For this trip, we have a deadline to get to Malaga within a week in order to meet up with some friends so that I can go motorbike trail riding in the mountains whilst Mel entertains herself!  Home to Malaga is around 1,550 miles – so we’ll simply be going through France with no plans to stop other than fuel and sleep, choosing a toll-free route as TomTom sees fit to guide!  We’ll be back in France in a few months so will see what we desire then.

The first days’ driving was fairly dull until around 6pm when we decided to locate somewhere to stay.  As we were near Rouen, our databases said we could camp for free on the quayside which sounded great!  After navigating the chaotic Rouen traffic and finding the quay, it looked more like a rubbish tip than the local dump – so we simply carried on a little annoyed!  We changed tack to our backup plan and found a lovely tiny village and a nice secure and quiet spot for a well deserved ice-cold beer!

For the next two days we just took it easy driving down finding free places to stay, and on the third day we stopped just on the France/Spain border hoping to fill up on LPG due to its rarity in Spain.  The first garage however was now a car sales room, and the second was clearly the result of duff GPS data.  If only we filled up 100 miles ago when we passed a station!  Facing a choice of going 45 minutes the wrong way and thus wasting the best part of two hours; or risking the Spanish data – we opted to risk it!  With 300 miles to Madrid – tomorrows goal – we were surely to pass one….!

Waking up to yet more rain (it hadn’t yet stopped!) we headed into Spain.  Within 5 miles we encountered a police “checkpoint” with a couple of policemen looking serious with their rather large guns.  They waved everyone through but stopped us just to check we had light deflectors on!   We did, so continued to our planned petrol station.  We filled up with Diesel at a bargain price (78p) – and noticed they had a small LPG pump tucked out of the way.  Great!  However none of our adapters fitted the nozzle!  Fortunately an attendant came over with a box of adapters and was able to fill up our gas tank at around 40p per litre!  Continuing the journey, we headed south towards the promised land of sun, sea and sangria – only to head into a snow storm!  Unlike the UK however there was a rapid succession of snowploughs and gritters so the road was clear so on to Madrid.

We were quite looking forward to Madrid – not least to have a day away from driving.  We arrived at our planned site which looked slightly disappointing, small pitches and not really to the standard we’d been used to.  The showers looked good but after 30 seconds of lovely hot water, just after you’d covered yourself in soap or shampoo, they turned tepid leaving you a choice of staying covered in soap or have a cold shower.  Great!  On our day off, we went into Madrid by bus, and whilst Madrid looked okay, it didn’t really come up to the “wow” standard we’d been accustomed to!  There were some nice and interesting bits, but overall it was just a fairly uninspiring city.  In case we missed something we spent time looking through our guides and didn’t see anything we missed – so it is not added to the “must go back to” list.

After Madrid we planned a long drive via Granada to Malaga along the coast.  Along the way we had a few “possible Aires” to check out only to find they were either not viable; closed; or charged more than campsites!  The towns we’ve driven through have been fairly uninspiring, looking fairly run down, dirty, and aren’t begging to be explored. We ended up in a campsite near Nerja which, like the first campsite, had very small pitches.  We hope the rest of Spain improves as, to this point at least, it has not met expectations.


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