the car while we shopped. The supermarket is upstairs and there is a lift as well as a flat escalator to take your shopping trolley. We went up in a crowded lift with not a care in the world. It was only when we got back to the car and Shirley couldn’t find the keys that we realised something was wrong. We dashed over and found the car unlocked. One of our cameras, Shirley’s phone and her prescription sunglasses were gone but the dogs were still in the back seat looking completely untroubled and the keys were left neatly on the passenger seat. We went back into the shop to ask them to look at their CCTV footage but it turned out they didn’t have any cameras in the car park. They called the police for us and we were asked to go to the police station where they painstakingly prepared a report for us. Everyone was kind and sympathetic and absolutely no-one pointed out that going into a crowded place with your car keys in your pocket is a bit overly trusting. It’s a hard lesson to learn but hopefully we’ll know better the next time.
We lay awake last night trying to stop the endless round of ‘what if?’ and ‘if only’ thoughts. Ruminating is anxiety making but it is so difficult to stop. Eventually we gave up and made mugs of peppermint tea, sat up in bed and talked about the day. It wasn’t long before we could see how very fortunate we had been. Neither of us was hurt in any way. They hadn’t stolen the dogs or let them loose out of the car. We had downloaded all the photos except for the last three. Shirley’s phone needed replacing anyway but we hadn’t done it before we left. And finally came the laughter when we agreed that there was an unexpected benefit. Just before we’d gone to the supermarket we had been talking about the danger of coming back from these trips heavier than we left. We had agreed, for about the fifteenth time, to try to cut back a bit on the food intake. Lying in bed we realised that today we had missed a meal because doing the report at the police station had taken most of the afternoon. Friends have talked about karma and how the thief will get his come uppance. I don’t get any pleasure thinking about him having a hard time. I just wish we lived in a world where no-one needs to steal. I’m also inclined to think that the dogs probably disturbed the burglar. They would have been asleep when he opened the door but the second they recognised a stranger they would have let out an almighty yelping. Right enough Poppy might also have licked him and given him her most charming seductive ‘have you got any treats?’ look but it would have been a shock to find them there. They were in harnesses so they couldn’t get to him and Boo has several teeth missing, giving his best snarl an unconvincing look, but we like to think they saved us from a worse outcome.
Boo here. Someone needs to speak to the humans in my life. They simply will not stop taking me to places unsuitable for a poodle of a delicate nature. The cable car in Germany was bad enough and don’t get me started on the Rudesheim chair lift – ooft! – but the boat in Empuriabrava really took the Bonio. The boat looked ok from the pier but when we got in I saw that there was a gap at the bottom of door right next to us. I could see the water rushing by! I complained the whole trip but not one of them took the slightest bit of notice of me, except to tell me to shut up. There was no thought at all for health and safety. I’m compiling a report on health and safety breaches and intend to present it to my friend and neighbour Dan Dan The Health and Safety Man. He’ll know how to deal with this sort of thing. I could have slipped over the side and no-one would have noticed. Right enough Shirley might have noticed as she had my lead in her hand and I had a harness on but I still maintain it was dangerous. Poppy was no help. She just tried to attract attention from the other people on the boat, putting her head on one side and flipping her blonde curls. What a tart! My humans spent most of the trip pointing out the fabulous boats and the marine houses. Some of them even had swimming pools but every one of them had one of these boat things. What is wrong with these people? Humans and dogs were meant to live on land.
Not content with putting my life in danger on a vessel that wasn’t watertight they then managed to let a complete stranger get the keys to the car they’d hired. We were harnessed into the back seat, sitting on an embarrassingly un-macho blanket when a man opened the door. I gave him my best growl but I couldn’t get at him to give him a nasty nip with my one remaining canine tooth. Once again Poppy was no use at all – she believes that everyone loves her with her blonde curls (did I mention those already?) and her big brown eyes. She has all her teeth but you’d never know – she saves them for the important stuff, like eating and picking up plastic bottles when we’re out for a walk. The man didn’t stay long. Two small dogs yelping in a small car can really hurt a human’s ears and people were starting to stare.
Anyway, I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that it’s only me keeping everyone safe around here and I could do with some back up. Failing that I love soft chewy treats and a run on the beach. If you could just speak to my humans I would be most obliged. Boogle, Poodle Extraordinaire of Bathgate. Miniature only in Stature.