In the morning at the departure from Waldkirch we were amazed at the hustle and bustle on the streets and sidewalks.
Many companies seem to work normally or with little restrictions, car repair shops are open. What would the German do without his car! Even construction work seems to go on without restrictions. We have not seen this anywhere else during the Corona crisis.
In Freiburg, a very beautiful city, things were also very lively. Many cyclists and pedestrians were on the streets and sidewalks.
Soon we climbed up serpentines through the Black Forest, where we also refuelled. The saleswoman told us anecdotes from her everyday life with 3 children who are now engaged in e-learning at home and let go of her frustration about how the teachers are wiping themselves off against the parents.
Up on the mountain there was still snow in places.
Past the Titisee we went through beautiful landscape, some of which was still hibernating.
There, where the Danube has its source and the first kilometers it flows along, the world is still in order.
When we looked for a place for the late lunch after a few hours of driving, we found that it was actually enough of travelling and decided to stand right there for the night. It was in Ehingen at the Danube, the first time on our journey our sleeping place was not at a lake.
That should have given us something to think about. It was pretty bad. Until 1am private cars came and drove at short intervals to the parking lot, which is actually used by mobile homes for sleeping, and made a kravall there: loud music from the radios, running engines, long and loud conversations of people who apparently met there and were doing business of some kind. This place is certainly no longer visited by us.
Accordingly, we were tired in the morning and came late to the street.
It was a long day with many kilometers on country roads. Via Ulm, Ingolstadt, Landshut we went for lunch to our place in Neuburg an der Donau. There we already stood in autumn 2018 when we returned from Great Britain, when a great art festival took place.
Today it was empty except for a few pedestrians and cyclists. It also served only for lunch. The buttered potatoes are a quick but warm lunch, they are not heavy in the stomach and we both enjoy them.
Full of impatience we approached the Austrian border and again we were rather disappointed by the reality. We were already warned by our friends and family members about the border crossing: it is getting worse and worse!
But it became a short friendly stay at the border. We showed our passports and the very young official asked us if we were coming back from holiday and if we knew that he had to send us to quarantine now, noted our address on his list, filled in a form, had it signed and we drove a few kilometres further to Andorf. Hopefully it will be a quiet night here before our last part home.
Today we were up already early and ready to continue travelling.
The journey under blue sky and on little frequented roads went smoothly.
An American school bus, apparently to be converted into a restaurant, aroused our curiosity. The work is currently – as all activities in tourism enterprises – stopped. However, photography is not prohibited and so we stopped Big Fredi to get a picture of the big road cruiser. Looks really fascinating, such a bus.
Just in time for rush hour we finally reached the German border.
The last kilometer went at walking pace. The policeman checked our passports and wanted to know the destination of our journey. That was it and we were already done with the control.
Since we are now quite legally on the road with our registered 5 tonner, we now allow ourselves to drive on the motorway. There is incomparably more going on on Germany’s roads than in any other country we have driven through so far. You don’t really notice much difference to normal traffic.
Also on the sidewalks, on footpaths and in the parks people walk in packs and you are surprised about the many extended families.
Good that we can safely hide in Big Fredi. During a short walk around the small Stadtrainsee in Waldkirch I pulled my scarf over my mouth and nose. All the people we met were without mouthguards.
A water turtle was bathing motionlessly in the wonderful sunrays.
We actually landed at the same place in Autun where we stood almost exactly one year ago.
Today we saw the sun all day again, but an icy cold wind shook Big Fredi the whole way.
To avoid any possibility of an empty tank we sponsored a small and expensive gas station. 1.44 € for one liter of diesel, at the next gas station it would have cost only 1.33 €. Still a lot more expensive than at present in Austria.
I paid in full outfit: my scarf, which was folded several times, served as a mouthguard and we always have a pair of disposable gloves for filling up.
Somehow a strange feeling, but we will have to get used to it.
After a day of rest in the forest we are now a little closer to home.
Actually it was planned to take a nice walk around the lake but the weather was not at all inviting: rainy and cloudy. How beautiful the lake presented itself when we drove along the shore the evening before. The next day everything was different. So we stayed lazy in the car, busy with things that we had to do anyway.
But today we had to move on. 380 km to the next small lake. In rain or sleet the drive was pretty boring. The beginning of spring was not accompanied by the sun. Good that there is no snow on the road. Our tires would not be suitable for that.
On the overhead signs of the motorways you can read hints about the coronavirus Covid 19 again and again.
Now we have found a place with a view of the lake Étang de Gouillet near Saint-Sylvestre in an icy cold wind and we only look at the lake from the inside.
Only about 20 km away from the small village Fromental, where we stayed last year. Our daily stages are quite similar to those of last year and even with a few days difference we are back on the same route.
In Autun there is again a lake for a parking place for tomorrow. Let’s see if we can reach it again.
In five days of travel we have already covered 1,650 km. 1.400 km are still ahead of us.
This morning the police showed up at our lonely parking lot and greeted us friendly.
Wilfried let it be known that we are standing here on our way to France and that we will continue today.
We still took the liberty of taking a walk together along the shore of the lake and listening to the most different bird sounds. Not a person in sight.
This journey is obviously under the motto: Lakes.
At the end of the 4th day of our journey we found again a place near a lake to spend the night. We had already noticed the place in the forest positively exactly one year ago. But at that time we didn’t find the lake during a walk, because we marched in the wrong direction. Today we came here on another way and passed the lake shore. So the walk for tomorrow is already fixed.
After the frosty night and our morning walk around the Spanish reservoir Embalse de Ullibarri in bright sunshine, the drive here was so much more pleasant than we had experienced the last two times. One year ago on our return trip and also in autumn when we entered Spain we had only experienced the area in rain, a lot of traffic and stress. Now, without traffic and in sunshine it was even bearable.
In Spain we still got a gas bottle. At the border to France the policemen waved us through friendly.
Tomorrow we want to enjoy the sunny day here and only on Monday we want to move on towards home.
Today was a relaxed, if not to say boring, travelling day.
Almost the whole distance led us over motorway or double lane federal roads to our parking place at the 3rd reservoir in a row. The Spanish roads are almost empty. Only a few trucks pass us. Yes, yes, they all have more power than our Big Fredi. Even on the motorway he only hums along at 80 km/h.
After Salamanca, Tordesillas, Valladolid we also circled Salamanca and Burgos.
In order not to arrive too fast into the cold homeland, we went to a recommended town square in Briviesca. But already at the city entrance the police checked. Although we could get past them, as soon as we arrived at the parking lot, barriers blocked the entrance. Corona is omnipresent.
So we moved back to the highway and because Wilfried was still in good shape we sailed around Vitoria Gasteiz and a few kilometers further on to the third reservoir in a row for an overnight stay: Embalse de Ullibarri. What luck! A few kilometres away from the motorway a natural paradise all to ourselves. Best equipped for motorhomes there is a parking lot for the day and an own one only for the night. There are also countless parking spaces along the road around the lake. A clean shore design and huge lawns on gravelled shores indicate that there are many swimmers in summer. A bathhouse, which even has marble-lined washing-up facilities, looks very clean, but is marked with a note that it is closed until March 12th. Apparently the coronavirus crisis has continued immediately, because everything is still locked.
I inspected the extensive grounds and because I find it very attractive for a relaxing stay of a few hours for tomorrow, we will enjoy the morning here a little before we continue to the French border.
Nobody can dictate the pace of our journey. And as it is supposed to get very cold and maybe even frosty on Monday and Tuesday, we prefer to stay as long as possible in the warm south and hope that it will remain more bearable here.
The heating in the evening hours is already pleasant again. During the night it is not yet necessary to heat through. But this morning we had only 7 degrees inside. Outside it had 1 degree.
With heating the temperature goes up to 20 degrees minute by minute and when breakfast is ready, it is nice and warm.
The scarf, the headband and one more jacket are now also attached during the car ride. Something that we haven’t used for months is unpacked again step by step. And heating during the day during a car trip was unthinkable since last November when we entered Portugal.
The cuckoo and some songbirds are the only sounds we can hear outside. The fact that there is not a single motorhome next to us is only due to the corona crisis. Almost everybody has driven home before us and so the beautiful landscape belongs to us alone.
Ulrich had been standing next to us for the last few days and I was able to go for some nice walks with him.
On the day of our departure we filled both our cars, one after the other, with fresh water in Vila do Bispo and after the Lidl shopping we had to say goodbye. Without a hug it was a little strange. Simon also ran into us.
We took another 8 km to Sagres to dispose of the toilet contents, check the air pressure in the tyres, fill up with diesel and change a gas bottle. Then we snacked our Lidl puff pastries at the picnic area near Vila do Bispo.
Further we went on to Carrapateira, where we also wanted to say goodbye to Klaus and our dear Sicilian friends. First to Wilfried and then to me tears came to our eyes when it was time to say goodbye to this dream. It had been such wonderful months and especially in this triangle: Carrapateira, Sagres, Lagos we found so many friends and spent such an intensive time together. Thanks to all our friends who made our stay here so special.
We were able to find the first kilometres of our journey effortlessly without navigation.
The fountain with the delicious water of the Santa Suzanna spring gave us enough water which should last for the trip home.
By then it was already almost 4 pm.
In Odemira we switched on the Navi and it guided us on deserted and pleasant roads towards Beja. With only a small detour we reached the Barragem do Roxo, where we spent a very quiet night.
This morning we went via Portel, Reguengos, Vila Vicosa and Elvas to the Spanish border.
The formalities at the border were unspectacular, apart from the number of police officers and their appearance: Face masks, rubber gloves and a machine gun. We were the only ones at the border. A halfway good, at least endeavoured English speaking policeman, whose mouthguard slipped all the time, asked about our nationality and if we wanted to go home. He handed us a piece of paper with the date and time of our entry into Spain. He registered the number plate on his list which stayed with himself, it is not written on our note.
From Badajoz we went very fast to Caceres and from there to the motorway.
Only then we saw the first big truck.
The landscape changed between lovely and varying with the first green of the vines and already harvested grain fields, pastures, forests and fields to stone deserts and huge stone mountains.
On the motorway you are a lot faster, but the monotony makes you tired quickly. For me it would make less of a difference, but Wilfried must be able to keep his eyes open.
Just before Salamanca, about 30 kilometres off the motorway, I discovered a reservoir that is ideal for an overnight stay. Only 7 km detour and a true natural paradise on one side lined by snow-covered mountains, on the other side hills with villages scattered around. In the middle there is the Embalse de Santa Teresa. On one of the headlands our Big Fredi is now standing, the tyres already very close to the water and offers us our driving quarantine.
After the police had assured us the day before that we could stay there, they revised their opinion the next day and claimed the opposite. We have to leave the country until 28.3.2020 at the latest – that means in 3 days.
We could also stand on a private property, for example at friends with our car,
but we are not allowed to keep contact. It is because too few hospital beds if the virus strikes.
We haven’t had any direct contact with people for 2 weeks and we are sure that we have either had no contact with the virus or that we have had a disease that has not appeared. We feel very well, are healthy and happy.
So today we are preparing for departure: shopping, refueling, supplies and waste disposal.
Then we have an approximately 7-day journey home ahead of us.
Now everything has changed and Corona is our constant companion. No, no, don’t worry. We’re healthy. Only the Corona ghost has been with us since the beginning of the week.
On Friday we did a portrait of Carolina without any Corona problems.
Klaus had brought her late, but at least she came when we were about to pack up. If not that would have been a disappointment. At 26 years of age, she is already an experienced and enthusiastic architect, who is very interested in architecture in interaction with nature.
It was already dark when we left for Aljezur. We had already made our way there several times in daylight and the drive to the parking lot of the soccer field we could glide along nice and slowly. There were also hardly any cars on the road.
The last time there we had celebrated New Year’s Eve with Paul. Since then Face Europe had really got going: 21 portraits in 2 months. 7 Portuguese and 14 other Europeans from Italy (2) Germany (3), Holland (3), Scotland (1), Ireland (1), England (2), Austria (1) and even Switzerland (1).
On Saturday morning we set off for the vegetable market, which was praised by everyone. We climbed up the path to the market hall on foot after we dared to go on with Big Fredi only to the parking lot at the river.
We had no idea where exactly the market hall was. We asked ourselves through and could also see the white delivery car with the oranges right at the entrance. Ulrich had asked us to get a crate of fresh oranges for him. We bought them right at the beginning and Wilfried guarded our achievement while I went into the market hall to be inspired by the super fresh fruit and vegetables. Loaded with cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, tangerines, oranges, leeks and strawberries we could at least make our way home to our car downhill.
When I went to Intermarche for bread and butter, I noticed a woman with a colorful mouthguard that looked as if it was self-made. All cashiers were wearing rubber gloves. A notice at each cashier asked not to come closer than 1m distance for protection of the employees and yourself.
We reached Barrão de São João and Ulrich could be portrayed as our last participant before the corona barrier on the open-air stage in front of the cultural centre.
The next day the first indisposition of this year kept me in bed for a day. My stomach rebelled.Thank God for only one day. Whether the cause was too much strawberry and radish the night before or a virus will not be found out. In any case, a day without eating really didn’t hurt.
We stayed in Barrao de São João until Thursday, mostly reading and inspecting the area.
During one hike I met Sofia, a Portuguese teacher. We talked at a distance of 10 meters, she explained to me that she is currently looking for a technique to offer her language course online, because from now on she is not allowed to meet with her students in the cultural center anymore.
She told me about her project she had done a few years ago. She was interviewing people in the Algarve to find out how they were doing, why they were here and what made them stay.
She confirmed our feeling that this triangle between Lagos, Sagres and Aljezur is a very special attraction – not just for us – but for a lot of people, and that once you’re there it’s almost magnetic.
It’s a pity that I can’t take a language course with her. Although, that might be somehow possible… We can make a phone call. We have exchanged our phone numbers and I will definitely contact her. She would also be interested in a portrait on her part. However, this will have to be postponed until after the Corona crisis.
We had to postpone the appointment with Soehl the filmmaker from Bangladesh, Romania an indefinite date for the same reason.
What we didn’t want to postpone any longer, however, was the laundry. And so we left the picturesque Barrao de São João on Thursday, 19.3.2020. For breakfast we had served coffee to walkers outside, paying close attention to the safety distance. But it was too much of a temptation to offer a chat to the Austrian Sasha and his companion, a Nigerian-Scottish beauty, who came from London and her German friend.
In Budens we could do our laundry and in Vila do Bispo we could fill up our water supply and shop at Lidl for at least a week.
From Klaus I wanted to find out how the Portuguese have adapted the legal situation to the coronavirus. He only knew about it second hand. Allegedly wild parked campers are asked to move to private properties and immediately he offered us to park and live on his farm at any time. What an offer!
When our food supplies run out, GNR is chasing us away and we need a nest, we know where to go. And as a side effect, I get to dig my hands in his vegetable garden, there’s always something to do, he promised!
But first, I’ll make good on my promise to do the gardening at Gianluca and Emanuela’s. I was allowed to help Gianluca last week when he started to redo his garden. Since they also had to cancel their trip to Tenerife, they now give their energy to their wonderful garden. Who knows how important self-sufficiency will be again in the future. An end of the Corona crisis is not foreseeable.
Today is already Friday, March 13th and we are still standing – our friends and family back home don’t even dare to ask – in the beautiful southwest of Portugal. The last time we came out of Carrapateira was a week ago.
On Sunday, March 8th, the worldwide celebrated Women’s Day, a man was portrayed. Diogo, who leads the restaurant Cato on the way to the beach in Bordeira. He is a man with a thousand ideas, who tries to ground himself and just doesn’t try to implement every new idea. Because this is not always easy for his employees. He rents the restaurant that has a very good review but is hard to keep on a high quality level. Only a few permanent employees work with short-term untrained woofers and workaway people. Diogo loves to cook and also cooks in his restaurant. He is very caring for his daughter and her talants.
As a musician he also built the music dome together with helpers from Klaus, which we have been able to poetrait for Face Europe recently.
Much to his regret Diogo had to postpone the seasonal opening indefinitely due to the corona virus. On 14.3. the summer operation in the restaurant should have started. Now even the opening ceremony had to be canceled.
Diogo allowed us to take water for our water tank and so we have fresh water again for one week with economical consumption.
It was full moon in addition and an icy cold north wind made us quite cold.
On our return to the Bordeira beach, which had almost become home, we met Ulrich. A masseur and body therapist from Germany who would like to join Face Europe. But he had left in the evening to drive to the Spanish-Portuguese border. He is coming back to Monchique and maybe we will be able to meet him again next weekend.
Stefan (German) also approached us to get to know us and a cycling couple (Gisela and Rolf) – also from Germany – what else, admired our car and we told them about the pizza at Emanuela and Gianluca. Spontaneously they agreed, they had wanted to eat pizza for a long time, but it never happened. All the more they were impressed by the delicious pizza and the cosy atmosphere.
At the pizza party we met the young Portuguese architect Carolina, who will also be part of Face Europe.
On Tuesday Lisa and Wolfgang, the two Swiss, joined us. Wilfried likes the idea of letting a member of Europe, who is NOT part of the EU, speak on behalf of Face Europe.
Lisa has an eventful and exciting life both behind and in front of her and is full of zest for life.
She was highly concentrated and the interview was exciting and as always so valuable for our own lives.
On Wednesday the only Scottish woman so far, Katy, was portrayed. Her national pride is deeply ingrained in her soul and has matched our experiences during our trip to Scotland.
Thursday was supposed to be for our relaxation and for the evening we had invited Emanuela and Gianluca to an Austrian dinner.
However, this quietness of the past weeks on the beach of Bordeira was destroyed by a horde of unscrupulous campers. Already in the evening, loud music sounded from their huge boxes, which they had placed next to their cars. From midnight on there was silence, but at 2 am the whole noise started again. We know from experience that such inconsiderate people are not willing to change their behaviour. There is only one thing to do: escape!
Because even during the day the “music” already started in the morning. Not even the loud waves could drown the noise. Luckily we were able to go to Emanuela and serve the food outside at their porch with them.
We had cooked „bacon lentils“ with bread dumplings.
And because Emanuela and Gianluca are incredibly loving and open-minded people, friends came along as well.
One of them: Soehl from Bangladesh is a filmmaker and will be portrayed on Tuesday. So our plan to move on Saturday was postponed again. Who knows what the evil coronavirus will bring us and how our onward journey will be blocked anyway. So we can just as well stay right here, where we feel so comfortable and appreciated anyway and where life is simple and uncomplicated.