It's a perfect day for updating the travel blog- you've guessed it, it's raining. This campsite is slowly filling up, regulars and newcomers and as usual many nationalities. Visitors come in vehicles of all shapes and sizes, just this morning a monster vehicle came in, lets say it is at least the size of a Pickfords removal van inside of which was a rather nice little Fiat 500. There is also some interesting paintwork on this huge beast, from my sofa I can see there are rays of light and pretty clouds, when it stops raining I need to go out and have a closer look. Although it's Halloween tonight and the Chinese shops are full of Halloween decorations and Trick or Treat outfits we are unlikely to be troubled by kids wanting sweets this evening. At this time of year the average age of residents on our campsite is probably 60 and the only children that may occasionally appear are grandchildren coming with Mum and Dad to visit the Grandparents who are here in Portugal for the winter. We still have a few characters missing, the alcoholic Norwegian who lost all his money and credit cards last winter after hitting town looking for some "action", the gentle German who would sit outside his van on sunny afternoons and play his Spanish guitar, the retired headmaster or the young couple who work hard in UK for nine months to earn enough to spend three months in the sun each winter. Not coming this year is the guy who was almost a permanent feature who has gone, off to fresh pastures with a new lady friend, good for him. Also not around this year is Senhor Fernando who built this place and who passed away this summer after suffering a massive heart attack. This place was his retirement hobby and he spent many happy hours here, no job too big or too small. Christmas Day last year he dressed up as Santa Claus and brought us all Christmas gifts. We are waiting for the return of our teacher so we can resume our Portuguese lessons, she is back next week so I suppose this rainy afternoon could be put to better use and I should get some revision going. Before she left she asked if we had kept up with the language, my excuse that I had had a busy summer sounded like very feeble.
One of the reasons we spend a long time near Tavira is that there is good birdlife in and around the River and the salt flats. Today was our first birdwatching here on this trip and plenty to see, including booted eagles flying overhead and spooking the birds.
We first came across stone curlew when we came here five years ago and they always were to be found in a particular ploughed field. Last year there was intense cultivation in the curlews' field and more so this year, so very pleased to find them not too far away from their original spot. They are amazingly difficult to spot as they stand very still and are easily scared away if you get too close so we are pleased with this photo that we got today but will be trying to improve on it in the coming weeks.
Once we crossed into Portugal we spent a day exploring Elvas which occupies an imposing position just across the border from Badajoz.
Apparently it is one of the most complex and best preserved military complexes in europe. As well as the town which has fortifications dating from 13th century there are two star shaped forts outside the town itself.
We have now created a pemanent page for Elvas, click here. Elvas
We spent an enjoyable day in Elvas which has plenty of churches (only open in the afternoons), castle and some spectular city walls complete with bulwarks.and of course the 7 km aquaduct.
It's funny how trips develop, we had never thought about the fortified border towns in Portugal but the next day we visited two more, and there are plenty more to see. It means that at some point one of us is going to have to read a bit more history not only the Penninsular War but something called the War of the Oranges which was fought around here.
The following day our first stop was Vila Vicosa which was once home to the dukes of Braganza, it was the 8th duke Joao who became the first King of Portugal. The castle is now a museum and the town still has the old palace of the Braganzas and escorted tours of the latter are available. Instead we went around the castle museum which had a moderately interesting collection of archeological items and then a rather unpleasant upper floor full of stuffed birds and animal heads.
This town is in marble country and this means even some kerb stones are marble and even the smallest cottages have marble door steps and window sills.
After lunching on a traditional Alentejo dish of migas (maize breadcrumbs veg and bits of meat to form a sort of savoury bread pudding) and grilled pork we headed for Monsaraz which is a really pretty fortified village at the top of a hill. The entire village is within the walls and unusually for Portugal the buildings were all painted white, no touches of the traditional green or yellow paint here.
There is an aire within the village giving the most spectacular views over the Rio Guadiana and the Alquava dam. We are 8.5 metres and it was a struggle to get up the cobbled road and the sharp bend at the top but the views were worth it, and of course it was free. There is now a permanent page for Monsaraz, click here Monsaraz
Near Monsaraz there are a number of megalith sites, we visited two of them, quite impressive but two was enough for the day.Dolmen at Olival da Pega
After the stones we decided to head for the Algarve and we are now at Cabanas da Tavira.
The previous blog should have had a video - wifi too weak to upload but it's here now.
There is always something to see at this campsite at Monfrague because it is popular with the locals too. We have seen the locals dressed in expensive suede and cords for the start of the hunting seen, we've also seen locals come on horses - there is even a hitching post. These guys were trying to get a whole jamon which was atop a well greased pole
We have been in Monfrague for a few days now, it is a national park in Extremadura . This is a campsite we have been to many times as we love the area.
The weather is lovely, warm in the morning, hot in the afternoon and the air is perfumed by the Cystus rose which grows everywhere.
There is a restaurant here and for nine euro each there is a three course meal with half a bottle of wine each.
We have done plenty of birdwatching and yesterday a trek up to Monfrague castle.
This brief blog entry is only here while we are on the road but there is now is a permanent page now for Salamanca, click here Salamanca
|The Motorhome Diaries
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Portugal - an introduction
Wintering in Portugal
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