July 2017 and we are off on our summer holidays again. We decided to go back to Spain as we had such a great time last year. So off we go on the Brittany Ferry to Bilbao with excited children looking forward to Sun Sea and sand and for me Sun Sea and Wine.
On our trip over this time we had two nights on the ferry. The trip over was ok but the excitement of a new trip on board was gone being our second time and so the day on board seemed to be a lot longer. The cabins are great, enough room for all of us and this time we had a window which was well worth the extra cost. There is something Britannia ferries could do to make your stay better, like supplying drinking water would be nice, but in the end it beats a 14 hour road trip across France.
From Bilbao we headed across Spain to Lake Caspe. This was a 4 hour journey and unlike the UK the roads in Spain are very good and free of traffic jams. We visited Lake Caspe last year for one night and thought it was a very nice site so this year we booked two nights. It sits along the famous Mar de Aragon known as an inland sea due to its size. On site you have a shop, restaurant, bar and entertainment which is in Spanish and a swimming pool. It’s a very friendly site with a laid back atmosphere and great for relaxing after all the travelling. Last time over in Spain we had big problems with the fridge due to the hot weather so this year we have invested in a Waeco freezer box. I have put this on my review part of the blog. This is a very good item if you are travelling across Europe in the hot weather. It goes down to -18 deg and has a large enough space for the entire meet we bought for the week.
Our two nights at Lake Caspe was not as good as last time. Not because of the sites location it is set alongside a vast lake with a spectacular mountain backdrop. No the problem was with the sites management and nature. We were constantly plagued with flies to the point it was becoming unbearable to sit outdoors. You could not eat or cook outside as the flies where over everything. I guess this was caused by the low water level on the lake and so the sediment had more flies hatching, we did not have this last year and I know this is not something the site management can do much about. But they could do something about the building work they decided to do around the pool during the summer holidays. What a ridicules time to start angle grinding and welding a new metal railing by the pool. This was not maintenance work that needed to be done but improvement work. Although I understand a site likes to improve itself, it’s not a good idea to do this during peak times when we are all paying peak prices and young children could get hurt by flying hot metal work and open air welding with no protective screens, this was very irresponsible of the site manager to allow this. No health and safety here, you would not get this on any UK site.
We also had problems with the noise on site. First night we had children screaming and playing till past 01:00 in the morning, the management was not too bothered about this and we was not the only ones getting annoyed with the noise. To top this off the next morning a Winnebago woke the whole site up at 7:00 for over an hour trying to reverse out of the site with its reversing alarm going off. It was like I was at home with the alarm clock waking me up for work. Not exactly what you want for a relaxing holiday. I very much doubt we will be returning to this site again which is unfortunate as it was a lovely site. It has a good swimming pool, nice grounds a well kept toilet block and great access to the lake.
So after two nights at lake Caspe we was happy to be on the road tiered and disappointed but looking forward to getting to Cambrils by the beach where we where to stop over for 9 nights at Camping Joans. This will be our first time at this site so we were all looking forward to it.
First impressions of Camping Joans where great. We had a sea view pitch which was just big enough for our van, kid’s tent and the vans pull out awning, this pitch was much bigger than we normally get in the UK. It was a clean site, toilets and showers where good and frequently cleaned with hand soap dispenser which pleased my wife, I did not have to wait around at all to use the showers.
The site has some good entertainments. My wife and daughter went to the aqua aerobics each morning and sometimes to the pool dance classes. In the evening there was regular shows, we saw a great African acrobatics show which my boy thought was the best show his seen in Spain. On site there was a pool with pool bar where some of the entertainment was held, next to this is a restaurant, there are a number of children play areas and pool tables etc. Along the front there is a shop and another very popular restaurant with sea views. The site is situated on the sea front with direct access to a lovely sandy beach. On the beach is a bar and you can hire pedalos, sun umbrellas and sun chairs.
From the beach front there is a bike lane which you can take all the way into Cambrils. It took us about 10 min to cycle there at a lazily pace. Along the route you will follow the coast line with great views, you will also pass a number of very nice looking restaurants. When we got to Cambrils we had a look around the harbour, some really expensive yachts here. Along the harbour front are a number of restaurants which serve fresh fish from the local fisherman. Cambrils is a lovely town with lots shops and restaurants. It is known for its food outlets and some great Michelin star restaurants in the main center. If you are lucky to be in the area in the summer months you will find street entertainment in the town and along the front promenade.
One of the restaurants we did stop at along the route to Cambrils was l’indret. This was a very nicely laid out place and looked very smart. The food was not what we would normally go for but was served quick and professionally. I had a sirloin steak which was cooked to perfection and very nice. My son had cod which we did not realise was raw so not something he would eat, apparently talking to the waitress this is how its served normally in this part of Spain. My daughter ordered Octopus as she likes to be more adventurous with trying new thing. Just the look of the pink tentacles put me off, but she had some and my son ended up eating the rest and loved it. Still not tried snails yet!
On Saturday night we rode our bikes back into Cambrils for an evening meal and for the kids to do some shopping. My boy bought a great set of Bluetooth head phones and we had a few beers in the local bars. For dinner we went to the 7 Mares along the harbour front. We had a couple great paellas, one chicken dish and the other was the fish dish. Much better than the previous night’s dinner, great location with good views and lots to eat. Staff where very friendly spoke excellent English and all the food was served hot and in good time.
Back on site they had entertainment a rock singer in the front restaurant. I thought this was poor of the site to hold entertainment in the restaurant as only people eating in the restaurant could really enjoy it. The rest of the site had to listen to it outside. We sat along the beach front to be able to listen and she was a very good singer. Most music entertainment was done in the restaurant so we could not go to see it.
Sunday night we booked the restaurant for some dinner. When we arrived they had not wrote our booking down so this caused some confusion but they set up a table so we could eat. We ordered starters and mains, when the starters arrived my boy’s mains pork and chips arrived at the same time. We pointed out the error and so they took it back. When the mains where brought out they brought out my boys mains which was stone cold. They must have just put it in the back and waited till we finished the starters. We complained about this and they took it away heated up the meat and bought it back out with stone cold chips still and the pork was still cold inside. We had the paella to share which consisted on one mussel, one clam and one prawn each with rise so not very good value for money. After we complained about not paying for my son’s meal as it was inedible they then tried to charge us twice for the same meal. It was not a great night and I would not recommend eating here when there is so much better in Cambrils for the price.
On Monday we rode again into Cambrils and took the sea ferry to Salou. This is a great way to travel to Salou compared to the bus. The wind was nice and cool on our faces and the sea was a bit choppy which made the trip that more fun. The kids loved the boat trip as it rocked about on the waves following the coast line. Salou is a much bigger town than Cambrils and has a good selection of shop outlets for the kids to have a look around. There is a lot to do in this town but I thought Cambrils was nicer being a prettier fishing harbour. After a few hours walking around, we took the sea ferry back to Cambrils.
Wednesday we went to Cambrils market which is set in the old town of Cambrils at the top. You can catch the tour train from the information center at the port to this market and back. It is a very popular market and very busy, my daughter got her friends presents here which was manly a clothes and electronics market.
In the evening we decided to check out resort towards Cambrils. Estival Eldorado Resort was recommended by someone we got speaking to and we knew it had a buffet where you can eat as much as you like. On trip adviser this was given a 4 star rating so my wife thought it’s worth a try. It cost 66 Euros for all of us to eat so I was a bit sceptical about the quality of the food seeing as so far Cambrils has not been this cheep. I was proven wrong, the quality of the food and the selection of food was amazing. There was a large selection of meats all freshly cooked by the chefs in front of you. A good selection of fish dishes and local Paellas, Salads and cheese and when my son saw the dessert selection well he nearly fainted. This was excellent value for money and so we went here for the next 3 nights and each time the food selection was different. We had the opportunity to try foods we would not normally order in restaurants due to the cost. My daughter tried snails, catfish, crab, razorfish, and I stuck to the meats with Veil, port rids, steaks and chicken. If you are staying at Camping Joan’s then this is worth a visit.
Most of our holiday was spent at the beach. It was very hot and so lovely to jump into the sea to cool down, some days the waves where very big which made it more fun for the kids on their rubber rings. We had a lovely time at Camping Joans and cannot fault it for a campsite. One piece of advice the pitch we had was to the right by the front car park along the boundary of the site. This joins onto am apartment block which is not controlled by the campsite. Most evenings this can be very noisy till the early mornings with people partying and dogs howling. So I would move inland next time. The beach is also cleaned by tractor at 3 O’clock in the morning which you can hear from the front pitches.
After 9 nights at Camping Joan’s it was time to go home. One night at the port then ferry to UK. We had a lovely time staying at this site and will probably come back again sometime in the future.
For our trip home we got the Brittany Ferry to Portsmouth. This time we had the economy ship and I can honestly say it was a very nice trip home. We had a great English breakfast at the buffy restaurant and it was very peaceful and relaxing. I would in future be using the economy ship as it was better than the more expensive one we usually get. Now home and starting to look into our next trip in the motrohome.