Escape to Espagna – Isla Cristina & Ayamonte

Hola Amigos, hope all is well with you guys. It’s decision time here in the World of Wadsworth. In the words of The Clash, Should I stay or should I go now? We do have choices luckily. We are not bound by the ridiculous Schengen 90 day rule as are many fellow travellers as we obtained residency here should we need to exercise it. BUT it’s been a long time since we saw the lovely faces of our family AND feeling a bit restless, ready to get back to work and top up the coffers. Think we’ve exhausted Netflix! Tiring of the constant doom and gloom tales and fake news on t’internet too. This isn’t a holiday for us, this is our lifestyle. It’s what we sacrificed our bricks and mortar and respective careers for. We had nowhere in UK to spend Winter with the van even if we had wanted to which we didn’t, campsites were closed. This is our Winter home and has been for 4 years now. We travelled whilst it was safe and we were permitted to do so. What I’m really trying to say is a big UP YOURS to the haters. Keep your negative thoughts to yourselves, ta very much. We must all do what is best for us and everyone’s situation is different.

Anyway, enough already, here goes. We are gonna upsticks and make a break for the border, decision made. Lots of our friends are already starting to drift off. We’ve met some amazing people this trip, feel so blessed and very privileged. We will miss you all. Our kindly Spanish neighbour Javier and his wife and beautiful children. Little Alma has made me smile with her incessant chatter every day (didn’t understand a word you darling child but I sure loved to listen). Luc taught us all Tai Chi, Maxine, patience of a saint, showed us how to crochet. Jon took groups out foraging daily. So many talents and so much warmth. Figueira has given us a beautiful safe haven during difficult times for all. We are both sad to leave but also a little bit excited to get those wheels turning again. We packed up over two days and got our paperwork in order. Tearful goodbyes as always. Until our paths cross again dear friends.

We were met at the Portugal/Spain border by scary booted Gestapo, I felt like we were in Inglorious Bastards. A few sharp questions and a quick inspection of Passports and return tunnel ticket and we were waved on. Phew! The border is officially closed until 2nd of March unless you are going home. First hurdle passed and we headed to a little site just over the border at Isla Cristina, Camperpark Playas de Luz. We received a lovely welcome and it instantly felt like we’d made the right move. It’s a pleasant little Motorhome park on the edge of the Marismas (salt marshes) with good views and nice big plots. The swimming pool is a bonus. Great services. It’s a short cycle or stroll into Isla Cristina itself or a 7k easy flat bike ride along the old railway track to Ayamonte.

Town is surrounded by Marismas and tidal estuaries. It has a thriving fishing port, the second most important in the province. The boats here supply shellfish and wet fish to the restaurants of Seville, Madrid and Córdoba. It’s big business. The Plaza de las Floras is a pleasant spot to sit and watch the world go by with a glass of wine and a tapa. It was such a refreshing change to eat and drink freely after many months of lockdown. The beach is reached by a bridge from the seafront. There are several restaurants dotted around. Everything we ate was very good! Most places do either tapas or full portions. Be careful as usually there are two specific seated areas . Tapas are classed as bar food. Sunday was Andalusia Day so we donned our green and white and hopped on the Bromptons bound for Ayamonte. I have to say it was a very pleasant surprise. The route is flat and follows the old railway line through the marshes. It’s a nature reserve, watch out for the pink flamingos. There are lots of little ranches en route, we saw several riders out there, the horses in full dress, ladies riding traditional side saddle. Such incredible looking animals. The town of Ayamonte is a Warren of narrow streets, lined with shops, bars and eateries, all busy and buzzing, the Spanish could never be called shy and retiring!! There are several pretty squares, colourful flowers everywhere, and a main Plaza with a fourteenth century church. Iglesia de San Francisco. Everything winds away from the harbour. The wide mouth of the Guadiana River forms the border with Portugal. Seemed strange viewing Vila Real Santo António from this side! Once again we drank wine and ate a selection of good quality tapas. Do try the Carilladas (pig cheeks) and Berenjenas (deep fried Aubergine). Albondigas are spicy meatballs in an almond sauce. All delicious.

We have spent a very enjoyable four nights here. Absolutely loved the Spanish vibe, as always, and now it’s time for us to move on once again.

Can’t afford to get too comfy as our crossing is booked and we’ve got to contemplate the various tests needed to return. I want to be somewhere amazing for my birthday too!! The Sherry triangle is calling, I’m almost out of last year’s Manzanilla! Hope you enjoyed our introduction to Spain chums. It’s been great to have a few days out of Covid prison! Our last night gave us a fabulous golden sunset so we cooked up a quick paella outside. Tucked in for an early night so we can get on the road at sunrise. Adios for now dear friends. Love to all. Take care of you and yours. Hasta luego 🍷💃🇪🇸Do join us next time xxx

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