Week 24 - A new year and a new country.

Saturday 4th January 2014

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It was dry but windy today, not a day for walking about so of course we went walking about - to “Italica” a roman town around 9km north of Seville. Italica is a well preserved roman site with the most wonderful Roman amphitheater I have ever seen. The buildings, roads and pavements are extensive and the mosaics must be amongst the best in Spain. As at Almeria Castle entry is free to EU nationals.

Sunday 5th January 2014

Our last day in El Rocio, Donnana National Park and Spain today as we plan to move into Portugal tomorrow. We went for a last drive around the area, it turned out to be a little surreal. Following our Spanish road atlas we tried to put a couple of towns in the sat-nav that were rejected but we eventually had one accepted and it took us in a direction we did not want to go although we knew that sooner or later we would find the road we wanted which we duly did. It was a narrow road with forest either side, very soft, very pretty. “We will eventually have to come back this way” said Sue “as the road ends further on”. We followed for miles and the road continued with no road signs and only tiny dirt tracks joining or leaving. The Spanish road map suggests if we are on a road at all it is a dirt track and the sat-nav insists we are “navigating off road” despite being on a black top. We went through not one, but two, quite large towns (they were far to big to be called villages) that although were marked on the map did not exist as far as the sat-nav was concerned. We saw a small sign pointing left saying El Rocio we followed and all but the last 7km of the next 50 km road journey we could not identify on the map and simply did not exist for the sat-nav. As it turned out we were fortunate to go the way we did as if we had gone as planned we would have got hopelessly lost and given up. Instead we drove through hectares of paddy fields and saw more raptors than we had ever seen including we think (we will check the bird books) an eagle and a hen harrier.

Monday 6th January 2014

Moving day. We were going to get moving early although I suppose stumbling out of bed at 9:15 to make tea is quite early for us. Never mind we only have a hundred or so kilometres to go and when we cross the border we gain an hour as Portugal time is the same as UK time.

When we arrived at the new site - Quinta do Xoclatl or Chocolate Farm (the owner is a Belgian chocolateer) all the fabulous pitches we saw last week are filled. Just one pitch was available, in the lower field. Steve and Chris who have spent a great deal of time at this site said “DO NOT CAMP ON THE LOWER FIELD. If you get bad weather you will be stuck until the field dries, could be a week, could be a fortnight, could be longer”.

I’m writing this from our pitch on the lower field.

Dogs, dogs, dogs and more bloody dogs we had forgotten that Portugal’s Algarve is an area dedicated to barking dogs. They seem to have quietened down (a bit) at nightfall but then the Cicadas and noisy frogs started, but at least those noises, for me, eventually disappear into the background unlike barking dogs that get louder, louder, louder. It’s quite possible we will move on tomorrow.

Tuesday 7th January 2014

Not a peep from the dogs all night and so far this morning (10:15am) we have not heard a single one - fingers crossed it stays that way.

With Portugal being on the same time as UK we stayed in bed as long as normal but got up an hour earlier, early enough to visit Olhao fish market. Unfortunately nothing on offer tickled our fancy but we got a few bits in the fruit and veg market next door. Having scoured the fish market for something for dinner we finished up buying fish from the supermarket, don’t actually know what sort of fish it is it’s about the size of a herring and right or wrong it’s going on the barby.

Wednesday 8th January 2014

Today dawned warm and sunny, time for a walk. The site is just a few yards from the Ria Formosa Nature Park that boasts miles and miles of walking and cycling. There is a cycle track that runs for miles along the coast which here is reminiscent of the Walton Backwaters where the path runs alongside the salt marshes sometimes close to the sea sometimes a good distance from it. 

We walked for an awful long time, very pleasant walking, but we always seemed as far from arriving somewhere as when we started. After walking for well over an hour we about turned and walked back. During the walk we saw a good variety of bird life including a couple of “Hoopoes”, lots of Avocets and Azure Magpies.

Thursday 9th January 2014

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After yesterdays walk we thought we would have an easy day and go for a drive. We drove for miles in the hills through countryside the like of which we had never seen before. It seemed the countryside was constructed from hundreds of small hills which looked as if the ground was folded fabric, very green and criss-crossed with narrow dirt roads that if the one we followed was typical lead to isolated villages where the road was at times so narrow it was difficult to get between the houses of which there were no more than a half dozen but built very close together. Strangely just outside the village was a bus stop, I can’t see even a minibus getting through the village, it must turn around and go back although we didn’t notice a turn point.

Friday 10th January 2014

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Cycling today. We retraced our walk of the day before yesterday but this time we went into Fuzeta, we had reached about half way when we went for our walk the other day. It is a seaside town that has a campsite on the seafront and a newsagent that sells English, Dutch and German newspapers but for all that seems typically Portuguese. The fishermen, with small boats and hand operated nets were sorting their catch with locals buying direct from them. Just up from the harbour  was a municipal market building where fish, meat vegetables and fruit was on sale. Best of all was a cafe that was cooking fish on the barbi, it looked and smelled delicious and it’s customers were all locals. Seeing our interest one of the cooks showed us the fish they had ready for cooking - fab, we hope to go there one lunchtime soon.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014