Four wheel drive adventure in the Sahara Desert, Mauritania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Chinguetti, Mauritania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to Morocco on January 31st.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

This ferry is unlike anything you've ever seen before!

We got up and drove as soon as it was light, at about 8am. Where we are right now, sunset is at 5:30pm and sunrise is at 8:10am. 

We weren't going very far... only about 30 kms (18 miles) further inland to a little village near a castle. My thinking was that we would have some breakfast, do some computer work, visit the castle, and then do some more driving after lunch. That's not quite what happened.

We got to the town of Ginestar and found the free motorhome aire. There are only four sites, built specially for motorhomes or campervans. The place gets really good reviews, so I was actually surprised that there were two empty spots. 

Driving into the town of Ginestar.

You have to drive right into Ginestar. It's always a little nerve wracking going into one of these villages because sometimes the roads can be so tight. This one turned out to be fine, but the motorhome area itself had a bit of a tight turn. Glad Max is so short!

I never did get a photo of Max parked up, but it was a nice spot. The four sites are well separated from each other, and they have a really good waste and fill station.

The two others departed as the morning went on. By the time it was getting close to lunch, we decided we were better off staying put and going to the castle after lunch. 

Another motorhome (with Belgium plates) pulled in to the site beside us, and we saw them take off on their bikes.

It was actually quite a bit after lunch by the time we got going! Sometimes we get caught up in doing research on the laptops and time gets away from us. I found a walking route that would get us to a ferry to cross the Ebro River and make our way up to Miravet Castle.

Pretty laneway in the town of Ginestar.

Church in Ginestar.

Ginestar itself is actually a nice town. There's nothing special about it, but it's the kind of place we would choose if we were to settle down in Spain for a year. Looks like it would be easy to make yourself part of the community, without there being any other expats around. That's the only way to learn a language. You have to immerse yourself.

We walked on a road that had a lot of agriculture on both sides.
Grapes, olives, fruit trees.

Zoomed in on Miravet Castle.
That's where we're headed!

The Ebro River.

We were about to learn a lot about this river. It looks pretty peaceful in the photo above, but the Ebro River has a long history of flooding. 

We walked along the riverside another km or so to the ferry dock.

Now, this ferry is unlike anything you've ever seen before!

Ebro River ferry at Miravet.

The ferry is simply two boats, held together with a wooden platform. The ferry is attached by cable to another cable that is running across the river. There is sufficient current in the river that just by steering the rudder, the ferry makes its way across. There is no engine or propulsion of any kind. Apparently it has been operating here this way for hundreds of years. The ferry can hold up to six tons, with enough space for three small cars.

Here they come!

While we were waiting, the couple from the Belgium motorhome rode up on their bikes. They were going to cross the river as well. So we spoke to them for a few minutes while we waited.

Then it was our turn to board the ferry. There were no cars... just us, the other couple, and their bicycles. We had to pay €1 each for the crossing, and they had to pay €0.50 extra for each bicycle.

The ferry operator was fairly talkative, and only in Spanish. We had a good conversation with him, although we missed bits and pieces. Considering we haven't used our Spanish in almost two years, it's coming back pretty quickly.

He was saying how the river is fairly low right now, and it's almost not enough to be able to easily cross the river. But he says that the river is always high in the spring and it can be dangerous. But he has been doing this for 35 years, so he has lots of experience!

When we got off, there was a building at the top of the ramp with markings on it showing high flood times in 2008, 2018, and 2021. The perspective didn't show well in photos, so I took a short video for you. Turn up your volume...

High water marks on the Ebro River.

But it turns out that this is nothing. The Ebro River rose to catastrophic levels in both 1787 and 1907.

Miravet and the castle.

Miravet Castle dates back to the middle of the 12th century. Many of the buildings in the village have been there since the 14th to 16th century. 

It's a really scenic spot.
Notice the flood wall on the right. It was breached in 2008.

Notice the building that has the arch. Above the arch, near the roof is a brick that is a slightly different color. (Click the photo to make it full screen. Click again to zoom in). That different colored brick is the high water mark for the great flood of 1787!

I found this interesting website that shows a graphic of how bad that flood wood have been. It's all in Catalan, but you can look at the pictures... https://pladelafont.blogspot.com/2019/09/iinundacions-del-riu-ebre-de-1787-i-el.html

Unfortunately the church was locked.

Miravet church.

View from the castle.

Another view.

Looking west.

We paid the €5 ($7.20 CAD, $5.25 USD) each to enter the castle.

A few people around, plus a couple of school groups.


The main part of the castle was built by the Templars around 1150. However archaeological excavations have revealed an Iberian settlement that dates to between the 1st and 5th century BC, as well as a Moorish citadel that dates between the 9th and the 12th century.

Of course there have been many renovations and additions done over the years. 
This plaque is dated 1839.

The courtyard.

The cistern.

The refectory.

These towers used to go ceiling high.

Renovations were done as recently as 1994.


The church.

Another view.

We made it back to Max around 5:00pm. Another 7 kms or so of walking, plus the hike up the hill to the castle. We were actually lucky we didn't get rained on. You may have noticed there wasn't much blue sky yesterday. And today appears to be a rain day, so we are putting on some miles towards our house sit near Valencia that starts tomorrow afternoon.

At least it's warm enough... high of 16C (62F), low of 10C (50F). Supposed to be up to 20C (68F) on Saturday!

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And in Canada...

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7 comments:

  1. There are similar ferries in Belize; however, I never had the opportunity to use one. There used to be a pull ferry between north Ambergris Caye and the rest of the island, and there is another similar ferry if one wishes to visit the Xunitunich ruins. By the time we lived in Ambergris Caye, a bridge had been built, but many who had been there longer spoke fondly of the old ferry. Ginestar looks like a charming town!

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    1. Very interesting about the couple of ferries at are similar in Belize. I had mentioned to Kevin that there might be a few in South America but hadn't thought about Central America. I think I would be a little nervous taking a car on the ferry.

      Miravet is the little town where the castle was and yes it was a charming little town and so was Ginestar but we didn't see very much of it other than walking through it to get to the ferry dock.

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  2. I really like your blogs and have found them very helpful in deciding our upcoming 7 week route trough Spain starting next week. We've been twice before but you have some lovely suggestions off the beaten track. This time we're tqking the new ferry direct rom Ireland to Bilbao. When you get to our country drop us a line if you're in County Clare and we might meet up. We're back home from mid March.

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    1. We are so happy to hear that you have found the posts helpful, that is want we like to hear. :-) If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask and we will try to answer them. We hope that you have a great holiday, I know that we love Spain and all that it has to offer.

      We will be taking the same ferry from Spain to Ireland in late April/early May. County Clare looks beautiful and I am pretty sure that we are planning to be in that area at some point during our visit to Ireland, we will certainly keep you invitation in mind and try to reach out to you when we get closer to the area. Feel free to send us your email. Kevin's contact email is near the top of the blog post on the right hand side.

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    2. Hi, I can't find any email address for Kevin. Anyway plenty of time before you come to Ireland. Our paths might even cross somewhere in Spain. We head off tomorrow and get the ferry early Wednesday morning. Enjoy Mauritania.

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    3. His email is [email protected] Yes, there is still a lot of time and we hope that our paths will cross somewhere along the road.

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  3. Ok, found the email address on Facebook. Thanks.

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