Week 2: We finally made it to the coast!

16th - It’s always hard to find a completely level surface parking spot for the van. Last night the van was parked on a small incline with the front of the van lower than the back. Meaning every half an hour Jade would roll into me while asleep because she seems to have less balance than me. 🤦‍♂️

Destination for the day was Parque Natural De Las Bardenas Reales. It’s a semi desert natural region covering over 100,000 acres!

In the past week, we’ve only travelled 400 miles but feels like we’ve driven through 3 different countries. The mountains and trees either side of the motorways make you feel like your in Canada. The small towns feel more like Italy than Spain. The desert area we travelled to today felt more like we were driving through Monument Valley in Arizona!

As we were driving down the very uneven and rocky road surface, the van shaking like crazy, we wondered whether it was a good idea to carry on but we took it slow and made it to one of the main points. What a view! Plenty of pictures taken including Bobbi and Arla’s photo shoot in the desert.

Another hours drive to our spot for the next few days in the city of Zaragoza. I’ve said it before, the sign of a good park up, a McDonald’s within walking distance! That’s where we’ll be having my birthday party meal tomorrow if anybody’s interested!

17th - Happy birthday to me! 31 today and spending it travelling around Spain, not a bad life!

Lazy morning not getting out of bed till 12pm. Finally decided what we were doing and we were all heading into the city of Zaragoza to see a bit of history. Jade planned to hire a bike and the city has a similar bike hire scheme as London but turns out you need a Spanish address and phone number to hire one. So that meant testing out the public transport. We’d done a bit of research on if dogs were allowed on public transport and couldn’t find a definitive answer so decided to sneak them onto the tram. Bobbi, my “assistance dog” on my lap and Arla in a carry on bag.

The trams here are very accessible, completely flat entry at every stop! We headed straight for Plaza del Pilar Square where the city's three most popular buildings/sights are located and just a 5 minute walk away from the Caesaraugusta Theatre Museum. All very accessible. A day of lots of walking and so many pigeons for Bobbi to chase, we headed back to the van. A stop off at the local pet shop with the dogs to pick up those all essential treats! Today was my first outing using the Tri-ride attachment for my wheelchair. It lifts the front casters and turns it into a very fast 3 wheeler. With a 30km range on the battery, it’ll definitely take some getting used to!

18th - Still in the same park up position in Zaragoza. It’s quite nice to take a few days and do nothing! Dogs were still asleep from the long walk yesterday so we headed to the local Carrefour to steal their Wi-Fi and electric. We can charge almost everything in the van off the USB ports but with still no electric hook up wired in the van we have to be creative! Fully charged and back to 2 very excited dogs, it was a short drive to a dog friendly park which also had an agility course for dogs!

They were both so excited to finally be free and go crazy together like they do. We tried them both out on the agility course but I don’t think they’ll be taking it up as a sport anytime soon, they were useless!

Something you don’t see anywhere, this park had a shower area for dogs in the car park. Great to rinse all the sand off before jumping all over the bed in the van. Back to the park up for the last night and meet our new neighbours and “Jonny” the Australian shepherd puppy.

19th - Parking up next to all the other motorhomes makes you realise how small Pepper (our van) is compared to others. I know Jade’s mind is definitely on the next van conversion and ways to make it even more accessible for the 4 of us and in the future, our children!

We had no plans for today so just made them up as we went along. We eventually ended up in the Spanish town of Lleida. An ancient city in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region. On our journey there we saw our first Osborne Bull. There are 91 dotted around Spain and they originated from marketing for Osbourne sherry. But the law surrounding road advertising changed and the company was required to remove the bulls. The Spanish petitioned to keep them though as they had become part of Spain’s heritage. All the bulls were replaced and painted black as an unofficial symbol of Spain.

Trying to find somewhere to park in Lleida was an absolute nightmare and with the streets getting narrower and narrower, we eventually found somewhere to park. Ideally when parking, we like to be near other camper vans but it turned out, I think we were the only one in the town. A walk up to La Seu Vella, a gothic-romanesque cathedral in a ruined hilltop fortress pushed the Tri-Ride to its limits with some very steep hills to contend with.

I don’t know what it was but we just didn’t feel comfortable here and not long after arriving, we were on our way to find somewhere to park up for the evening. We found a vineyard about half an hours drive from Lleida which when we arrived was so peaceful. A visit from the friendly neighbourhood Brit staying on site came over to welcome us and give us the grand tour. Just a word of warning, if you can’t handle a strong smell of manure, then this isn’t the place for you. Arla kept waking up sniffing, thinking she’d pooped herself!

20th - So it’s 3am, probably in the deepest sleep we’ve both been in since we’ve got here and we’re awoken by this loud scratching noise. Is someone trying to get into the van? No, Bobbi has woken up and decided she’s fed up with vanlife and being in her den and it’s time to dig her way out of the van! Jade was not happy.

Waking up to a very wet and windy Spain, our friendly neighbourhood Brit had booked us into a tour of the vineyards, if it hadn’t been raining so much we would of taken him up on his offer.

So we packed up and headed to the coast of Spain, finally we could see the sea! Tarragona was where we were heading but we couldn’t find a good park up so ended up staying about 15 minutes outside of the town at a local campsite and what a good idea that was! As we pulled up the campsite looked closed and just as we were reversing out, the owner ran out and said we could stay. There was only a handful of other campervans here as the campsite was closing the following day for the winter season. They had the cleanest toilets and showers, a mini supermarket and a restaurant. We thought we’d try out the restaurant in the evening and turned out to be some of the best food we’d eaten in a very long time. It was like something out of a 5* restaurant all for €8 each!

21st - A nice walk along the beach front this morning for the dogs before we got ready to head to Tarragona. When parking the van we use a few different apps to see where’s a good spot. Every single spot in Tarragona had a bad review (mainly motor homes getting broken into) and we weren’t really keen on leaving the van anywhere. We drove to the Roman amphitheater ruins but turns out you have to walk down a hundred steps to get to it. So we headed to Les Ferres Aqueduct, the remains of an ancient roman Aqueduct. Luckily a nice little car park but we still packed up all our equipment and passports and took them with us. It’s a hard decision, do you take everything with you and run the risk of someone snatching your bag, or leave everything in the van for it to possibly get broken into.

The Aqueduct gave a chance for me to test out the Freewheel (lifts my front casters) and Smartdrive (a small electric motor) combo which actually works pretty well to get over rough terrain, and for Jade to get the drone out to get some shots from above. A little visit from the local police to tell her off soon ended that though!

We then moved onto our park up for the night on the beach front!

22nd - With torrential rain and thunderstorms all night, and forecast for the rest of today, we thought it was a good idea to get up early and move the van away from the beach front as we didn’t really fancy getting stuck. Although the dogs weren’t happy as they we’re expecting another beach walk this morning.So what do you do when it’s chucking it down with rain all day? Simple, you head straight to McDonald’s! A chance to get some all important laundry done, not an easy thing to find that’s got parking close by. The rain and wind was so bad, we had to find somewhere to park up pretty quickly. The Eastern coast of Spain had an orange alert for rain and potential flooding. A real test for the van and to see whether it’s 100% watertight! It looked like it was going to be another long night.....

Please don’t hestitate to drop a comment below, we would love to hear your feedback! And if you would like links to any of the park ups mentioned please feel free to drop us a message!

Dave. X

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