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Heading south: Barcelona towards Jaén

After an enjoyable couple of ‘city days’ we need to start making our way south and decide to take the A7/AP-7 Autovía del Mediterráneo as there are no tolls. We leave the excellent Area Camper Barcelona Beach, Cabrera de Mar at 1130 on Wednesday 28 February having half-filled the fresh water tank and emptied the waste water. This site really does represent very good value at only €20 per 24 hours including all services and right on the train line to Barcelona.

Just north of the Ebre Delta, where we spent some time last year, we stopped for lunch at an aire on the motorway then drove on to find a great, free place to park up overnight at les Coves de Sant Josep, La Vall d’Uixó. It is the longest navigable subterranean river in Europe and, as might be expected, there are regular trip boats throughout the year (hence the large carpark, where overnight parking is permitted) but it all looks a bit ‘touristy’ so we decided to head on south.

On Thursday, 29 February we depart the carpark at 0945 and fill up with fuel before re-joining the A7 towards Valencia then take the A3 Autovía del Este, intending to make another long driving day. The traffic is really heavy with huge lorries on a two-lane highway – even worse than the A14 to Ipswich on a bad day. We turned off at Bunol onto the D425 for a bit of more scenic, interesting driving and stopped for lunch on a winding road over a fairly high pass which was pretty chilly and breezy. There seemed to be olive groves for as far as we could see with occasional almond orchards and vineyards giving way to scrub as we climbed. The few small villages were deserted and in some cases almost looked derelict.

We came across the Santuario Virgen de Turpuchel, an interesting derelict site for which we can find no information at all. We’d hoped to reach Jaén but it was getting late and there were good reviews for the free parking area at the historic town of Úbeda. Close to town, we decided to take an evening walk to find a restaurant. After walking through a very popular, but not very interesting market with dozens of stalls along the main street we found the ‘restaurant’ area of town. It all seemed very expensive and not inviting so we returned to the van to eat and look forward to getting on the road again tomorrow.