Weeks 7 & 8 - Hunker, Hunker, Hunker

Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th November 2014.

Night time weather these last three days has been appalling and the days not much better we have sat around read and done unnecessary shopping.

Thursday 27th November 2014.

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Going stir crazy so, as the weather today was dull and overcast but dry, we went for a drive out to Crato. It was quite a nice drive to what is a very pleasant town, but there was one small problem when we were trying to follow the signs to the castle, described in our guide book as the stronghold of the powerful Order of Hospitallers and their headquarters from 1350 until in 1662 when Spanish invaders sacked and burned the town which never recovered. The castle remains in ruins but, we were told, affords magnificent views in all directions. As we drove into town following the signs to the “Castello” we took a wrong turn and after a 20 point turn in a very tight dead end alley then found we could not turn out of the alley in the direction we wanted to as the junction itself was so tight, we had to go back the way we came. Still we did manage to get out of the tiny road without clunking any of the very hard walls that surrounded it. Giving up trying to navigate the tiny roads we parked and continued to the castle by foot, which of course was, as all Portuguese castles are, at the very highest point in the town. When we arrived at what should have been the entrance we were confronted by a locked gate through which we could see the castle grounds had been turned into a building site. Unfortunately there was no explanation as to what was being built and if ever the castle would be open to the public again.

Friday 28th, Saturday 29th, Sunday 30th November, 2014.

The end of the week has been a repeat of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but don’t get too pleased at our discomfort, the forecast here for the next week is sunshine all the way.

We did go to a food festival on Saturday. It was held in a huge indoor market type area and despite all the publicity blurb stating it was open from 10.00am till 6.00pm when we arrived at 11.30am it was still closed. When it eventually opened (around noon) we found that the main area was taken over by a dozen or so of the local restaurants who had set up temporary restaurants. By around 1.00pm those restaurants were full of families enjoying themselves, although why they could not have gone to the actual restaurant I can’t imagine. In the carpark outside the food fair, a bunch of “roadies” was erecting a huge open air stage, it was for a disco starting at 10.00pm and running on till 6.00am the following morning. We were thankful to be camping out of earshot.

Monday 1st December 2014.

Well, I don’t know about sunshine but it is dry and the weather is a little warmer during the day but sunny - no.

Tuesday 2nd December 2014.

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Our third, and on this trip, our last visit to Merida today. We have still not seen all there is to see by a long chalk and despite the fascinating material on display I’m just about all “Romaned” out for a while. This visit we spent in the Roman Museum, that is a museum full of Roman artefacts not a museum built by the Romans.

Twice a week Siebo, the owner of Camping Alentejo has a happy hour, I have spoken about it before, which gives a great opportunity to meet the other campers on the site so we invited a Dutch couple Rea and Bert to accompany us to Merida. They went off with a view to see the Gladiator stadium and theatre while we were in the museum but with our usual skill (absolutely none) we arrived at lunchtime (again), that’s anytime between one and four, so while we were in the warm dry museum (it’s the only thing in town that doesn’t shut for lunch) they were wandering the streets. Still they said they enjoyed their visit, the Dutch are always incredibly polite, and have, we understand, made plans to visit again before they return to the Netherlands.

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Rea and Bert own a motorhome custom built by Twiga Travel Cars on a MAN truck chassis. We were invited to have a look around it and it is a magnificent piece of kit.

Wednesday 3rd December 2014.

Tried to get organised for the next move planned for tomorrow. Checked the torque on all caravan wheel nuts (as Bailey Caravans tells us we should do before every journey - in a pigs ear!!!) and checked tyre pressures on both caravan and car. A bit concerned that one tyre had a low pressure as they were checked no more than a couple of weeks ago so I hope it doesn’t have a slow puncture.

Highlight of the day was the campsite “happy hour” It’s a pity in a way that other small sites don’t organise small get-togethers as we have met some very nice people here of many nationalities.

Thursday 4th December 2014.

Moving day! We feel harbour rot has really set in. We had thought we would be here for around a week, ten days at most. It’s three weeks, twenty one days, today. It’s the second longest time we have spent anywhere so having packed the sun shade (rain shelter?), BBQ and other extraneous bits of kit away last night we got up early for an prompt start. Looking outside we could see - nothing but thick fog. OK we knew it was supposed to be sunny all day and would burn off the fog in pretty quick order but it was a heaven sent excuse to put off the move till tomorrow and go back to bed.

Friday 5th December 2014.

We really did move today, it was, as expected, foggy this morning but we used that excuse yesterday and we knew the fog would burn off as the sun rose and it did. It was nearly noon before we had said goodbye to everyone and got on our way, but never mind not far to go today.

Parque de Campismo Municipal de Peniche is 245 km west of Camping Alentejo and around 8o km north of Lisbon. Municipal sites such as this are alway cheap and close to town but are sometimes neglected. On our arrival the lady in reception asked how long we wanted to stay, “we’re not sure” we answered. “OK” she replied “I’ll book you in for two nights because I’m sure it won’t rain during that time because the site is very sandy which is horrible when wet”. She was right about being sandy, a motorhome backed into a pitch earlier and immediately sank almost to his axles, no way was he going to drive out so I had to pull him out - hurrah for Chelsea tractors, well Korean tractors. The site facilities are OK, no seats or paper in the loos or soap and towels, but they are spotlessly clean, which is the important thing.

Saturday 6th December 2014.

Had a drive round Peniche today, just about everything is dedicated to the great god surf. Considering the Atlantic breakers that has been rolling the whole way across the Atlantic Ocean before crashing onto the sandy beaches of this part of Portugal, that is I suppose no surprise. Where the land rises from the sea not in a soft beach but hard and high rocky cliffs the fishermen stand on the very edge fishing, for what seemed to us, just a few small fish, particularly as it is not unknown for fishermen to fall from their perches on the rocks. In fact the last time we were here around five fell to their deaths from the high cliffs around Sagres in one month. The last place we visited was Baleal Island, the village is reached only by a single track causeway and afforded a peaceful walk through the quiet narrow streets. Although I’m quite sure that in the summer it would be neither quiet nor peaceful.

Sunday 7th December 2014.

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We had come to Peniche for three reasons, the first to visit Peniche itself, secondly to visit nearby Obidos and thirdly to visit the ceramics museum at Caldas de Rainha. The first we did yesterday the others today and then move on tomorrow. So first stop Obidos. As we approached the turnoff on the motorway there was a long queue of cars and we joined the end. It moved slowly, so very slowly forward until we could see the queue was several kilometres long. As we were still on the motorway we moved into the “fast” lane and carried on to our second objective the ceramics museum where we were delighted to learn that entry was free on the first Sunday in every month. The museum features ceramics by a number of fine Portuguese makers inc Rafael Bordalo Pinheoro, arguably the best ceramics maker in Portugal.

Last updated Sunday 21st June 2015                                                                                © S W Ghost 2015