Landing near Valencia after a whirl up a mountain side was only half the story.
We have a very cheap truckers’ SatNav bought from Ebay for about £40. We also have a more expensive Garmin one that we use in the car that has proved useless in the Motorhome because it has no means of putting vehicle dimensions in and in previous years has suggested we go down streets that you would think twice about on a bike.
So cheap SatNav has turned out to be excellent. It is accurate, patient, polite and speaks perfect English despite its Oriental origins. True enough Miss Molly, as we have named her, does get a bit uppity about speed limits and as she thinks we’re a truck she gets very upset if we go over 56 mph but that’s a small price to pay for accuracy. Each time we choose a destination we put the co-ordinates into Miss Molly’s clever little brain and she directs us there without a hitch. That is until we wanted to go to the campsite in Navajas. For some reason Miss Molly had a funny turn and led us into the wilderness. We were following an increasingly narrow road far away from any sign of civilization when a little white van came up behind us and signaled for us to pull over. Out came an elderly little Spanish gentleman who spoke to us rapidly, waving his arms about and somehow managing to convey that to go any further would be deeply foolish. We had no common language so we had to use signs but we were sure he was saying that unless we turned round we would be stuck. So we thanked him using one of our 25 known Spanish words and retraced our steps, stopping to reset Miss Molly. She got it perfectly the second time so it might just have been that we got one number wrong but it’s easier to blame an inanimate object.
I’m telling this little tale because it is so typical of what happens when you’re touring. The vast majority of people are kind and will stop and help you. Sometimes these helpful souls pop up literally out of nowhere. Just saying…
The site on the outskirts of Valencia was, at first sight, awful. It had the air of a shanty town and, because of a lot of rain the previous night, it was very muddy. We were a bit depressed by then, having left Alcossebre with such lofty ideas of finding something more interesting than a seaside resort out of season, only to find ourselves here. We were soon to realize our mistake. On this site, unlike some of the others, people actually spoke to us voluntarily and in a cheerful manner. A Dutchman came out of his van to warn us of low hanging branches as we drove in and an Englishman chatted to us about his travels as we wandered about trying to choose the least muddy place to park. When I raised my eyebrows at the state of the site he just said, “It is what it is. They’re doing their best.” And I was a little shamed by my critical attitude.
We slept like logs on that site, feeling safely surrounded by kindly people and absolute silence. I hope I remember that the best places are not always the most attractive ones. And of all people, I should remember that the rain can make anywhere look depressing, I live in Scotland after all.
So we woke up near Valencia and decided to go to Ikea. I know … you might well ask! You see I wanted a small round table top for the Motorhome. The supplied table top on a single leg is both too big and too low, meaning that maneuvering around the front of the van when the table is set up involves doing an inelegant kind of half limbo dance. Frankly we’re too advanced in years to do that regularly, if indeed we ever could, so I thought a neat little round one would be ideal. They have them in the catalogue but do they have them in the enormous creation that is Ikea Valencia? No they do not. Miss Molly had another funny turn on the way there, causing Shirley to drive through the city rather around the ring road so we were already fraught before we even got to the tabletops. I could have cried with frustration but was easily diverted and immediately cheered by a large glass of fresh orange juice made in one of those machines where the oranges drop in and get squished before your very eyes and a massive chocolate croissant. Being glucose intolerant this was arguably not a wise move but the ensuing sugar rush helped us to shoot through the miles of Ikea at high speed, knocking love sick couples furnishing their first homes off their feet as we whirled past. We ended up buying a new fish slice, a whisk for making milk fluffy and a bathmat. Don’t say we don’t have lots of fun!
Sitting in the car park, looking at our maps and books, we decided there and then to hit the road and go to Camping Marjal near Alicante. The reviews for this site are sparkling and we were particularly attracted to the fact that you can cycle to several small towns from the site. If you’re reading this in the cold of late October in the UK you might be surprised to read this but you really can have enough of cycling along a prom beside the Mediterranean.
Travelling gives lots of time for reflection, especially when your vehicle audio isn’t working properly, and we’ve talked a lot about what is important to us to make a trip like this meaningful.
First and foremost, the important parts of a journey for us are the times when we make connections with other people. When some small spark in you recognizes a similar or complementary spark in someone else and you share a few moments of understanding. Without those moments, other things can seem a bit empty. We have each other of course and we’re fortunate to have lots of times when we can share meaningful things but we also know that we need to meet and make connections with other people.
After that, we realise that balance is all-important. We need rest and relaxation, exercise and challenge, culture and places of interest and finally but crucially laughter. There are some nights, as we sit playing cards at the end of the day, when we are helpless with laughter at some funny thing that happened that day. How blessed are we?