30th April 2010 Idanha-a-Nova

30 04 2010

A very leisurely day was had by all today. After a bit of a lie in Lorna did some washing which we hung out to dry before taking Jack for a good walk up to the waters edge of Barragem da Idanha. It was much cooler today which made walking any distance a much more enjoyable experience, Jack was particularly pleased.

The afternoon was spent by Lorna reading, me watching some more Star Trek DVDs, season one nearly finished now, and Jack watching the cats on the campsite! A nice tea of leek and ham pasta in a cheese sauce was enjoyed late evening before we headed for bed nicely chilled out.


29th April 2010 Marvao to Idanha-a-Nova

30 04 2010

After both having a shower and then filling up our water tank from the tap close to where we parked we left Marvao at around 10.30am, on our way to the town of Castelo de Vide which we wanted to have a look at. On our way we passed a supermarket so we nipped in to restock on certain bits and pieces. When we arrived at Castelo de Vide the parking there was difficult and the one spot we found wasn’t appropriate as our front end was left jutting out into the road so we moved on fairly swiftly heading for the Barragem a few miles up the road, Barragem da Povoa. We had thought that if there were motorhomes there we would maybe stop the night but, apart from a Dutch guy, we were the only ones there, a gorgeous spot though with a couple of abandoned houses and a rather ramshackled cafe.

Abandoned house at Barragem de Povao

.....and a close up of the bird nesting on the chimney

We cooked our lunch, using the remaining bacon from our Morrisons visit in Gibraltar, washed up and then headed toward the town of Nisa on route to our final destination of the day, Idanha-a-Nova, where there is an Orbitur campsite, always good value, in this case just over €25 for two nights.

When we arrived at Idanha-a-Nova we couldn’t find the campsite and could only see one sign for it so we drove around for a bit and eventually resorted to asking at a garage, the only instruction we received was to turn left at the island, so we did this and after negotiating a rather steep and twisty road we picked up a sign for the ‘Campismo’. If we had wanted a place close to town we would have been most disappointed as the campsite was actually on the banks of Barragem da Idanha, maybe 10km away from the town and practically in the middle of nowhere, gorgeous spot though.

We booked in and quickly found a nice pitch. Before the staff had even arrived to connect us to the electric the awning was out as were the deck chairs, allowing us to spent the remainder of the daylight hours sat outside relaxing.

28th April 2010 Marvao and Fadagosa

28 04 2010

We got up and found that the other five motorhomes that were parked next to us overnight had gone, leaving us all alone on the car park where we had all wild camped for the night. The temperatures today were less oppressive so we made our way into the fortified town of Marvao, and what a treat the place is.

Whitewashed houses in Marvao

Tightly packed whitewashed houses all sit to one side of the main castle which has some lovely ornamental gardens sitting in front of it. The castle walls allow you to walk all the way around the town giving a different viewpoint and perspective to the place.

Marvao castle and walls

Whilst we were wandering around I got chatting to an English guy who was stopping on a campsite in the nearby village of St. Antonio das Areias, he was a regular visitor to this region and told me about a village called Fadagosa which is now completely deserted. I made a note of the name and told Lorna that we needed to go and see it.

Marvao walls and house

We returned to the car park and spent the afternoon reading, relaxing and watching a local farmer herd his sheep, lambs and goats right past us, Jack was most excited at this part of the day. We waited for the temperature to become a little more comfortable before going to have a look at both Fadagosa and the campsite, thinking that if it was reasonable enough we may spend the night there.

Fadagosa was an amazing place, as described to me it was utterly deserted with houses, barns, a church and a hotel that had apparently just been left in the late 70’s, I need to do some research on this place so I know exactly what happened there. The medium sized hotel still had the chairs in the reception area and the church the pews and altar fairly intact. I could have spent hours there taking photographs but Lorna got quite spooked by the place and so we had to leave.

The derelict church at Fadagosa

The abandoned hotel at Fadagosa

Next stop was the campsite. On arriving there we met the chap that I had seen earlier but the owner was not there, apparently an English guy who had gone for his Portuguese lessons. We asked how much it was to stay and another English guy in a big fifth wheeler told us that the prices were designed to discourage ‘one nighters’ and that it would be about €18 for one night, cheaper for two though. So, the pricing policy worked as I was not prepared to spend €18 on a campsite when actually we were full of water and everything else was empty and charged and we could stay overnight for free where we were last night (Lorna thinks I’m a misery guts but I’d rather spend the money on eating out one time, especially as we didn’t need the services). So, we got directions for the local supermarket and butchers and went to buy our dinner, a nice piece of steak with some odds and sods that we already had. When we arrived back at the car park there was a French motorhome there that was stopping the night so Lorna was much happier, we had our delicious steak with a green salad and had a relatively early night.

27th April 2010 Monsaraz to Marvao

27 04 2010

After a really good sleep we were up and about at around 10am, chatting again to our Belgian friends before they left on their way further south. I am sure we will see them again.

We wandered up into the small village of Monsaraz to buy some of the locally produced wine before we too set off, heading north. The plan was to go to a town called Terrugem where they had both an aire and a market on Wednesday morning. The drive there was a hot one with the temperatures hitting the mid thirties again. We arrived , found the aire and replenished our water supplies as well as emptying all of our waste. We then moved a little into a more shaded area and had some lunch. Because of the market the aire was closed between 6am and 11am and as we didn’t fancy an early rise we decided to drive to the nearest Barragem which was around half an hour away (the half an hour thing was soon to be the subject of the day). The drive to the Barragem was very relaxed, going through some beautiful countryside and the odd small village.

Unfortunately there were no other motorhomes parked up at the Barragem, mainly because the parking was right next to the main road we presumed but it was a gorgeous place to be. We checked the sat nav and the next town along was a place featured in both of our books on Portugal, a municipal campsite next to a natural spring in Cabeco de Vide, about half an hour away. On the way there we passed through the village of Monforte where we saw farmers herding their goats through the main street, all looking at us as we passed through. Arriving at the campsite we were disappointed, it was horribly overgrown and difficult to access so there was no way we could stay the night, despite the draw of the free natural spring water.

From there we decided to head toward Portalegre as on our map we had a campsite marked, always a good back up. We phoned ahead but the number was wrong and so we just decided to head in that direction, as it was only about half an hour away, and see if it was still there. It was in our books but not on the sat nav so with the number being out of order we wondered. It turned out that it was not there any more so we had a drive past Portalegre and decided it wad too big a place to be looking around for a night stay.

The next place on our minds was another fortified town called Marvao which had been mentioned to us by Joseph though he did say that he couldn’t find the place for motorhomes to park. We were only half an hour or so away so we decided to take a chance and have a look. I was of the mind that I would just park anywhere at this point as it was getting on for 6.30pm. The road to Marvao was a hilly twisty affair and we had superb views if the large castle perched on top of the cliffs as we approached. I was on the lookout for parking signs and as we entered the borders of the town we saw signs directing us toward the car parks. Then, just as we turned a corner I spotted 3 motorhomes parked up right by the side of a church so I quickly turned around with the shout of ‘MOTORHOMES!’ and we pulled up in between them, a perfect spot looking out over into Spain and not 10 minutes walk from the main town and castle (N39•23’38 W7•22’25).

A street in Marvao

The box of red wine we had bought earlier in the day couldn’t have been opened any quicker and, after a long days travelling, covering probably well over 170km in exhausting heat, we finally settled down to a dinner of pasta with tuna and anchovies at 7.30pm, pleased with our days achievements.

26th April 2010 Monsaraz

26 04 2010

The temperature today was very high, even in the mid afternoon our thermometer was recording 36.5 degrees with a slight breeze that was helping to take the edge off it a little.

We walked with Jack first thing and then we caught up with our neighbours Joseph and Mary-Jeann who had decided to stay another night as they needed a ‘relax’ day, pretty much the same as us. We hung around in the motorhome for most of the day as it was cooler in there, we even moved it into a slightly shadier part of the car park as the heat at mid-day was opressive.

When things cooled down a little in the early evening we went for another walk around the town with our neighbours, stopping for a beer at the small cafe and then, back at the motorhome we sat out until just before midnight chatting. A very pleasant day all round.

Monsaraz street light.

25th April 2010 Valverde del Camino (Spain) to Monsaraz (Portugal)

26 04 2010

It was obviously going to be a blazing hot day today so after we got up we took Jack for a walk into the town of Valverde del Camino, being a Sunday everything was closed up but we still had the chance to see the church and walk around the narrow streets taking in the ambience of the place.

We returned to the motorhome and set off for Monsaraz which was around about 2 hours away. The journey would take us out of Spain and back into Portugal whilst still heading north. Lots of people that we have met have said to go to Monsaraz and as we approached the town we could see why.

The fortified town of Monsaraz

The fortified town sits on top of a hill with car parks on the one side, the designated motorhome parking (N38•26.544′ W007•22.801′) is right below the fort walls and high enough up to give fantastic views over a massive expanse of water and the further out into Spain, a fabulous spot. Lorna had already read that the town was noted for it’s roast lamb dinners so when we had parked up we took a walk into the small town with Jack hoping to find a restaurant with outside seating. The town was much smaller than we had envisaged though, there was only a handful of restaurants and only one with outdoor seating, which was full.

The parking area for motorhomes.

It did turn out to be a blazingly hot day and I think Jack was actually grateful to get back inside the motorhome which had kept relatively cool. I opened all of the roof lights and the bathroom window to let what breeze there was in and left Jack to have a sleep whilst I returned to the town to meet Lorna who had bagged us a table in a restaurant. We both wanted to try the roast lamb but unfortunately they had sold out so we both had grilled lamb chops which were the most tasty, tender and well seasoned I have ever had.

The bell tower at night

Back at the motorhome we got chatting to a couple from Bruges who had parked close to us and we then spent the remainder of the day with them, walking up into the town later on to watch the sun set and then sitting outside on deck chairs in the cool night air, swapping notes on locations and sharing a few glasses of wine.

24th April 2010 Ronda to Valverde del Camino

24 04 2010

I was up at 8.30am (Spanish time) with a bit of a dicey stomach which had affected me in the night too and, for the rest of the day I didn’t feel my best.

Keen to get a move on though we busied ourselves having a good clear out of the motorhome, doing a bit of washing and then finally emptying and filling our water before checking out if the site at Ronda at bang on mid-day (Spanish time). We then made our way to our mid point between Spain and it’s border with Portugal,Valverde del Camino, on an aire which had been recommended by Graham and Diane a few weeks earlier. The journey was just over 220km and with a stop to have some lunch we arrived at just after 3.15pm (Spanish time).

The journey there took us out of the mountainous region surrounding Ronda and then onto the much flatter landscape south of Seville, very nice scenery to be travelling through. We went around the outside if Seville, going in exactly the opposite direction that we were when we went from Altura to Cadiz, we even went past the supermarket where I filled up on that journey too. From there on though we took a different route and continued the journey north, the landscape again changing to one of rolling hills of what can only be described as scrubland.

Pulling into the town of Valverde del Camino we were suddenly in an inhabited place again, whitewashed houses and a few busy cafes along the main road. The aire was located at the other side of the town, a nice flat tarmaced car park with specific places for motorhomes, this was more like it (N37•34.871′ W006•45.088′).

We parked next to one other motorhome and after we had sorted ourselves out the guy from the other motorhome came around and was gesturing and talking in Spanish. I had no idea what he was trying to say so he took me to the roadside and pointed at the sign, which was also in Spanish so I couldn’t make head nor tail of that either. He gave up eventually and we later worked out that he might have been asking if it was ok to park here. It’s a possible explanation but considering there was also a big sign in both English and Spanish with the ‘rules’ of the aire there I’m not so sure. Anyway, we took Jack for a short walk just as loads of people started arriving in cars, all dressed up and looking to be attending a wedding at the hotel next to the car park.

We got a bit of shopping in at the local supearket and then returned to the motorhome where Jack was most excited to learn that the guy next door had a cat with him. Great, that’s Jack on edge for the rest of the night we thought, but hr soon seemed to calm down and it wasn’t long before he was dreaming in his sleep, probably trying to work out a way of getting out of the motorhome for lunch.

We then sat at watched all of the guests of the function get back in their cars and depart. This was followed by a superb and much anticipated spaghetti with crispy bacon and a spicy tomato sauce. My stomach was feeling ok by this point so I forced down a bottle of Golden Glory too.

Tomorrow we head back into Portugal, God knows what time it will be there!

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