The two days in Valencia were wonderful and yet we are soon drawn back out into nature. But one thing has to be mentioned: The campsite Nomadic in Valencia is a superbly organized and clean campsite, as we would not have expected here. Only the bread service in the morning is with 9:00 clock for camper friends probably set a little too late. I know that's complaining at a very high level, because bread service in and of itself is already great!
So we have once again the choice, back to the sea or rather to the mountains. We will probably stand in the next few months still countless times at the sea, so the choice falls for the time being on the hilly landscape behind Alicante. "Mountains" is probably too much said here, because the elevations range from 400 to 500 meters above sea level. The way takes us first back to the highway to bypass Valencia. Instead of driving along the coast in southeastern direction to the Costa Blanca, we rather take the route inland a little bit to the southwest. Alicante is the distant destination, we pass Alcasser, Alginet, Alberic followed by Albaida, Alcudia and finally Alcoy. If you haven't noticed up to this point, there are a lot of towns here that start with "Al". Besides the Phoenicians, the Celts and the Romans, the Arabs have also been here in recent times and have left their traces. The dark-skinned people who came from North Africa were called Moors. On our way to Morocco and the Western Sahara we will surely meet their descendants personally. For the time being, however, we are just amazed at the euphonious place names here in the region between Valencia and Alicante. At La Sarga we leave the A7 and after a short uphill drive we enjoy an impressive panoramic road towards Xixona. The view reaches down to the sea on the Costa Blanca and the smog of Alicante.
Just as unusual as its name, is the village of Xixona, whose pronunciation, by the way, can best be rendered with the Swiss German "schisch scho nah" (or in High German "it is already close"). And indeed, we are close and soon arrive at the destination of today. Nevertheless, this village does not knock our socks off at all. It has so completely no sex-appeal, so that it seems almost bizarrely fascinating again. Quite in contrast to the wonderful surroundings in which it is located. A few kilometers further on, we leave the main road and enter the valley on a very narrow, steeply sloping path. With our Unimog just doable. Oncoming traffic or even a dog on the side of the road can't make it here, though, so narrow is the path on the last five kilometers. My turning technique is once again really challenged, while my co-pilot keeps giving warnings about low-hanging branches. On the last meters she then actually gets out. Not because she is afraid of not surviving the narrow road on the sloping side. No, she masters these situations in the meantime with bravura. But she believes that these last meters have Instagram potential and so she prefers to capture the arrival at the stage finish with the camera.
After the campsite in Valencia, this is the complete opposite here. Nature at its best. We stand on a gently sloping platform above a deep gorge. Opposite us, red-green saltstone walls rise up, behind them bizarre rock formations that could have served as a backdrop for any Winnetou movie. On the platform stands an old tree, lonely and strong. It seems to have been enjoying this fantastic view here for decades, just as we plan to do for a few days. But it also gives us the assurance that the ground is compact enough, even in the rain, so that this will not be our last site.
During the night, however, we suddenly have doubts about just that. Strong gusty wind suddenly shakes our box violently. My beloved doubts now, yet again, our survival. It is already a crux with the blissful happiness. At sunset we were still so happy and grateful for our numerous highlights on our adventures and now we ask ourselves again if we are really doing the right thing. Not least to reassure myself, I step out into the dark night and cautiously circle our vehicle. The fact that we have, as usual, pushed our air cushions underneath on the slightly lower side of the vehicle, naturally increases the bobbing of the truck. On the whole, however, it looks quite harmless from the outside. These eight and a half tons don't fall to the side quite as quickly as one might imagine from inside. So I decide for complete all-clear and trusting coaxing, so that also my better half finds sometime the deserved sleep.
The next day we are understandably not quite as rested as we hoped from such a dream location. All the more the decision is made that we will stay here at least one more day to relax. Maybe we will meet Old Shatterhand or other interesting people. But surprisingly, there are very few people up here. Despite the relative proximity of an estimated 30 kilometers to Alicante, hardly more than three or four people get lost here during the day. Every now and then a vehicle drives up or down the mountain. Once a cyclist and once a group of motocrossers. And yes, once there was a men's hiking group who were very excited about our being here. In fact, the Guardia Civil also came by on the last morning. They pulled up right next to our FRAME, but never got off. They spent five minutes on the cell phone before they left again. I hope they were not afraid of our colossus. Probably they googled us briefly and were satisfied with the peacefulness they could discover on our website ;-).
The wind was fortunately not so bad on the second night. For the third night we were joined by "Mathilda the Van", a somewhat outdated Mitsubishi van with its two proud owners Julia and Bela from Fulda. The two twenty year olds converted their Mathilda with a lot of love to roam around in Spain and Portugal as long as the money supply lasts. A wonderful undertaking at such a young age. We wish them from our hearts every success.
For us it is time to travel on. We have the choice of either going 15 kilometers down the mountain in the direct line to Alicante or going back up the mountain where we came from. There it is just five kilometers and we have certainty that we will get through. Normally we decide in such cases for the more risky but more exciting, because new and unknown option. But today our intuition tells us to choose the easier one. Who knows what that was good for today. We are convinced that our guardian spirits are omnipresent and always advise us well. So it goes uphill to Tibi and only then down again via A7 towards the sea.
After a short shopping spree in the university district of Alicante, we now take the quickest way to the sea. The way leads us past the Alicante airport and we can get an idea of how it goes here during the high season by the thousands of rental cars waiting here on oversized parking lots for the next tourist season. It definitely wouldn't be the time we wanted to be here. Actually, it's crazy that the Spanish tourist season only lasts until the end of October. It is still wonderfully warm and sunny here even in winter. Arriving at the sea we see the same scenario again. Empty streets, closed parks and locked apartments in mostly hideous apartment buildings. In contrast, the camper sites here at the sea are still quite full. We drive once down to Santa Pola without finding an acceptable place. We quickly lower our expectations and there it is, our spot by the sea next to an Austrian van. The place is nice, the main thing is the sea. But tomorrow is our wedding anniversary and this place is definitely not the place for that. About 100 kilometers further south there should be lonely spots on the cliffs. We already have the "pirate beach" south of Aguilas in mind. There we want to celebrate our 28th wedding day with a view and panorama. From champagne to the finest delicacies we have everything with us. The only thing missing is the right location.
With a new day comes a new chance. Very quickly we are ready to leave today. Our GPS is doing a good job in the meantime. At the beginning we were often frustrated, because it eliminated intermediate destinations to get faster to the final destination or because it could not find the signal for a long time after tunnels. Today we have mastered this Locus Map software so well that navigation is fun and we also arrive at the desired destination. Isn't that great? But if the driver wants to be smarter than his navigation system, then it can happen that it doesn't work. Also today we wish to stay toll-free, but we ignore the voice of the navi, because we can't read the corresponding indications on the route yet. So it happens. We are standing in front of the toll gates and there is no way back. With a heavy heart we pull a ticket and drive onto the deserted stretch. Toll roads seem to be a bad business model here. Despite the horrendous fuel prices, everyone here likes to take a detour to avoid the toll. We are already wondering how much it would cost us. Often not only the category of the vehicle is subject to the toll, but also the weight, the height or even the emission standards. With the Womo-quartet we would probably score well in all areas. But when it comes to tolls, we are the big losers.
The first exit from this toll highway comes only after more than 15 kilometers. But here we are in the middle of nowhere so we decide to stay on it despite the uncertainty. After a good 30 kilometers the highway loop leads back to the shoreline. We prepare for the exit and the shock of the toll bill. As I see the Euro 4.75 lit up on the display, I am relieved. After all, it wasn't that bad. If we did the math, we probably saved at least five euros on diesel by taking the more direct route. The kingdom is back in order.
Once again we have arrived in a deserted region. Our way leads us on a lonely road up a pass, when we suddenly see a gas station with car wash on the right. Car wash also means running water and that's exactly what we would like to fill up again before we might go to the cliffs for several days. We still have 200 liters in reserve, but 300 liters are better than 200. In the meantime we are also filled up with food and drink. So we could make the most of the self-sufficiency with a full water tank. No sooner said than done.
While eating ice cream after work, we meet an illustrious group of cyclists. You've probably seen them or read about them. They really do exist, the hardcore endurance cyclists who explore the world on their bikes. A German and two young women from Switzerland and Spain met by chance and ride together for a few hours or days in the same direction. Lack of air pressure in their tires has led them to stop at the gas station. Unfortunately, the device at the gas station is not working today. So we can help out with our compressed air system from the Unimog. It's crazy: Our Mog drives with three to four bar pressure on its thick hams, the girls have up to six bar in their narrow tires. Such encounters are always very nice and we are amazed how other people get to their adventures as well. Hats off to these globetrotters on bikes.
A few kilometers after Aguilas, the voice from the GPS confirms us once again: "You have reached your destination". The Pirate Beach is actually a magnificent spot on a small cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It offers several platforms to stand on and what we would not have expected, it is absolutely empty. We choose the lowest level, farthest away from the narrow thoroughfare. With the roar of the surf, we will definitely hear no more passing cars here. In addition, the place is almost not visible from the road. So we are well camouflaged and still about 15 meters above sea level. The setting is simply unique, we have several small pools directly below us for swimming and the orientation to the sun from sunrise to sunset. The weather outlook for the coming days is sunny with temperatures around 22°C. Nothing can stop us from hanging out here for a few more days after our wedding day.
Life on long-term trips is fantastic, no doubt about it. Still, it requires a daily routine that also accommodates physical fitness. That's how we do it at FRAME Adventure.... ;-)
Next Blog 2.3: Andalusia surprises us, WOW!