Road Trip In Pictures, Day 1: On the Road Again From Bolonia to Polonia + Review of Camping Paloma Near Tarifa, Spain

Polonia?? NO!!! Bolonia!!! 😉 Back on the road again!! You know that song? Yeah, babe! Checking out the sand dunes only two hours away from Jerez de la Frontera! This fourth European roadtrip of ours will definitely be a bitter-sweet experience… saying goodbye to our Andalusian paradise (for now) and being excited about our new Polish adventure at the same time. Ready or not, here we GO! Here’s day one of our family camping road trip number four in pictures. . . with ramblings from the road and a review of Camping Paloma for all you happy campers out there. Big Smile!

#bolonia #boloniadune #boloniacadiz #sanddunes #familycamping #familyroadtrips #familyadventure #playavaldevaqueros

If you need more info, text follows at the end of the pictures below. Enjoy!

Can’t believe it’s been four years; four years and change since we set out to live this sort of new gypsy lifestyle, you know, but now we’re ready. All dressed up and ready to go! In fact, we’ve been ready to go more than a month ago when we shipped a majority of her household goods to Poland. That has turned out to be a good strategy. It lessened the stress for my lovely wife (and all of us, of course) because most of our household goods were already waiting for us in Poland. So the rest of the time in May and June, we’re just meeting with friends and having our seemingly ceaseless good-bye parties and stocking up on what other things we could buy (things like the different shades of sherry, some plants) for the second and final shipment to Poland which just happened a couple of days ago and just arrived this morning as we were driving down to Bolonia. #fefR4

All packed up and ready to go on our family camping road trip number 4… from Jerez to Bolonia to Polonia (Poland). My older son is in there somewhere.
A pleasantly surprising Google map reroute to Algeciras led to a beautiful mountain road with a view of the Rif mountains of Morocco.
Ahhhhhh. . . Africaaaaaaaaaa!
It’s not always like this, but when the children, on their own accord, come close to hug each other in silence. . . precious moments. Here, they were probably thinking about our trip to Morocco: to Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Tangier and Hercules’ cave in Cap Spartel.
Getting closer to the sand dunes of Bolonia–there, the white spot almost carved into the mountain.
Tarifa’s local carftworks–the mixed of cultures typical in this part of Spain/Europe. You can get it, as well as drinks and snacks and some moments to admire the panoramic views of Africa and over the Gibraltar Strait, at the bar/cafeteria/rest stop called “El Mirador del Estrecho”.

ROAD RAMBLINGS (notes from the road)

00:45 First stop, only 88.5 miles from Jerez via Algeciras.


Here we are again, road trip. Time to hit the road again. “De Bolonia a Polonia” (from Bolonia to Poland). This time it’s going to be a one-way trip to Poland because, well, it’s about that time for us to move again. Same semi-nomadic lifestyle with a change of scenery. Change for something better, I hope at least.

Time for a new life. Let’s see. We’ve got a 24-day plan to be on the road again and get up to Poland. We’re not going back here in Spain anytime soon. We want to maximize the time on the road considering ongoing Covid-19 restrictions for entering countries. So we’ll be spending a majority of our time in Spain.

How can we afford to have this lifestyle? We have enough money to get by, doing odd jobs and cutting down on a lot of luxuries. But we have gained a lot of time, family time, with the kids. And it all started in the spring of 2017 when we quit our jobs to change a lifestyle and moved to Spain for a family gap YEAR that turned into 1, 2, 3. . . and counting. You can make life beautiful!

So here I am. Here we are on day one of our family camping road trip number four.

First stop is a little bit of a detour; to Tarifa in the southwesternmost tip of Spain. Why? Well to see the sand dunes of Bolonia. That’s our primary goal at least, but then come to realize that there is another thing to see here in the south of Cádiz province–the beautiful Playa de Valdevaqueros with its own sand dunes too. So, staying for two nights here, maybe three, depending on what happens tomorrow.

Eighty eight point, five miles, south of Jerez and there we were heading in the wrong direction. Thanks to Google map’s everthoughtful automatic re-routing, time-saving feature. That’s a bit of a detour. But you know, it’s a good thing we got lost. Or rather Google directed us in a rather round the loop kind of way on account that there’s some kind of traffic jam which means we ended up heading towards Algeciras. That’s sounds a helluvalot like Al Jazeera. I wonder if it’s one and the same, since this part of Spain was under Muslim rule for some 780 years and Algeciras is essentially a huge port and nothing else of special interest to us.

On the other hand, the southwest road from Algeciras towards Tarifa is something else. Once you got to the top of that narrow winding mountain road, you could see Morocco. Better yet, you could see the Rif mountains of Africa, right there some 15 kilometers, across the narrowest stretch of the Straight of Gibraltar, even made more beautiful by the low-hanging clouds surfing over the calm waters where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean kiss [[Here is a rather poetic AI-generated transcription of what I said which I cannot decipher any more: “Are you less beautiful or made more beautiful baked by the clouds”.]] The modern electricity-generating windmills on the Spanish side of the straight, atop this mountain you’re on, adds to the scenic view. Quite all right.

Then as you make that loop, curving back up north towards Bolonia, you see the sand dunes of Valdevaquero from top of that mountain pass. I thought it was the more famous sand dunes of Bolonia but it’s not.

Next stop: Looking for some kind of camping.

Camping Torre de Penas (or something like that) is supposedly nice. It has two parts divided by the highway. On the east side of the highway is more quiet side of the camping which affords campers more beautiful view of the mountains of Morocco/Africa. The other part of the camp on the other side of the highway is closer to the ocean and you can hear the waves and, supposedly, can actually access the beach during low tide only.

We hit a snag with this campsite because there were only two plots left on the mountainside at €48.50 each. One of them was small and hard to get to and the other one beside it was covered with poops of two Dobermans owned by Germans in a campervan. That’s not cool, you know, if you gotta have pets in a public space, you better tend to them? I mean, how would you feel like if I poop in front of your camp? Anyway, so we didn’t like that one. We had to sacrifice the view of the Rif mountains and ended up somewhere else.

Second choice: some low-key camping closer to the famous sand dunes of the ancient Roman villa of Bolonia. It’s closer and on the way to Playa del Valdevaqueros–one of the most beautiful beaches of Spain. OK, OK, maybe not all of Spain… just Andalucia. It was actually pretty but, as most beaches here in the summer, was quite packed. The road towards it was packed with beachgoers and cars and that’s not how we like to roll. It’s a good thing then that the camping was closed.

So, off we go to the third option: Camping Paloma turned out to be quite nice. The kids were screaming in excitedly because, from the road, they read the sign that says “piscina” (swimming pool). And that pretty much what camping is about for them. And they also associated it with a dear friend of ours named Paloma to whom we said goodbye a few days ago.

We left Jerez around 11:30 and we were Here, There and Everywhere. 88.5 miles later and 4.5 hours later we arrived at Camping Paloma; walking distance to the beach and 15 minutes drive to the famous Dunes of Bolonia.

Pretty A-frame cabins for “glamping”–glamourous camping. Definitely NOT for us. We cannot afford it.

REVIEW of Camping Paloma

Now, they good thing about this camping site is there’s a lot of good-looking women here. (You can tell, it’s the idiot father who’s writing this 😋 But what the boys really really like about this camping site is, well they screamed it, swimming pool and 0football court.

What we like about this campground? 

Peaceful camping among the pine trees, that’s what we liked about Camping Paloma, near Tarifa and Bolonia in southern Spain. Full grown trees surround the camping site and in between pitches that help protect the campers from the heat of the Andalusian sun and the noise of the highway and other motorists, except when your a nearby tent would decide to play loud music all day long. With pine trees though you gotta watch out for the sap overnight. But so far, I haven’t seen anything that could be a problem.

For the boys, no matter where we are in Europe, camping is all about playgrounds and swimming pools, This is a decent-sized pool, turned bigger when there’s hardly any other campers/visitors like during our visit in the first week of July.

What we don’t like about this camping site?

Loud music from inconsiderate neighbors

What? I don’t like about this camping is freaking inconsiderate camping neighbors. There’s a group of young adults of four tents across from us and they just got this blaring music. It’s loud enough to be heard by everyone in our area, even the people who work there who have cabins next to our area. And they’re playing this salsa Merengue high-energy Latino stuff all-around non-stop since we arrived. We love Salsa and Merengue music, but not if it’s all day long and loud. Although there were several staff roaming the grounds and even lodging in the bungalows nearby, hardly anyone of them enforced the “no-loud-music” policy.

You know, that’s something that, well, really should be a courtesy to your fellow campers. Nobody, you know, I like that music, but I can’t listen to the fucking thing all day long and into the night when my kids are trying to get some sleep. So I guess management can have roamers like in other places where they have staff roaming around and telling people to follow the rules, man! Rules are made for people like these.

No Accessible Toilet Paper

Anyway, the other thing I don’t like about this place is the f@*king toilet paper. There’s no toilet paper. Well actually, there’s a lot of toilet paper as it looked like. But, and a VERY BIG BUTt at that–there’s no way to get them out of the f*@king thing (the container). Wife and I checked every single one of those 5 to 10 toilet stalls. And you know, there’s many of them have paper in the holders, but there’s no way to get them out. That’s why you got to remember to always have some kind of something to wipe with, especially when camping. Put it in your back pocket, literally toilet paper in your back pocket.

what to do near CAMPING Paloma

So, what to see or do nearby?

  • Playa de Valdevaqueros--one of the most beautiful beaches in Andalucia with a wide soft sandy beach and a view of surfers, kite flyers nearby and distant Africa.
  • Playa Punta Paloma is a bit more pristine (less touristy) area further down (southwest) from Playa de Valdevaqueros into the protected/reserved park area.
  • About 100 meters behind and in between the two beaches is the sand dunes of Valdevaqueros which is nice to see in the backdrop and good enough to get to the top of if you cannot make it to the more famous and imposing Dunes of Bolonia nearby.
  • If you are into trekking or hiking (senderismo in Spanish), there’s plenty of trail on the northern part of the protected park area. If you are fit and adventurous (and perhaps without kids like us) you can spend a day hiking over to Bolonia and discover remnants of the ancient Roman colony in the area. Note: these are wild and not so-easy trails.
  • Baelo Claudia–a well-preserved ancient Roman settlement that you can visit for FREE (as a resident of the European Union) or some token entrance fee for others. It’s well worth it. Check out our linked post about what to see or do in Bolonia in Cadiz, Spain.
  • And of course, TARIFA–the windsurfing capital of Europe is a mere 15-minute drive/12.5-kilometers away, and beyond that, a little ferry ride away across the Strait of Gibraltar is Morocco, Africa.

NOTE: In case you’re wondering. . . NO, we have not received (nor expect to receive) any form of compensation or freebies or anything at all for reviewing or mentioning this or any others on our blog.  We do because it may be helpful to you and others. And it’s fun too!

PRICE

Above-average price at €46.50 euros (tax included) for a family of 4 (2 kids–1 under 5) in a 4-person tent with electricity at the beginning of the summer season (first week of July).

The daily cost seems high for quite a small pitch but somehow we managed to fit a car and a tent (now a bigger tent than last year’s) and two eating tables–small and a large.

Breakdown: €x.xx per night for a pitch that is big enough for a 4-person tent, a car, a table and cooking ware, and then some more! €x.xx for an adult, €x.xx for children between 3 and 12 years old.

You know you’re in Spain when the pitches are straight dirt/ground. Grassy pitches are a luxury here in Spain.

PLAY area

Playgrounds are always a nice family friendly addition that our children appreciate . . . what child wouldn’t?!? Here, there was a very small playground for toddlers, right next to the combination football-and-basketball court with safety nets all around.

There’s a clean, big-sized swimming pools with manicured lawns for sunbathers around and a “chiringuito” (a small shack with tables and chairs where you can buy snacks, drinks and ice cream)

Playgrounds are always a nice family friendly addition that our children appreciate . . . what child wouldn’t?!? Here there is a small playground for toddlers on the left (in green) and, as you can see, a decent court for football and basketball.

ACCESSibility

The entrance to Camping Paloma comes up quickly from the narrow two-lane road that takes you to the rest of the village and the beach. There were lots of trees along the road and you’d have to slow down, take a sharp right turn, then stop. Then you can figure out where to proceed. There were NO flag poles that could make it easier to spot at the time of visit.

Once you pull into the entrance, the reception would be right ahead to your right. There were also plenty of spaces in the nearby parking area, but that would require some deft maneuver to get into from the road. There’s a controlled gate to access the actual camping grounds.

SHADE

Plenty of shade here from matured trees, all over the camping site and in between pitches. This is especially helpful when camping in the summer in Andalucia. You’re in Spain after all!

PITCH

How’s the pitch? It’s a rectangular pitch–long and narrow. Somehow we managed to fit a car and a tent (now a bigger tent than last year’s) and two eating tables–small and a large. It is really tightly packed. I mean, they’ve got some amazing drivers here and it’s like in the Philippines or Rome? I was thinking, “how in the world did you parallel park in between the two trees, with barely something like two inches clearing on both ends?”. Just as I was thinking that another car just smoothly and easily rolled out between the pine trees.

And you know you’re in Spain when the pitches are straight dirt/ground; grassy pitches are a luxury here in Spain. We had a bit tougher time sinking our tent pegs here, but we did not break the pegs. The fallen needle pines also help soften the pitches.

Plenty of pitches available at Camping Paloma when we arrived in the first few days of of July. The campground also offers “GLAMPING” (or glamourous camping) with jazzed-up cabins, bungalows and A-frames. There was ample space for caravans too.

Rectangular camping pitch in the pine trees with a view of the wind turbines atop the mountain in the distance. Plenty of pitches available at Camping Paloma when we arrived in early July. The campground also offers cabins and “glamping”. There are many spaces for caravans too.

Privacy hedges 

None between pitches. Some from thinning bushes between camping areas.

SANITARY FACILITIES

Decently clean place to do your business and it comes with plenty and FREE toilet paper. Believe you me, there are plenty of camping sites out there that do NOT provide this most essential service! It’s a little bit tight in this enclosed space. There’s plenty of light from the sunroof.

We did not see separate FAMILY or KIDS’ WC/bathroom which, admittedly, is a novelty for camping sites, but NOT unusual for family-frinedly camping sites in Spain.

Modernized bathroom and showers. NO PROBLEM with hot showers and nor water drainage.

Dishwashing and clothes-washing area are sufficiently clean but in a narrow space.

Sufficiently clean bathroom area although it’s a little bit tight in this enclosed space with plenty of light from the sunroof and open areas above the toilets for air circulation. The only problem was none of us could get the toilet paper out of the holders.

DINE or DRINKS

Camping Paloma has mini-market reception and bar/restaurant with shaded outdoor seating area. You might NOT like shade, but it could be a life-saver in the summer. YOU’RE in SPAIN after all! There’s also more outdoor seating at the chiringuitto by the pool.

WI-FI

Yes, but only at reception. It was FREE (or at least no additional costs).

others

Laundry and dryer machines are some additional amenities, for additional pay of course.

We did not see any hairdryer, fridge, freezer or microwave or a kitchen. It is not all that usual for camping sites to have these extra benefits for campers’ use, but it is still good to have. Maybe we just missed it because the place was quite huge and we did not ask. If it did have it, it was NOT obvious.

Camping Paloma bar/restaurant/minimarket with indoor and outdoor seating areas. Plenty of shade! You might NOT like shade, but it can be a life-saver in the summer. YOU’RE in SPAIN after all! The reception is on the right, next to the minimarket.

TIP for Camping Paloma

To be able to use the swimming pools, make sure to bring swimming caps/headgear (you know, those little things you put over your head to make sure your hair does NOT get into the pool, and if you have it on too tight, your eyes start to squint like you’re a drunken runaway monkey. . .) Yup, that one! You need it here.

In fact, it would do you good to bring them with you when camping in Spain (maybe even France) to save you money, just in case the camping site that you ended up in has a pool.

The entrance to Camping Paloma was not quite obvious from the main road (if you are coming from the highway, on the right of picture). You’d need to slow down to take a right into the front of the entrance and get your bearings in order.
Dishwashing and clothes-washing area are clean enough. There was only space for two people to get through without safety distance. No problem with hot water.

Next Stop

Onwards, upwards. . . . to Andorra! Here’s the first half of our family camping road trip. . . number FOUR! 1,617-something kilometers from Jerez de la Frontera, detour to Bolonia, then Setenil de las Bodegas, the white villages of the Alpujarras, the caves of Guadix, Baeza, Ubeda, Ossa de Montiel, the hanging houses of Cuenca, Lake Caspe and finally the little country of Andorra. . . at least for the first half of this trip!

First half of free electrons family camping road trip number 4, from Jerez de la Frontera to Andorra la Vella.

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BIG SMILE!

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