Area 340 And Peñíscola At Christmas

Relieved to be back on the road, we headed off towards a town called Peñíscola, stopping off over night on the way at a private aire called Area 340 near Creixell. We were the only van on site so had our pick of the pitches which sounds great but in reality there were only two we could actually get into. It was a tight squeeze but we managed to get in eventually (41.166864, 1.4547053).

We decided, with some very dodgy directions from the receptionist, to walk to Mercadona. 30 mins there and 30 mins back again with a stretch along an unlit beach, a steep bridge over the railway line and then an underpass under the N340! The sun started to set over the beach and the scene was picture perfect.

Some fun on the beach 🙂

We spent a great hour in Mercadona checking out all the familiar stuff on the shelves. It’s been over 5 years since we lived in Spain and Alan was almost in tears at one point – I think he felt he had come home :-D.

When we arrived back at the site, another van had arrived and with about 30 other spaces to choose from – parked right beside us – what is it with motorhome people that they feel the need to squeeze up as close as possible to you when there’s acres of room?

We were up at 09.30 and on the road to Peñíscola – Alan decided to take a slight detour for lunch and we arrived at a picnic are – alongside the toll road – but hidden in the trees there was the most amazing Roman aquaduct – built around the first century and still standing.

Kelpie at the picnic spot

The Les Ferreres Aqueduct had been built by the Romans to supply water to the town of Tarragona and was known as the Pont del Diable “The Devil’s Bridge”.

Someone had built a nativity scene under one of the arches complete with miniature trees and aluminium foil to represent a running river

The thought of all those huge stones being carried to the location and the building of the bridge almost 2000 years ago – it must have been an incredible feat.

We got some incredible pics and just sat and had lunch in the picnic area with the aqueduct as a backdrop.

Alan on top of the aqueduct

Back on the road for another couple of hours and we arrived at the Los Pinos campsite at Peñíscola. we fancied staying for a couple of days to get over the Christmas period. Great wee site with lots of activity. Visitors from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain parked up for christmas. Toilets and showers are spotless and there’s a great washer/dryer – €12 a night including EHU with the ACSI card which is great (40.379156, 0.3863863).

We even had a audience when Alan was parking on the pitch – deck chairs out, making themselves comfortable so they had a ringside seat – just in case he smacked the van off anything. Fortunately Alan did his usual perfect job of parking so they were all disappointed though I could see they were secretly impressed. After all he had very little space to manoeuvre!

Christmas Eve morning sun shining – doesn’t seem like Christmas – but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Thinking of cycling into town for a quick look around. Lots of pensioners around the site on mopeds, quads and electric bikes.

Alan’s playing his usual Brenda Lee Christmas album – there is no escape and we’ve got our twinkly lights, giant fir cones picked up from under the pine trees in Gruissan and hurricane lamps as our nod to Christmas.

Cycled the 2km into town of Peñíscola. There’s a huge castle right on the beach where the film El Cid was filmed in the 1960’s. Memories of Charlton Heston riding down the castle ramp strapped to his horse come flooding back! The castle has been used in numerous film sets including the latest series of Game of Thrones, a series we have started watching since leaving in the motorhome.

Not much wiggle room!
Charlton Heston as El Cid in front of Peñíscola castle

A different scene today. Instead of the marks of horses’ hooves we have tractor tracks from raking the beach and volleyball nets!

The village is inside the castle walls. We chained up the bikes and had a look around – got some great pics then stopped off for lunch at a Spanish restaurant in the square under the castle entrance, a lovely setting. The weather is amazing – I can’t believe its December.

The entrance to the walled village
Is this the famous ramp? Horses have been replaced by horsepower


The church and keep at the top

The walled village is typically Spanish with narrow streets of whitewashed buildings and balconies filled with flowering plants – I am sure it must be awash with colour in the summer. The ground floor premises are mostly occupied with cafés, tavernas and souvenir shops.

Shell house
Locks of love on a bridge over the moat
The old horse drinking trough blocked by another parked car!

Our first Spanish lunch was garlic mushrooms and a mixed salad with the most amazing caramel balsamic sauce for starters followed by baby fried squid, roast chicken breast, baked/roasted potatoes with alioli sauce for the mains (guess who ate which?) – the food was amazing. The 2km cycle back to the campsite was needed to work it off.

A typical prop outside the restaurant

Simple but delicious

Alan got the ingredients together and made the stuffing for the turkey legs – turkey stuffing was always a tradition for him at home. He cooked them before we went to bed and the smell of cooking turkey and stuffing wafted around the van making it feel very much like home.

Alan preparing the breadcrumbs for the turkey stuffing

We sat and listened to Christmas music and had a few drinks. Missing everyone at home but loving the peaceful surroundings here without all the mad panic of the UK too. The campsite was really quiet today – no over-excited pensioners – but it’s early yet.

Christmas Day – 25 December 2016

It’s Christmas (apparently) – we had a very quiet day. The table was set complete with Christmas table cloth and we had Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and a couple of bottles of Spumante! Who says you have to slum it in a motorhome.

Baked peppers, turkey, stuffing, mushrooms and potatoes delicious

We phoned home and spoke to everyone – all at my sister’s for dinner and pressies. Sounded like they were having a great time – it was good to speak to them all.