The Dream And Other Things.

Spain - At Last

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Well, we made the bed, and now we have to lie on it.

On the road once more but now we were no longer meandering from place to place. There was a sense of purpose in the air as the kilometres rolled by. Perpignon was our last large town in France and as we passed there was Catalan Village on our left and the misty pyrenees mountains in front. At last, Spain was shortly to become a reality. It was a long climb up to the border and then we were through and sailing down the other side. Pulled in to the first lay-by restaurant we came to and it was coffee and su, su's, a doughnut type cake filled with a delicious custardy cream. France is a very nice place but they know nothing about coffee, one of my many vices, and good espresso's are almost impossible to find. Back on the road and heading for Roses, on the Costa Brava. Hadn't realised that the touring season in Spain was over and the camp site at Roses was almost deserted when we arrived, just us and an Irish couple, with whom we made long lasting friends and have seen many times over the intervening years. After a few very pleasant days it was once more on the road and the next stop of Playa Montroig, a rolls royce amongst campsites.
Half of Europe seemed to be congregated here, or at least the more elderly half. Gone were the young families with their children and toys and now what we had was a sea of grey hair as the pensioners of Northern Europe headed south for the winter. Snow Birds, as the Americans call them. I was truly staggered at the numbers. One of our greatest fears had been that we would be on our own for this journey, strangers in a strange land, not knowing either the customs or the language. We were surrounded by car number plates from most of the countries of the EEC and others besides. We could hear the shouts of greeting as old friends met once more on what was now obviously an annual pilgrimage to the health giving sun. It didn't take long to meet up with English people and to confirm that this was indeed a thing that they did every year. Six months in the the sun, October to March, and then six months back in the UK for the summer, to attend to decorating, gardens, grand children, etc, etc. I hadn't had a clue that this had been going on for years and years and that so many thousands, yes, thousands, of old age pensioners were involved. As we were getting ready to leave Playa Montroig an English couple, Gerry and Doreen, asked if they could travel with us in convoy as rumour had it that 'bandits' were loose on the motorway and they would feel safer with another couple. These 'bandits' were people in cars who would pull alongside as you travelled along and point back at your caravan and shouting that something was wrong. The unknowing driver would wave his thanks and pull in to the next lay-by, conveniently close, to examine the tyres or rear of his caravan. The 'helpful' stranger would go with the unsuspecting couple to help, talking loudly all the time, while his accomplice would be emptying the inside of their car. The next thing the 'helpful' one would be off with his mate and you would be left standing there minus money, passport, car papers and anything else that had been left in the car. Not funny, and it meant one hell of a lot of hassle. We were such an easy target for these people, with our foreign number plates and caravans and they knew we must be carrying valuables somewhere in either or both vehicles.

Just before we left Playa Montroig an elderly English couple, also heading south, asked us where we were heading. I told them this was our first time in mainland Spain and we fancied the south coast. "Have you thought of Benidorm?" we were asked. Not on your life, I nearly said, after all I had seen all the reports on TV about this terrible concrete holiday spot, instead I just shook my head. "You really should give it a try, we go there every year. Have a look at Camping Villasol while you are there, it's a five star site and only a couple of years old". Our new found travelling companions glanced at us and we all shrugged our shoulders, maybe, we said, might just stop off on the way south.
Next day, back on the motorway for the last few hundred kilometres, and hopefully our last over night stop before hitting the south coast. We pulled in at a site in Calpe and didn't like it at all so we unhitched our caravan and June and I said we would drive the few kilometres down to Benidorm and check the place out. We parked the car right on the front of Levante beach in Benidorm (it was allowed then) and strolled round for an hour. We were quiet as we walked back to the car. Finally I plucked up the courage to say. "I could live in this place, it has everything we could ever want." She was of exactly the same opinion but hadn't said anything unless I scoffed at her for wanting to live in a place like Benidorm. Quickly it was back in the car and off to one of the local campsites that the old couple had told us about, Camping Villasol. Once more we had the same thought as we walked round the site, this is for us, never mind going any further. And so it was in Benidorm where the wheels finally stopped rolling, we had found new roots and a new home. Eight years and three different caravans later we left Villasol for Ciudad Patricia, and it may be here, in this beautiful place, that we end our days.

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