Some of the best village ramparts in France
Ricote seemed an interesting little town and the aire was spacious, free and had great views. We decided that it was worth at least another night to allow us to explore the little town and have a relax and warm up after several driving days in the cold high altitudes. Ricote is still over 200m but noticeably warmer than Castalla was.
Ricote town is quite small – 1500 population according to Wikipedia – and concentrated on quite a small area. There is a street plan and guide on a board at the aire so we could see that there were several shops including a panederia so we headed there first! We did not need bread but some local pastries are always tempting. The only evidence of the existence of the bakery was the small sign in the street which said Panederia Pepe above a door. No display windows or anything like that – Pepe’s customers know he is there and do not need to be enticed in! Actually the smell of baking and fresh bread was probably what drew us through the door to find a small shop with a normal display counter laden with cakes and pastries as well as plenty of long thin loaves on the racks behind. Behind the counter the door to the bakery itself stood open and we could see the ovens and racks of cooling loaves. This was the real thing such as we so rarely find in the UK – a village bakery where bread is baked locally for local people.
The baker (I assume this was Pepe) was very helpful and patient with out minimal Spanish. We choses some “chocos” (like large pain au chocolate), some sponge cakes and some little biscuits covered in seeds. I was pleased that when he told me the total price I actually understood him and could count out the 3 euros and 40 cents without assistance. I do find euro cent coins a bit hard to handle as they are quite similar in size and colour but after 7 weeks in euroland I seem to be making progress. I try not to be lazy and just wave a note and accept the change but make myself work it out and tender the right money if I can. This approach helps to reduce the accumulation of large numbers of low value coins!
Near the bakery we found the first the town trail sign which was translated in to English, German and French! It seems that Ricote is the oldest recorded town in Murcia region having been first mentioned in 826! The current town dates more from the middle ages as the old moorish village was on the high ground above the current town. The settlement moved down to the present site in the C13. We spent almost an hour wandering around the town trail which led us from around the old town and up to the viewpoint near the top of the town. Here are some photos from our wanderings.
Back at Bertie we had coffee and tucked in to our chocos. Unwrapped on the plates they looked huge at least twice the size of French pain au chocolate! They were just as good if not better. Much later, after lunch and another walk around the town we addressed the plan for the next few days. The original idea was to go to the coast after Ricote but now we would like to explore this area a bit more and so tomorrow we are going back down the hill we came up yesterday and return to the valley of the Segura river. Not least because this river has flowing water in it – quite a novelty in Spain where almost all the rivers we have seen have been dry. The only other flowing river we have seen in the last 4 weeks is the River Ebro! Most rivers are dammed in the mountains and all their water used to supply the coastal cities and the immense irrigation needs of agriculture.
I am writing this on Saturday morning just before we leave to move to Archena. Thus I am able tell you about our “night drive”! It was quite breezy when we went to bed last night but at half past midnight we were both woken by a violent shaking of the van! We had debated last night whether we should stay on our present pitch which was chosen for the views down the valley. This location might have been fine with great views but it meant we were in the middle of the far side of this large flat area and worse still we were sideways on to the wind. The forecast had suggested that the wind would drop during the evening and overnight. It was wrong! So at 12:45 we got up and hoisted our bed back up to the roof where it is stowed and we drew back the windscreen curtains and we drove across the car park to hide behind a building, facing the van in to the direction of the wind. That made a big difference – we could still hear the wind but Bertie was no longer rocking in the big gusts! We woke quite late this morning!