Well into our second week and ‘Me Van Oui Snowbird’ continues to work well and starts first time and purrs along at 55 mph.
Gladys now sees the van as home and she might resent it when we get back to the boat.
We left our luxurious campsite at Zarautz, northern Spain and headed south, but not before we treated ourselves in the campsite restaurant.
This was the scene when we arrived having been told we had to book a table for 2 pm? however, within 15 mins the locals arrived
This is the scene behind Teresa at 2.20 pm.
The following morning we headed south determined not to put the wallet under too much pressure again for awhile. We spoke with several other camper-van owners and took some tips on free places on route to the Algarve . These are called ‘Aires’ and are particularly designed for overnight stops for camper-vans and have emptying out waste facilities and top up with fresh water.
Our first stop after Zarautz was at Palencia in northern Spain, this was in fact a large urban car park adjacent to a very pretty park, with 20 designated camper-van places and very near the centre of the large town .
Nothing to get exited about but as I said very adequate.
The next night stop was west of Madrid at the historic town of Caceres. This was a whole different ball game. The camper-van stop was again in a large car park near the town centre, but what a town centre.
This town is a world heritage site dating from the 15c with lots of the houses still in tact or restored. I bet they did not expect the Spanish inquisition here. (That is for all the Monty Python fans among you.)
The main plaza was huge and you could imagine jousts and carnivals going on here
It was a bit tiring walking about all afternoon but luckily found a local bird to support me!
Not too sure about the next couple of blokes I came up against.
Well that was Caceres, and we will definitely return.
The following day we entered Portugal and stopped at Luz at one of Portugal many Barragems, simply translates as Dam. To solve Portugal’s water shortage problem they have damned many of their rivers , thus creating large inland lakes with leisure facilities round them including many with camper-van designated areas. Luz is interesting as the old village of Luz was swallowed up when they flooded the valley to create the inland lake, and the government has build the inhabitants a whole new village away from the waters edge.
Car park at one of the Barragems.
An orange tree growing in the centre of the new village of Luz..
From Luz we headed for the village of Messejana, with Arabic origins this village became known by us as the blue and white village as nearly all the houses were white with blue trim around the doors and windows.
Very disappointed when we first arrived as the parking area was locked and empty. It had all the hallmarks of being closed and I was checking the map to see where else we could spend the night when a local popped up and asked if we wanted to get into the car park, Yes, I replied in my best Portuguese, ‘no problem’ he said ‘I will telephone the man for you’. Five minutes later the boss man duly arrived apologized for not being there to greet us and welcomed us in. Shortly afterwards a smart young women arrived who spoke very good English and again apologized for our poor welcome, and she explained that this was a new site and was not fully complete, the swimming pool was built as was the toilet block and the service point and electric hook ups but the cafe, the showers and laundry room were still under construction. Remarkable hospitality and humbling .
The new camper-van park at Messejana. ‘there’s no one here but us chickens’
We are now on the Algarve at Silves at a brand new ‘Aire’ run by ‘Algarve Motorhome Parks’, costing 6 euro per. night but that includes all the facilities such as electric, water waste water services and a laundry. Its a big site with over 50 vans on site and room for plenty more.
The weather had taken a little bit of a dip this week with a lot of rain today but the forecast is for dry weather for the next 5 days so we can get out and about a bit more.
I can report that the Portuguese are a very friendly lot who always wave and almost cheer as you drive through small rural villages. We will stay on and around the Algarve for awhile and hopefully find a reasonably priced campsite where we set up the awning and and do some longer term camping in the sunshine.
This post was written by Terry Barrett
Photographs by Tes