The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Down The Iberian Peninsular - crossing borders on the way home


Portugal to Plasencia,

The Ribatojo and Alto Alentajo
These two areas of Eastern Portugal though producing many of the best quality produce of Portugal are also the poorest. They have wonderful wines, olive oils and some of the still intact cork oaks in Portugal. Also, the Pork Sausages (Blood, white and smoked puddings) and Hams are well worth a trip.
 left the campsite paying the princely sum f €25.,- for the two nights, pity the internet wasn’t working. Retracing my journey along the river, I came once again to Constancia, today I was going via minor roads that followed the Rio Tajo, passing through small and larger towns and villages, this area is rural only agriculture, beef farming a bit of sheep and a lot of cork and olive production.

I arrived at a small cross road, I noticed something called a Touristic Farm, this tickled my fancy so I pulled in and drove up the small drive. Parking I went into reception. I went in, no one about I peered into a side room wow that was some room.

Just then I felt a presence, it was Pedro a young chap who was seemingly in charge, I asked about it and he told me proudly that it was a project, it was a working farm, but also had rooms for families, I think a bit like “Urlaub auf’n  Bauenhof” in Germany. He told me that the project had been set up by a Belgian couple, they came at irregular intervals to see how things were going (mainly at harvest time), the project was self-sufficient, it produced vegetables, fruit, olive oil, sheep and bred cattle. Young families would come and stay a couple of weeks with their children, it was a way to get the kids in touch with the land.
Pedro
He said that he was worried by the movement of young people from the rural to the urban towns, he himself had left the area to go to find work in Lisbon but had returned to take up this position.
The Owners Private House (when he is there)

The working farm (the farm cart isn't

Here you can rent
I left with a good feeling that, this was a very worthwhile project.

I now turned away from the Tajo and headed to a charming town called Castelo de Vide, this can be seen from far off clinging to the side of a cliff, this being topped by fortifications built by King Dinis in the 13 century.


It looked good, but I saw great difficulty manoeuvring my camper around those narrow steep and winding streets, so I made do with taking photographs from the main road below. I was rewarded by the sight of a Black kite flying past. The IP2 was all in all a worth while route what with the Storks in their nests atop electricity pylons feeding their young. I left the IP2 to climb up into the National Park area, where I hopefully would find my campsite.
I arrived at just about 13:00 and was met by a charming Dutch lady, this was Annicle, she and her husband own this and have moved to Portugal on a permanent basis 16 years ago and bought this piece of land and turned it into a very nice campsite. Well with this view and the surrounding national Park who wouldn’t.
The entrance (on the bottom right is the free for guests to use car)

Me blogging

The seating area

The wonderful Annicle

I inquired about where I could get something to eat she said about 2km distance was a restaurant, but if I wanted she also had a small menu, that she cooked fresh to order, I had a look at it and noticed that she had Piri-Piri chicken on the menu, that would do me.

I said would it be ok to order it for 18:00, no problem said she. I had a look around the property, the campsite is situated on an ancient stone age settlement, the walls and door openings are clearly visible, she said that in the coming year they would be turning one of them into its original state with a straw roof. A neighbour had done this. They have installed a very nice swimming pool and the ablutions first class. Wifi is available but only in front the reception, bread can be ordered for the next morning.

It started to rain and when I say rain, it was a deluge, I was in my camper when Annicle came and knocked on the camper door, she said she would be delivering my meal as it was impossible to sit out in this, sure enough on the dot my chicken Piri-Piri flew in with a nice salad and chips, she had even added an ice-cream in just for good luck, what a nice lady.

Next morning I was off towards the Spanish border not across, but pretty close.

I left my smashing campsite and Annicle behind me and crossed over the border into Spain, the old border crossing posts looking a bit tatty now that they are unused.


A short way passed them you arrive at the one-time border town of Valencia de Altántara, this had been a thriving little town at one time, living on smuggled goods from Portugal, now it just lives off the passing tourists. 
I had been informed on very good authority that this was the place to buy your hams and sausages, this was where Annicle sold her olive oil. Show her card and you get a good discount, I was escorted through the shop (more an Aladdin’s cave), by the lady in waiting, showing me this and that and picking the best ham and smoked Lomo and cheeses of course you must taste it first. I left a couple of hundred Euros lighter but was secure in the knowledge I hadn’t been ripped off. The lady even went back into the shop and brought me a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread, that was to go with my meat and cheese.


I headed off in the rough direction of Plasencia for no other reason than it had a camping site, that had Wifi, it wasn’t a long journey as the site was in the middle of a National Park, on arrival the Lady warden tried to get me to stay for another night with the promise of something special, a bird watching trip, did she think I was that easy.

It was a nice site and I headed for the bar, beer is a great relaxer after a hard day down the pits or in the shipyards, or even on the road in Northern Spain. I had a couple and had a look to see what was on the menu, there were two mains on the plate of the day, one fish and one meat, If I had ordered it earlier I could have had Paella, also you had to be two.  I went back to the camper had 40+ winks and then at about 07:00 went down to the restaurant. The waiter was the same helpful chap that had served me earlier. I was shown to a nice table over looking the veranda, there was much coming and going of bird life and in the evening sky the swallows were dipping and soaring catching the evening meal for their young, I could hear a Roller giving off its Chack- ack call. I also saw a Montagues Harrier swoop by in search of prey.
It was time to order my meal, I thought I would have a mixed salad (Nice with egg, tuna fish and fresh salad leaves, very tasty. Next came the main, a smashing steak with chips and I finished off with a burnt custard. If I had left it at that, it would have come to €9,-, that included, 3 large glasses of very nice red wine. I ordered a coffee (Americano) and a brandy, I am not kidding the waiter brought me a large cognac tumbler and it was ¾ full, I was frightened to swill the glass in case of spilling any.   The lot came to €12,50,-,  slowly wandered up the slope to my well earned bed. I was up next morning and went down to the restaurant to get a cup of coffee, I passed the lad in charge of baking bread, he had just stocked up the oven (woodfired and said that in an hour he would be baking. He baked every day, this meant that all of the Parks bread was fresh.

As I reached my camper, there was a hullabaloo going on, a mother Azure-winged Magpie was trying to feed two fledglings, but not quick enough for their way of thinking. The Azure-winged Magpie is only to be found in Portugal and Southern Spain, so I was very lucky.


My next port of call was a small town on the main Pilgrim trail, the town of Astudilio is nestled below the ruins of one of the Templers Castles.

This is a small site and in fact is there as it is an Auberge a place for the Pilgrims to rest for the night. A lot of them do it in stops, they stop for the night and when they are ready to move on, a van then transfers their baggage on the next phase of their journey. This was a very busy little place, unfortunately in the next village was a big festival taking place, I missed it earlier and Sunday was the big day, this is when the Devil, dressed in harlequin outfit, jumps over the young babies lying on the ground, that is prior before he is done to death. I found a soulmate in the cook, he was also a keen ornithologist, he showed me loads of fotos, I did not realise that this area of Northern Spain is famous for the Great Bustard. Outside the campsite also had a great wood fired oven, here the cook was cooking legs of Lamb, I actually saw the butcher delivering them earlier, so no frozen NZ lamb here.  

Pamplona.

I have always wanted to visit this City ever since reading Earnest Hemingway’s book , I have been nearly there many times but never quite made it. But now was the time, though alas the bull running is not for another month. I found a great Parking spot, down beside the river, funnily enough it was right beside the Auberge Paderborn, this pilgrims hostel was financed by the Paderborn Diocese and still partnered  by them.

I wandered up into the old town, it has some mighty walls, towers and battlements, I entered through the mighty gates and worked my way through the streets dodging in and out of pilgrims (this is one of the major starting points on their journey. I visited the Covered Market (very nice but they close up shop for lunch and most stalls either were or just about to close for their Siesta, I thought I would go to the Cathedral, would you believe it, it was also closed, do the priests and their ilk also have a Siesta every day? So, I found a very nice set of gardens had a sit down, took some photo’s and set off to find the campsite, this was a way out of town.

It was an ok campsite not a great one but ok, it is used by lots of students and spectators when the bull running takes place, I think I will give it a miss this year. I had an early night as I wanted to be off on the road at 08:00, it was a long drive to the Pyrenean State of Andorra, this was to be my next place I was wanting to visit on my journey home.

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