13.12.15 …….. Caceres
We left El Rocio and drove 215 miles to Caceres so we could meet up with Tom and Jo who were leaving Portsmouth to come down to Santander. They would stop half way on their first night in Spain and then drive down to here, to where we are, the next day. So Elaine and I parked on a free aire for the 2 nights and then we moved on to an Acsi site about a kilometre outside of the city and waited for their arrival. You will not see pictures of Caceres because we went to this historic city last year so instead concentrated on seeing the shops and we wandered around a Christmas market selling lots of festive wares.
The Acsi site is totally different to any we have stopped at because on arrival we were given a key which was for our own private wet room as each pitch had a brick built shed besides the parking place and inside we found a w c complete with toilet seat and toilet paper (shear luxury), a very functional shower and a sink with a large mirror behind it and a plug socket handily placed beside it.
Jo and Tom and Taz the dog arrived and we spent the rest of that day and the whole of the next catching up and planning the start of our travels together.
17.12 2015……..Marvao, Portugal.
We drove towards Portugal and we crossed the border and Elaine captured the moment on her camera phone. We went through a white village and the local men and ladies waved to us, with smiles on their faces, and of course we waved back. The driving in Portugal is slightly easier because the draconian speed limits near bends and around roundabouts is not there so I am not being harangued anywhere near as much by the voice on the satnav for being over the speed limit. We have found already that most of the land we have passed so far is being used for crops or for grazing instead of the miles upon miles of the wastelands of Spain. Everywhere looks green and lush and I just hope that it doesn’t mean we will get lots of rain now we have changed countries.
Now we are in Portugal we are on the same time line as those of you in Britain so as we had only a short journey to do to cross the border …….. by the clock, we actually arrived in Portugal before we left Caceres.
We were only 15 kilometers from Marvao when we came across a horrendous looking accident and saw a car wrapped around a tree and there were lots of vehicles around it, all with flashing lights, and a police officer, armed with a pistol in his holster told us we had turn around and head back the way we had come. This meant going back through the same white village so those same people waved to us again but this time with quizzical expressions on their faces. Our journey to Marvao took us 91 miles to complete instead of the expected 78 miles.
The town is set right on top of a hill and we had quite a stiff climb to get to the free aire right beside the castle walls and the view from our parking place over the land way below took our breath away.
It wasn’t long before we were visiting the walled town, the small museum and the very impressive castle which is free to enter during the winter months.
18.12.2015 ……….Elvas and then Terrugem for the night.
Our small convoy left Marvao and headed to Elvas. Tom takes the lead and I follow and we communicate on the way using a pair of walky-talkies and Jo and Elaine swap comments about things we see and they send snippets of music being played in our vans. It does mean that Tom and I can relay important info with each other whilst the two ladies compete in trying to make the other laugh.
We arrived in Elvas and although there is a free aire behind a large supermarket on the outskirts of the city we drove up to the centre and parked at a large car park very close the very impressive aqueduct.
Our sightseeing started with a walk straight up from there up to the castle and through that to the old city centre before returning to our vans.
We then drove the few miles to Terrugem where we stopped for the night on a free aire in the small town with all the facilities we needed. The books showed that this stopover was well recommended and the small restaurant opposite had rave reviews. We decided that we would eat there that evening and the recommendations were well founded. The sun was shining so I decided to wash the travel grime and the dead flies from the motorhome. The Portuguese locals were crossing the road and the car park to come close by so they could say hello. We may find it different when we get to the south of Portugal but here, the sight of our two English vans, have been greeted with very friendly faces.
It is great only doing small distances each day and today’s drive was 86 miles. on the way we pulled into a small village called Mancos to get some fuel. As we sat near the main square a bus pulled in and ladies got out and proceeded to get bags and bags of shopping out of the bus’s luggage hold. They then left the shopping there and went off a got two wheelbarrow to carry their shopping off to their houses.
We arrived at Beja and parked on a very large car park just off the highway and we only had a short walk up the hill to get to the centre. This town has a lot of history which is why we chose to stop here but to be honest; our walk around the town centre was quite disappointing. The main square and the large church there, certainly, didn’t deserve a photograph. The highlight did come when we walked down the road and there was quite a pretty church with a car boot sale going on.
I insisted on buying rather a chic, 1foot high Father Christmas but Elaine drew the line at the china, smaller version that was on the same stall. All around were quite entertained with the banter going on between us. I snuck back and bought it anyway but Mrs Bouquet (Elaine) got her way anyway because I handed the bag to her whilst I took a picture of the castle. Somehow, my poor, defenceless effigy of the great man leapt out of the bag and destroyed itself on the pavement below. As luck would have it, the very tall keep of the castle was shrouded by thick netting which was around scaffolding so even the picture of the castle was quite a disappointment.
20.12.2015…..Falesia, Algarve (Close to Vilamoura)
Today we drove the final 90 miles to the Motorhomepark Falesia and here is where we will stay, at least until after Christmas day. There is just a short walk through a sandy, forest trail to get to the edge of the cliff overlooking the most amazing beach.
There are a few shops local and it is not far to get to larger shops and supermarkets so the situation and location is perfect for our festive stopover.
Finally we have the internet to be able to prepare and send this blog and it seems that we may have this problem whilst we stay in Portugal. We have not even had network coverage on our Three mobile phones so we may need to get a local sim card so we can keep in touch.