Big little Europe

Blog entry 19/03/2019

Yesterday’s day began unspectucular and ended spectacular. 

Wilfried had just taken a shower and I wanted to go to the bathroom when Sónia told us that her morning appointment was postponed to the afternoon and that she could come at half past eleven a.m. instead of  2 p.m. We spontaneously changed our schedule and were ready at half past eleven. Due to the strong sunlight and the constant wind, it is currently only possible to draw inside the car. 

Sónia is a very warm and confident woman. She is currently unemployed, but this does not mean that she does not work. She lives with her 13 year old son as a single mother in a phase of reorientation. She has got several „irons in the fire“, but only decides if she knows exactly what she really wants. 

The interview with her was very exciting and we learned a lot from her straight life. 

In the morning Wilfried watched how a motorhome driver tried to pull his car out of the sand. He refused help from us at first, because a friend wanted to come up with an SUV and pull it out. 

After our Face Europe meeting the SUV was then gone, but the motorhome still stuck in the sand. So Wilfried went out with a shovel, rubber mats and our chain to help Juãn Miguel – the hairdresser from the neighboring village – out of his trouble. 

Finally, we woke up Jochen (Belgian) and together with Ludolf (who had helped us two days before) finally we got the vehicle uphill out of the sand. I would like to mention that my rubber transfer was a good resource. Whenever the tire had run over the rubber mat and threatened to spin, I put the mat again in front of the tire. It got grip and so the recovery finally succeeded with united European forces. Juan Miguel danced with joy and shouted, “so it should always be it, that’s Little Europe: Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Austria! Together we are strong. He thanked profusely and promised to come back in the evening with 2 new rubber mats because our two mats got broken. 

It was already dark when Juãn Miguel came not only with two great new rubber mats but also with luscious barbecued chicken, baguettes, chips and beer and invited all helpers to eat together. Ludolf had already eaten, and wanted to got his ratio wrapped up and given to for the next day. Jochen missed the evening with us, because he had shortly gone away with his car. 

So we ate and drank together until midnight. 

Again and again Juãn Miguel stressed out, how important our help was for him. For us, such a help is self-evident. Here you can see how hospitable and accommodating the Portuguese are. We are thrilled and we like it better and better. So far we have only learned to know lovable Portuguese. 

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Big Fredi wanted to play in the sand

Blog entry 17/03/2019

The old idiot! Deeper and deeper he tried to hide in the sand.

But nothing helped. Wilfried undermined the wheels from the sand and out of the many driftwood, which can be found on the beach, he built a wattle out of bamboo wood behind the rear wheels. Several attempts, the additional attachment of rubber mats and even our security chain, which we usually use for closing the cab doors and finally the thrust of Ludolf and I were needed until Big Fredi’s tires had contact with solid ground again. 

We looked for a safe place and asked the Portuguese who arrived at the same time with us to leave us the bigger square, because we were just pinned up in the sand and he parked his car near us in the meadow. 

It turned out that Ricardo wanted to spend the weekend with his wife Brouna and his 5 year old son Martin here. 

It was an entertaining day. While Wilfried drew Kristaps from Latvia inside Big Fredi, Ricardo took lively share in the drawing process. 

After that we prepared our supper together, and we could even eat outdoors. The wind had died down and the last sunbeams were just about warm enough for outdoor use. Then we took refuge on wine and chat inside the car, where Ricardo until shortly before midnight shared many stories from his life and his views on Portugal and the EU. 

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The first Portuguese Portrait

Blog entry 15/03/2019

Late at night two more guests arrived in their VW bus, 

caught right in the wet sand. These are Nicola and Stefan from the area around Pforzheim. Her 12-year-old dog Robert is also with them. They wanted to try to get the car out of the sand in daylight the next morning. 

This step proceeded with the help of Behnam and Philip. 

Breakfast was done in stages in front of Big Fredi. Gradually the neighbors wobbled with us and enjoyed the tables in the slipstream and with such a nice community. Everyone brought his breakfast. 

That’s how it should be. The selection of community is there and who wants to join it can use it. 

Behnam moved on soon. That was even easier for him after Leo had attacked Nicola’s dog and bitten him. Apparently, Robert (also  called Roby) had played himself in the foreground by always asking for games what Leo led to this attack of jealousy. The owners separated the two contrahends. Apparently, Leo was still in shock when he was attacked and also bitten by another dog three days before. 

We are glad we do not have a dog on board. It’s not easy to travel with a dog, especially when there are dogs in every other camper. Since there is always the possibility for disputes between the four-legged friends. Here on this beach, there are also many visitors who walk their dogs. 

In the morning, we saw many young people on the beach, gathering up the flotsam. It was evidently a school event. Some were there with zeal and so I went to the teacher and could learn with the support of a good English-speaking girl that the school is around here and taking part in a worldwide project to clean the beaches and US collected utensils produces artifacts. In a similar grouping: we were already aware. We invited the students to watch in portraying what some then assumed even for a few minutes. 

Stefan spontaneously decided to attend Face Europe. On March/14/2019 Wilfried painted for the first time after exactly one month. 

It was difficult to see Stefan’s contours well due to the already high-sun. Moreover Wilfried dazzled the sun so that he had difficulty in mixing the colors. An extension of the awning had not been possible due to the strong wind. To stay in the slipstream, we therefore had to cope with the sun. 

Wilfried realized after 2 hours that he did not get along, and therefore he began with a drawing from scratch. Through our intensive discussions beforehand with Stefan we had a good picture of him and so the conversation was rather sluggish. I saved myself with the questions that we incorporate into every interview until somehow it seemed as if all had been said. Only when I started talking about my own life, the conversation went on very easily and was noticeably looser. 

To interview a whole new person seems to be easier than when you know each other already. 

Today it was finally time for the first Portuguese portrait: It was painted by Wilfried and the conversation ran quite informal. Rui is a versatile artist and reflected man who, although having traveled extensively in the world, appreciates his home. 

We thank the two men Stefan and Rui and look forward to Kristaps from Latvia who will be drawn tomorrow. 

Today we were also able to invite Sonia for a portrait on Sunday. 

After the oil painting by Rui everything was stowed in Big Fredi and we went to a community-owned parking lot, which offered free water and disposal of our wastewater. Then a fast shopping at Lidl and back to the Rio Lisandro beach. But ups there were already four cars. Wilfried did not want to squeeze in between but on the way to the next place the tires dug firmly in the sand. 

Tomorrow morning we will certainly get out of there with the help of the other campers. 

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Idyllic beach and fun neighborhood

Blog entry 12/03/2019

On Saturday, March 9, we decided to walk about 4 km

and to examine the proposed by Park4night pitches closer by ourselves before we continue with Big Fredi. 

It was a successful walk. When we arrived at the second parking lot, we met again Maria in her blue VW. She informed us that the night had been calm and no youngsters had made some music. From the parking place you could go down to the river delta of the Rio Lisandro and walk along the sandy beach. 

A little further along the river we found some campers.

A Belgian owner -Sanna – we asked about her experiences at this place. „Except that it is very windy“, she said, „there is nothing wrong“. So we decided to come there on Sunday. The Saturday night Wilfried would have been too risky, besides we had made good experiences on intermarché parking. 

On the way back we found a gray, VW bus converted to a camper with Latvian license plates. We talked to the young man if he had really come from Latvia all the way over here and he told us proudly that he had driven the car himself over here. Here he makes a sculpture workshop with a Portuguese guy a few kilometers away. He promised to ask the workshop leader if he wanted to join Face Europe. He himself would be thrilled to take part. 

On Sunday morning, we disposed our toilet and bought enough food at Lidl. 

Sanna was still there, but already ready to depart. She looks for a wind sheltered spot in the countryside. 

In the evening, Rui, a friend of Mica  met us for a discussions about a possible portrait. 

He promised to give notice if it would be better for him to come on Tuesday or Friday. 

After a very quiet night we woke up almost alone on the parking place. There was a second car with a German license plate further away. 

Around noon, a Danish red Mercedes showed up here and asked if there were evil dogs around. The day before his brave nine months old dog was bitten by another dog. Only the owner and he could free him. The dog bit its owner even into his arm. Therefore, he must just ask. His dog was very good-natured, but is still in shock. 

We quickly became friends with the two: Behnam, originally a refugee with his parents from Iran with his beautiful and brave Leo. As we sat over coffee and cake in front of Big Fredi, suddenly Philip approached us, the man from the German car, which we had seen. He addressed us in English, because our conversation with Behnam was English. 

Philip was packed into clothes as if he started a North Pole expedition.

He quickly dropped the surplus jackets and joined into our conversation. 

His Frisbee danced back and forth between the four of us four against strong winds. 

Then we invited the two men to have dinner with us. Everyone brought something and we got to know each other until midnight. There was a lot of laughter and the atmosphere was very cheerful. 

The last night was totally quiet. 

This morning I did a great hike over the opposite hill and back down at the riverside with Behnam and Leo. We crossed the river and after 1.5 hours round trip we came back from the other side of the parking place. 

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International Women’s Day in Ericeira

Blog entry 03/08/2019

Today we enjoyed the weekday before the tourist crowds breaks into Ericeira on weekends.

We strolled through the old fishing village and its winding streets with some beautifully renovated facades. 

In front of an Oldtimer VW we stopped and chatted with Mary, a very open and amiable Portuguese woman from Lisbon, specifically Cascais. She spends the weekend here to surf. Gladly Wilfried would have painted her, she got a card from us and can think about it. 

Some impressions of Ericeira and the wild sea we were able to capture with our camera. 

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Sintra – not a town for cars, certainly not for Big Fredi

Blog entry 03/07/2019

Yesterday afternoon there was the hell going on on the football field.

It was training time for several teams and the parking lot was full in no time. Parents of younger children froze in the visitors stands. The training sessions lasted until dark. 

A good thing people had repaired the floodlights during the day.

This morning we wanted to explore the area and hiked a bit towards the coast, when suddenly the bus, which we noticed yesterday, stood in front of us. The Portuguese license plates let us hope that we had found locals. My question: “Do you speak English” was answered with a “Sure!” And my next question I asked was: “where are you from?” „Germany and Austria “. Somehow disappointing but then quite nice, this chat with Annette from Germany and Benjamin from Austria in their Portuguese rental car. They live in Vienna and perhaps they are also one day part of Face Europe. Anyway, very kind and interesting young people.

We said goodbye and admired the courage of the two to penetrate so far into the forest.

A bit deeper in the forest and already facing the sea, we looked at a large burnt down forest. It looked very sad and desolate. How pretty it was though, to see the juicy yellow meadows under the remaining trees.

When we returned to the car, the sun blinked through the sky.

Sintra was our goal for today. We wanted to go to the parking lot and explore the city from there by foot tomorrow. 

At the weekend we wanted to be gone from there.

But yet everything turned out to be different. The parking spot for Big Fredi was far too narrow. So we went on towards Ericeira.

Passing through the city we sweated blood. It started to rain, even pour. The streets are so narrow that they barely fit for our Big Fredi. Then there is also still the oncoming traffic. And the Portuguese do no slow drivers. And then a 11 km long stretch feels like the eternity. We drove past the palaces. We just wanted to get out of this city . Some by the Navi suggested roads were denied by Wilfried. Too narrow and too steep. So we drove quite a detour until we reached Ericeira at the pitch of the Intermarche. We found the place for  four motorhomes already occupied and are now just next to that place. If a camper moves away, we will take its place tomorrow.

The reason for this selection of the place is the ability to paint someone here. There are already contacts.

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From the silent reservoir to the rugged coast of Portugal

Blog entry 03/06/2019

We started our day at Pego do Altar with the restaurant visit.

However, the food was much unusual for us. Wilfried‘s chickenstew with rice was a chicken soup with rice. The chicken pieces were “cheap and elsewhere unusable parts (even the feet and all giblets and wings) Over all it tasted like vinegar, it’s color was brown. Really not appetizing. I enjoyed a pork steak, which was far away from a steak and it was not soft, the fries were lax. With the drinks together we paid 23 €. 

Even the supermarket food is not cheap. 

Yesterday we left the lake, which was very scenic (small wild irises in size of snowdrops excited me particularly). We drove for hours over gruff federal roads through landscape that reminds me of our „Waldviertel“ until we come to the coast of Cascais. There lured a parking space in nature. Already in the beginning of the road there was a sign that the car park is not allowed for campers and trailers. Since our App told us that this was the correct road we continued on this road. When we had passed the last houses, there was only a single lane gravel road. Permanently cars came towards us and we had to squeeze past them. Precision work. The Portuguese were rather annoyed and unfriendly. We regretted our decision, when the last part of the road was barricaded by a huge stone. A few meters away we could pull in a parking lot of o closed restaurant and start the journey back. Big Fredi touched several times the sandy road with the bottom, but on our way back at least we had no oncoming traffic. Meanwhile, it was dark and we took the first available parking on the road to Cascais. Violent storm raged at night and sudden heavy downpours underscored the wind gusts. 

After breakfast we changed the pitch to a parking lot of a football field, where it is reasonably protected from the wind and even at times the sun can be seen. 

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Portugal, let’s have a look at you!

Blog entry 4. 3. 2019

We are in Portugal.

From Rio Tinto in Niebla, we began our journey together with Dieter and Petra to Aracena. There we expected the caves of wonder: “Grutas de las Maravillas” and it also attracted us with the ham Museum. 

After a few minutes, however, we noticed that it had a strange smell of gasoline. At first we thought the smell was coming from outside, then from a piece of paper towel from the dustbin to which the dipstick had been wiped off. At a stoplight I quickly rose and shouted alert as of diesel running onto the street. I quickly informed Petra in the car who also had to wait for the light to turn and just after the traffic light turned Wilfried parked Big Fredi, and the Wilfried and Dieter searched for the leek and the cause of the Diesel Spring. It was a broken seal on the diesel filter, which was responsible. While Wilfried and Dieter conductors a makeshift repair, I ran 300 meters back to a workshop and asked for a seal which nearly fit. Since the temporary repair service was so well done, my seal was put into storage and saved for the next time. 

Without further mishaps, passing mines of Rio Tinto we reached Aracena. 

This city is quite unlike any other Spanish places that we had met until then. Absolutely clean, no trash on the street or next to the garbage cans, like everywhere else. An outdoor museum with great sculptures runs through the city. We left out the cave for cost reasons and because we have seen too many caves in our lives and strolled through the city, until we found the ham museum. Here we learned for a small contribution of € 3 per person all about the Jarmon. The real Iberian ham – from pigs fed on acorns only – is supposed to be even healthy and its fat reduces cholesterol. The most valuable hams come from purebred Iberian pigs that live 100% on acorns. Then there are mixed forms of nutrition and breeding. The preparation and storage takes 2 years, and is a true art. 

Dieter and Petra said goodbye the next morning (it was a holiday in Andalusia) and left towards Portugal. 

We wanted to keep an eye on some more Spanish models, and remained in Aracena. 

Wilfried marched out with drawing pad and pencils and wanted to draw. 

Since we discovered a “living sculpture”. It was a simulated form of the swineherd,  perfectly cast in bronze. Some people were so shocked when they registered that the figure was alive, that she jumped to the side crying out loud. Wilfried drew the swineherd 2 times while I was filming. 

There were crowds of people on the move, but few took notice of Wilfried. There were mainly children who were attentive. But their parents were too busy with themselves to take notice of us. 

After that we decided on  short notice to leave Aracena and Spain and to move on to Portugal. 

The green line drawn in the map N433 took us on good roads into Portugal. 

No sooner had we crossed the border, nature was apparently just exploding. Suddenly everything was green. The shrubs and trees showed their first delicate green leaves and the meadows were lush green and dotted with yellow and white flowers. 

Petra had written us from a reservoir, where they had been over night and had liked very well. In one town before they had washed their laundry at Intermarché while they had shopped there. That fit just as well for us, so we headed to the same point. Only 15 km away which then was also a recommended nice parking space at the reservoir of Alqueva. And – who we see there! Again, and yet – the car of Dieter and Petra. What a reunion! Then next morning we said goodbye for the last time to them, for they must now go home quickly. 

We remained, enjoyed the summer temperatures and got to know Ines and her two friends. Ines, a psychology student, was supposed to be part of Face Europe the next day. But unfortunately, as it happened before, we waited in vain. Instead Wilfried drew me while I was knitting a sock. Later we received an apology from Ines, for personal reasons, her attendance was not possible. Too bad. 

Yesterday, Sunday, we took a stroll through the adjacent forest on the banks of the reservoir.

Then we set out on another lake which is smaller, called “Barragem do Pego do Altar”.

At the local inn Ines, a very pretty young girl, who spoke good English and would have liked to be painted by Wilfried served us. Unfortunately, her father did not allow her. She would have to use her vacation time to study for a test and to serve in the family business.

So it passed another day without Face Europe action. The car park is visited very internationally. 

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The golden Rio Tinto

Blog entry 25/02/2019

In Saturday morning (23.2.2019) we hastily set off from the sources of techno noise

which was still in full swing. This obviously went on the whole weekend. Dieter sent us the geo data from a parking space shortly before Seville. Unfortunately, there was not any parking space left. It would have been too good: shower, toilet, electricity provided by the municipality free of charge. So we took advantage of only the toilets and showers and disposed our toilet and filled fresh water. Around the corner we found a spot where we could sleep peacefully outside the parking space. Although garbage lying around like everywhere, but at least it was good to sleep after the last sleepless night. 

We had strolled through the La Puebla de Casalla at noon and ate there at a restaurant. This was by far the worst food we had ever eaten in Spain. An oversalted egg dish with all meat and sausage remnants of the past days. After all, at least it filled our stomach. 

Next morning we took off rather quickly to Niebla. There was a parking space on the banks of the Rio Tinto. 

What a stunning river landscape: 

Gold-colored rocks, which form a waterfall and its green water for a contrast. When an artist chooses these colors for a river landscape, one would call it artistic freedom. A huge castle sits in the middle of the city which is allegedly the longest European city wall. 

Many electricity poles and chimneys of the castle are used by storks gathering and making their nests. 

Dieter and Petra came some hours later and also liked the place. We had already been visited by a flock of sheep in the meantime. Our reunion was celebrated with coffee and cake. When we wanted to eat at the restaurant Ramos into town in the evening, there was nothing to eat. Locals clarified to us that their dinner starts no earlier than 20 PM. Lunch is in Spain from 14 o’clock. When we cook ourselves in our car, we are always guided by our hunger. When eating in the restaurants you have to depend on the circumstances of the country. In Portugal, everything will change again. Since they serve food in the evening no longer than 20:00 o’clock. 

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An experience of a another kind

Blog entry 23/02/2019

The hot springs of Santa Fe.

An area of several hectares of hills at the edge of a pine tree forest. Immersed in olive groves with views of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. A good place, if it would not be for the many strange people that inhabit the place. Everywhere around there is lots of garbage . Free running dogs rummage in all garbage bags which are put out in front of the tents or campers overnight. 

Solely Eddi (born in a van in Minsk, growing up in England with Lithuanian passport) and Olli care on their own for the cleanliness of the place. They have turned a burnt VW bus into “Rusty Bar” and urge visitors to separate garbage and take care of it. Then they carry the garbage by foot to the village and bring drinks and food which they sell in the bar. So they earn a little and they are somehow the guardians of the square. 

The hot springs that are the main attraction here are freely accessible and can be reached from our parking space in a 5 minutes walk. 

I walked this morning 1.5 hours in the pine forest, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a beautiful and varied walk up and down hills with lots of good smells of the forest and moss. 

In the afternoon, a van shot into excessive pace first uphill, then downhill past us and stopped abruptly near us. From the passenger side, a young man rushed out, which felt very bad obviously. He staggered towards us and came right next to Big Fredi to a fall. The driver came running towards us as well. We provided first aid, as best as we could. Apparently, the young man had too much or a bad kind of drugs (Speed snorted). His heart was racing. He was terrified. Our task was mainly to reassure him to drink water, cover him with a blanket (he also got chills) and his companion tried to get medical help. When this did not succeed, because apparently all rescue cars were used somewhere else, we supported both with patience and reassurance until the condition of the young man of whom we learned that his name is Miguel, had so far improved that he was fit enough to be brought to a doctor. He complained that he felt his arms and legs as if they were asleep. Thanks God he survived the attack and it was reasonably good when he left. 

However we were also quite nervous and we had to “calm down” ourselves after this experience.

Later that afternoon Peter, an acquaintance of Petra and Dieter arrived, and brought with him some edible stuff for grilling. 

However, the quiet and fine evening ended in a disaster:

Party Life in Hot Springs Santa Fe. All booms. 

You cannot sleep. We are almost next to the stage. If we had known, we would have left in the evening while it was still day-light. Now we had to stand through it. It was played all night “music” of the highest volume. One wonders who can afford the expensive boxes. I wish it were you out of juice. Unfortunately, the guys have a power generator with enough fuel. 

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