The Spanish roads have improved to such an extent and it's dual carriageway nearly all the way. After we set off we realised that there wasn't much traffic and because the weather was clear as well we made very good time. We hadn't seen anywhere we fancied stopping and Peniscola was so close to getting a look in, when I reminded Mike of one very important fact. When we had stayed there on the way down in September we couldn't find a restaurant. There were plenty of cafés open back then, but Mike wanted a really good meal. In addition we also had to consider how many establishments would be open in February. Poor Peniscola didn't get a chance after this reality dawned and so he continued with the drive.
Wherever possible we avoid toll roads. What is the point in paying to get somewhere quickly when you don't have a deadline? Rather than fill the coffers of the Autoroute companies we much prefer to spend money on far more enjoyable pursuits and restaurant meals will always win hands down. So, we wanted a yummy meal, we now had Barcelona in our sights but we don't trust the free parking round there, too many gypsies and thieves co-exist within a sizeable radius of the city. As a cheesey aside the addition of tramps to my last sentence could make some catchy lyrics to a song. I'm risking sounding judgemental by including the gypsies as an undesirable element of the Barcelona landscape, and I don't want to but sadly they do go with crime and travel. In the end we chose Platja D'Aro. Again! We could spend a few days and now the decision had been made we just wanted to get there. Because it was rush hour we treated ourselves to a few miles of paying motorway, €8.90 didn't seem too excessive and it saved at least two hours of the journey time.
The free Aire at Platja was very crowded but we managed to squeeze in. There were no motorhomes parked at the side of the road approaching the car park. We know of one burglary that occurred there last year, perhaps the local police have been moving the stragglers on, but with our prior knowledge of that incident we wouldn't have parked on the street, even though we have done in the past.
After we had settled a very pleasant Spaniard explained that we had arrived in time for Mardi Gras. We were both exhausted from the drive (I know I had no right to be exhausted but navigators get tired too, you know) and the total drive distance for the day was 514 miles. 514 miles! What a ridiculous distance. Anyway, we got changed and hit the town.
The main street had been closed to traffic, and there were about a dozen stationary floats, spaced less than a truck length apart. Each one was playing club style music at full pelt. Now, I'm no old fogey when it comes to noise and I love music of all types and styles but I could feel the sound on my chest and each outfit was playing a different track. The resulting cacophony was truly awful. Each one had a few people on board, who were clearly enjoying themselves as they showed off to the few remaining passers by.
One float caught my eye because each one of four young ladies on it was wearing an identical outfit of a very short, flared mini skirt made out of red satin material. A lacey white basque and four inch high black stiletto heels. Long hair was scraped up into a high pony tail and copious lashings of lush red lipstick had been applied to their pouting lips. They were dancing and prancing around a large peeled banana. It had a jokey smiley face. Closer inspection revealed that the banners along the side of the lorry were advertising a local sex shop, the girls were thrusting their hips at the large, plastic construction in time to the music. I had to conclude that my first impression was incorrect and this wasn't a waist high piece of fruit at all. Spain-Catholic country, Mardi Gras Festival. My itemised list of inappropriateness swam through. But hey ho, the girls were having fun, and I wouldn't dream of judging another country and her moral code. The Spanish might have had the Inquisition in their history but not the enduring after effects of the Victorian era.
Our pressing need to find food remained but the restaurants were shut. All that way, and it looked as though we were to have egg and chips back at the van after all. Luckily during the time it took us to walk to the end of the street and back again one of our favourite restaurants had opened. The owners greeted us like long lost friends and every time anyone opened the door to the outside world the sound wooshed in from the street, like entering a disco, but I've never been to an outdoor disco like that one. No photos of my favourite float either, your imagination will have to suffice.