No kidding – we’re in Spain

Blog Entry 1 April 2019

Until Sunday lunchtime our resistance has lasted until we finally wished Philipp “Farewell”.

Everything got vibration-packed and we were heading out. Nevertheless, we arrived in Spain in the evening, more precisely in Badajoz. This is a small medieval town which I explored late in the evening by myself.  Since we now live two hours ahead after the time change to daylight saving time and the time switching to Central European Time, my body clock at 21:30 was still tuned to 19:30 and I was full of energy. Therefore, I made an excursion to the old town. From our parking lot it was only a short walk to the pedestrian bridge into the city of Badajoz. Brightly lit and populated by many walkers and local visitors, I went uphill and enjoyed the hustle and bustle. When I walked back downhill I took the wrong direction and ended up a good bit further away from the bridge than I had thought. It was already 23:30 when I arrived back at Big Fredi. My app showed me that I had taken a 6 km march. 

This morning we only woke up at 9 a.m., first had a relaxed breakfast and only at 12 pm ” we were „On the Road” again“!

Across Caceres, or rather past it it was a direct route to Salamanca. 

We arrived the city of Salamanca at approximately 16:30 in sunshine and still managed to get a good parking space next to the bridge in the old town. Uschi had praised the city and the parking place so much and she gave us the Geo data, so we are now in the middle of the town and want to actually not leave the car unattended. Again I walked alone and explored the surrounding area and even took a few supplies at Mercadonna for our trip home. 

With coffee ice cream and waffles, we still had from Valencia we boosted some calories. 

Tomorrow, the journey continues towards France. Whether we are entering French territory tomorrow or only on Wednesday, we will see. Anyway, there are 540 km to go. 

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Again and again, “Foz”

Blog entry 30/03/2019

It began at Foz do Lisandro and it ends at Foz do Lisandro. 

But first things first. 

On Wednesday, 03.27.2019 Mena was drawn. She is really an extraordinary person. Every stroke of fate she has coped brilliantly. Whether her husband’s death 6 years ago or the fire of her restaurants. She gets up and makes the most of it. Her time commitment applies to children with heart disease who live in Portuguese Guinea, where she helps to support their heart surgery in Portugal. This even went so far that she adopted one of these children 6 years ago. She has found a passion in her life, which she fills with all her heart. 

After drawing the Face Europe portrait we were invited to Marco and Anna for dinner. It was a delicious experience. 

On Thursday Philipp wanted to have a portrait painted of himself in order to give it to his father for his birthday. He decided finally to have it also filmed and since it was only one more step to be part of Face Europe he decided to be part of Face europe as well. 

Late in the evening we received another email from Anne, who wanted to be a model for Face Europe. By chance she lives across the street from Mica and also had some time the very next day to be portrayed. We already know the way to Mica’s place. Anne is a very lovely flight attendant, accountant, surfer and besides, she was the weekend before a neighbor on the beach of São Julião at a party right next to us. The world in Ericeira is small. Everyone knows everyone, surfers know each other and locals welcome “newcomers” like their friends. 

I had expressed a desire to eat fish at least once in Portugal. Neither Sonja not Rui, Marco and Anna, Mica and Melli had time to eat with us. Even Anne was already tied in a meeting. 

The only faithful Philip went with us and showed us the great restaurant in the old town of Ericeira. We were able to accompany him in his car and did not have to worry about parking in the narrow City. 

After the fish, ice-cream was a must have!

So our penultimate day was crowned with a delicious fish. 

Wilfried wanted to enjoy the Saturday for rest and on Sunday we definitely need to tear ourselves away. 

Unexpectedly, Pedro, the friend of Philip came to visit us on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, he had no time to have his portrait done. He is a filmmaker and – if we should come back to Portugal – he would be happy to be a part of Face Europe. 

We had planned to meet with Ricardo near Caldas da Rainha on Sunday but he had to cancel. 

Therefore, we will start our way home on Sunday, 31/03/2019 definitely and leave Obidos, Caldas da Rainha and Nazaré for our next visit to Portugal. 

We definitely want to get to know this country more closely and intensively.

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Mellow Move Surf Camp

Blog entry 27/03/2019

Uschi from Kiel was drawn in Big Fredi yesterday.

Her joy to be part of Face Europe was great, but the joy about her portrait was overwhelming. Gladly she would have bought it. Wilfried promised her that she can purchase it after the exhibition. 

After a short break and packing up we went straight off to Marco, who has his surf camp right near the beach of São Lourenço. 

The gentle movement is the meaning of the surf camp, which Marco operates together with his friend Gregor since 10 years. 

Since six years, Anna, is his partner. Her reputation as an excellent cook has already preceded her. Johannes has rated her extraordinary good and healthy food. She does it with love and enthusiasm and we will get to enjoy this today. After yesterday’s Portrait of Marco, which Wilfried had drawn in their beautiful house, we were invited for dinner tonight. 

This afternoon the 52nd person will be included into the face Europe family: Mena (short for Philomena), she has an interesting Portuguese personality. 

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Spring is in the air

Blog entry 26/03/2019

Everywhere flowers and greens here.

The figs shoot out their leaves. Fruits I have not seen yet, but they will show up soom. The hills are full of a variety of wild flowers and the gardens and front gardens flourish in the most exuberant colors. Nasturtium proliferates flourishes on the hills along the way and all kinds of yellow daisies and yellow and pink shrubs line the rocks and paths. It is a variety of colors, which accompanies us here in late March. But even for the Portuguese everything is much too early and they are concerned about the lack of rain. For us it means one sunny day after the other bringing us into pure holiday mood but it is a concern for the farmers. Hopefully it rains enough soon so that nature survives the summer. 

Last night we got a visit from our new neighbors: Andi and Konrad. Andi just wanted to borrow a corkscrew from us. He and his friend are on their holidays with a tent and a rented car. It was an exciting evening, Andi told us about his many travels and that he must now look for a job, but he would prefer to travel. He has traveled to many countries and completed his community service in Central America in a school as a teacher. It’s so nice when young people are   expanding their horizons in this way and they can always rely on so much life experience at a young age. No one can ever take that away from them.  Andi’s friend, Konrad is Californian and just finished his master’s degree in Hamburg. 

This morning we packed our things again and moved on northwards. 

Currently, we are waiting for news from Marco, in order to plan our next days. 

When we had just found a place for the night on the beach of São Lourenço, a nice German couple joined us, which gladly accepted our invitation to a coffee and cake. Eckhart (Ecki) and Uschi loved Face Europe and Uschi has decided spontaneously to be  portrayed tomorrow. If she stays here, her portrait is the 50th. 

A third car joined us later, a blue Iveco, in size as our Willi was. A young family, she is Portuguese, he Frenchman and their about 2 years old daughter is both. Tomorrow they want to visit us in Big Fredi. 

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(Deutsch) Mica Surfboards – ein Profi aus Leidenschaft

Blog entry 24/03/2019

In Mica we met a strong personality.

A professional surfer who has stopped to participate in surf competitions at the age of 27 has founded his own brand with the support of his friends and met a new life goal. Besides surfing for fun, he runs his own label and shapes surfboards on demand. All handmade and in countless hours of work. He has remained modest and his boards stand out clearly from factory boards. Each of his boards is unique and with a lot of experience and intuition it will grant the board a long shelf life. 

Wilfried had actually already finished the portrait within half an hour, but it was so exciting to listen to Mica that he was still working out details and we listened to Mica. His English is excellent, as if it were his mother tongue. 

His girl friend and collaborator – Melanie, or also called Melli – assisted by taking pictures and movies of the scene.

She is a designer and “got stuck” at Mica‘s shop since her batchelor work last year. She enjoys it so much to live and work here, that she has decided to emigrate from Germany to Portugal. 

Melli was also portrayed the next day. She is a charming and interesting young lady. 

The two advised us to spend the night on the beach which turned out to be wonderfully quiet. And this was even on a weekend. 

We will spend the third night in a row here tonight. Then we will go on to Marco Mellow King, an Austrian surf school owner. The school is located in São Lourenço, about 10 km north of us. 

This morning we enjoyed a nice walk along the cliffs as far as the south bank of the Rio Lisandro. On its northern shore we stood before as already described. 

Our path led past a group of people with their offroad model cars which drove over the cliffs. For the owners an exciting race because the cars all had to take the same route. 

Now we enjoy to stay inside the car which is still cool. We had a bowl of soup and now we can chill a bit. 

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Rio Lisandro becomes a lake

Blog entry 22/03/2019

The tranquility of the river delta of the Rio Lisandro is unique. 

The river changes its appearance with the tide and yesterday it had no more connection to the sea. It rose to a lake and the water rose. But before it came up to us there was  again a connection to the sea. 

The road from the place where we can be reached at, is a dead end road. Therefore, there is no through traffic. Also from the inhabitants of the houses there is hardly any sign of life. 

Jochen, our Belgian neighbor comes and goes without contacting us again. 

On Wednesday, we invited Sonja to dinner. She brought her son Tiago with her, an amiable and open-minded 13-year-old enthusiastic surfer. We made Topfenpalatschinken which the two liked very much. Sonja is a fine conversationalist and it was a shame that they had to leave soon. Tiago must be rested for school the next day. Sónia needed 45 minutes for her return trip. Perhaps we see them again before we leave Portugal. It feels so good  to get to know such people, and start friendships with them. 

Those Portuguese whom we have got to know so far, were all self-employed or about to start their own business and were very accurate with meeting deadlines. 

The prejudice of tardiness or unreliability we’ve just not experienced in Portugal. Uncharacteristically for the southern countries. 

People in Portugal also appeared to us very diligent. Good workers, ambitious and environmentally conscious. The ordinary workers on the beach who free the sand from flotsam greet or thank friendly with a smile, the answer often comes right in English. 

Yesterday we had to wash our clothes again and combined it with shopping as well as disposing and filling up fresh water. After that we moved on to Mica’s workshop, where we spent a quiet night. 

In the morning we got to know Mica. In the afternoon he will be here at the appointed time at 2 p.m.

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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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