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Published: June 13th 2017
Spain is a beautiful country with many contrasts what with the busy tourist beaches along the Mediterranean coast to the huge inland mostly barren mountains in the south. There are also acres and acres of olive trees and orange trees. Pete is loving all the variety of olives whilst I have never tasted such sweet oranges!
After meeting up with my old primary school friend in Barcelona we then ventured further down the coast and met up with another old high school friend who I had not seen for close on 50 years so it was an amazing catch up and a great evening. Then, last night we had a great old chin wag with a very interesting and fun Scottish couple and it was especially nice for Pete to finally have a decent conversation in English with a bloke! We woke up this morning to find the small village where we had parked had been descended upon by at least 600 cyclists preparing for a big race and what a racket they made! Start off was 9.00 am so we were blocked in whether we liked it or not until then but in
the end it was very interesting watching all the goings on in getting them all ready to go.
We actually don’t have a book on free camping in Europe as we do in Australia and have had to ensure that we have Wifi at all times to explore a couple of the free camping apps here so that we can put the co-ordinates in the GPS in order to find the exact locations. All is going well so far but mobile data is fairly expensive over here to set up so we cannot afford to surf the net for anything but campsites. We can’t complain though as there are lots of free or reasonably priced places to stay.
We had a wonderful time visiting the rock of Gibraltar where it seems all the British tourists make the most of it’s Duty Free Status and stock up on spirits, perfume and electrical goods etc. We were fascinated to see the policemen with their British Bobby helmets on and the old red telephone boxes everywhere. It is very touristy but still well worth a visit and we couldn’t
resist having a drink in the Lord Nelson pub as the Hurricanes were playing the Force much to Pete’s delight. It is a thirsty life this travelling lark! We lazily opted to take the Cable car up to the top of the Rock and down again as it was a 3 hour walk otherwise in very hot weather. There we saw lots of monkeys to watch and although very amusing I kept well away as they were jumping on people’s backs to get into their backpacks. We also visited a small cemetery where several seamen that were fatally injured during the battle of Trafalgar lay, confirming that the rock does indeed have quite a long history of both Spanish and British rule and even Moroccon.
We drove north to Seville passing miles and miles of Sunflowers with their heads facing the sun and creating fields of stunning yellow everywhere! We are now in Seville and what a beautiful city it is, with its narrow cobbled streets and amazing old buildings. However, once again, the queue to look around the cathedral, which apparently is the third largest in the world, was far too long
for us to even consider joining so a photo from the outside had to suffice. We still walked all around plenty of other sites and I even bought myself a fedora which I am sure you will find in one of the photos in this blog! Not very practical really as one gust of wind and I have to hang on to it!
On to Portugal to visit the well known Algarve with its beautiful beaches where we stopped for a couple of nights. Yes the sand was nice but don't want to whinge but nowhere near in comparison to New Zealand’s north island beaches! The small town where we stayed relies heavily on tourism so just like Spain offers full English breakfasts and burgers etc but also do have lots of delicious Portuguese fare. Pete and I hoed into fresh grilled sardines with Algarve potatoes and salad which was absolutely delicious. Put that with a caraffe of Portuguese wine all for next to nothing and we came away smiling!
Headed north today to Everon, a walled Roman city but we're disappointed to learn that we
could only walk around the outside wall and not on top of it. It still was a lovely town to visit but today was horrendously hot at 41 degrees so we really appreciated our cool drinks in a cafe more than anything. Pete’s coke was cheaper than a beer but there is a time and place and with Pete doing all the driving it wasn't then!
The interior of Portugal has changed from sunflower fields to barley, wheat and more olives and grapes, The scenery is for ever changing and we are having a wonderful time. Tonight we are camped in a busy suburb south of Lisbon and will venture in on the train tomorrow. We are camped besides 3 lots of French couples and even though I know that my French is very lacking I have approached them all in order to gain snippets of information on where to go and what to do. I am getting more confident but also getting more frustrated at not knowing the words I want to use. It really is a very different holiday to last year’s UK trip with being able to speak with the
locals, but still very interesting and it is just as well that Pete and I, apart from many a petty argument, get on so well, what with spending so much time together!
Lisbon was great and thankfully not as hot as yesterday as we walked from one end of the city and back again! We visited the castle on the top of the hill with its amazing views and a very impressive cathedral and explored the old parts too with their narrow cobbled stoned streets and mosaic walls.
Next stop was Porto on the west coast and what an amazing place with its steep streets down to the huge river that flows between it. Again we walked everywhere taking in the atmosphere as it was a National holiday being Portugal day and the city was absolutely buzzing with locals and tourists alike. One of the bridges was very impressive and even more impressive is that we actually climbed the steps to the top of it and walked across!
Our camp site in Porto is in the grounds of a
Zoo with the added bonus of free entry during our stay. We have been quite impressed even though we couldn't read any of the information on the walls and instead admired all the abundant wildlife!
We will leave Portugal tomorrow and very glad that we visited it. The roads are fantastic in some parts but in very poor condition in other places. Drivers do not know what indicators are for, especially on roundabouts, but apart from that the Portuguese have been very gracious and helpful.
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