It is possible for even a professional tourist to get into a bit of a routine. Mine is; arrive at a campsite and first afternoon settle in; next day out walking with Daisy. Dependant on how much there is to see locally repeat the walking with Daisy until feet get itchy, leave campsite. I know what you’re thinking – bit same-y isn’t it? But unless you can get on a decent site with plenty of things to see within walking distance …
First I found a really good and fairly reasonable campsite just outside Lagos (Portugal not Nigeria) and then I had another Michael Caine moment. This great idea has resulted in me hiring a car for a week. Daisy will still get her walks but we can go further afield and up into the mountains (where no motorhome has gone before …).
Today’s excursion took me 25kms west. Being the extreme south-west tip of Europe, for hundreds of years Cabo de São Vicente was thought to be the End of the World and was our first stop. The lighthouse there, now we know it’s not the end of the world, is said to be the most powerful in Europe with a range of 95kms. We then had a windy walk round the promontory at Sagres. The limestone cliffs stick out into the Atlantic like a 500m long finger. Landside are some of the ruins of a 15th century building said to have been used by Prince Henry (the Navigator) as a shipyard and navigation school, these ruins were mainly covered by the building of a modern (17th century) fort. Beyond the fort although the land is now an important bird reserve I saw nothing but gulls as the day was so blustery with frequent squalls coming in off the sea – very invigorating tho’.
The (other) Arsenal
Chapel at Ponta Sagres
The Lighthouse at the End of the World
Tomorrow I have to find a book shop – I have need of a Portuguese phrasebook!
So on a misty, grey, drizzly, yucky cold day reminiscent of England, the border into Portugal was crossed and we are back in Proper Time – Greenwich Mean Time that is. It sounds silly but I wanted to make sure that I got to Portugal for New Year’s Eve just so that I’ll be sharing GMT with my nearest and dearest for the midnight hour – got to start 2016 with them even if I’m not with them …
I’ve reached the fifth nation of what I’ve dubbed my “Five Nations Tour 2015/16” – sort of like the Six Nations with one nation less and no rugby. (If you’re not English, French, Irish, Italian, Scots or Welsh and need an explanation just ask.) Unfortunately on this trip I’ve only visited three of the nations that take part in the Six Nations, England, Wales and France – maybe I can include Scotland as I’m visiting there at the end of April. Hmmm – p’raps I need to change the title of my tour …
Can’t remember if I previously expressed my disgust that my fridge is plastic and doesn’t attract magnets. “Fellas,” as Michael Caine’s script said, “I’ve got a great idea” – strip the magnets off the back and then attach the tiles previously known as fridge magnets to cupboard doors with blue tack. The first two from Sevilla are up. The original great idea, to put the magnets on the sides of the upper bunk, failed when I discovered that although metal coloured the bedsides are plastic too. In a phone call I stupidly told K of my desire to be reunited with all my fridge magnets which have remained on her fridge, previously known as mine; I think that, along with mySantas, she has permanent designs on them. Just think tho’ K, the fridge is very crowded with both yours and mine – you’ll have room for more new ones of your own!
Beco da Porta Nova
Central church Tavira
Tavira, first stop in Portugal
Thank you all for your support and comments during 2015. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
(Absolutely no idea if there’s such a word as tourista in Spanish, if there isn’t, there should be!)
After the disappointment of no Lumix moment from Gibraltar I took the long way round to Cadiz hoping for some nice mountain walking en route. And hope was all I did … campsite wasn’t just quiet it was moribund, and the walks – well I can walk the roads anywhere. The guy on reception appeared like the shopkeeper from a Stephen King version of Bod; out of nowhere, as if by magic, and was not seen again until departure. Neither was anyone else … we beat a hasty retreat the next morning, nice sunset tho’.
Swiss vet and his wife (Daize and I agree she’s a lucky girl) recommended a site in Puerto de Santa Maria and they were right to do so. Today I did the full Monty tourist bit, cycled (10 mins) to the ferry and made the 30min trip across the bay on the catamaran to Cadiz; actually paid to go into the cathedral (OKish, but no stained glass) and the Tavira tower, one of the old watch towers, fabulous 360ᴼ view of the city from the top (45m above sea level), which houses a camera obscura (brilliant); had lunch out with wine (bit pricey but it’s a tourist city). Loads of Lumix moments … and an ecstatic welcome home from Herself (who was so excited she forgot to sulk about having been left for a few hours).
Rosemary and John have driven me mad-ly to all sorts of places! I’ve met some of their ex-pat. friends for lunch and dinner at Spanish restaurants, a very friendly bunch I shall be seeing again at Christmas.
We found a caravan shop where I was able to get a connector for the grey water hose, another warning triangle (it’s obligatory to have 2 in Spain), a ground cover for under the awning and a stack of assorted rock pegs all at ridiculously low prices. The same place also has a replacement kitchen window on order for me.
There are several “brotherhoods” locally who take part in the great Easter festival. Each Icon is on a platform shouldered by 50-60 people all in costume. There are mounted sections of the procession, which takes about 4-5 hours to pass by, who perform representations of historic battles, again all participants including the horses richly costumed. The costumes all have either religious or historic scenes hand embroidered, and I was totally gob smacked by the amount of detail satin stitch can give, facial expressions are amazingly well portrayed. The White Brotherhood costumes spend the rest of the year on display in their museum, and videos of the spectacular parade show on a loop. When Rosemary and I visited I didn’t take the camera but discovered that I could have photographed there so a return visit may well happen in December.
We’ve been to coastal towns and over mountains, to village markets and large malls. Today was a search for a bike. I decided on a folding bike that can be stored in the garage rather than a full sized bike that I’d have to lift up onto a bike rack. Found a good one in a shop in Lorca, the pannier takes 20kgs and will easily accommodate Daisy in a basket so we shall soon be extending our out-of-van wanderings. Once again price was a lot lower than in England.
Also low in price were our 2 Spanish hair cuts. As Daize can’t read yet it’s safe for me to write that I’m extremely glad that hers was the disaster. Mine was really good, even tho’ it was half the price of hers, think I might be taking her to a hairdresser rather than a groomer in future …
I’m off travelling again for a few weeks but will return here mid-Dec for the window fitting and Christmas.
The Loire is quite wide here and even though the levees either side are about 12 feet high it has flooded badly in the past, most recently in 2003. The path from the site to the town runs alongside the top of the levee and is part of a “circuit rondino”, presumably a training circuit. Despite the signs demanding knee bends, squats and various types of arm swinging I haven’t noticed anyone else complying – come to think of it haven’t noticed my arms/legs/body doing anything out of the ordinary either!
It’s a pretty path and I noticed this morning that there must have been rain in the mountains in the past couple of days as the river level is up a bit, the beaches are narrower. There are signs all over the camp advising how to evacuate in the event of a flood – fast in a northerly direction and don’t stop to unhook the electric or perform any exercises!
Tomorrow I head for the hills, want a quick look around the Puys and some hair pin bend driving practice (Remember Corfu Dear Readers?) before autumn takes hold and most campsites start closing for the winter around the end of the month. I’m giving some consideration to going into Spain for a couple of weeks at the beginning of October, see how cold it gets around Carcasonne.