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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As it plays Granada

Blog entry 19/02/2019

We left the parking lot within the city Guadix around 10 am and headed towards Granada’s parking space.

This car park next to a school nimrod us liked at all and we could not imagine spending a night there. Somehow none of us felt like sightseeing in Granada. For a tour of the Alhambra you have to pre-register only on the Internet. We did not want that. Pay for a guided tour was also out of question. But the location of the parking lot was 5 minutes walk from the shopping center “Nevada”. Petra supported me with buying 2 pants. Without her I would never have dared to shop in this jet-setter stores. There was total sales, I bought 2 jeans, one for 6 and one for 8 €.  Super quality, one wonders who can earn anything for this price. Actually, you know it anyway: the worker never earns enough.  If I would not have such a great pleasure with the two finally matching trousers, I would be ashamed actually to have supported this system of exploitation. 

We continued our journey until La Malaha, where supposedly hot springs should be, but it was only a closed swimming pool and in front that is an absolutely quiet pitch, which we now have to ourselves. Tomorrow starts a new attempt really to the hot springs and maybe we will be able to swim in the sulphurous medicinal waters. 

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Once across the Sierra Nevada

Blog entry 18/02/2019

Since we are now reunited with Petra and Dieter, we will continue our journey together. 

Yesterday I walked with Petra part of the trail, she had done with Dieter the day before. Since the trail took with breaks almost 4 hours we turned after half an hour to save my knee . After all, our view over the lake was terrific and the route was even – according to my mobile phone app – 4.5 km away. 

We enjoyed the great rest. Very rarely a car drove by. 

One of the rangers who tested the barriers to the reservoir every few hours, stopped in the afternoon and invited Dieter to go with him. He showed him a spring of fresh and good water. Unfortunately it is not very powerful at the moment and we had all our water tanks full, so we tasted only a bottle that Dieter brought back with him. 

Otherwise nothing was actually going on. A meeting, how we should go on was held in Big Fredi. Petra started to learn how to knit socks which ended in a soar muscles. 

Today after breakfast and packing we drove in convoy through the Sierra Nevada. 

The road is one lane for the most part. Passing places are few and far between, but we did not pass a car anyway. Up to 2,000 meters of altitude we climbed before it went downhill to 915 meters in altitude in Guadix. 

At the highest point, we saw some snow and patches of ice at the side of the road. The road was dry, evidence of cows and their excrements in the street pointed out the possibility of beef herds, we have seen none. 

The area of Guadix is known for its caves. It should instead be famous for its bakery. We stepped into Alcudia de Guadix’s most delicious coffee shop and had coffee for each of us and 5 pieces of cake, which we cut into 4 parts and paid 9.40 € altogether.

An unbeatable price for unbeatable cake. We even bought a small cake and then headed to the parking lot for campers in Guadix. 

We strolled like real tourists without a plan but with destination to the caves. Wilfried showed where he suspected the center and all followed him. Then I suspected the caves on the mountain, so we went uphill. Some poor-looking caves we discovered. Some would also have been offered for sale, but that can not even be described as “with potential”. Everywhere in front there is heaps of rubbish and garbage. Furniture simply gets disposed outside the door. 

Finally, Dieter took out the tablet and discovered a museum. 

We wandered around for a while, without the museum getting any closer. We finally gave up the Museum and headed towards the parking lot, which we found easily. Exhausted by the nearly 5 km uphill and downhill we settled down in our cars to reminisce, to eat and rest. Tomorrow we want to go on towards Granada. I’m curious if they play Granada there!

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Big surprise and reunion with old friends 

Blog entry 16/02/2019

This morning there should be a decision made on how our journey should go on. 

Fondon and getting to know Daniel, son of Michele, who was painted in Oxford, stood on our agenda of today. (look on the Blog) Since Daniel has not been available, we took the last consequence to contact Michele in England, and found out that the young family is not in Fondon but in Ethiopia.

But somehow the Sierra Nevada excited us more than the sea with its increasingly more restricted and crowded beaches and we asked Petra and Dieter, who had spent a long time in the area where they were right now. We found out that they were staying at the lake Embalse de Benínar just 40 minutes away from us. 

They also had enough of the sea and so we met them again after 9 weeks. How nice to see them again! To sit in the sunshine, to exchange what had happened in the meantime and to be able to go on as if we had seen each other yesterday for the last time. 

They actually wanted to leave the parking lot early tomorrow, but for a walk or a hike, they like to stay an extra night, moreover, since it is so quiet here that one can perceive absolutely no noise. No sound of the sea, no car, not even a plane can be heard. The only car of an association of rangers who repeatedly days and nights control the barriers to the reservoir have been observed by Petra until now. We could even sit outside enjoying our lunch / supper because it was awesome warm, although at 500 meters above sea level!

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Valentine’s Day and going to the south

Blog entry 15/02/2019

Our friend Paul had breakfast with us on Valentine’s Day

and then the two men crafted a lightweight wood inlay for Paul’s motorcycle pannier. In return Paul took us in his Mercedes to media market and Lidl, so we could escape a cumbersome search for a parking space. Then we were invited by Christl to delicious vegetable soup and when Paul dropped us off at Big Fredi, he was completely intact.
A mini walk in the evening brought me to the southern beach side of Vila Joijosa. This is the rougher and more primitive, the unspoilt side of the old town. There the houses are not built directly to the beach as usually they are in Benidorm.

Today, the departure was very relaxed and comfortable. Breakfast, shower and packing everything safely lasted exactly until 12 noon.

In daylight and when it was still warm we reached Mojácar. It is a fancy area, hotels along the beach, and  – it is prohibited for campers.

One night we are now on a parking place next to the road and tomorrow we will go on. Where? We don’t know exactly. Be surprised, like we are.

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Vila Joiosa

Blog entry 13/02/2019

Farewell Dénia for a short trip to Vila Joijosa.

About 2 hours on good roads we needed for that. Much of it was already known by us from the previous year. Paul gave us a good overview of the entire area last year. 

On our way we were searching for a way to dispose our toilet. There were none marked on our apps, so we headed to Camping Almafra in Alfaz de Pi. Even for a fee the unfriendly staff did not allow us to use the dump station. At the second campsite “Camping Alicante empire” we were allowed for 5 € to empty our toilet “for an exemption“ and only because I was begging so hard. 

We then headed right on to the beach, where we were allowed to stay last year. This year large signs in front of the place restricted the parking of campers. On the near new parking lot there was no such sign and campers were already standing there. So our Big Fredi also found a Space and I walked to buy bread in the beautiful old town. 

This part always reminds me of Burano with its small colorful houses that radiate so much joy. Actually the name Vila Joijosa in the original sense means “Happy City”.

The tourist office was still open and I was drawn into it magically. 

Maria, the lively staff member was immediately impressed of Face Europe She called her husband Victor if he wanted to join. He was already with the children on his way to the tourist information center, because the children wanted to visit Mama before they went to Alicante to the doctor. We therefore met each other personally and Victor was spontaneously ready to sit for a portrait the next morning. 

Paul from Amstetten visited us briefly in the evening and we agreed for a lunch together at our place at 4:00 pm the next day. 

Both the portrait and the lunch were very harmonious. Victor will ask his Belgian friend and his wife Maria, if they want to be part of Face Europe. 

It is always amazing how many people are enthusiastic about the idea of a “little Europe” here in Spain.

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Dénia

Blog entry 11/02/2019

It feels like spring.

The temperature in the morning reminds us of times at home in May, when we have breakfast for the first time in the garden. Only the ocean whispers in the background are different. 

Unlike Valencia, where the sea made loud noises, here we hear absolutely nothing. First of all, the water is much further away, and secondly there are rarely waves. It seems more like a still lake. But even here there is always a little breeze during the day until 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

Saturday was a lazy day. Niko and Marion stopped by soon after breakfast. In return, Denise and Pranava (from Germany) joined us. Denise is Tatoo artist and Pranava has long lived in an ashram, has traveled a lot, was also several years in Tenerife and is a yoga teachers. His original profession was in advertising.

Denise is very interested in the art of portrait drawing and likes to take tips from Wilfried.

We walked together into Dénia, where we visited the attractive pedestrian zone and then shopped at the supermarket.

 Yesterday was mostly relaxed and afternoon André (from Germany) came. He approached us and wanted to know what we intended with our project. He could not figure it out from the homepage. Only our explanation turned out  the EU attitude within him. He moved his departure this morning and had his portrait drawn by Wilfried. Despite the early hour and the rapidly changing sun it became a very authentic picture of André. He liked it really well and also his wife Gisela was very pleased. Maybe we meet each other again, as we both have similar routes.

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Farewell to Valencia

Blog entry 02/09/2019

Well, the farewell is done

It was really hard after 8 weeks to break away from such a beautiful place. Well, the parking lot was not so nice at the first glance. But very practical and full of great people. We wish everyone a safe journey and more interesting experiences.

From Gabriel we received a box of 15 kg oranges as a gift. Then we went on to Valencia Camper Park in order to wash clothes and to dispose waste water. The washing machine took longer than the usual equipment and the dryer took 60 instead of the usual 30 minutes. So we just made it to arrive in time for lunch at Deise and Martin. It was a pleasant afternoon and evening. We stayed over night one block from the beach.

After breakfast at Big Fredi at first we drove to another district of Valencia: Benimaclet where we bought paper and fixative in a very well-equipped art supplier.

For lunch we were invited by Paul and Christl in Denia who took Wilfried’s birthday as an opportunity to invite us to Quantanamera in Dènia. Thank you for the excellent menu! Who ever comes to Dènia, the Cuban restaurant should not be missed. A delicious four-course menu for € 8.50!

We walked along the beach about 2 km, where Christl showed us the parking space which she had found for us. It was really hot and no wind, the hottest day in Spain so far.

Wilfried first wanted to park Big Fredi next to an Englishman, but he did not agree that we were in his sun with our colossus. On the other side Marion and Niko were very happy with our appearance, because they wanted shade for their (small!   – unlike Big Fredi) Mercedes Vito. They were also equally interested in an acquaintance and we invited them over to visit us. It is still pretty cold to sit outside after sunset .

It was a quiet night. This morning we had breakfast at the beach for the second time in Spain!

 

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