Saturday, 15 September 2012

Peniscola *snigger*

13.09.12 Peniscola *snigger*

We’re up early again and on the road to Pensicola (*snigger*).  The journey is a bit of a pain since, having shunned the toll roads, we end up on a single carriageway and get stuck behind someone determined to stay 20 kph under the speed limit for kilometres on end! 

Thankfully however the slow pace means we can pay a bit more attention to passing signs and I spot a place selling old motorhomes.  We decide to drop by on the off chance they happen to have an old camper with the same toilet as ours.  Whilst we bought a replacement portable loo, we still need to replace the waste box of the original loo which is broken.  If we can do that then the van value is not damaged and we can get rid of the portable loo which takes up valuable space.  We explain our problem to the salesman and he takes us through to the shop area.  Sure enough high on a shelf sits our toilet unit.  These things haven’t been made for at least 15 years!  We searched the internet high and low, made a bunch of calls and couldn’t find a new one anywhere yet here one is.  The salesman agreed to split the unit so we could just buy the box – he’ll soon find out how difficult it is to replace too!  The price was high even with Chris’ haggled 10% discount but I doubt we’d ever find another brand new one if we spent our lives trying!  I can’t get over our luck at finding one.  It’ll be great to offload the portable toilet when we’re back in Blighty for a visit in about a months’ time.  We’ll get our storage space and toileting privacy back!  Needless to say we’re very pleased!

When we finally arrive in Pensicola *snigger* we find the town is packed solid and our original parking plan is out of the window.  We attempt to navigate the one way system back towards the supermarkets on the edge of town and thankfully find a quiet street with some parking spaces.  There are hopefully few enough people around here that nobody will begrudge us a spot for the night.

We grab lunch and then walk into town.  It’s a short ten minute walk and then we’re at the gorgeous sea-front.  The beautiful blue stretches out as far as the eye can see.  We arrive at the south end of town and the cove beach here is wonderfully quiet. 

On the other side however it’s a different matter!  It seems much to our ignorance, we arrived in the middle of the local fiesta.  There are huge barriers either side of the main street and a large temporary structure.  It turns out later today there will be a big running of the bulls.  Suddenly the barriers don’t look anywhere near huge enough!

Peniscola *snigger* is a long stretch of beach with a huge peninsula jutting out into the sea.  Atop this huge hill is a large castle where part of the movie El Cid was filmed.  We pay to enter the castle and have a walk around.  The views from the top are incredible although the rest of the castle is a little disappointing.  It is pristinely maintained which unfortunately taints its authenticity a little, as too do the energy saving light bulbs plugged into the wrought iron chandeliers!  It’s a shame the restorers have been so overzealous as it really takes away from the history of the castle which would be very impressive without all the work that’s been done.

Down from the castle there are lots of winding cobbled medieval streets which play home to tourist shops and many a restaurant touting for business, some more forcefully than others!

Back down to the beach we find a large dragon sculpture decorated in brightly coloured mosaic tiles.  It’s no Gaudi masterpiece but it’s a nice touch all the same.  We have a long walk along the beach front enjoying the views before heading back to the van to avoid the bull-running.  It seems like perhaps we’re missing out on a traditionally Spanish fiesta experience but nonetheless I can’t imagine watching the poor bulls would be too pleasant. 

After a trip to the supermarket, dinner and some chill out time we head back into town to see how the castle looks all lit up.  It’s a lovely view from the beach-side and town is bustling with the fiesta excitement.  A big marquee has been set up with lots of tables outside.  It seems all the town has come down with their dinner to enjoy a massive outdoor picnic.  There’s a really nice community feel to it and everybody seems to be having a great time. 

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