All Roads Lead to Salamamca

Saturday saw us setting off in pouring rain due south chasing some much needed warmth and sunshine. Just outside Pons we met our old friend the Camino de Santiago again and waved & tooted encouragement at the wet, weary walkers. The landscape has changed from melon crops to vineyards, stubbly fields and sad brown sunflowers hanging their heads as if in acknowledgement that summer is drawing to a close.

France

A quick glimpse of the sea – at St Jean-de-Luz, France

Sunday found us in Spain and after driving through the mountains and arriving at Legazpi, we decided to push on to Vitoria-Gastiez. The following morning was cold (9°C) and very misty and we passed an overturned articulated lorry on the motorway. Our destination was Palencia which is a beautiful town. Once again the Aire was next to a park and a river and it was still an incredible 32°C at 6 o’clock in the evening – scorchio!

13th Century church of San Miguel, Palencia

13th Century church of San Miguel, Palencia

Bridge over the River Carrion, Palencia

Bridge over the River Carrion, Palencia

Scary realistic skeleton looking down from the Cathedral at Palencia

Scary realistic skeleton looking down from the Cathedral at Palencia

The lock of love - up close

The lock of love – up close

Tuesday turned out to be a l-o-n-g day. We set off for La Alberca in clear blue skies and with every intention of making the most of this stopover in a small spa town! Interestingly, we saw lots of plastic cows and bulls on our route, some painted realistically – others not so much. Unfortunately when we arrived at the Aire the service point was out of action and we were in need of emptying our loo & waste water and filling up with fresh water – bugger! So, after a mid-afternoon nap we decided to travel on to our next planned stop. We definitely should have checked the suggested sat-nav route before we set off. An un-named road/track that was a heart-stopping 15Km winding drive up through the mountains was then followed by a descent of hairpin bends galore – thank goodness we didn’t meet any other vehicles. I was sat in the back with my eyes tightly shut reminding myself that it would soon be over! We eventually arrived at Caceres at 6pm & in need of a BIG drink!

Spain

A typical view out the windscreen (for miles and miles and miles) – towards Caceers

Rough route up the mountain ....

Rough route up the mountain ….

Coming down the mountain.  Note to self, check the sat-nav route before setting off!

Followed by hairpin bends coming down the mountain. Note to self, check the sat-nav route before setting off!

Coming through the mountains, a great view at Mirador Las Juntas

Through the mountains, a great view at Mirador Las Juntas

After spending Wednesday relaxing & enjoying the sunshine (now 34°C at 6pm) and making full use of our own wet-room we set off on Thursday for what we thought would be the penultimate day of travelling. We arrived in Portugal mid-morning through a fantastic town called Elvas. Sadly the traffic was really busy due to an accident and we unable to stop but I snapped some pictures out of the van window.

Aquaduct at Elvas

Aquaduct at Elvas

Aquaduct at Elvas

Another bit of the aquaduct at Elvas

Our planned stopover was Barragem do Divor just north of Evora. When we arrived, however, it felt too isolated as (unusually) there were no other people or camper-vans there. Emboldened by Tuesday’s adventure we decided to have a rest stop and then, yes you’ve guessed it, press on to Alvor our final destination. Checking the sat-nav suggested route before we set off put our minds at ease that there were no tracks or hairpin bends to contend with although a road closure did mean we had a long detour before we were back on the main road heading in the right direction! We arrived at the Aire at 7pm local time (which is the same as the UK but 1 hour behind France & Spain) absolutely knackered but in time to watch the full moon rise. A few familiar faces greeted us on our arrival and it was just lovely to see everybody again.

Full moon rising!

Full moon rising!

Friday & Saturday felt like bonus days as we arrived 2 full days earlier than planned. First job on Friday morning was to get some insect repellent as I’d forgotten about those nasty biting creatures & I’m covered in mosquito bites again. We headed to the beach and swam in the sea for the first time ever in the 7 years we’ve been coming here as it’s never been warm enough (for us wimps) earlier in the year.
The beach is totally different “in season” with lifeguards, sun-loungers, parasols and even a couple of massage tents! A few “looky-looky” men are working the scene with fake designer sunglasses, bags & clothing. Have I mentioned yet that it’s hot, hot, hot?! Still roasting in the evening, we went for a much anticipated curry at the Kashmir in town and it was delicious!

Sunbeds and parasols at sunset

Sunbeds and parasols at sunset

On the beach at sunset

On the beach at sunset

John reading outside in the dark!

John reading outside in the dark!

We’re planning to stay here for about 6 weeks (famous last words) and along with updating the blog with where we’ve been & what we’ve been doing I thought I’d also post snippets about the intricacies of day-to-day living in the van, which I hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

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2 Responses to All Roads Lead to Salamamca

  1. Jo Koszel says:

    So lovely to hear from you, Jane. Your latest update is especially fascinating. I have this lovely picture in my head of you with your eyes closed and John gripping the wheel in determined concentration! Have a wonderful 6 weeks, Jo x PS yes, I am well though exhausted as covering for Kate’s maternity leave. Never a dull moment though no mountain driving!

  2. V and A says:

    Aquaduct in shower at Southview Road behaving reasonably well – but only just so don’t get too comfortable in Salamanca in case you have to pop over!! lots of love, V and A xx

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