Oliva, Catalonia, Spain Wednesday, January 14, 2009
It was with some sadness that we left Vilanova Park Campsite on 11th January. Despite the fact that since Christmas the weather had been mostly wet or cold, and the town of Vilanova itself was nothing special, we had enjoyed the relaxing and civilised environment of the campsite and had met some very nice people there (and some very cute cats.) But the time had come to move on in search of sunshine and new experiences. We had done some research on the Net and booked a campsite on the coast south of Valencia, in a low-key resort called Oliva.
Things went badly from the outset. The sun, which had been shining when we left Vilanova, disappeared and the skies got darker the further south we travelled. On our arrival at Kiko Park Campsite they claimed to have no record of our booking - not a promising start. However, they did have some vacancies so we had a walk round the site to choose a suitable pitch. Most of the pitches were too small to take our caravan and awning. We finally found one that would just about do, and started towing the van towards it. The road was blocked by a large group of Germans having a serious game of petanque. Having negotiated this hazard we then had to turn a very tight corner into the row where our pitch was. This caused considerable interest among the campers already there. One helpful English chap guided us in, and another watched as we used the motor mover to negotiate into the restricted space - a stressful experience at the best of times, not improved by having an audience who kept up a constant commentary! The final straw came when we put the awning up and a passing German lady said, "Oh, I must go and get my husband!" He arrived and they stood and watched our every move with great interest. As a result we made quite a hash of it.
We'd been told by several people who spent every winter in Spain that the weather this year was the worst in living memory, so we were pleased when the next day dawned bright and sunny (but not so pleased to be woken at 8 am by workmen lopping branches off the trees around our pitch!) My morning trip to the shower didn't go well either, as I had to negotiate the cleaners' obstacle course of buckets and hosepipes. I then noticed that whereas most caravans were in full sun, ours was entirely in the shade, so we have to move our chairs out into the middle of the road if we want to sunbathe. I felt myself getting grumpier by the minute.
Our first task was to lay our awning groundsheet out in the sun to dry. It had got very wet in Vilanova, not to mention disgustingly smelly. It smelt, not surprisingly, of cat pee. Strangely, it started smelling bad early in our trip, long before we had encountered any cats, and seemed to be worse when the weather was wet. At one point, in Greece, we took the whole thing into the sea to wash it, which was great fun but didn't really remove the smell. But I have to admit that the Vilanova cats were somewhat lacking in toilet etiquette. After a couple of hours in the sun the groundsheet was perfectly dry and no longer smelt of cats. Instead, it smelt like old, incontinent, homeless winos. How do I know what they smell like? I worked in public libraries! The only solution was to buy a new groundsheet, so we went to a local caravan dealer, where we saw all sorts of other useful items and ended up spending a month's pension money. But the result is a smart, fresh-smelling awning that we can happily use as an extra sitting/dining room.
Now that we're settled and have had two whole days of warm sunshine my grumpiness is abating and I'm starting to enjoy myself. There's a beautiful beach right next to the campsite and we're looking forward to exploring the surrounding area.
The weather forecast is good and we may even be able to get the shorts out again! And I'm afraid that if any sad little stray moggies turn up looking for love and affection I'll say sorry, my smart new groundsheet is far more important!