Our Touring Caravan Vacation in September 2012 - The trip to Benidorm, Valencia, Espania
First day trip down to the South of Paris
We departed from home at 04:55 to travel the following route
The M1 which was clear all the way to the M25. The M25 which again was clear to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge to getto the M20 We then went on to an even quieter M20 to get to Dover, where we arrived to find Dover blocked up with HGV’s, Apparently caused by P&O’s latest ship has broken down AGAIN and sailings are all over the place. We had a Flexi booking which means we can turn up 4 hours either side of our crossing and be allocated a berth. Despite all this confusion we were allocated a place on the 10:15 sailing – which sailed at 11:45. About 10 minutes after the 8:50 sailing!
Once off the Ferry the route down to Chalons En Champagne was easy and Stephanie drove over 100 miles without mishap and I even slept. We drove the 220 miles to Chalons En Champagne from Calais and settled down for our one night stop over
Our first day running to Chalon En Champagne
The Municipal Chalons en Champagne campsite was in the middle of a Carnival /Country fair and there were parked cars EVERYWHERE. It wasn’t a bad trip from the Docks at Calais, only 460 miles driving and 3 hours at the ferry and on the crossing (the ferry equals 4mph).
The Site itself
Large Grass - - Flat See photo,
Electric French plug reverse polarity and at least 30m of cable needed but then our pitch is the largest on site if a little strangely shaped, but the site had a selection of spare cables to reach distribution boxes.
The toilet facilities were clean and easy to understand which was which.(compared to some French sites where all facilities are used by both sexes at the same time).
We had tea and had a short scoot around the campsite in my wheelchair. There is a small bar/café on site as well as Reception that doubles as a small shop, Reception is open from 7am until 8pm every day and doesn’t appear to have a lunchtime closing (No Siesta amazing). Our walk around showed this to be a popular stopover for British campers and most of the occupants seem to be Brits. One nice thing was as we were setting up a local Apiarist came around selling fresh honey 3€40 for 500g and VERY nice too it was too, this honey lasted me all month and when we checked the price later in the holiday very cheap too .
Our route from Chalon En Champagne to Ma Prairie at Canet en Roussillon via the Millau Bridge. We thought of going A26 –A5-A19-A10-A71-A75-A9 but Tom Tom gave us a slightly different route so we tried it after checking out the map first (We NEVER trust Sat Nav explicitly) the route was A26-A5-A19-A77-N7-A71-A75-A9 Once we got here we knew where we were going.
So after 565 miles 11 hours on the road, and now we are sat at Ma Prairie with just 462 miles left to get to Camping El Raco in Benidorm. We did the usual tourist stop at the Viaduct du Millau rest-aire. But the Hills !!!!!!!!!!!!! Average grade 5% maximum 7.5% not bad solo but with the van on not as nice, especially the long ones to over 1100metres above sea level. Although this was our longest day driving we thoroughly enjoyed it especially with the stop over at the Viaduct.
Our stop at Ma Prairie using Camping Cheques from our Gold Card.
Kawan village Ma Prairie seems to be the same as last time we visited. The problem is that was 3 years ago, the only improvements are that the security barrier now works, and the WiFi is site wide but you still have to pay for it. This was quite disappointing as when we first visited the site was a premier one, the toilets appeared unchanged still not labelled as to Male and Female, windows were still missing and louvres still broken. The roadways seem to be deteriorating, the pitches we expected to be bare of grass and sandy due to the very dry weather conditions that the Mediterranean has been suffering. We did not visit the bar/pool area this time as we had been on the road a long time and needed to sleep ready for our last leg of the trip the next day.
Chalon En Champagne to Canet en Roussillon
We were up early and off down the A7 then on to the AP7 in Spain and then 432 miles later after a long quiet drive, we are in Benidorm. The Campsite is not far away from the Autopista but then again nothing in Benidorm is. We had a totally stress free cruise and arrived at Camping El Raco.
Pitch just large enough for car and caravan with awning, slightly sloping, pitch surface was fine stone chippings. Complete with electric, water AND Drain so nothing to do except relax, no collecting water, or emptying the Wastemaster. Water pressure was high and we ended up using the direct Whale adapter and not the ball valve into the Aquaroll as it kept shooting the hose off the adapter. Awning put up with ease with the Awningmate – a good investment (OK roof only but full frame), so plenty of cool shade to be had Temperatures today already in low 30’s (thermometer sensor under caravan so shaded form Sun). Electric was on Southern European plug so polarity easy to correct without adapters. Toilet/shower facilities clean and cleaned three times a day. One strange thing was most of the blocks had provision of toilet paper but the one nearest to us didn’t. The disabled facilities were good (key 10€ security deposit) though not all blocks had these facilities due to being built on slopes.
The sites swimming pool was fresh water and bio protected with UV light not Chlorine, the indoor pool was closed due to being too hot. The site has its own shop which is an Aladdin’s cave of food and accessories underneath the site restaurant, the restaurant has a very varied menu but quite expensive although many local Spanish do seem to use it.
The site has WiFi but in line with most places quite expensive, the restaurant however offers free WiFi for 30 minutes to its customers (So we had a lot of coffee and cakes there). Whilst across the road bars offer unlimited WiFi as long as you are there and spending even letting you use electricity when your battery runs low.
Our first think to do once settled in to the pitch was have a quick run down the slope to the Beach (Levante) and on to Tiki Beach Bar
Benidorm well the one word is CHEAP,
Breakfast can be had from 1€ lunch from 2€
Dinner from 4€90 (that’s for a 3 course Chinese meal including drinks too).
Talking of drinks Beer from 1€ a pint, Cider from 1€30 a pint, Wine from 1€ a glass, Alcohol free beer widely available too a decent coffee plus cake 2€. It was actually cheaper to eat out than buy food and cook meals in the tourer so we ate very little at the base doing little more than sleeping and getting ready to go out there.
Now we were there a decision what to do
So a trip down to the Tiki bar and a few drinks then back to the van to get ready for the Big meal at the Grill House
Starter of Baby Ribs smothered in Barbeque Sauce
Then a Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (and Chips) for me and Steph had the Steak Pitta ( a steak stuffed into a large Pitta bread with loads of Salad and Chips )
too full for a pudding so off to Sinatra’s to see what was on and then a slow walk up the slope back to base around 12:30am not too late for the first night out
Late start and off to the Wednesday Market which was very busy more stressful on the buggy than the drive down and around the M25. Then a wander to a bar for a cooling drink (well it was 29 degrees) and back to base for lunch- via the indoor market for a visit to a butchers for the meat (2 large Pork Chops and some Beef Rib only 5€50 for the lot) and a dip in the pool.
After our evening meal of very tasty ribs and chops off down to the meeting point of John and Josephs Bar then round a few bars to see the shows. Visited the Wai Kiki Bar for the first and definitely not the last time, which was very friendly. Then went off to another that was less than friendly (actually quite aggressive) about where I could park ( I didn’t need that ).
We ended at Valentines to see the Bay City Roller Tribute and the Comedian before (Dangerous Brian) was far better. Ended up coming back to base around 01:30am would have been later but gave Steph a lift sat on my knee as she wasn't exactly sober.
Dinner tonight is Chinese but not mine we have decided to go to the Mandarin Wok for dinner. The choice is amazing but in the end, we decided on one of the daily menus having, Chicken and Sweetcorn soup. Chicken and Pork Sweet and sour, with a dish of Noodles and one of Egg Fried Rice, this also included a half litre of Wine for Steph and a Fanta for me, and a sweet (Crème Caramel well it has to be) total price 10€40 . We WILL be going back there the food was HOT, and tasty may even consider the “Buffet Libre” at 9€95 a head but the portion size of the Daily menu was large enough to satisfy.
Early breakfast then off to Benidorm Palace to meet the Segway Tour guide for Steph and her brother to have a tour, Set off around 10:15 with me behind shooting video managed to keep up with the Segways until the end of Poniente beach which was pleasing as the Segways have a top speed much faster than my 8mph Scooter . They went off from the end of the beach up to Terra Mitica and back whilst I drove through the old town (WHY????) so many people, Who make it SO difficult NOT to hit them as I crawled along as they just STOP. Eventually got back on to the promenade, and sped off to the Tiki Beach bar for a pit stop and Fanta.
Then went back to the Benidorm Palace to meet the Segways on their return.
Benidorm Segway Tour
- Benidorm Segways - YouTube
Stephanie and her brother Steve booked a trip to tour Benidorm on Segways whilst I followed on on my Mobility Scooter
Whilst we were there they unveiled a plaque on the towns Tourist information centre to the writer and cast of Benidorm the ITV series for the help it has been in getting new people into the town for holidays.
We were promised that people in “Madgemobiles” would be on the front row and get a good view. We were on the front row of spectators but thanks to the crowds of press and other Spaniards of unknown importance we saw very little add to that the crowds that also couldn’t see because of these people pushing forward ruined the event for those like me restricted in what we could see.
So I ended up giving Stephanie my camera and she took the Wheelchair Paparazzi's place to get some photo's of this event it would have been good if the crowd control had been done rather than skipped.
The evening saw us at Sandra’s Show-bar to see Acer Elliott and afterwards we went to the Wai Kiki to see the White Coast Rebels again.
Explored out of Benidorm today went to Albir and then onto Altea, once in Albir the path runs alongside the beach (rocks and shingle) all the way to Altea Yacht club and then onto the sea front there.
On the way back we stopped for Tapas at one bar and a cooling drink at another. We noted that the bar prices in Altea were very expensive compared to Benidorm.
Steph frequented the Tiki Bar whilst I went of in search of the Station (Estation de la Tren). I found it right at the top of the hill and was slightly disappointed as it was only the metre gauge “tram” services electric one way and Diesel the other.
Our evening meal was the 14€90 at the Chinese in the middle of town.
Last day in Benidorm so went for an All You Can Eat Buffet at the Wok Mandarin (Yes we do enjoy a good Chinese meal and both restaurants were GOOD)
Then down the town ending up at the Wai Kiki Bar to say goodbye there and watch their latest turn the Rock Band SFM doing their first Benidorm Gig
And so after watching SFM at the Wai Kiki Bar we went to bed early (SHAME).
In the morning we demontaged and set off on our way home but via a little place in France that we call home too, but that's another story .......
I'll have to write it one day