Northern Portugal Week 81 8th - 11th November 2012
                 
Spain and Portugal seem to share the presence of graffiti in this area.

Occasionally there's something like "no fracking" but most of it doesn't have much meaning for us.

 
But here we are in Portugal.

We're crossing into the Parque Natural de Monteshino.

 
Immediately we have heaps of chestnuts then olive trees, and shortly fruit trees. 
 
Still above 750 m.
 
We'd expected a relatively slow drive on a windy road.

The shiny new road (IP5) is still being built but much easier than we'd expected. With very little traffic.

The bridge on the far side of the valley is about 20 minutes away.

Vineyards.

 
Totally unexpected is the first prickly pear of our trip.

Beside grape vines.

 
We stopped at a supermarket at the fine sounding village of Vila Nova de Foz Coa.

We somehow expected Portugal to be a bit more run down than Spain but so far the opposite.

So we stopped beside this bridge for the night. Our altitude is below 200 m. The Rio Coa

Almost tropical, at 14C. And our clock goes back an hour. First time later than GMT (UTC or call it what you like).

 
Odd (to us) looking rock.
 
The sun soon disappeared.

And the streets became narrower.

 
With the occasional obstacle.

We waited. Which earned us a wave.

No sheep dog. And "mum" left "dad" to it once the sheep were across the road.

 
Shades of Australia.

The unmistakably distinctive shape of gum trees.

Complete with sunshine!

Not enough to completely feed the solar though.

 
Its been interesting as we change countries finding the basics like food, water, fuel, waste disposal, camp sites and money.

Portugal has "fontes".

Continuous running water into troughs at the roadside.

We add a bit of chlorine and filter it just in case!

 
This fonte is at Santa Eufemia. Its called Ermida Santa Das Fontes.

The pipe comes out of the wall to the right of the steps. Under the road to the outlet.

Its also a church.

 
We've again told the gps to take the shortest route.

We then took a short detour, followed a brown sign to "S. Pedro".

A small church on top of a hill.

 
With a wonderful view.
 
And having driven up we had to drive down.
 
We weren't quick enough to photograph the gendarmerie coming the other way.

A cheery wave and smile as we pulled over to let each other pass.

We've also had drivers overtaking us give us a wave.

Its small things that make a big difference. 

 
We think we've been to Trancoso before. But then again, it could have been Trancosco. We wonder sometimes how much of our trip we'll remember!

The walled town and castle are on the edge of the hill.

 
With a grand entrance.

The walls predate Portuguese times. The angular castellations are Moorish.

Our knowledge of the history of Portugal is abysmal.

First restored in 1172. And a few times after that. 

 
Once inside its narrow streets.
 
And narrower streets.
 
Of course the castle is closed for lunch.

We decided not to wait for 2 hours.

 
But did admire the view from the top of the town wall.
 
We're not sure what the garrison did for protection!

A lot of the wall has been replaced with houses.

 
Our gps is struggling. It doesn't know about this road. And it looks like not many motorists know either. There is little traffic on any of the roads.

We think its headed roughly in the right direction.

We are headed to Chas D'Egua.

 
Via Guarda.

We spotted an "Aires" - a sign with the camping car icon.

Somewhere to empty our loo and grey water.

 

 
We took a wrong turn.

The ute driver kindly reversed for us.

 
Followed a dirt road, that was also a bit rough and rocky, towards Serra de Cabeca Alta.

Found a flat spot for the night. And admired the colours of the oak tree.

The sunshine didn't last long. It seems the mornings are misty and the afternoons sunny.

 
It had to happen.

Misinterpreted the gps and found ourselves in a maze of increasingly narrower streets. Our excuse is that the sometimes a bit slow to catch up and loses its sense of direction when confined and moving slowly..

The scratches on the house walls, and chips out of balconies should have been a clue. We folded in the mirrors and had at least 150mm each side.

We were rescued by a passing woman who found another, French speaking, woman. Between them they guided us back to the main road. Smiles all round. Portuguese people are friendly.

 
Saturday so stopped at the supermarket near Covilha and were entertained by this band.

Mostly drums with one horn, with a simple three note melody..

Not sure where they were headed.

 
Portugal has Canter trucks like ours. We've seen more here than the rest of our trip combined.

There are also Massey Ferguson tractors.

And these small 4wd vehicles that seem to be propelled by lawn mower motors.

 
Of course mechanised agriculture is a bit limited in the mountains.

We continue our journey roughly southwards.

 
The road is sealed. The stones laid either side remind us of the road building technique in China.

Set up the edges then fill in the middle.

Must have taken a lot of labour as there were many km like this.

 
Chas D'Esqua.

This is the site of "A Arte Rupestre De Chas D'Egua".

Spiral rock art and wheel marks on an old road.

Alas. The small museum was closed.

We were also a bit confused as the lat/long coordinates we had were about a km out.

As the tourist info at the next town explained - "no-one can see them". 

 
Piodao.

A bit touristy - a seller of things carved from slate.

The village looks largely rebuilt.

 
Progress has been relatively slow the last few days.

Narrow, winding, roads.

Even this two lane road is a bit slow. A case of "don't look down".

Being right had drive and high up its quite unnerving looking out the side to a steep slope of several hundred meters to the valley floor.

And never too sure what's round the corner.

We camped not too much further along having driven about 120 km in 6 hours. Tiring. But fascinating country.

 
Wind farms occupy a large number of the ridges.

We camped within 300m of a couple of turbines.

We slept well and it was quiet inside Tardis.

Outside we could hear the turbines. A sort of continuous rumbling and a whooshing sound as the blades rotated. Not intrusive, but we wouldn't want to live next to one.

 
Heaps of pine trees that look like they've been planted.

But very little evidence of logging.

The gps seems to know about all the small roads which look like logging roads to us.

 
Villages perched on hillsides and ridge tops.
 
And towards Oleiros which is in the valley bottom.

Next to the Rio Zezere.

 
We stayed on the ridge tops most of the day and camped on one (next to wind farm).

Just occasionally our path crosses a valley so we wind our way down then crawl back up. Most times 3rd gear but sometimes 2nd. With so many corners and narrow roads our progress is "slow".

We are traveling north to south and most of the rivers are east to west.

A bit unusual for us to be high up for so long.

To the west of us are larger towns on the valley floor. At last sun in the morning as well as evening. Warmer as we move south.

 
We decided to have a rest day. A day of do nothing!

Sometimes, instead of us going looking the action comes to us.

After all our thoughts on the lack of logging this truck arrived about lunch time and left its load of timber near us. 

 
Mid afternoon a partially loaded articulated truck parked next to the pile.

About 4:30 the first truck plus tractor with trailer arrived to load the artic. Not sure what occ health would say but it worked.

A ute with a couple of people that we'd seen during the day turned up.

 
All finished by about 5:15.

Everyone knocked off and the big truck drove off into the sunset.

5 people, a very big truck, a big truck, a tractor and trailer, and a ute. Where big is bigger than our truck.

Most of the timber was gum trees with some pine.

We decided not to follow the truck to find out where its going and what the wood is used for.

 
Marvao, Portugal Week 81 13th - 16th November 2012
 
Gateway
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Diana Sat, 17 Nov 12 20:01:53 +1100
I hope you never stop your travels enjoying your script and photos, I am surprised have the energy to do all the editingetc and not not resting. Have heard on the grape vine I have sold and moving to Fremantle WA, be there for Xmas, Barry driving over in March from Tassie


 
 
 
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