Day 93 – She’ll be coming round the mountain & Campsite Musings Part III

Monday 15th October 2018

Today we are taking the day off from climbing to go for a walk. Mrs P is complaining about a lack of aerobic activity. So, we are off round the Sera de Bèrnia mountain. It is a beautiful 8 hour walk with around 900 m of ascent and descent. It provides amazing views of the coast including the forbidding high rise blocks that blot out Benidorm’s beaches like an all too real portent of a potential, dark dystopian future.

About 40 minutes in to the walk we come across this sign…

What can it mean?

A quick look at Google Translate tells Mr P that there is a possibility that Mrs P could be getting more aerobic exercise than she had bargained for. Here’s the translation:


Hunting season

12 October – 24 December

Try not to look like a deer

Mr P trying his best not to look like wildlife
Mrs P failing to not look like Bambi (she is easily as cute as Bambi)

This splendid walk circumnavigated the whole mountain passing old abandoned forts slowly crumbling back to nature and a fortunately less abandoned restaurant/bar serving very nice coffee. Thank you very much. I don’t mind if I do.

The very welcome coffee stop

We barely saw anyone on the walk except at the coffee shop (I think they drove there).

Mrs P making a bee line for the cafe

To get from one side of the mountain to the other the path utilises a natural geological fault better known as a tunnel. The ‘tunnel is about 50 metres long and conveniently passes from the North to the South side. It is a bizarrely useful freak of nature. If you want to check it out, is called Forat de Bèrnia (I could only find info in Spanish).

The ‘tunnel’ entrance on the North side of the mountain
Mr P goes spelunking

The exit on the south side is draped with vines and the remains of old stalactites. You kind of expect to see dinosaurs roaming in the valley below. Until you see the motorway that is.

The tunnel exit on the south side of the mountain

Just when you think it can’t get any better a signpost directs you to some 7,000 year old cave paintings. The Pintures Rupestres Ermita del Vicari. Carefully protected by nothing more than an iron fence and some information boards these things are open to the elements and free to visit by anyone prepared to hike there by the shortest route of 1.5 hours.

Mrs P did her best to get some photos because Mr P’s camera battery chose the wrong moment to die.

7,000 year old cave paintings.

There are many suggestions as to what the paintings depict. I have a theory too, though I doubt I will get a research grant to follow it up. Look closely. It is clearly an ancient tourist information sign showing the facilities available in the local area circa 5,000 BC.

1. The sun– This denotes the weather that can be expected

2. The two figures are obviously dancing – denotes access to a disco

3. An animal with an arrow in its side – No dogs

4. The wavy lines – Free WiFi

That’s my dissertation right there.

We made it back to Gandalf without being shot by hunters. We were also fortunate enough to see 4 wild boar but unfortunately didn’t see Asterix or Obelix chasing them.

Now, I know you’ve missed them so, here is a long overdue…


It’s odd. Just a few days ago we were scouting around for campsites in the Alps that were open and, even then, we were often alone. Now, in Spain, on the coast, most are pretty busy and some are even full.

This however is a different breed of camper. Gone are the lightweight tents. Gone is even the remotest idea of roughing it and gone are the children; youth; teenagers; young adults. In fact gone are 99.9% of all adults of working age.

Say hello to the tourist machine. Say hello to white (they are always white. No exceptions) mobile homes filled with Europe’s retired, white (to match their vans) middle class. Snowbirds as they are known in North America.

In amongst these behemoths, if you look closely, you will find one small, nay tiny VW T5 campervan called Gandalf.

Gandalf proving that small is beautiful

The tourist machines are white cities filled, bumper to bumper with the very latest in luxurious motorhomes. They provide plots just the right size to wedge your average 3 axle, 600 tonne, 2 kilometre long gin palace with more satellite technology than Jodrell Bank and provide ample width to allow a couple of chairs in which to relax. That is assuming the owner doesn’t mind having his (or her) nose pressed against the neighbouring van.

Despite the lack of space the owners take great pleasure in accessorising their plots with as many awnings, supplementary tents, flower pots, garden ornaments, gnomes and even mini picket fences. This means that extricating them would be a massive task. They even hide their wheels with pretty covers! (Why?)

This lack of ability to invoke the “mobile” in “mobile home” doesn’t seem to bother snowbirds though, because, once settled in, they are going nowhere. This is probably for the best because 95% of these sites in Calpe, Spain are in the middle of a particularly unpicturesque industrial zone. 300m inland from the beach I admit but an industrial zone nonetheless. No matter. One of the large buildings in the industrial zone is a monster Lidl supermarket. And who needs the beach anyway? They have everything they need in their huge mobile homes.

Snowbirds, stay here in Spain for at least 2-3 months over the winter and consider people who only stay for a few weeks lightweights. Those rare visitors, like us, who stay only one night are anathema to Snowbirds. They need proper neighbours, like at home. Ones who stay. Ones to gossip over the 12cm white picket fence with.

The universal language is English though the percentage of English vans is probably not more than 10%. Lots of Northern Europeans. I think Sweden may be empty! Can my friends in Sweden, who read this, please take a look out of their windows to see if there is anybody left? Do let me know what you find.

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