The Motoroamer's March Newsletter - Spring has sprung

So we're well into spring (or autumn if you are reading this, on the other side of the equator) and there is definitely something in the air. Whilst we had some gorgeous summer-like temperatures down in southern Spain, the blossom is showing us that spring is absolutely spanking winter's backside. Now after last month's revelry with our 'first year on the road' celebrations and partying at the Aguilas carnival, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we couldn't top that. Well not sure we've topped it, although we have most certainly given February a run for its money. Here's a round up of our March madness.

With memories of feather headdresses, dancing men in bras and g-strings and carnival music to tap your feet to, we left Aguilas, Murcia with a heavy heart as we'd had such a ball in this beautiful part of the world. Still, move on we must, as there were more adventures to be had. And they would start in Cabo de Gata National Park between Almería and Mojácar. We'd heard a lot of great things about this region and were excited to explore.

We love to wild camp and there are a few gorgeous spots that just have 'wild' written all over them. Although sadly there has been a huge increase in crime in the area and whilst at La Isleta, we were targeted again with a couple of chaps trying to relieve us of our newby bikes. Thankfully we disturbed them and there was no way they would have got those babies off the back. After our experiences in Italy last year, they are chained up to within an inch of their lives. Sadly a German family were not so lucky - the second bike they had had stolen in two weeks. Police were called and thieves abandoned their efforts although it made for an uncomfortable night's sleep. We moved on to another gorgeous spot at Rodalquilar although got spooked by a car checking out the stopovers - so we hopped, skipped and jumped back onto the safety of a campsite. So sometimes the beauty of a wild camp is overshadowed by the lack of safety that creates just too much vulnerability. Just reminds us to keep vigilant and to choose our spots wisely.

Last year we visited Granada and Karen really fancied checking out La Alpujarra as it is full of authentic Spanish artisans. Sadly we didn't have the time, so this year it was very much on our agenda. What a fabulous little road trip this was. Karen did a couple of blogs of our experiences, which took us through both the tourist spots and on the 'road less travelled.' La Alpujarra - Part 1 and Part 2

One of the things that we will remember most about this trip to Spain is its authenticity, colour and vibrance. Last year we blasted, this year we have had so much more time to feel the country and we have really fallen in love. Spain is one country that, to us, feels like it is totally at peace in its own skin. It has a self-confidence that radiates out from its towns, its mountains and countryside. It makes no apologies for the acreage of greenhouses in Murcia and Andalucia given the amazing produce it harvests, nor does it hide from its Moors versus Christian heritage that has its wounds penetrating deep in its landscape. Ignoring some of the more 'costa' coastal resorts, which don't really feel like authentic Spain, the country has so much to offer and each visit uncovers yet another layer of beauty that we have been able to discover.

Tabernas Castle

Interestingly there's not much we've been disappointed about in this stunningly diverse country, although with the intriguing pull of a European desert, this would sadly make it onto our 'felt let down' list. The Tabernas desert is just north of Almería and we wanted to have a full experience of Spain and so the desert felt like a must do. The entry point from the south brings you through US style geology, which really appealed to us. And it is there that the adventure stops and the Theme Parks begin. Unfortunately, this semi-arid land that they misleadingly call a desert is really nothing more than a Spaghetti Western film set commercialised into Disney-style parks for tourists. Not what we were hoping at all. Tabernas has a very Moorish castle ruins and there's a plaque informing you of where movies like Indiana Jones - The Last Crusade were filmed, although that's it. Unless of course you like theme parks. We don't, so with disappointment in our hearts, we moved on. It served as a lesson though about the danger of expectations and how they seriously mess with your enjoyment of a place.

Tabernas Desert, Murcia

So eastwards we headed for some party time back at home camp in Dènia. We had a very specific festival to be part of, so this had been part of the plan from day 1. Every year in around the week of 19th March and St Joseph's Day is Las Fallas, (pronounced Fayas). It's one of those unique Spanish fiestas that just needs to be experienced and can only be found in the Valencian Community. Valencia is the main centre for the fiesta, although towns throughout the region also acknowledge this ancient tradition and Dènia is a big one.

I'll try and paint a picture of this bonkers five day fiesta, although it's hard to put into words what you experience. So imagine intricate statues made of wood and polystyrene that are 60ft high that take months to build and that tell a satirical story of something that is happening on the local or international stage. Think Spitting Image (UK TV show) and you are along the right lines. Imagine firecrackers, fireworks, brass bands, processions of Valencian traditional costumes and bonfires at midnight. And in a nutshell you have the key elements of Las Fallas. Here's a blog - A Survival Guide to Las Fallas that will tell you more about this unique fiesta and a few images to whet your appetite.

After partying there is no alternative than to retreat, rest and recuperate, so with Birthday celebrations in the offing, we headed north towards our final Spanish destination, Barcelona. En route we found the most incredible haven - Ebro Delta, which is so often missed on the motorway from Valencia to Barca. Not for us though as the wetland areas and the call of flamingoes magnetised us. And this time we were not disappointed. Free camping, bird-life galore, stunning photographic opportunities and flat cycling - what's not to like?

Ebro Delta, Spain

It doesn't matter how many times Karen sees flamingoes, they always captivate her and she is constantly looking for that perfect shot. Not quite there yet, although work in progress.

This place was just the retreat we were looking for and is a must see area for three or four days. Here's our blog of this natural wonderland. Ebro Delta

Ebro storm coming in!

And to cap the month off we motored up to Barcelona as we were taking the ferry to Italy and tying up with a friend flying in. So what better way to enjoy the area than take the Tourist Bus and capture the spirit of Catalan's capital. Gaudi, Cathedrals, museums, football stadiums and a café culture. It tantalised every sense to the extreme. The Bus, a hop-on hop-off affair gave us a great flavour for the day for €29 per person and we finished up with an amble up La Rambla amidst the torrent of tourists. What a great experience from inside the city walls.

Capturing the soul of Barcelona

And then there was Monserrat mountain and monastery - what a polar opposite this spiritual sanctuary is. It demands stillness, reverence and respect for Mother Nature's very own Gaudi designer. Catching the tram to the monastery and the funicular to the top of the mountain are all just essential elements of your mountain experience and cannot be missed. Myles captured just a flavour of this on one of his vlogs - hope you enjoy.

So there we have it. What an amazing month Spain blessed us with. Monasteries, highest villages, wild camping, thieves, sea, mountains, fiestas, great time with friends and city extravaganzas. Can we top it? Well, as we sit here in southern Italy, at the end of our transition between Spain and Greece, we have a sneaky feeling that our Greek Odyssey is going to stretch us, thrill us and feed our love for adventure, exploration and fun. So watch this space. We'll see you again soon.

For more Seriously Entertaining Travel news you can join our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube TV Channel for Myles' own special take on our experiences. Until then, with love, Karen and Myles x

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Karen Davies
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