A Travellerspoint blog

Interesting smells and Moody Sat Nag

Day 10, 13th August, down to Cadiz.

sunny 29 °C

Up before everyone we crack on as we have the big drive today. By 9.15am we are off. Sat nag isn't though. She has had a complete fit and shows us nothing but a white screen of doom; she needs to be left alone to cool off. Once she comes round she agrees we are going in the right direction. She's obviously in a bad mood as she sends us on a few fools errands. Sensing we are about to throw her out the window she starts to behave herself.

Mum and Dad have arrived safely and agree the pitch although near their hotel is no good so we continue the drive on to Cadiz.

Along the way we drive over the longest bridge we've ever seen. Over seven miles at least. It must have been a good eight minute drive.

Emergency! Major catastrophe. The trip may end right here. Dan has finished the Dolly mixtures off and I can't find another bag. Need to break the news gently as he's driving and I don't want this trip to end as a heading in the local paper. Tensions are high as I know I only have one bag of scampi fries left. I just need to know it's there so it will probably last until home. The kids are doing well as Haribo seems to be widely available. As is Red bull?

Once again we are in Spain. We don't know if our pass will cover us for the elctro tolls in Portugal and we were unable to find anyone to help. The tolls were very high for this part of the trip, one section alone was nearly forty euros. Ouch.

After nine hours we arrive at our site to find no spaces and they don't allow dogs in high season. Should of taken the fact we have been unable to call them all day as a sign. Not wishing this late in the day to repeat this we phone round and eventually find a site willing to take dogs. Slight detour of over twenty minutes going back on ourselves finds us at Camp Roche. A friendly site where we find a quiet pitch out of the way. I'll tell you why it was quieter later.

Dan sets up camp while the kids and I forage for food; i.e hunt for the cafe. Shop and restaurant found I manage to order the food to take away in my broken Spanish. Their English is as good as my Spanish so after being mistaken for German we then settle into guess what the other is saying.

We let Mum and Dad have the new co-ordinates and then settle in for the night. While eating we do notice a slight smell. Bein' from the country it was not one we had not smelled before. A huge cowshed was just over the wall from us. Then the night orchestra began. Cows mooing, donkies braying, chickens clucking, and the dogs. Apparently dogs can hold a good conversation over miles and have several members involved. Bodhi hasn't settled to well as so much animal chat is going on. We debate about moving tomorrow but decide that this is only a base as we have plans to go out and about with Mum and Dad. So off to sleep we go, kind of!

Posted by fordcrew 08:41 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Trips and Falls.

Day 8 11th August. Porto still.

sunny 25 °C

Short write up today, it is my rest day after all. Well, what a night. No frills, just chilled and relaxed, everything that we needed and everything that we had hoped for on this trip.

Although we are staying for a couple of nights we decided not to bother with the awning and it was great to set the tables and chairs up outside for chilling and eating etc... Once kids were in bed Claire and I enjoyed sitting around in the warm evening air, playing cards, Bodhi fast asleep at our feet whilst looking over the campsite from our vantage point which turned from an amazing sun set into a magical night time landscape with little orange lights dotted all over the place indicating all the other campers on the site going about there business. Throw a bit of Karaoke in from the club house in the distance and we had it made, the Portuguese version of the odd one or two English classics was also quite amusing. Then time for bed in preparation for a hard days relaxing.

After waking up we had a chat about the line up for the day, although more out of van relaxing time was predominantly on the cards there were a few issues to address such as food, water & beach. Bodhi performed his pull mommy over trick when a little dog and a German Shep puppy surprised them on the early morning stroll. A bloody knee and ankle to show for it. At least Bodhi got a good feed.....only joking......they were scrawny little things.......:)

Wanted to get out on the boards but the best time was the morning, deciding that either a morning beach session would be best before it got to hot for Bodhi or an afternoon session would be best after it had cooled a little we were left with afternoon by this point so off to the shops for what was left of the morning. We stumbled upon a Lidle and furnished ourselves with meat for a BBQ, about 50 ltrs of fresh drinking water, a few treats etc... As expected were eating like kings for peanuts in Portugal, spending a similar amount back home in sainburys you would walk out with a half full bag, over hear its a trolley full. Back to camp its straight into our new favourite lunch of fresh crunchy loaf, ham, cheese, charitzo sausage and the massive selection of crisps we bought from home. After lunch it seemed a good time for a short siesta and then hit the beach.

Following the advice we were given we stayed clear of the beach in the main town & headed for a spot north of Nazare center. We drove down one of the many dusty tracks that lead toward the beach which didn't seem to bad at first but soon turned into a spine breaking van killer, by now I was wishing we had the jeep as speeds of 1-5 mph were needed to avoid breaking an alloy or simply shaking the van to a pile of panels and screws. After what happened to the trailer tyre the other day the all to real possibility of crippling the vehicle that we have been & will be relying upon for this whole trip has very much become a concern to us much to the annoyance of the locals who couldn't care less. Eventually we emerged onto tar mack again to find that if we had gone the long way round we would have ended up at the same place anyway, proceeding toward the beach and enjoying not having a trailer hanging off the back we soon found ourselves heading down a very steep hill and cars were piled everywhere. Immediately we gave up on the possibility of going to the beach that day and turned our attention to how the hell we were going to get the van out of the parking area which turned out to be a dead end. After a bit of Austin Powers maneuvering and a few Rizzler papers to use as a gauge between the Van and the parked cars we climbed up this hill and went in search of another spot.

Basically everyone must have had the same plan and everywhere we went was jam packed. The waves were flat anyway so we went on a mini adventure to find a spot for tomorrow.

Back at camp we set about cooking some of the yummy food we had picked up earlier. We all ate our full and got to chill out. Even Bodhi did well. Not just from us but from the Dutch (who live in Spain) family next door who have fallen in love with him. They have two small children who keep popping round for hugs with him.
BBQ was a proper success and the evening finished off just as perfect for us as it did the night before.

Posted by fordcrew 09:27 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Flat Day

9th August Picos de Europes to Braga in Portugal!

sunny 30 °C

Sad to go, we had a great day and it was tempting to stay on but we are rested and keen to get on. The scenery was very dramatic as the clouds were low and there was a mist all around. We even saw a huge Taurus bull appear on top of one of the mountain tops. As the mountains began to disappear the landscape flattened out and the temperature sored. Seeing signs for Madrid was pretty cool. Not this time though.

We ate as we drove and we were soon getting close to our new site. Soon we were flying over the border from Spain to France. No fireworks or red carpet just a few flags and a nicely painted bridge. As we came up to what looks like our first toll we are not sure what all the signs are saying. I can't remember reading about anything so we pass by. Passing by several signs for tolls and lots of cameras we start to think that we should of pulled over. I remember talking to the family back in Spain and the Father told me about two things too watch out for in Portugal. First ; Portuguese drivers will overtake on coming traffic and assume you will move out of their way to allow them to do so. Second; a friend of his was pulled over by the police and had to pay huge on the spot fines for not paying tolls. Ok, why that piece of info didn't come to the front of my thoughts while we were at the toll was now obviously, somewhere you pull over to set up so some kind of pre payment scheme? Crud. Well unable to change it we zoom through three more tolls. We pull over for gas and find out that the pumps here are like the US where you prepay what you think you need. Ok.

Well as we are sorting this out I notice what looks like a police car pull up. We watch several drivers go up to the guys in the car and proceed to pass cards over. Bingo! I talk to a very friendly guy who gives me a leaflet explaining that I have to log my details and vehicle and then pay for a three day pass. All done, only the next road we take has different signs and we have to take a ticket like the Spanish or French toll system. At the next toll we again have do we pull over or not to the manned booths as we have already paid. Turns out that we had to pay again. The attendant explained that the pass is for the electronic roads only and that the rest are ticket. If we hadn't pulled over and got one we would have to pay 54 euros instead of 12. Big difference. None of the handbooks I read made this clear.

Well regardless we pushed on , thought we wouldn't get to our site till nearly 6pm so at nearly 4pm we were chuffed that despite all the confusion we were nearly there. Chuffedness did not last for long.

One of life's curve balls was thrown our way. We followed sat nag as she began to lead us down increasingly narrow streets. Onto cobbles things started to get bumpy and at the next junction we decide this may be the fastest route but we will not fit down the next street with the trailer so we opt to try and go around and see if we can enter from another direction. As we follow the road round to where we think we need to be we are both pleased to see the site and instantly aware we can not access it. Built into a very steep side of the hill, it looked like a quarry site. It was completely cut off from any other road then Sat Nag wanted us to go. As we slowly crept uphill we thought we better pull over and check our choices. Now gone four we could still get to a different site by 6pm ish if we drove straight towards the coast.

As Dan pulled out to keep going he spotted that we had a flat tyre on the trailer. So with a gathering que we limped up hill slowly looking for a safe place to pull over. Tyre was changed and all sorted with very little stress. we couldn't see why it was flat but it would have to wait as time was ticking. Sat nag informed us that just round the corner was a turning point. Well you couldn't write this stuff but I can Blog it. It was only a dedicated tyre shop. We were just as surprised to see it as the man working there seemed to be to have a British family plus trailer in the middle of nowhere.

Even though this may have got us down as time was starting to get late we just found it a weird twist of fate. If we hadn't decided to save time by camping more inland we wouldn't have ended up at a site we couldn't even access and then we wouldn't of pulled over to find a flat only yards from the only tyre centre I've seen on the trip. Over 1200 miles we've driven! Someone/thing was looking out for us. Cheers.

We pulled into the Porto campsite at nearly 7pm. It's very busy with planes overhead and trains going past as well. It's like camping in Portsmouth. lol. Amazingly the site is very large with free camping. You go anywhere you like and there is plenty of room, All of the site is under the canopy of eucalyptus trees and smells refreshing. We quickly find a slot and start to position for the night. Two ladies are watching and we get the feeling they want to say something so I ask them. They are from the Netherlands and their English is good enough to explain they were keen to pitch where we are; they were waiting for their husbands to bring the motor home round. We are quite happy to move as this is only a nights kip for us. Good deed done we move on and find a great little spot. Jacket potatoes on we go off to find supplies.

Set up was quick but we are too late for the shop. Luckily the snack bar staff take pity on us and sell us some milk. They are not impressed with our Portuguese so we will have to work on that. On the way back Aeryn and I discover the toilets are the worse so far. I don't mind a little bit of roughing it but let her shorts fall to the ground and they had to be changed as they were wet through. Not nice. Glad its only one night as the showers are grim as well.

After a very late meal the kids fall asleep in seconds and Dan and I have our quiet drink outside before following them. Good night, what a long but interesting day.

Posted by fordcrew 08:50 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Dodgey start to a great day.

Day 7 August 10th Porto to Nazare.

sunny 28 °C

We woke from our pretty eucalyptus tree site, the trees being the only pretty thing about it and hastily packed up our site to move on from the busy town of Porto in the search for nicer scenery, nicer camp pitch and much nicer amenities - 2 out of 3 is not bad but i will get back to that later.

After a fairly successful packing of the trailer tent for some stranger reason things started to go down hill. Lets start with the chemical toilet, not the greatest job in the world but with a run of dodgy sites, ok only 2 but with 4 of us and a small chemical loo 2 nights is all you need but it's all part of the holiday though so crack on I guess.
After successfully locating the chemical toilet disposal point we pulled up near the exit, not knowing exactly what to do with the thing in the UK let alone a foreign country such as Portugal we were fortunate enough to observe a guy empty out his tank, rinse tank via tap, re-blue or add the chemical element and reinstall. So we were thinking this is so great that we can just copy what this guy, deal with our chemical loo & jump on the open road. Tank successfully emptied we proceeded to rinse the tank out, you know, just like the other guy did, at which point some French bloke came over to have a moan. Not to phased by this as Claire and I were happy to converse in French as best we could, but communications started to brake down somewhat with his English extending to P#ss & sh#t and our French was limited to "hello" and "goodbye".

By this point I was starting to get the feeling that this guy was getting a bit cheesed off and to be honest I was getting ready to re-install the toilet cassette and not in the trailer if you get my drift. After a simplified game of charades we got the impression that we should have filled a bottle from the tap and tipped that in the loo first instead of rinsing straight from the tap. At this point the guy having a pop at us started to moan about us to the guy before us, he just looked sheepish and wondered off. Even after we cleaned the tap he still kept going.

We put all of that behind us and went to check out, apparently they provided us 4 cards to get in and out of the site. Obviously we had no cards, they were sure tht we were given them, we were sure that we weren't and this was going to cost us twenty Euro's etc... A short fuse on our front by this point determined that they were wrong, we were right, they say OK & I guess we will look out for possibly having the bill on the credit card when we get home.

Then finally we are on the road again, a place that has become more of a home to us than any campsite, fingers crossed for a better standard of living at the next site.
The days drive was fairly short and uneventful, couple of wild goose chases on the satnav front but nothing out of the ordinary. Leaving from Porto we headed further south toward the area of Peniche. We had eyed a couple of potentially nice sites and settled on a place in Nazare just north of Peniche. From this point the day just got better and better with only a couple of hours driving, a well organised site and an amazing pitch sat there waiting for us on our arrival, positioned next to a shower block with a good breeze and looking out over a great view. Luckily we narrowly avoided a couple with dog pitching opposite which would have had Bodhi barking constantly and dodging the pitch wars that started by arriving a little earlier than most, it was actually quite good entertainment watching other people fight over pitches whilst we were chilling out setting up our own. After half an hour or so luckily the French family won the argument and the other couple with the silly little dog had to move on, so all in all its turning out to be quite a lucky easy going day with the funniest part being the the people with the little silly dog were eying up our pitch before I parked in it so they had to move on twice ha, ha ha. The problem was that the guy in reception states you must drive into an empty pitch, set up then go to reception and tell them what colour your pitch is so you can be billed accordingly. Straight forward, fool proof, easy system. People with silly little dog thought they were better of walking around the sight to pick there spot all the while others like us were just parking up & setting up. Claire & I are terrible for procrastinating and not making a decision, on this trip we have learnt the valuable art of just getting on with it.

Happy that we had found the perfect site we explored our surroundings for food, showers etc... Unfortunately the toilets and showers are pretty rubbish here as well, but the staff are friendly and helpful, that snack bar which was dinner was reasonably priced and tasty & like I said, the pitch is spacious & stunning so well happy and satisfied, definitely worth taking a couple of days out to relax here. Plus at night you get to listen to Karaoke, some very good singers here.

One final thought for today, the Portuguese word for thank you is Obrigado or so we thought, the helpful lady at the bar informed us that if you are a man you would say Obrigado, if you are a woman you say Obrigada. Very subtle difference but explains alot of the smurks Claire received when thanking the locals for one reason or another.[co

Posted by fordcrew 08:22 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Lay in!

8th August Still at Picos de Europa

sunny 23 °C

No van today means a lay in. Much needed as the run up to and the trip have meant early mornings and late nights for awhile. So at well past 10am we emerged to find most the campsite active and the family we had made friends with were leaving. Camping Colobres is a charming site. So clean. There is always someone cleaning and the bar is always manned, I say manned as it always the same two guys.

As we are a little inland we do have flies to contend with, I think 15 met their maker tonight. I had to rescue a spider from Dan's shoe and a cricket from above the kids bed. Oh and we seem to have an ants nest in the corner of the awning which is fine as long as you leave them to it. So the hills really are alive....only its not music just the kids and Dan screaming "Bug", "uurrrr", "get it off me" or a selection of something similar.

For lunch we used the handy little store on site. Fresh bread, cheese and meats made for a cheap and filling change. So yummy in fact that we all agreed to make the same for tomorrow to eat on the road.

As we had time the kids and I taught the kids Yahtzee and then we went for a dip as Dan was catching up on sleep and Bodhi was not allowed in the pool?. The pool was very refreshing! Ethan only lasted about 20mins or so. It was so relaxing swimming around with the amazing backdrop of the mountain range we very quickly cooled down and then went for one of the best showers I've had.

All fresh but wanting a cool drink we sat on the patio outside the bar with Bodhi which was fantastic for him as we were in the shade and the tiles were lovely and cold for him to lie on. No other dogs visited so we all got to chillax and discuss where next for the trip. We've decided to cut off the top part of Spain and head straight down stopping somewhere more inland. Hoping to make up some time and allow for another two nighter else where.

Once the evening cooled down we left Bodhi for a quiet meal. This time our Spanish was much better and the meal that followed was spot on. The view was gorgeous again as we watched the sun disappear round the mountain. It was all finished off by a relaxing walk with Bodhi and the kids got to play at the park. All in all a relaxed and much needed break from the travelling. We would all love to come back and explore this area more.

Posted by fordcrew 10:52 Archived in Spain Tagged de picos reuropas Comments (1)

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