Oh how beautiful is Portugal!

Blog entry 5.12.2019

Lagos on foot was not so breathtaking,

the old town touristically opened up as just everywhere. I allowed myself an ice cream. And that in December, because it is so hot. In the city rain changed with sunshine every minute. And in one of these rain breaks I granted myself an ice cream. Pedro contacted us and we made an appointment for Sunday to portray Isa. She is the 9th person now from Portugal.

Face Europe no. 105 – work in progress-isa-after 20 min
Face Europe no. 105 – work in progress-isa-after 40 min
Face Europe no. 105 – work in progress-isa-after 80 min
Face Europe no. 105 – work in progress-isa-after 120 min
Face Europe no. 105 – work in progress-isa-after 120 min

Her stories were very personal. Living together in a motorhome with 2 children is surely many times more difficult than only for us 2 persons. And we had been able to practice for a long time before we started our great journey. We admire Isa and Pedro how they manage this in their motorhome. 

After the Face Europe meeting we had agreed with Leroy, Kady and Nicholas to meet at a picnic spot north of Vila do Bispo to cook and eat together.

Leroy, Kady und Nicholas
Leroy, Kady und Nicholas

The next day we spent together at this fine place, the only movement I managed was a 5 km long walk. Every now and then – especially when you are together almost all the time – you just need a break. That’s good and gives everyone the chance to be a little bit by himself. 

Since yesterday we are now together with 3 other cars and their drivers: Markus, Werner (alias Simon) and Christian. All three are Upper Austrians and we get along quite well. Their great place, which they discovered, they have not only revealed to us, but this afternoon we all drove here to spend the evening at the campfire.

The place has not been discovered in Park4night, but nevertheless also by the Swiss Christoph, who has been here for some time in his tent. 

The place should be ideal for the next days, because it is totally in the sun and is unseen from the street behind a small wood. And the next days are only sunny. Our battery will be especially happy about that. 

Sagres, Lagos and the beaches in between

Blog entry 1. 12. 2019

We stayed one more night at the fort

Alone and undisturbed like all the other nights there. The next morning it was even warmer and I walked to the beach of Beniche while Wilfried converted our Big Fredi to “Moving Fredi”. What does all that mean? Well, washing dishes, cleaning, turning off water, closing windows and installing “Quick and Dirty”. What is that? A bar that prevents the roller shutters from opening. And because we were still assembling the provisional solution quickly, after we had already left Nußdorf but returned quickly, Wilfried named this solution “Quick and Dirty”. It must always be installed, otherwise the drawers will fall out of their moorings during the journey. Every bend: open – close. And that’s annoying.

Quick and Dirty

So we met after Wilfried’s work about 2 km further on the beach of Beliche, where already dozens of survers were fighting for the waves. Surfing would be nothing for us, as we are used to long turns and seemingly never-ending slopes from skiing. Such a wave carries the surfers only for a few seconds. Then they go swimming again. And surely it is mega exhausting. It costs no grief to observe it from the shore. 

On Wednesday we met Nicholas for a fish in a restaurant, to which he had already invited us in Poland. The joy of the reunion was great and the fish excellent. We all decided to go for dorado and were well served. Nicholas took us to the beach of Ingrina and introduced us to his “children”. A couple and a young man from the Netherlands. The couple – Leroy and Kady are travelling with a T2 VW bus from 1968, Kerry joined them and sleeps in the tent. We met them at a beautiful and spacious quiet wild pitch and spent 2 evenings together.

the Bus is from 1968

Leroy and Kady got a job in a diving school in Sagres. For Nicholas they were travel companions after working the summer at the same campsite in Italy. We spent some nice days and quiet nights at this beautiful site. 

The day before yesterday, on 29.11.2019, something which was often described on Park4night happened. The police knocked on our door at 9 o’clock in the evening, demanded our personal details and made it clear to us in perfect English that we were not allowed to spend the night here. It had astonished us the whole day that more and more cars disappeared and we shared the spacious place with only a few more. Somehow we both hadn’t shared our “gut feeling”.  We had no other choice than to pack up and drive the few kilometres back to Vila do Bispo and park on a big parking lot without any charm. 

That had at least the Lidl proximity as an advantage, so there were fresh bread rolls for breakfast in the morning. 

Now we have Nicholas’ folding chair in our car, which we want to give him back. So we will most likely meet him again Maybe tomorrow in Lagos. In the meantime he will get his bridge fever. 

A short disturbance front with downpours makes hiking rather uncomfortable. But we should go out and have a look at Lagos on foot. 

Then one can at least claim to have been there and not only to have circumnavigated it. 

Cabo de São Vicente or the end of the world

blog entry 27.11.2019

Yesterday we surprisingly got another visit from Luise and Jonas and the opportunity for a common walk to the lighthouse at

Louise und Jonas

Cabo de São Vicente. It was only about one kilometre to the so-called “Last sausage before America” and the big, beautiful lighthouse, which was beautifully renovated and nestled in tourist stalls and stands like a fortress in the roaring surf.

leuchtturm bei Sagres
der Leuchturm am Südlichsten Punkt Europas

It must be frightening there when a real storm roars. Yesterday the cliff offered itself all around with a blue sky, good visibility and being quite harmless.

unser Platz beim alten Fort

For lunch, Luise warmed up her spaghetti and I our vegetables and rice and we ate something from everything. Such a communal meal is so very special. It tastes even better, does good and warms the soul. Especially with such positive and kind young people as the two of them are. 

They now travel on to Lagos and then to Spain, from where they want to travel to Africa. 

Yesterday evening we had a videoconference with our Russian friends and could also experience Mariana, their 3 months old baby live. Watching the family grow is a special privilege for us, especially as I am so denied my own family, which makes me sad again and again.

unsere freunde in kaliningrad

My granddaughter Leah is 4 months old today. 

From west to south

Blog entry 25.11.2019

We particularly enjoyed Odeceixe

We stayed there from 19. to 24.11.2019 and experienced all kinds of weather caprioles: heat, rain, storm and also very relaxed fair weather. Once in the middle of the night the gusty wind shook so much at Big Fredi’s side that Wilfried turned him 90 degrees and shifted the attack surface to the back. If we hadn’t been so wide awake, we would have slept well for the rest of the night. Instead, we waited for sleep until morning, but it didn’t want to adjust properly any more. Otherwise the place on the bank of the river Seixe is chosen as my favourite place. Equipped with water and food one can stand it here for a while. 

We spent a lot of time with Luise and Jonas. They travelled on after a few days and maybe want to meet us somewhere again.

jonas und louise in odeceixe

A nice walk on the cliff took place the day before yesterday in – almost – clear weather. First it had been too hot for us, then too rainy and only on the last day we set off. Only once we visited the shelter of a few trees from a few raindrops. This path is the coastal hiking trail, which must be beautiful but exhausting. One goes very much on sand and it goes uphill and downhill.

Yesterday (24.11., thus one month before Christmas) we left our parking place and set over a Lidl intermediate stop in Vila do Bispo and Intermarche intermediate stop in Sagres from the west to the south coast of Portugal. Sagres was for Wilfried immediately an abomination with its touristic flair. We did not go to the center of the city but turned in direction west to the coast to the last “corner” of Portugal. An old fort respectively a remnant of it offered us protection for the night.

altes Fort in Sagres

The lights of Sagres on one side and the lighthouse on the other side were the only light sources. Otherwise it was pitch dark when a camper van arrived later. The sea is much less stormy here and the waves are not high at all. Maybe a coincidence or rather the compass direction, if the westerly wind does not hit?

We will be able to follow that from now on. 

Meanwhile we are invited on Wednesday (the day after tomorrow) for lunch by Nikolas, to whom Wilfried repaired the table in Poland a few months ago. He is an Englishman with a Polish father and a passionate bridge player. He knows the area well and can certainly give us some hints. Not that we will discover the bridge game for us now, but he will have one or the other interesting hint, because he has been spending the winters here for years. 

Atlantic in winter

Blog entry 20.11.2019

Until yesterday we stood on the beach of Porto Covo, both Luise and Jonas from Germany were portrayed

Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 20 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 60 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 100 min
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 103 – work in progress-louise-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 15 min
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 120 min – finished
Face Europe no. 104 – work in progress-jonas-after 120 min – finished

The weather was much better than predicted, so there is always room for positive surprises. The rain rages in the night and the days are sun-flooded with more or less wind. 

Yesterday we cleared our place for other travellers and traveled to the lonely beach of Odeceixe (unpronounceable name, wonderful surroundings). 65 km, a short stop for supply and disposal in Odemira. Now in winter it is indescribably beautiful and quiet here.

jonas and louise in odeceixe

We don’t want to have so much imagination and imagine the beaches in summer. It must be terrible. Now, at this time, we have never been chased away by the police. During the high season in July and August one could not travel so relaxed. 

Just now I asked Wilfried if he is curious about where we will spend the winter and if we will stay at the same place for 2 months as last year in Valencia. For a while we will stay in Portugal. It is a safe and beautiful country. 

Pedro and Isa have meanwhile arrived in Lagos. This is only 40 km away and is already on the south coast, but still on the Atlantic. Only in Algeciras the Atlantic passes in the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Until then it is still a long way and many bays want to be explored. 

Face Europe family continues to grow

blog entry 14.11.2019

Yesterday morning

we got to know the Portuguese family with Pedro, Isa and their two daughters Luz and Luma (10 and 6 years old), when we stood at Intermarche and thought about our further way. They strongly recommended us to visit the coast at the lagoon Praia de Santo André, where they had just stood for 2 days. In addition, we exchanged telephone numbers in order to inform each other of our location. Pedro wanted to be portrayed gladly. So we drove to the beach of Santo André while Pedro’s family drove ahead of us to the south, where we wanted to meet again. 

The beach of Santo André was really beautiful and the lagoon and the sea invited us to take a walk. A stiff breeze, as always on the Atlantic Ocean, blew around our ears. Rather alternative campers stood there and one caught Wilfried’s eye right away: An 4-wheeler with two likeable Germans.

They invited us to their table, I packed my fruit salad with bowls and spoons and we dined together. Jonas and Luise are both veterinarians who want to travel to Africa and are now gaining experience for living together in a very small space. We agreed to meet again, because they also want to participate in Face Europe. 

Pedro gave us his location and we moved on to his place. It was a wonderful ride in the setting sun, which provided a great light to look at the nature and to take pictures, but it was very dazzling while driving. We bravely took a route through Santiago do Cacém following the navigation instead of driving on the motorway. Through cork oak and pine forests we went forever winding until we saw the sea again in Porto Covo. But the sun had already set and we just waved a hello to Pedro and Isa and filled our empty bellies. 

Today Pedro Guru (Guru is his nickname) was then in the afternoon with us and it developed a very authentic portrait with fantastic experiences from his life in the Caribbean and in Portugal.

Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 50 min
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 90 min
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 120-min-finished
Face Europe no. 102 – work in progress-pedro guru-after 120-min-finished

Tomorrow Isa has signed up for a portrait. Luz, her 10 year old daughter is an exceptional talent in drawing. We were allowed to have a look at her works and were extremely impressed. 

In the evening Jonas and Luise announced themselves as our new neighbours, whom we can introduce to Pedro and Isa tomorrow. 

We seem to have crossed the rain line and see the sun shine again

Blog entry 12.11.2019

Ricardo and his wife Bruna had no appointment problems this time and it was a meeting with friends

Ricardo’s remarks about his life and Portugal were very relaxed. His English is wonderful and of high level. He is one of those people who enjoy learning a lot. He has changed employers and is very happy with the career opportunities he has been given. The weather was rainy, cold and windy. Martin, their 5 year old son had spent the afternoon with his 18 year old brother and was picked up by Bruna later. After an initial period of shyness, he thawed quickly and had a lot of fun with Wilfried. We invited everyone to “apples in a dressing gown” and the evening ended much too early because Martin belonged to his bed. 

Face Europe no. 101 – work in progress-ricardo after 35 min
Face Europe no. 101 – work in progress-ricardo after 90 min
Face Europe no. 101 – work in progress-ricardo after 120 min

Our intention to visit Obidos and Bombarral the next morning (Monday, 11.11.2019) was spoiled by dense fog and drizzle and we decided to take a direct route to the south. The great arc around Lisbon led us on a route that we already knew in the opposite direction from February. 

A CEPSA petrol station had a gas bottle in exchange and we were overjoyed that we could exchange our Spanish for a Portuguese bottle without problems. We didn’t know a year ago that CEPSA used the same bottles in Spain and Portugal. We were very lucky to have chosen this company for the gas supply. 

An Intermarche in Alcacér do Sal had cheap diesel and water supply and disposal free of charge. A few meters away was a small parking lot for the football stadium and at the corner a camping site. Since the sun was shining again in the afternoon, the battery was charged enough and we could do without the camping site. A shopping tour at the Lidl was far more successful than at Intermarche. We like the quality and the price-performance ratio at Lidl in Portugal much better than Intermarche. But Intermarche offers all amenities for campers for free. 

And because it is so comfortable, we have chosen another Intermarche pitch in Santo André for today. Not without first conquering the small town Alcacér do Sal on foot. With sunshine we strolled through the alleys with the famous whitewashed houses up to the river Rio Sado, which we crossed over a pedestrian bridge. A second bridge led us back to the old town and through the narrow alleys, which are mostly reserved only for pedestrians, we went – past the unfortunately closed church – back to Big Fredi and the bear family. 

We decided to drive only a short distance of about 60 km and have a closer look at one of the places Pedro had suggested to us. So now we have landed in Santo André, stand with 2 other camper vans at the Intermarche parking lot and nobody crawled out of his vehicle until nightfall. I was busy washing the clothes and in between I was a bit on the road. 

Tomorrow we want to have a look at the beach. Stay tuned and see if the sun is still nice or if only the full moon is looking round and round at the window. 

Where’s the sun?

Blog entry 9. 11. 2019

We used the wonderful amenities with electricity and supply and disposal including WLAN in Póvoa de Lanhoso until Tuesday noon

For the trip through the Douro valley sunshine would have been so beautiful again. 

We arroces Mesão Frio in only about 80 km distance. The roads were so steep that the brakes got hot and we had to take a break 3 km before our destination so that the tires didn’t start to burn. A lonely place directly at the Douro compensated for the exhausting tour. Kilometres only 80 but a day of mountain tours. Tight curves and steep ascents and descents, even though through beautiful landscapes should be only the practice drive for the next day. 

The Douro valley, cradle of the port wine and also otherwise Full of all kinds of fruits (olives, oranges, figs, Khaki, apples, cherries,…) presented itself to us the next morning (Wednesday, 6.11.2019) with drizzle.

To cross the river we took the next bridge towards the west side in Peso da Régua and „strolled“ uphill and downhill to Cinfães along the southern bank. The first wine tastings on the way seemed too glamorous for us, but then, well, unfortunately there were no more coming. Pego da Régua markets the port wine centrally and also the museum is there. The wine villages after it lay close on  steep terrain and many small gardens were scattered over the slopes. The houses were partly stuck to the slope and did not show much wealth. The golden autumn could only be imagined. The vine leaves were already very dark or already fallen off. Nevertheless, every now and then a sunbeam got lost between the rain showers and there was a lot to photograph. But there was no place to even think about stopping. No parking place, not even a wider road to stop at all. No vantage points along the way. One can only drive there. And that endlessly. But when we left the Douro and turned to a low-ranking road to the next main road, the curves became even tighter, the steepness increased again and I trembled what would happen if we had another breakdown, because this is an area where the “fox says good night”.

We didn’t see the fox but a group of goats walked leisurely on the road and didn’t care at all about any figures on 4 or 6 wheels (to explain our Big Fredi is on the road with 6 wheels).

Up to our next parking place in Arouca we had created again just about 80 km and also Wilfried was exhausted after this day. Arouca would have had a waterfall to offer, but we would have probably only reached it swimming and swimming against the stream is not so funny. We could already see from the car that the landscape here is beautiful. 

The next morning we woke up and were surprised: it was raining. But after the first 30 km we went on the faster main road 1, also called IC2. Sometimes it was a two-lane expressway, so it got a faster travelling. 

Our distance on Thursday from Arouca to Coimbra was already 120 km. On the bank of the Mondego River opposite Coimbra there is a parking place for campers. And there we joined many other campers. We were one of the few colour spots among white camper vans. The district is called Santa Clara, like my eldest daughter. A pedestrian bridge led us on Friday in bright sunshine into the center of Coimbra. A supposedly pulsating university town with many young people and excellent cheap restaurants.

But most of the people we saw were tourists and the restaurant we picked was mediocre and expensive. 

We noticed a shop that reminded us of a library, all in gold. However, the “books” turned out to be fish cans, which are very tastefully arranged with dates from 1942 (beginning of the canning factory) and different contents and colours. A very dear saleswoman offered us tastings, which were very appealing to us. The prices were also made of gold and we were not inspired to buy.

We visited two museums: the city museum and the national museum. The city museum had a few portraits to offer, but was not as productive as the national museum. Old excavations 3 floors under the entrance with old Roman walls. And then 3 floors up we went. 

On every floor one is always sent on the right way by museum employees. Very interesting from a historical point of view, not enough for Wilfried when it comes to portraits. Some very good sculptures and the building complex as a whole were very impressive. 

This morning the sky was grey again. It had completely forgotten how beautiful the sun was yesterday. 

We left Coimbra this Saturday morning and are now in Nadadouro at Foz do Arelho, which was a 130 km drive.  There we wanted to portray Ricardo already in spring, but he had appointment problems and we couldn’t wait another week. Now he has arranged to meet us tomorrow and we are looking forward to seeing him again. 

When we landed today at our place and greeted our German neighbour Christian, the sun actually appeared and I went for a walk. Along the lagoon of Obidos I walked until the sun went down. It always feels so good to move after a day in the car. 

Face Europe a Jubilee

Blog entry 3 November 2019

On the last day of October I set off for a little walk through the city Póvoa de Lanhoso

My destination was the town hall, which was beautifully renovated. I just walked in, went to the first floor and spoke to the first lady I met . Her English was only marginally available, but at least we could communicate so far that she called the tourist information for me and I explained our project Face Europe to the lady on the phone. She advised me to come to the tourist information at 3 pm, so her colleague would have time for a meeting with us. 

So we marched – this time together (Wilfried is always a bit coy but enjoys it afterwards) – to the tourist information. 

Pedro proved to be exactly the right contact person.

Pedro sagt uns für Samstag zu

His sister came to him spontaneously and a meeting for the next day was arranged. He offered himself for the following day, at his office. 

Pedros Schwester Nina

Nina turned out to be a totally cordial, open and fun conversation partner, who returned to her home town three months ago after several years of working in Switzerland.

work in progress-Face Europe no. 99-Nina after 25 min
work in progress-Face Europe no. 99-Nina after 120 min

She has a six-year-old son and her husband is still working in Switzerland. Although he has a university degree, as a foreigner he only gets jobs as a construction worker. Life abroad is hard, but if you want to make a difference in Portugal and earn a living in a house, you can only do it far away from home. Nina’s son Diogo should start school in Portugal, which is the reason for the spatial separation of the family.

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The 100th Face Europe meeting was also something very special. We were able to draw and interview Pedro in the Museum of Filigree Art, which supposedly has its roots here in Portugal. We also got a special guided tour afterwards. Pedro, whom we initially thought was a shy person, intoxicated us with his knowledge and fluency.

work in progress-Face Europe no 100-Pedro after 25 min
work in progress-Face Europe no 100-Pedro after 60 min

Wilfried had long since finished with the picture, I hadn’t even come to the start with my questions when the curfew at the tourist information was already over.

work in progress-Face Europe no. 100-Pedro at the end
Face Europe no 100 – Pedro – Portugal

Had we known how much time Pedro had taken for us, we would have even made an oil portrait. Anyway, we enjoyed the warm welcome of the siblings Pedro and Nina. In the evening Nina dropped by with Diogo, which made us very happy.

Nina und Diogo vor Big Fredi

Yesterday was also the first day when we saw the sun for a short time. In the night a violent storm came up, which also lowered the temperature. Today it is more uncomfortable than the last days and it is supposed to get colder. So now the jacket time starts here as well. 

Face Europe no.99 Nina und no. 100 Pedro

With Nina and Pedro we have not only experienced Portrait 99 and 100, but from now on we are united by friendly bonds. Thank you!


A wet Portugal welcomes us 

Blog entry 31.10.2019

From our last parking place we went with some sunshine further in southwest direction with the goal Pontevedra. Wilfried

who is fascinated that there should be no cars and no traffic signs in a city – at least in the centre – is disappointed by the traffic in the outskirts and we leave Pontevedra as fast as possible. Then on the peninsula Morazo we stay  over night (it was already quite dusky when we arrived) with pouring rain at a small lake and it pours incessantly. Too bad, it would have been a beautiful area for hiking. Picnic places testify to the fact that the place is well visited in better weather.

After the border town Tui, we find ourselves in Portugal, quite unspectacular. Only a small sign at the roadside and already we are in another country. Isn’t that great, no tollgate, no customs formalities and no unfriendly customs officers who look at you as if you were a criminal. 

Apart from the sudden increase in garbage dumps and plastic drinking bottles and cans along the way, there is no big difference between Spain and Portugal.

So we are moving on. Shortly before Braga, an Intermarché with a cheap petrol station appears, which we use immediately. And then in addition there are the usual coin-operated washing machines that we have been waiting for. 18 kg of laundry are washed 2 hours later, dried and stowed away again in our wonderful wardrobe compartment. 

The time of waiting for the laundry was sweetened by the food and the call from my grandson Kilian from home. 

In Póvos de Lanhoso a parking bay with electricity lures although it is away from the city Braga still 30 km into the inland. The sun has charged our batteries little in the last days and for the coming 9 days it looks rather modest with the weather. Rain, rain, rain. Fortunately it is not cold and yesterday evening I went at 20 degrees with short sleeves a short round into the city. The facility for camper vans is excellent. In the morning we even found a working FREE electricity connection and since yesterday evening we already use the free WLAN. It’s just drizzling and the solar system delivers a measly amount of electricity. But it doesn’t need it anyway, because for us the electricity comes from the socket today.

Wilfried takes a day at the PC and I take a closer look at the city. 

All batteries for cameras, computers and spotlights are recharged so that everything is ready for the next Face Europe session. 

Today we made a nice acquaintance with Nancy and her children. They are at home in the south of France, Nancy speaks very good English and on our way home we will hopefully be able to visit them and station Face Europe there.