THE BIG BIRTHDAY TRIP 2016 travel blog

Aranjuez Campsite

Aranjuez City Centre

Aranjuez Palace Grounds

Aranjuez Palace

Aranjurez Palace

Aranjurez gardens

Reservoir Kiko Park

Reservoir Kiko Park

Campsite Kiko Park

Our journey started with the familiar 24 hour overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Santander. This time the ferry was not late as we did not have such a choppy crossing as last year. For such a large ferry it was quite empty and there were plenty of seats to choose from and of course wifi is always a bonus. We could even had a game of bingo, but I managed to persuade John not to participate, he’s such a one for joining in group events such as bingo or quizzes!! I dread it when we get to a campsite and they have bowls or line dancing up for entertainment.

Our first night in Spain was spent quite close to the ferry port at a Marina which was in our Aire guide book. Nobody seemed to want to take any money from us and so we had a free night. Another couple off the ferry, Peter and Tina also parked up and joined us in the bar for a nightcap. By the time we got back to the van, another Brit van had joined us, safety in numbers. The Marina was next to the airport runway and I did think we might have a noisy night but it was very peaceful.

The following morning we went to say our goodbyes and unfortunately Peter somehow managed to lock himself out of his van. Lucky for him he had left the skylight open and with the help of our ladder (there’s not much we don’t carry with us) was able to climb in and open up.

We drove around 250 miles mostly in welcome sunshine until we reached our destination, a very comfortable campsite in the heart of a city called Aranjuez, 40 km south of Madrid. There is very little about this city in the guidebook, which is a shame as it is quite a find. It boasts two fine gardens (one next to the campsite) and a Palace. The Palace which was Felipe 11 summer home overlooks a large square surrounded by old buildings which were the quarters of the palace and estate staff and are still occupied today. A one way system runs through the city with narrow roads by passing the palace. The area where the shops are has some lovely plazas to sit and have a drink and a large indoor food market. Although quiet this time of year, we imagine it gets very busy during the summer with the city dwellers escaping the bustle of Madrid.

Although we only planned to spend a couple of nights, we ended up spending four as I was unwell for a couple of days. I am pleased to say I am much better now and the campsite was an ideal location for me to rest. I did manage to walk into the city on our first day and enjoy the warm sunshine. John cycled in on his own too and went for walks so he didn’t get too bored.

There is nothing better when you have been unwell than driving to your next destination feeling revitalised with the sun shining and listening, and sometimes singing along to Police Dog Hogan ( a great country/rock group from the southwest we discovered at Cornbury last year). The roads were remarkably quiet although we did experience some fog for the first hour. The area was very barren, very little green and deep red soil. We passed plenty of olive trees wigh their pink blossom and vine fields. With our batteries fully recharged and raring to go we headed further south and stopped at our next destination.

Camping Kiko Park is in a rural village called Villargordo del Cabriel, about 40 miles from Valencia. The campsite is in the middle of a nature park surrounded by mountains and close to a large lake. This place really is in the middle of nowhere and is popular in the summer for hiking, white water rafting and rock climbing. However, not much happens this time of year as there were only us and a Dutch couple camping. A great stopover place as we didn’t want to drive too far. We took a short stroll down the hill to the large lake where presumably most of the water sports take place in the summer.

Its hard to imagine that as I type this we have been away for nearly a week, gosh I hope the rest of the trip doesn’t go as quickly, mind you we have 40 odd weeks to go!!

See you in Valencia.

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