After a few days of torrential rain in Portugal, we set off home a week earlier than planned so we could squeeze in another week of swimming, sauna & spa fun at Luçon.
Blue skies and hazy sunshine accompanied us to Évora, our first stopover which we’d wanted to visit since we drove through the town on the way down to the Algarve just 6 weeks ago.
Entering through a gate in the fortified city walls, we were soon strolling through narrow medieval streets paved with white cobbles. At Praça do Giraldo we initially walked past the Tourist Information office, mistaking it at first for a swanky hotel foyer. With our tourist map in hand we set out to find the sights – eventually!
Sadly, the map turned out to be not so very useful for actually finding our way so we mainly had an (uneducated) amble around town. We did, however, manage to come across the 1st Century Roman Temple, the city’s most famous landmark. It survived destruction as it had been incorporated into a medieval building and was dedicated to imperial worship.
There are monuments, great buildings, churches & museums everywhere you look in Évora but I must admit that I found the narrow, winding streets lined with tall white buildings very claustrophobic and oppressive. We didn’t manage to find the Chapel of Bones (thank goodness).
The following morning was clear, sunny and cold – a sure sign of things to come as we head north. Travelling through border territory the landscape was green & lush with fortified hilltop towns clearly outlined against the bright blue sky – more places to explore on another trip!
Once again we were bound for Cáceres in Spain but rather than use the campsite we headed to the aire in town. Finding a space, we parked up & headed off up the hill to the Ciudad Monumental (old town) and boy, we were not disappointed! In contrast to yesterday’s destination, the old town is quite separate from the modern, busy, bustling city centre and has very little traffic. I don’t know whether it was the time of day we visited or because we were out of season but it felt like we had the whole town to ourselves. Wandering along the streets we came across palaces, churches and merchants houses beautifully preserved and defying time atop the hill.
Cáceres was a town of conquest and reconquest, the walls being built by the Moors in the 12th century before the town was recaptured by Christians in the 1227. Whilst some of the buildings are government or university owned, a fair few are still private houses and the odd snatched glimpse through open doors revealed sumptuous shady courtyards – perfect retreats from the scorching sun. The statue of San Pedro de Alcántara had very shiny toes – the locals rub them for good luck!
Tordesillas and Vitoria-Gastiez were our next stops before arriving in France amidst hectic traffic on a public holiday. The lake resort of St Paul-les-Dax was our first destination before heading to Luçon via St Caprais-de-Blaye. The aire at St Caprais is next to a parade of shops which include a pizza takeaway that doesn’t seem to open, a café (ditto) and a “brocante & wine” shop – what a fabulous combination!
Our week at Luçon has passed really quickly & we’ve enjoyed using the swimming pool, sauna & spa in between some of the worst weather we’ve encountered so far. It’s felt really autumnal with misty mornings, heavy rain showers and, on occasion, winds so strong I thought the van might blow over! The washing’s done and our winter gear is out in readiness for home – UK here we come!