12th November 2016. Tossa de Mar, Spain.

At last we forced ourselves to move on.

En route to our Christmas stopover we’re going to visit our friend Beki who’s recently moved out to Spain and Kathryn has recommended a few more towns on the way down to Beki’s town which we’d like to visit.

We’re also keen to revisit a town we stayed in when we were young and foolish.  We didn’t see a lot of it at the time as we both came down with severe food poisoning (that was traditional in the ‘70’s, no holiday in Spain was complete without a case of ‘Benidorm bum’ even if it was contracted in Salou!), the only good thing about that holiday was the wealth of stories we returned with so we thought we’d see what we had missed, if anything.  It came as a bit of a shock when we suddenly realised we’re almost halfway through November already.

I was loath to leave Pamalos so soon, the parts we saw were lovely and apparently there are even prettier areas just outside of the old town, it would have been great to have explored the area more thoroughly but I haven’t got the energy to cycle too far just yet so we’ll have to put that on our list of places to come back to on another trip.

The journey to Tossa de Mar (oh, that name!) involved following yet another road that snaked through the mountains only this time it was a Saturday and the motorbikes were out in force!  It was fun watching them race past although one left it a bit late to pass us and almost collided with a car coming round the bend, that was the first time since we arrived in Spain that we saw a driver make a hand gesture!

Old ‘Eagle Eye’ pointed out another motorbike which passed us at high speed with a little teddy bear riding pillion, that kept us amused for the next couple of miles imagining various scenarios as to why he had a teddy on the back of his bike.  (Our favourite was what his wife would say when he arrived home with teddy but minus little Manuel!)

One of the towns we passed through en route to Tossa de Mar was Lloret de Mar, my parents had taken us (not me, her sister!) there for a two week holiday when Spanish holidays became all the rage in the 70’s.  I can still remember going on an organised excursion to see Spanish dancing and where they drank red wine out of a porron (surely you mean the glass teapot thingy with a pointy spout), there must have been a lot of drinking going on because the next day my dad was laid up in bed with a terrible hangover and when the maid came in to make up the room she shook her head at him and said “Mucho drinkies, mucho drinkies!”.  Anyway I digress (for a change!), so I thought it would be great to go and see the town again.

Well I’ve seen it and I’m pleased to say we just drove straight through and out the other side, time has not been kind to it, it was HORRIBLE, it had obviously had 40 years of buildings added to it since I’d last been there.

We pulled up at the aire in Tossa de Mar and Darren went for a wander round to see if there was any information about the area.  He’d only been gone a moment when I noticed him chatting to a young man.  The pair of them were chatting for ages.  When Darren eventually came back to the van I asked him what they’d been talking about, aires apparently and whether the young couple could stay here.

As we walked out of the aire towards the town it suddenly occurred to me that we had a map with lots of aires on it which the young couple could photograph so they would have a list of Spanish aires too.  We wandered back and Darren explained our idea and at that moment the young man’s girlfriend appeared.  They introduced themselves as Ben and Amy and they had been travelling around Europe for about four months.  They hadn’t realised there were books with lists of aires in them and had wondered how people knew where to stay.

They told us they had to be back home before Christmas because they had ‘giants’ to make for the ‘giant’ parade that their town of Lostwithiel holds on New Years eve.  Ben told us his parents had started the first parade in the ‘90’s and now he and Amy were taking over the running of it, they were hoping to get far more people interested in making giant figures for the parade.  It sounds like great fun, I hope that we’ll be able to go and see it when we’re back in the country, it’ll be a good excuse to visit our friends who all seem to be moving down that way.

If nothing else this trip has been an amazing insight into the interesting things that other people have going on in their lives.  Ben said he was trying to get a website up and running about the ‘giant’ parade, it sounds like a good thing to do even if it solely documents what his parents and the local community have achieved over the last 20 years.  He said his dad had made a scrapbook with photos of all the parades that had taken place since the first event but it had gone missing, I hope that they eventually track it down.

We said goodbye and wandered off in search of lunch.  We weren’t really sure where the seafront was but after walking through a warren of narrow streets we finally saw the blue expanse of water glinting in the gap at the end of the road.

The bay was beautiful, this is another town we need to make a return journey to.  Up on the hillside was an ancient walled town, and a row of little restaurants overlooked the sea.  As time was marching on and we needed to get to Pineda de Mar before dark we found a busy restaurant, that must be a sure sign it’s good, and had our first experience of plate del dias, three courses, bread and wine for €11.90, it was a leisurely and tasty meal.   We were taken aback to have our food bought to us by a lady with a Northern English accent!

After lunch we walked up to the walled town and almost immediately discovered there was a pretty little restaurant in there looking down on the bay.  D’oh!  It always astounds me that these towns were built such a long time ago and yet remain in such good condition, there won’t be many modern buildings still in one piece even 100 years from now I’m sure.

It would have been great to be able to sit with a picnic looking out over the town and the bay, we definitely need to come back to do that.  The view was stunning and we could see a path on the otherside of the little bay that went over the top of the hill, that area would be great to explore on another occasion.   We wandered around the ancient streets, I wonder if it’s such a tranquil experience during the height of the Summer, I’d hazard a guess that it isn’t!

We left the walled town by another gate and in the process discovered another very popular restaurant within the walls and a whole street of tiny restaurants in the street outside.  The battery on Darren’s phone died at that moment which was a bit disturbing as we weren’t really sure where we were but we winged it and found our way back to the van without too much backtracking.

The journey to Pineda took another hour, as we drove into the town we were starting to wonder whether our SAT NAV was having a fit again as it took us into tiny residential streets where the aire was apparently situated.  If Kathryn hadn’t mentioned it was one street back from the sea we probably would have disbelieved the SAT NAV but we bore with it until we caught sight of a sign between the parked cars pointing to the aire.  Again, I’m glad Kathryn said it was a good aire because looking at the buildings surrounding it we would have assumed it was a bit dodgy but she was quite right it was great, nice and quiet and very close to the sea front.

While Darren was in reception paying the receptionist mentioned that if we cycled into Calella tomorrow they were holding a competition outside the church building human pyramids.  That sounds interesting so that’s our plan for tomorrow.

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