The 3rd day of our travel back home from Portugal

Blog entry 27.3.2020

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. 

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Wonderful forest fruits supplement our menu

Blog Post 28 October 2019

Well, the self-catering village stayed off our itinerary, although – looking back – the weather was much better than predicted

So we left Santa Eulalia or also called Santalla on Sunday and easily climbed the passes at 960 and 930 m above sea level. At a place beside the road there was fresh delicious spring water to fill our bottles, which we always have with us. It tastes exceptionally good. Fresh from the spring it was so cold that one could not drink it at all. 

We found a public parking lot at a restaurant. After cooking and eating we were overcome by fatigue, which caused us to use the place immediately for staying overnight. 

It was pleasantly warm and a small walk through the forest on the “Camino” was rewarded with a boletus find. When we observed 4 persons with an empty basket into the forest and after 15 minutes with a full mushroom basket from the forest, it was certain for us that we also wanted to go on a mushroom hunt. We gave the mushrooms one more warm night to grow and got a nice amount of chestnut blanks and another boletus this morning.

chestnut boulders
Chestnut blanks and porcini mushrooms

Then in sunshine and warm temperature the journey continued along the “Camino De Santiago de Compostella”.

Camino

Again and again the paths cross the streets or lead (because of the sleeping and eating possibilities) through the same villages that we drive through. 

In Agolade we set up our night camp again. Wilfried stops directly at a parking lot for the parasol harvest. This is a pleasure: Baked parasol – it couldn’t be fresher.

Those parasols were right in front of Big Fredi

The chestnut blanks got cleaned and prepared for the mushroom-potato soup tomorrow. 

Now the incipient rain can’t bother us anymore. We have enough to eat and tomorrow, after a long time in Lalín, there will be the possibility to store supplies at Lidl (cheap) and at Carrefour (extensive). 

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National Holiday in Austria 

Blog entry 26.October 2919

Monday, 21.19.2019

In Avilés we got a new tyre,

which will quickly lose its tread next to the old worn one, as the tyre fitter predicted to us by turning his eyes. The city rides are pretty exhausting for Wilfried’s nerves and so after the wheel change we only got into a single layer near Villafria. A great parking lot with picnic places, grills and a big shady meadow with countless benches and tables are designed for big celebrations.

one of the many grills for everyone to use

They can be found in many small villages and are ideal for the fiestas of the respective villages. Overlooking the – quite dar away – sea we enjoyed 2 nights there. The Czech family, whose camper van we had already spotted at the Lidl 30 km before in Avilés, joined us.

to venture to recognize – the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Spain

A small round in the sunshine with a view of the sea was enough for Wilfried to do some sports. The next day it was already raining and we left at noon. The trip along the coast was not very spectacular. In order to get directly to the sea, we would have had to torture ourselves from the main road through narrow alleys. 

So we left the coast before the bridge to Ribadeo and headed south into the mountains. Paul had recommended us to visit Fritz in Santa Eulalia de Oscos and to inspire him for Face Europe.

Wonderfully situated in the countryside is Santa Eulalia de Oscos
Walk in Santa Eulalia de Oscos

Our expectations were very low. For this we were rewarded with Fritz very much. He was already reachable at noon, although Paul announced that he could only be reached at 21 o’clock. Fritz is a blacksmith, started about 30 years ago for a winter trip to Spain, from which he never returned home. After many years of searching, he has revitalized Spain’s last hammersmith’s shop as a hammersmith’s show and found his happiness.

The water wheel made of oak wood is constantly moistened so that it lasts for a long time
Accumulated water to operate the hammer mill
The big hammer

The Face Europe meeting could take place in the forge, which was a particularly exciting ambience. The humid air was defused by a fire in the forge and contrary to our expectations it was not cold at all. It had rained often during the day, but packing and unpacking could be done in the dry. The smithy can be reached from 2 sides, but the shorter way is only accessible by car. At the bottom of the valley, of course at a brook, the blacksmith is stuck in a hollow. If Fritz had not driven ahead of us, we would never have found our way there at night. A restaurant right next to the forge offered us the parking place during the meeting, but we spent the night on another parking place 200 meters further on.

Portrait in the 300 years old hammer forge
Face Europe no. 97-Fritz
work in progress-Face Europe no. 97 – after 30 min
work in progress-Face Europe no. 97 – after 50 min
work in progress-Face Europe no. 97 – after 90 min
We were done by midnight
Face Europe nr 97 – Fritz

After the portrait session we got a private demonstration from Fitz in his blacksmith’s shop.

Fritz gives us a private screening

A huge hammer rushes on Fritzens behest with a tremendous force on the glowing iron. The water power generates both the necessary supply air for the fire and the momentum for the hammer. The workpiece, a leaf, was given to us as a present.

A gift – forged leaf by Fritz

In the morning there was sun again for a change. Big Fredi was again put to Santa Eulalia in the sun. The last days the sun had left a lot to be desired. At lunch with Fritz yesterday we also learned that Paz would like to be portrayed in the evening. She is Fritz’s colleague, a fun-loving Spaniard with whom we spent a nice evening. She came straight from the smithy after work and stayed until midnight.

work in progress-Face Europe no. 98-Paz-after 45 min

Today is Austria’s national holiday and many places are used for hiking. We also used today’s sunny day for a hike. A beautiful route led us to a waterfall.

The way to the waterfall through the beautiful forest

the path led past ruined huts
we were not alone on this beautiful day

After 3 hours we were tired and my hiking boots broke after 30 years. The sole disintegrates and even an attempt to glue the shoes will not save them for mountain tours. The small shop in the village has good mountain equipment to offer, while the fruit and vegetable boxes look rather sadly empty. That was a hint of fate. Today – Saturday afternoon – was still open and I bought a new pair of hiking shoes. I’m already looking forward to the next hike with it. They are bright red Goretex shoes with vibram soles. The reduced price of 75€ seemed cheap to me and so I am now prepared and we can calmly go even further into the Spanish mountains.

new red shoes

The landscape here reminds us very much of the mountains in Austria. Maybe this is also the reason that Fritz here has the feeling to have come home. 

From tomorrow it becomes supposedly more unstable again and we will see whether we want to head for the small alternative village of the self-catering ones or whether we want to move on in the direction of Portugal. 

Stay tuned, you will soon find out. 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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Rain like in Scotland

Blog entry 20.10.2019

We left Herrera de Pisuerga after a rainy night with beginning sunshine again and were pleased that the forecast was worse than the weather. Super developed roads were there over long distances and mostly the roads belonged completely to us alone. In Guardo we left the N626 and came to the reservoir de Riaño on the next mountain stretch. Not a soul on the road, hardly any small villages. One has the feeling to be in no man’s land. Then, when it is about finding a parking place for the night, suddenly a sign for the supply and disposal for camper vans in 4.6 km off the road. Quickly it was turned there and really after 4,6 km a mountain hut in Maraña.

http://www.alberguedemarana.com/area-autocaravanas/

The mountain innkeeper Anselmo gave us a place including electricity for 9€ and we were glad to be able to charge our batteries fully once again. The weather forecast looked catastrophic: the next days ONLY rain, Sunday and Thursday even snowfall and sub-zero temperatures. Quickly away from here was the motto and to avoid unpleasant situations. 

It already rained the whole night. Around noon the intensity became a little less and we filled the fresh water tank, disposed of our waste water and set off. A few kilometers it went still uphill up to the pass in approx. 1500m and then there followed endless long curves downhill with 11% gradient.

In Soto then a sudden noise and – Wilfried knew immediately what the cause was: we had once again a flat tire. 

The left outer rear wheel was in fringes.

The shredded tire – with patches there is nothing more!

In pouring rain we had to change our spare tire. A (in words) helpful passender in special wooden shoes gave us Spanish tips. He organized an English speaking lady who gave us the business card of the tyre shop 60 km away. That was really very thoughtful.

Spaniards with wooden slippers
The slippers are from the region – as he assured us

We drove a few more kilometres and found a place to sleep a little off the road. If it didn’t pour so much, one could take nice walks to the reservoir and the museum. So we wait until the rain stops or it becomes Monday and we can drive on to the tyre workshop. Things always happen at the worst moment: Friday afternoon or weekend. Fortunately we are not in a hurry and this morning we surprisingly could buy enough bread for the weekend from the „flying“ baker. We are happy about it and enjoy the rain splashing on our tight roof and the fact that we are not stuck in the snow and everything can only get better. 

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Spain reached

Blog entry 17.10.2019

The past days of the trip were quite intense, at least as far as driving was concerned

Therefore chronologically – as far as afterwards comprehensible – our stations:

10.10.2019: via the N88, which is a toll-free motorway, to Villefrange. Washing laundry went super at Netto, where after 1.5 hours everything was ready to go again. After a long search we found a place that is NOT in the Park4night App. It was the parking lot of the football stadium in Maleville. That’s why we stayed there alone and spent a quiet night. The waist containers at the other end of the field were visited until late into the night and early in the morning lively by the villagers. 

Was that a flimsy excuse to see Big Fredi? We don’t know. 

11.10.2019

Our Navigation aunt has found again super side roads and has sent us for 150 km a whole day in the area around. We came to Tournon d’Aganais, where we found a parking place at the foot of the village. And it was really the foot. At least 200 m we booted up the steps into a sleepy medieval town. Hardly a human soul, no bakery or any speciality struck us. Nevertheless, the view from above into the vastness of the landscape was very beautiful.

Saturday, 12.10.2019:

Through the nature reserve Cascogne over roads, which are only thin lines on the map, we stalked ourselves to the Atlantic coast. Florian, whom we had met in Portugal in the spring, said that he didn’t have time for us on the weekend, because he must have cleared his place at the campsite by Sunday 17 o’clock at the latest. We stayed in Vieux-Boucau in the forest after we had convinced ourselves of the place and didn’t like it there at all. A tourist place in winter mode. The weather became unbearably humid and we stayed a 2nd night in the forest. 

Sunday, 12.10.2019

was even extremely hot with over 30 degrees. I couldn’t get through to a walk until the evening. This led me at least to the sea, where some surfers were still cavorting. Since it was already dawning, I took no more time to go to the water and to test the temperature. We decided to leave France. Nobody had approached us about our project in the last weeks and no place seemed suitable to us to advertise Face Europe. 

Monday, 14.10.2019 early we left with the dull feeling in our stomach that we had to drive through this terrible area from Biaritz to the Spanish border. We knew the area from our last trip home in spring. Wilfried fought his way bravely over the highways, 1000 roundabouts and masses of cars and trucks.  

Somewhere south of Orio we discovered a supposedly beautiful parking lot on the banks of the river Urola in the Park4night App. Neither the praised peace nor the free water well were available. It was a parking lot in the city. While driving on I discovered a mobile home company, which had open. I courageously walked in, inquired whether there was a water point nearby and got free water from the workshop. Zarautz was recommended to us to spend the night there. Again it was Wilfried too loud, too dirty and too unsafe. He found a place in 7 km distance, which turned out to be a serpentine road of 15 km and a small bulge on the way. We took this place into our own hands and did not obstruct the traffic in the meadow. It rained and was dark. Down in the valley the town of Getaria lay by the sea, brightly lit and beautiful. 

Tuesday, 15.10.2019

The next morning everything in the sunshine didn’t look so scary for me anymore and we drove the last serpentines to the coastal road.

Construction sites on the narrow road led again and again to alternating traffic stops and traffic lights on the route.

When the developed coastal road changed into a thin curvy “Scenic Road”, I asked to drive inland and we rushed Big Fredi through the mountains. He puffed with up to 15% gradient and many curves. On the Urkiola Pass there was a fantastic resting place with many picnic tables and benches, each with its own barbecue area. The toilet is barrier-free and there is even running spring water. A sign that the harmlessness of the spring in terms of hygiene could not be guaranteed kept us from replenishing our drinking water reserves. 

But I was able to walk a nice round through the forest. It had rained, but was again sunny and wonderful to move around. 

Wednesday, 16.10.2019

Well recovered from the fresh forest air we continued our journey on the soon appearing Autovía. This is a free highway, which led us in this case to Burgos. A small place off the highway served us as a sleeping place. The area next to the motorway looks so terribly barren that we decided to explore the “outback” again from now on. 

Thursday, 17.10.2019

We didn’t get far, because after about 15 km the road ended, as already announced before and only a gravel or mud road would have led us out of the mess. So we had to turn back and take a parallel route. Too bad, we would have liked the new, unfinished road with the fine black asphalt. But it wasn’t finished yet or we were just too early. So everything back. Fortunately we are not in a hurry. 

Today we got the tip from Paul to have a look at “Picos de Europa”, the first Spanish national park. We decided to go there and have a look at the “summits of Europe”. We were warned that it could get wet. We already noticed that yesterday. Not for nothing it is still very nice green here. 

The weather forecast claims the next 9 days would be rainy throughout. From past reports we know that it is usually much nicer than predicted. So we are also prepared for bad weather and so we let everything come to us. Currently we are in Herrera. Over a tiny dilapidated Roman bridge we have “crept up” from the outback. Big Fredi could just squeeze through. 

An acceptable parking place with disposal possibility lies at the edge of the small town. We even found a supermarket and were able to replenish our supplies. 

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Portugal, let’s have a look at you!

Blog entry 4. 3. 2019

We are in Portugal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The golden Rio Tinto

Blog entry 25/02/2019

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

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

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

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

What a stunning river landscape: 

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

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

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

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