Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Five

It had rained again in the night but by the time we awoke in the morning it had stopped and although a little grey and overcast it was still very warm. Sharon has a new pastime, she has taken a dislike to ‘flies’ (of the airborne variety I hasten to add !). That is the one thing we have noticed since being in Spain and that is there are a lot of flies, at first we thought they were just attracted by the heat of the engine because whenever we stopped they would appear from nowhere and then swarm around the bonnet. However, even when the engine was cold they were still everywhere. Armed with her swatter, Shazza would leap from one end of the van to the other in her lone quest to rid Spain of their fly infestation !!

We emptied the ‘Grey’ waste and re-filled the ‘Fresh Water’ but unfortunately their was no ‘Black’ waste disposal and our ‘red’ warning light had come on indicating that the toilet cassette was full. At least the ‘Aire’ at Logroson had full facilities so it was not a major problem, however, it did rather thwart any chance of an unscheduled ‘overnight’ stop should we have come across another idyllic location before we reached the sceduled stop. We could have opted to have taken the Motorway route to Logroson, although a longer journey in mileage terms it would have been a faster route. However Shazza had found ‘Big Momma’ a much more scenic route to our destination, I just think that she likes the ‘yellow’ and ‘white’ colours on the map !!

Her route took us up through a National Park, note the use of the word ‘up’ ! yet another mountain, I thought I had seen the last of them !! Now if I thought that the last mountain had winding roads that was just a mere practice run for what was to come. There were steep ascents, there were tight hairpin bends and then there were steep ascents with tight hairpin bends ! I have to say that drives like this really do make you bond with your vehicle, having faith in it’s capacity to pull you up such inclines when fully laden, the brakes working when you need them too ! But in all seriousness, I had never driven ‘Big Momma’ as fully laden as she is now, I had driven in the French and Swiss Alps before but never in ‘Big Momma’ and the confidence that this drive gave me in her ability to deal with everything these mountains threw at her just allowed me to enjoy the experience even more. Not sure that I would choose this route with snow and ice on the ground though, No, let me re-phrase that, I would ‘not’ choose to drive this route in anything other than good conditions.

What goes Up !!

What goes Up !!

Must go Down !!

Must go Down !!

We wound our way high up into the mountain until we met the low cloud on its way down. The weather was superb and the sun lit up the rocky crags and the view was just simply magnificent. I was trying to think of ways of putting into words the beauty of this place to convey to the readers of this blog, I just cannot find words that sum it up sufficiently. Shazza did take lots of photographs on this occasion, but a ‘still’ photograph just will not do it any justice although I will let you be the judge for yourselves.

Remember that box of chocolates I was talking about in a previous post ? Well Shazza and I shared the ‘Champagne and Caviare’ one. We had almost reached the top of the mountain when we saw a sign for a viewing area and a silhouette drawing of a bird (Geoparque Villuercas Ibores Jara). Our first thought was ‘Eagles’ and so when we got to the viewing point, although the views were utterly breathtaking, I was a little disappointed that we could see no birds. We decided that this would make a good breakfast stop so Shazza put the kettle on to make hot mugs of fresh coffee and threw some bacon into the frying pan to make some hot bacon baguette butties. As she was on domestic duties I got out if the van, armed with my binoculars, and began to scan around the crags along the mountain tops. What had first appeared to be just bits of rock were actually ‘vultures’ roosting on top of the mountain, not just three or four but dozens of them !! As we stood outside the van, eating our bacon butties and drinking our coffee these amazing birds took to the wing and were soaring above us, had they come to check us out ? There are not very many moments when I am lost for words, but what I was witnessing was just so utterly jaw droppingly magnificent that I  could only stand and look up at this awesome spectacle. I have only ever seen vultures on wildlife programmes on the TV, or held in captivity at nature parks, but here, in this place, they were in their natural environment flying freely and that moment on this trip will remain in my memory for a very long time.

Utterly Spectacular !!

Utterly Spectacular !!

Shazza did make the suggestion that perhaps we could Wildcamp here for the night, that was until I reminded her that we had no useable toilet facilities and I couldn’t see her going native in the forest that surrounded us ! I also reminded her that it was also a little exposed and that the wolves may come a visiting !! That, more than not having toilet facilities, gave her a little more food for thought and she suggested that perhaps we needed to empty the toilet !! The drive down the mountain was just as exhilarating as the ascent, the vultures remained soaring overhead for part of the journey but soon they were gone.

What looks like little crags on top of the rocks are actually 'Vultures' roosting !

What looks like little crags on top of the rocks are actually ‘Vultures’ roosting !

'Dave' The tour guide telling us all about the different birds that we could see. I wouldn't sit there too long Dave, you probably look like a rabbit to those Vultures and they look hungry !!

‘Dave’ The tour guide telling us all about the different birds that we could see. I wouldn’t sit there too long Dave, you probably look like a rabbit to those Vultures and they look hungry !!

Just fantastic Scenery !

Just fantastic Scenery !

Up in the Mountains and still warm enough for a Tee-Shirt !
Up in the Mountains and still warm enough for a Tee-Shirt !

Some 68 miles after leaving ‘Largareta’ we arrived at ‘Logroson’. The guide book stated that the ‘Aire’ was on an ‘Industrial Area’ and that after a period of rain the grass pitches would be inaccessible. We arrived at the ‘Aire’ and the first order of priority was the emptying of the toilet cassette. The service area was clean and looked to be pretty well maintained and even the grass pitches didn’t look bad. There was plenty of ‘Hardstanding’ around with it being an Industrial Area but I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling about the place. It was quite a distance from the site of the ‘Aire’ to the town so we decided to drive down and see if their was somewhere ‘discreet’ to potentially park just for the night. We needed a fresh baguette so we parked on the street in town and took a stroll. It was certainly a ‘working’ town, it had that look (tired and run down) and was not of the scenic variety like the many that we had so far passed through on our travels. People had obviously seen us get out of the van and were I suppose curious, however, and perhaps it was just my perception, but they were not as friendly as those we had encountered before. We said ‘Hola’ as we passed but no response, just a stare ! We did not feel comfortable and we certainly did not feel welcome, so I suggested we grab our baguette and leave this solemn little town, Shazza agreed.

We came upon a ‘Spar’ shop so went inside to look around, although we only wanted a baguette. I don’t know what it is but Shazza cannot pass the ‘wine’ selection without wanting to buy some. We still had not drunk the case of ‘Red’ we had purchased on the ferry, or the two and a half litre carton of ‘Rose’ we had bought in ASDA before we left the UK !! It wasn’t as if she knew what she would be buying, this stuff was not in glass bottles or cartons with ‘taps’, this was in plastic bottles, two litres for €2 and she bought one ‘Red’ and one ‘Rose’, well that is what they said on the label, for all she knew it could have been liquid paraffin !! Baguette and ‘Rot your gut’ liquids purchased we left the shop and made our way back to ‘Big Momma’ and I was happy to see that she was still there complete with all her wheels.

Shazza's Firewater !!

Shazza’s Firewater !!

Back in the van and it was now decision time, where are we going to spend the night ? We now had an empty toilet cassette, empty grey tank, plenty of fresh water and a Baguette ! So it was decided that our next intended stop tomorrow was going to be a ‘Campsite’ at Caceres and ‘Snoopy’ was duly programmed to head in that direction. Our intention was to find somewhere en-route to park up for the night, we may even find another hidden gem ? We didn’t !! We arrived at ‘Caceres Camping’ and was allocated our pitch, complete with EHU, Fresh Water tap and our own private bathroom cabin complete with handbasin, toilet and shower, and very nice it was too, and access to ‘Free’ WiFi on the pitch !! Again, this would have cost €22 per night but with the ACSI discount card it was €16. It would be fair to say that we had always intended to use this site, this is where the big decision would be made as it is right on the Motorway that crosses into Portugal at ‘Badajoz’ or the Motorway that heads South to ‘Sevilla’, but that decision does not have to be made straight away, I need to consult the Spanish 8-day weather forecast, which also gives the forecast for Portugal, and I have to say, appears more reliable than our own BBC forecasts, nothing new there then !!

There were a handful of fellow ‘Brits’ on the site, next door to us a couple in a Hymer, they were towing a trailer with a nice looking Motorcycle on it. We chatted to them but didn’t get their names, they were just overnighting and then heading South to meet friends in Portugal. They were in their third year of fulltiming and were telling us about their last winter in Sicily. Then shortly after we had arrived ‘Dougie and Tracey’ arrived in their Compass Drifter, they were on an extended holiday and again just overnighting and moving South to ‘Tavira’ in Portugal, again to meet up with friends. Now how is this for coincidence, in the three and a half years that we have owned ‘Big Momma’ we had not seen another Autotrail Comanche, but what should pull up a few pitches from where we were parked, yes, ‘Big Momma’s’ twin sister !! Again, Graham was heading South to Portugal. Would their be any space left for us if or when we got down there ?

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the Plain”…… No it doesn’t !! We arrived at Caceres camping latish afternoon on Wednesday, it was dry but overcast and the sky was very grey. By the evening the heavens opened and I mean opened, the noise on the roof of the van was so loud that it kept us awake into the very small hours. At 03:00am Shazza could stand it no longer so she got up and made us both coffee and cheese on toast, yummy !! We did eventually fall asleep but it was still raining, in fact it was a full on storm with high winds a blowing and we were confined to ‘barracks’ for the whole day. There was a short respite in the evening so we took the opportunity to take a short walk and get some fresh air. It was not a short walk through choice, we had got no further than two or three hundred metres from the van and the ‘third’ wave of rain hit us !! back to the van, I had to hide all the sharp knives as Shazza was beginning to go stir crazy and that glaze came over her eyes, yes ! ‘Cabin Fever’ !! Now whether it was being confined in the van with the rain continuously pounding on the roof or the ‘Liquid Paraffin’ that was masquerading as ‘Rose’ wine I do not know but it will not be wasted, it will come in handy as Anti-Freeze for the van !! Must say that the ‘Red’ was pretty ‘palatable’, not the smoothest but at least it didn’t take the skin off the roof of your mouth !!

It rained again all through the night but by mid-morning on Friday it had stopped. However, the weather forecast had shown that we were still due some more so we put on our coats, grabbed the rucksacks and headed for the bus to take us into Caceres as Shazza needed to get out and we needed some provisions of the ‘meat’, ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable’ variety, well there is only so much rice and pasta one can eat !! Dougie and Tracey had already been into Caceres so before they departed they had provided us with the information on where to catch the bus into town, where to get off and they told us about the ‘Old Quarter’ with the walled ‘Roman Town’ that was a must see !

I know from reading many blogs myself that ‘other’ peoples photographs often do not mean much. I hope that the ones that follow will do some justice to the ‘Walled Roman Town’. As you know from my past ramblings, I am not into the background of Architechtural buildings or monuments but I do like to wander around them. So from an ‘historical heathen’ take it from me that ‘Caceres’ should not be by-passed. Whether you stop on ‘Caceres Camping’ or the ‘Aire’ at Caceres, do go into the town itself, it is quite a large modern town, lots of shops, cafe’s and bars but do not miss out on visiting the ‘Old Quarter’ and walking around the ‘Walled Roman Town’, it is truly amazing !!

Just one of the many streets in the 'Old Quarter'

Just one of the many streets in the ‘Old Quarter’

A little bit about the Region, and in English no less !!

Inside the Walled Town

Inside the Walled Town

Which way to go next ? This Roman Walled Town has so many alleyways !

Which way to go next ? This Roman Walled Town has so many alleyways !

Now where did Shazza go to ?

Now where did Shazza go to ?

One of the several squares inside this 'Roman Town'

One of the several squares inside this ‘Roman Town’

Well I guess that is enough of the ‘Photo’s, but hopefully you will get a flavour for what it is like and is well worth the visit if you find yourself down this way !!

After the wander around of the ‘Roman Town’ we went back into the ‘Commercial’ side of the ‘Old Quarter’ and just did a bit of window shopping. We went into a few of the food shops, you know the one’s that you see on the TV Cookery programmes like ‘Jamie Oliver’s tour of Spain or Italy’ or ‘James Martin’ when they go into the local shops with the big whole sides of  ‘Iberico’ hams hanging from the ceilings on big meat hooks and shelves full of ‘Pimento’ and Five Litre tins of Olive Oil, sacks of different dried beans and …… well I guess if any of you have seen the programmes you will be able to picture what I am talking about. Tucked down one of the many alleys we found a local shop, a bit like the old greengrocer shops I referred to in an earlier post. We went inside and bought some fresh vegetables, fruit and meat to re-stock ‘Big Momma’s’ fridge and cupboards and again, it was not expensive, sorry for repeating myself on the cost of food and other provisions but before embarking on this trip, on the forum that I was a regular contributor to, there was so much talk about how expensive it is in Spain, well I am sorry to disagree, but it is no more expensive to shop here than it is in the UK and I would even suggest that normal everyday items are a little cheaper and we havn’t even touched a large Supermarket yet !!

As the weather forecast had predicted, the rain started to fall again although compared to the previous two days this was just drizzle. It was not cold in fact the temperature was still a good 19(c) degrees, but wet is wet when all is said and done. We strolled back into the modern part of this large town (or perhaps it is a city ?) and we were getting a little peckish and needed something to eat. Now we cannot come to Spain and not try out ‘Tapas’, so we entered a small but nice looking ‘Tapas Bar/Restaurant’. I used my bestest Espanol and said to the ‘proprieter’ “Los Sientos, Non Hablo Espanol” (Sorry, I do not speak Spanish). He understood a little English so we were able to get him to understand that we had never had Tapas before and could he provide us with a selection to try ?

Whilst he was preparing the 'Tapas' he provided an 'Apetiser'. What appeared to be a breaded Spam & Cheese fritter with Fries !! Oh Yes and the obligatory glass of 'Vino'

Whilst he was preparing the ‘Tapas’ he provided an ‘Apetiser’. What appeared to be a breaded Spam & Cheese fritter with Fries !! Oh Yes and the obligatory glass of ‘Vino’

Followed by 'Tostados', not quite what I had visualised but quite nice. Goats Chees & Caramelised Onion, Foie Gras & Caramelised Onion and Iberico Ham & Tomato.

Followed by ‘Tostados’, not quite what I had visualised but quite nice. Goats Chees & Caramelised Onion, Foie Gras & Caramelised Onion and Iberico Ham & Tomato.

After our short but interesting visit to Caceres, provisions purchased and a small ‘Tapas’ lunch it was time to head back to the van. We got back just in time as the heavens opened again !! We checked the ‘Spanish’ weather forecast, which fortunately also provides the forecast for it’s neighbour (Portugal) and tomorrow we see the return of the sunshine. We have made the decision to go across the border and have planned a route down to the South so our ‘sojourne’ with Spain, at least for now, will be at an end as we see what Portugal has to offer. I hope it is as wonderful as we have found on our travels through Spain. So, for the next week or so we will be using either Motorhome ‘Aires’ and even some Wild Camping opportunities if we come across them but no Campsites. Tomorrow we will be staying on the edge of a ‘Barragem’ (Reservoir) so hopefully we will get to wet ‘Kevin’s’ bottom at last. We will have to rely on WiFi opportunities as and when we come across them so we have no idea when we will be able to ‘post’ our updates, although you can be assured that I will still be writing them !!

What really does appear strange to me is that the UK is one hour behind Spain, time wise, but Portugal, which is as you know is on the border of Spain, is actually on the same time zone as UK !! So we must remember that as we cross the border tomorrow we must put our watches/clock’s back one hour ?

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12 Responses to Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Five

  1. Paul says:

    Wow, so much rain, but at least it”s warm unlike NI. where we”ve had a lot of the cold, wet stuff. We were hoping to get away for a last trip of the year in our RV but, I think not… 😦

  2. Dana Hejnalova says:

    Thanks for the photos Eric, your English is terrible for foreigners, so bad I read your text, therefore I look forward to the next photo. Pav gives me homework your Englisch text 😦
    more Photos please. Greetings from Swindon Dana and Pav

    • Sorry about my ‘Inglese’ but I tend to write as I speak, I am sure your reading practice will come along very nicely. Hope you are enjoying the photo’s. It is a long time since we saw you both on those many Sunday mornings, I hope you are enjoying the music !!

  3. bri says:

    glad to hear you are now getting the true benefit of having big momma!,enjoy! but don’t forget 2 hours for clocks as bst ends today 26th! in wet and windy weston super mud! had to be towed off a campsite this morning! there that will make you fell smug! we wil definatly be going south again next winter!
    we found free wifi on most of algarve although sometimes it disconnects every 30 mins or so can be a bit frustrating!
    best regards bri’n’jan

  4. Nick & Cathy says:

    Hi you two Great blog – you capture key elements of your new adventure with some great ideas. I have a countdown on my calendar – 39 working days remaining. We then have our two weeks skiing holiday in Aurora (in the French Alps) and then it is into serious decluttering mode!

  5. Mike & Sue says:

    Wow – some great pics Eric – in blog And mind!! As Sue has just said it seems unimaginable to be able to live like this – but you’re proving any doubters wrong!! Keep up the good work and stay safe ‘amigo’ – there’s my contribution to the Berlitz course!!

    • We are keeping a daily budget spreadsheet, I have never seen so many zero’s, it is such a cheap lifestyle but the living is good. We shop every couple of days just to stock up on fresh veg, fruit, bread, milk etc. Havn’t used a supermarket in the three weeks we have been here !! Last nine days we have not paid anything to stay on some absolutely beautiful places. All the car boot sales were worth it !!

  6. alan says:

    think you might just as well do two hrs . time changed here on saturday 26th . so it will have in portugal .
    its all down to time lines . north south . but it doesnt follow exactly . maroc is on uk time .
    keep having fun .

    • You will be on the ferry tomorrow matey, your Summer is about to start, bring lots of sun cream you are going to need it. Currently sat in a little Cafe drinking coffee and using their ‘free’ WiFi !!

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