We started out on this activity wintering in rented houses in southern Spain for two yeqrs (08 and 09). Which was fine except we got a bit bored being in such an interesting country but stuck in one place. So we bought another van (our fifth over the years) and then came south in the early spring of 2010. France was fine but the car gave us a problem which meant we never reached Spain.
Year two and having to buy a new car for the job we bought bigger which meant we could have a bigger van and Janet wanted twin singles. This in turn dictated a very large van – maximum size for conventional towcars in the UK actually! So for the fourth year of our trips we took the long ferry to northern Spain and did the Costa Verde. In what turned out to be the worst spring for decades. Two things thus occurred – we struggled a bit with the weather and we added a new coast to the areas of Spanish coast which we consider ruined by over development. Three things... three things because we further confirmed that Spanish camp sites are mean with space. Which of course takes us back to the big van issue.
This year we have had several glorious weeks in France. The weather was naff for the first five but much improved for the last three. We then arrived at Camping Barcelona, Mataro, on the Costa Dourade. The campsite does it best but the location is dreadful. No beach and no access to one. No access to the countryside. Hard walking to reach anything worthwhile. Tight pitches, although ours was OK but lacked any shade or real privacy.
We took a drive up the Costa Dourade – appalling over-development everywhere. High rise on every prom. We reached the Costa Brava which looked idyllic on the map and referred to lovely coves reached only by walking. Tosh. The book is only a year or two old and the development which filled every available inch of bay or cove was decades old. The housing was sad, neglected urbanisation used for a couple of weeks each year. Abandoned shops and cafes and even supermercados added to the air of neglect. Best thing about it was the road – swooping along the corniche in bravura style from urbanisation to urbanisation. Until we reached a town at the northern end whose name escapes even my fertile imagination but bore a remarkable geographical similarity to Torquay. Sweeping sands beneath pretty hills, an old harbour and pleasing new marina, fishing boats and just one fairly modern high rise block which looked both out of place and significant – maybe they took one look and wisely said 'no more!'. The rest was in scale and even a little old. The casino is in an ornate. charming and genuine 1830s palacio!
But it was all we got and we took the fast road home so we did not have to see too much more squalid urbanisation.
So to Benicassim and a choice of two sites – one truly dreadful and the other truly crowded. Both with small pitches, tight of access and designed for small vans and small motor homes.
We drove the AP7 from Barcelona to almost Castillon. On the way we spied high rise blocking our view of the Med. And at the last did we gasp at the ugliness of a suitably named town called Opressa before swinging round a beautiful corniche and dropping down into Benicassim. It looks OK and we shall explore – but the sites are both tight, crowded and busy. Happily the weather is terrific.
Which is the point of our intended sojourn here, even in winter. I wish to escape the English weather and give my hammered lungs a better chance. But if I could choose another country I frankly would. One where they do not plonk high rise on every available chunk of prime coastline and cram every campsite with silly handkerchief plots.
Now if we had the weather in the UK we would truly have the best coastline in the world to complement some of the best parkland campsites anywhere.