Friday, 28 March 2014

Santander To Alcoutim

We are on our travels again. Departing from Plymouth for Santander on the 16th March and the crossing was thankfully flat calm after all the storms we have had this Winter. Our first night was at the "Elephant Park", an official Aire at Parque de Cabarceno. A couple in another van had just spent 6 hours going around the safari park here and it was a lovely sunny day too.
After the long treck over the mountains to Braganca last year, we decided to take the easier route via Salamanca. We found a great place to stop, bought some delicious slices of Iberian ham, 5kg sack of oranges and wandered around the beautiful city in hot sun!

We pushed on to Portugal and stayed within the protective walls of the Vauban star fort at Almeida. We love the Aire here as you can imagine what it would have been like during the wars and there is a small museum. Horses still roam around the grass banks on the walls and it was worth the detour North to stay here.
Not wanting to follow exactly the same route as last year we headed for the Aire at Marvao, but we never made it as we found this amazing spot in the middle of a Barragem (reservoir). Libby didn't get her tires wet, though we parked as close to the water's edge as possible!
It was lovely and hot during the day, but one night the temperature fell to 1 degree c, so it was a little chilly!

We eventually made it to Mavão a few days later. The Aire is around 2800 feet up and has spectacular views out over the border to Spain.

Last year we went to stay at Monsaraz and we loved it, so we went back again for a couple of nights. If you stay here then be aware that the church bells ring very loudly, all night! But the views are superb as is the little fortified town. There are some lovely craft shops and small cafés here and it is just a delightful place to stay.

We continued south .... and as Tim could smell the sea we just called in at the Mina de São Domingos for a quick lunch stop and then a look at Pomarão on the Guadiana River, before stopping at a lovely Aire in Alcoutim. We are now on Page 90 on the map...the one where the sea is not far away, but it is so nice here that we are staying a few days and had a treat for lunch in the Riverside Bar. The white buildings are across the Guardiana in Spain. Thankfully there has been a lot less rain this year and the river is about 10ft lower than it was when we were here last year.

Now to go back to the bar for a few beers, just so I can use the wifi.....haha!