Saturday, 28 March 2020

Winter Sun 2020. Los Olivos Spain

Finally we were on our way to our last site. a new Camping & Caravanning Club rally. We had met the stewards Gill and Chris at Castille de Banos last year so we were looking forward to a new experience. Sadly the weather had not been as good as last year, cooler overall but still worth the journey for the beautiful warm days we had, on and off. This site was further north in Valencia at a place called Alcala de Xivert. ( pronounce the "X" as a "ch") Just 17k from Peniscola and  7k from the beach at Alcossebre. In the foothills of the mountains amongst the orange groves. We were excited!

We left Kiko Park with a longish drive in front of us around 4.5 hours we thought ! Madam Satnag was dutifully programmed in with the co-ordinates, we thought it rather strange that we couldn't find the campsite name in our trusty Garmin. Several hours later in the mountains we went up and down the same pass at least three times. Something was wrong as Madam Satnag was not performing! In desperation I enlisted the help of Google, hurray he found the way! We had managed to mix up our Wests and Easts and consequentially were travelling in the wrong direction. A quick spurt down the motorway and we had arrived....finally! Just in time the main Reception was about to close. We were allocated a pitch but VERY STRONG winds and a German builder put us off. The Rally stewards helped us out and we were soon settled in.A large gravel pitch between two statics. We were out of the wind so we were happy. A meal in the campsite restaurant, a large wine and all was well in the world.




Los Olivos proved to be rather a strange campsite. Fairly described in the Winter Sun book. The pitches were huge and the roads really wide. The club house was an enormous villa type building. The story goes it was built to be a golf course but planning permission was refused, hence the facilities. Toilets and showers were housed behind the restaurant, more of that later!



The campsite roads built for trucks.

At the entrance to the site was a kind of aire. Smaller pitches for campers. A very long walk to the facilities. We were pleased not to be in this outside spot.





Reception. Everything here on a grand scale.



The White House home to the restaurant, bar, gym with loos and showers around the back. Shame the bar and restaurant closed at 8 pm. I thought the Spanish liked to party 'till late. Not here.



The swimming pool looked nice. It was closed.

The Rally was well organised with a pleasant programme of events much as expected. We decided to explore the town. Alcala de Xivert. A really typical small Spanish town. Miles from anywhere and slightly run down. It's claim to fame is the castle outside on the hill and it's large elaborate church. Sadly we never found the church open, or the tourist information. There was a market on a Friday morning packed with market mainly clothes and not much else. The town was pleasant enough to wander around but slightly depressing.







The church very grand with a tower that can be climbed when it's open. Everything was closed.

Xivert is not a tourist top spot destination. Perhaps this is where it's charm lies. We were looking for a pleasant bar or nice restaurant, sadly there are none. We did find a bit of entertainment one morning on our way back from the supermarket though. A large lorry had a slight disagreement with a narrow street.





With a bit of help from a passing English truck driver, a host of locals and the police he eventually escaped. It kept us entertained for a while.

Surrounding the town are orange and lemon groves. A good place for dog walking I would think. There was some kind of dog sanctuary just outside the campsite, I was always a bit wary walking past as they were very noisy. 

 

The rally stewards organised a walk to the castle, up the mountain and definitely not for the fainthearted. A little jaunt of only 9.5 miles. We set off feeling very fit and healthy! We were led by one of the ralliers who had done the climb before , a motley crew. It all started of so gently, along the track through the orange groves.



A little discussion as to if we were on the right track. We weren't, so back we went.


Up.....


And up.... clambering over the stony path.


Each time we got to the top of one path there was another.

Eventually we made it!



Finally at the top and a tremendous view. All we had to do now was descend.



Our little wander took 5.5 hours. The walk home was calmer and down a road for most of the way. We really deserved the cold beer. Oh dear all the water holes were closed! We made our way back to the camp bar. Certainly covered our 10 000 steps that day. Would I do it again. NO!! Although it was enjoyable.

Our last day had finally come to an end. Tomorrow we would run in front of the corona virus to get home.

Homeward bound.

Would we use this site again? I don't think so. The site is a long way from anywhere. Good for walkers but it needs a lot of work. The toilets were very superficially cleaned and would be totally inadequate if the site was full. If we had been on the small pitches by reception we would have left. It was a very long walk to the facilities. After a couple of days we had seen all we wanted to in the town and after 9 nights were beginning to be a bit bored. Nice for a short stay maybe. Perhaps we would have looked at it differently if we had a car and caravan or if we were into golf. There was public transport but the trains stopped miles from the beach so not really useful for a seaside visit. It was really too far for a day trip to Valencia by train. Sadly not a part of Spain we really want to return to.



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