We are travelers
After somewhat being stuck in the same area for a year due to Covid-19 we were about to go out of our minds. After all, we are travelers and used to explore Europe on a daily basis. So when the worst restrictions were lifted in July, we decided to go on a road trip again.
The goal: La Manga beach
La Manga was one of the first great beaches we reached when we first arrived in Spain and since we had such good memories about the beach there, that was our destination. As always with stopovers where ever we saw something exciting or beautiful of course.
The first stop was a campsite we’d also been to a few times before and liked a lot, but unfortunately, it had new owners and was packed with motorhomes. Good for the new owners, but it was a bit too much for us. Also, Avenger couldn’t go outside due to a lot of dogs, so we moved on the next morning.
We’d seen on the map that there were some beaches along the coast that didn’t look touristy and as you know, we really like non-tourist places. One of the beaches was even called “Mal Paso” which means something like “Hard to get to”. The name was true and even though a few locals had been able to conquer the steep cliffs, we decided not to. It was also extremely hot around the beach and we found out, that it was because of an old iron mine and a lot of leftover iron ore, that absorbed the sun and returned almost double the heat.
Talking about not conquering the cliffs, one of our biggest fears is, that Malthe gets hurt. I don’t have a driver’s license and if anything should happen to him and he ended up at a hospital with a broken leg or something, I’d really be on my own. In the spot where we’d parked the motorhome. In this case by an extremely hot iron mine, all alone with Avenger, far far away from any civilization. That’s the main reason for us not engaging in any hazardous activities like rock climbing and such.
Look at poor Avenger. We found him like this in the shade under Hymer. Don’t worry, we put him inside with his cooling mat and a freezer element wrapped in a towel and he was all good.
Becoming drone owners
On June 17th it was Malthe’s 50th birthday and even though he didn’t say it out loud he felt a bit sad about not being able to celebrate the big day. Instead, we (him and I) gave him a gift that he’d been dreaming of for a long time. A good drone. It’s a fun toy, but it’s also very useful for making videos we can use on our digital platforms. Because of this, a lot of our road trip was pinned with great and beautiful drone areas. The first area was Playa de Los Genoveses in Nijar and the surroundings there.
(Pssstttt you can see the birthday-boy unboxing his DJI AIR 2s Combo right here)
Playa de Los Genoveses
The area around the beach looks like a wasteland in the summer. Something that’s taken straight out of a cowboy movie in the desert. Miles and miles of nothing but a few bushes and a lot of dust. But amazing views from above with the drone. And the beach was great. Well, the part of the water we were allowed to use that is. Sadly it was marked with a red flag, because of undercurrents, but we did enjoy a refreshing dip anyway.
We also made a lot of awesome drone footage while learning how to use the many features the DJI AIR 2s has. When I say we, I mean Malthe. I’m so afraid I’ll do something wrong and the drone will fly away and be lost forever, so I keep my hands off it!
An unexpected city called Mojácar
As I said earlier we don’t like tourist areas and we only stopped in Mojácar, because the beaches looked fabulous and we really needed a dip. But Mojácar caught us by surprise and we ended up staying a few days. Even though there were A LOT of seasonal apartments and hotels in the city it was different from anything we’d seen before. Somehow the apartments and hotels were kept away from the beaches and in the outskirts of the city, while the boardwalk and the Mainstreet had a calm and warm vibe to them. Not at all filled with pool noodles and blow-up-beach-toys as we’re used to.
Actually, we had breakfast at a beach bar among what seemed to be regular customers and for the first time since we began traveling in 2018, I’d found a place where I could imagine growing old. We began talking to the 4 men at the beach bar and found out that they were newcomers too and had moved to Mojácar to enjoy their old age. They completely understood how I felt about the city. It had it all. Peace, shops, life, beaches, high season, and low season. They told us, that one of the reasons the tourist areas didn’t look so overwhelming was because it was forbidden to build something taller than 3 floors. What a great way to keep things beautiful.
Our stay in Mójacar also included a visit to the Brazilian restaurant Al Punto. Their signature dish is some simple rice and sauce but with all the meat you can eat. The Grill-Master prepares a lot of different large skewers with meat on the barbecue and the waiters offer the meat to the guests at the table, directly from the skewers. That way you get to taste everything from spicy lamb and sausages to honey-glazed pork and steak. For meat-lovers like us, this was really something.
When ordering we were also equipped with a green and red disc. Green meant “More meat please” and red “We’re full”. Quite clever actually.
Danger at night
The second night we slept by the beach in Mojácar, we woke up because of some strange sounds right outside our motorhome. It was the sound of pigs! When we looked out the window, 4 huge wild boars were right outside! We once saw wild boars in the distance in Berlin, Germany but we’d never been this close to them. They live outside town, but sadly the hot summer leaves them with no food. When they’re starving, they roam the city at night in their hunt for leftovers in trashcans. We’d actually talked about going skinny-dipping in the moonlight, but we were happy we hadn’t done it. Imagine standing face to face with 4 hungry wild boars on the beach! Check out these footprints in the sand. Those boars were huge!
A few more beaches and a lost cat
After a few days in Mojácar, we continued towards La Manga. We stopped by a few unnamed beaches and after a while, we realized that La Manga wasn’t the most amazing one on the eastern coastline. Everywhere we went, the water was so warm and crystal clear.
One night we slept at a gas station where they had a real shower. Until then we’d spent a week only bathing in the ocean and under the cold water beach showers. Sure beach waves are beautiful, but at some point, my hair starts to look like dreadlocks, and by then, a real shower is very much appreciated.
And then the disaster happened! Something woke me up at 4.30 am (I often sense things) and I felt something was wrong. I looked around and Avenger was nowhere to be found! Not in our bed, not in his own bed, or any of his usual hiding places. It turned out, that he had squeezed himself out of the crack in the open window and was now loose at an unknown parking lot, beside the highway with no collar on. We both panicked and went out to call for him.
He didn’t show up. I stayed by our motorhome, while Malthe went to search for the runaway where they’d taken a walk earlier. I was sure that we’d either lost him or we’d have to wait at the parking lot for days until he found his way home. All of a sudden he came strolling across the parking lot as if nothing was wrong. If he could speak I bet he’d have said “You called?” After that, we didn’t take his collar with our phone number off at night and we didn’t leave the window open!
Arriving at La Manga
When we finally reached our destination by the lighthouse at La Manga we realized that we were in the middle of the tourist season and we weren’t the only ones who’d been craving to travel. First, we couldn’t find a spot for parking at all, so we decided to drive outside town and wait for people to leave the beach and the lighthouse and go have dinner instead. Our plan worked and we found a spot to park by the lighthouse when we returned a few hours later. The great thing about traveling inside your home is that waiting isn’t that bad. You can always make a cup of coffee or take a nap to kill time.
The next morning we got up early and went for a swim. Just as we remembered the ocean was full of beautiful fish. When we went scuba diving in Greece, we learned a little trick that we also used at La Manga. The trick is to bring a piece of bread with you into the water (tugged in your bikini top or your waistband). That way you can feed the fish with small pieces of bread and have them swimming all around you. Amazing. You should try it one day.
(Nevermind the time-stamp. It’s out of sync)
After a few hours, the beach was packed with people (which nevertheless complied with the distance requirements) so we left. Took a walk in the city, had something to eat, and went back to Hymer to relax and enjoy our siesta. The next morning we took a dip and fed the fish again, but we decided that the beaches were too crowded due to the tourist season, so we began driving into the country to get to more of the drone spots we’d pinned on the map.
The most horrible stench
The first stop should be the big lake Embalse de Puentes which is actually a reservoir, but since we first had some shopping to do and weren’t in a hurry we had to stop in the middle of nowhere in the evening to get some rest. We found a nice spot between a few hills (for morning shade), made dinner, and watched some TV. Around 1 am we were about to go to bed, but all of a sudden a horrible stench surrounded us. It was so overwhelming! So bad you could actually taste it! It was the smell of poop (to put it nicely).
First, we thought of leaving, but it was in the middle of the night and then we convinced each other, that it would end soon. It didn’t! We woke up several times that night, because of the smell even though we tried to sleep under the covers with cotton balls in our noses! Even the cat had trouble sleeping.
The next morning the stench was completely gone and again we were in the middle of nowhere between some hills. It really puzzled our minds where that stench had come from, but we soon found out.
When we drove on and passed the hills, we saw several huge pig farms. Farms that obviously flush feces and urine from barns into open-air pits at night. What did we learn from this? Not really anything other than sometimes our free life isn’t that glamorous.
Reaching the lake
Or rather the first reservoir. We chose this place because of its beautiful drone-friendly location and we weren’t disappointed. Absolutely stunning from the air. But in this part of Murcia, there isn’t much else to look at on the ground in the summer other than large barren areas. Large very hot and barren areas.
We met a few shepherds though and as always they were very talkative. They spent every day guiding their sheep from waterhole to waterhole while letting them eat whatever green vegetation they came across on the way. They were pretty fond of the drone and laughed when they talked about how practical it would be to just let the dogs guide the sheep, while they could watch them with the drone.
Taking a wrong turn
As always we had all the time in the world, so lunch and siesta were incorporated into the ride. Resulting in the sun going down and the dark appearing and us still being in the middle of nowhere. And when it’s dark in such a place it’s pitch black.
A fun thing about Spain vs Denmark is, that in summer in Denmark the nights are very short. The only darkness you experience is somewhere between midnight and 4 am. In Spain on the other hand, the ratio between night and day is almost the same all year round. That means that nights last from around 10 pm to 6 am in the summer.
So it was dark when we took a wrong turn! We drove for a while and the road began to get more and more narrow. All of a sudden the GPS went from driving mode to walking mode and we knew something was very wrong. Making a U-turn was impossible, so we had to back all the way back. Malthe is a skilled motorist, but the problem was that on one side of the narrow road was a viaduct with water and on the other side was a steep slope.
It took forever to drive back and we were both very quiet. The only light was the one from the taillights and Malthe only had very little space on each side of Hymer. If we fell down on one of the sides no one could help us. We didn’t even have a phone signal so we could call for help. After what felt like hours (more likely 20 minutes) we finally reached safety and the spot where we took the wrong turn. Malthe jumped out of the car and began shaking his cramped-up limbs while inhaling fresh air in deep breaths. “This was scary” he stated. “Worse than when we got stuck in the snow in the Alps”. At that moment I understood just how close to the edge we’d been and again I appreciated his driving skills very much.
An absolutely stunning lake
20 minutes later we reached Embalse de Negratin, the lake we’d pinned on Maps. We parked at a spot by the lake between some trees, had a cup of coffee, and went to sleep. As so many times before, we woke up to the most amazing view the next morning.
The color of the lake was the same azure one as you see surrounding tropical islands and we could see a mountain with a lot of caves in it too. We’d often been talking about exploring caves and these looked like it was possible without climbing gear. So after a bit of breakfast, we put the leash on Avenger and headed down towards the caves.
Strange and dangerous
We were surprised to see that the caves were actually entrances to a lot of rooms made inside the mountain. As if someone had lived there. Or maybe still did. There were blankets on the floor and some sort of fireplace in the first room we looked into. Besides that, the caves seemed abandoned. Avenger was super curious and wanted to go into the caves, but to be honest, they spooked me a bit, so it was Malthe who entered while Avenger and I stayed outside.
But Malthe wasn’t alone inside the cave he soon found out. He was filming the inside when he all of a sudden saw a big white wolf-like dog passing the doorway to the other room. Unfortunately, the dog (or wolf?) didn’t get caught on camera, but as you can imagine he hurried out of the cave. There’s no telling how many wild dogs lived in there.
By then I was already halfway down the mountain with Avenger! I’d just had him right in the cave entrance, without knowing that he could’ve been eaten by a hungry dog. I was so scared. I didn’t know if a pack of dogs would chase us in seconds. Malthe on the other hand was calm and made a bit more video before he went down the mountain too. After a few minutes we were all safe and next time we’ll think twice before we enter a cave.
Thermal bath by the lake
From where we’d parked we could see a beautiful house by the lakeshore and when we Googled it we found out, that it was a thermal bath. We’d never tried a thermal bath before, so we drove down there to have a look. There were only a few people in the thermal pool (Covid still exists and we’re not planning on catching it), so we decided to give it a go. It was amazing! Absolutely something we’ll do again. Who knows, now we might live and travel forever because of the minerals and other great stuff in the water.
After an hour of relaxation in the pool, we went for a bite to eat at the restaurant Los Baños. A simple meal but very tasteful. Just as Spanish food should be.
Our plan was to visit Mati and her family at the stud in Fuente Obejuna, but it turned out that she wasn’t home, so we went back to our home base in Almayate. We’d been a little concerned about our garden and wondering if the watering system we’d made worked, but everything was just fine and the garden was greener than ever. With that knowledge, we won’t be afraid to leave again.
– Text and photos: Eva // Photos, adding, and photo editing: Malthe