View Full Version : The Snowbird - Run 2011 Blog

Pages : [1] 2 3

11-24-2011, 07:34 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Page 1 Preview

During the Winter months it is quite common for folks on the USA side of ‘The Pond’ (The Atlantic Ocean) to head South, driving their ‘Recreational Vehicles’ (RV’s) to warmer climates like Florida, I believe they call this the “Snowbird Run”.

Over a period of time quite a number of people on this side of ‘The Pond’ from the UK, France, Germany & The Netherlands also with some more adventurous people from Finland, Sweden, Denmark & Norway have also headed South, driving their ‘Trucks with Beds’ or towing their ‘Tin Tents’ with them, so our next adventure is under the above title, and we hope you enjoy the ride along with the pictures!

Autoroute “Snowbird Run” Map


Our main destination as you can see on the Route Map above is Portugal and we hope to make it from the UK in 8 days. We will be stopping off at a couple of places as we pass through France & Spain, for a ‘look see’ on the way down, well it is part of the ‘adventure’ and I cannot see the point of going like a ‘Bat out of hell’ and doing humongous distances a day just to get there, followed by being totally stressed out when you arrive!



Our trip commences tomorrow, the Blog will be posted as we go or as near as we can, honest!

Meanwhile I have to get back and carry out a couple more TLC Checks on ‘Flamenco Red’ who seems to sense a change in the air! :D

11-24-2011, 01:17 PM
We wait for your photo ! Don't forget the port's cellars , very nice place and very good wine !

11-26-2011, 03:12 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”
Page 2. Finally on our way

All packed, hitched up and ready to roll, but found that I have a ‘puncture’ on the rear wheel of my bike, although it got loaded up with no time for a fix!


This time I remembered to close and lock the garage door, as well as the house!

Our train is 14:00hrs and to get there meant leaving home in “the wee small hours” which caused total ‘Shock/Horror’ when I realised what I had done.

So now after a little ‘re-jigging’ we can have a leisurely run the day before the train with a short drive next day before the ‘Under the English Channel’ trip and start through France!

As a result our first stop after loading up and setting off is a small campsite not far from ‘Le Manche’ (The Tunnel) caused by the ‘error’ on my part!

Must remember when we get back to go & see the Doctor for some “Anti Senior Moment Pills” suddenly and sadly they are getting more frequent! :D

On the BIGGEST ‘Car Park’ in the World! (The M25) but thankfully the traffic kept moving!



4.5 Hours later after setting off we arrive at the first campsite, and I am extremely glad Flamenco Red is an ‘AWD’!


Now for a nice cup of coffee and a sandwich, next first stop tomorrow is ‘Le Manche’ (The Tunnel).

11-26-2011, 07:31 AM
Hey Flamenco , be careful and have a nice trip you and your passenger !:)

11-27-2011, 11:23 AM
Hey Flamenco , be careful and have a nice trip you and your passenger !:)

Hi Giorgio!

Sorry I forgot to reply.

Yes we are going to Porto and will be hopefully visiting the cellars and tasting the fine Port, maybe even the 'Old Port' if we are lucky!

So I will think of you if and when we do! [thumbup]

11-27-2011, 11:25 AM
Hey Flamenco , be careful and have a nice trip you and your passenger !:)

Graci Giorgio!

I am working hard getting to the different places but I also get looked after so I have no complaints, but thank you for your kind wishes! :D

11-27-2011, 11:29 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

UK – France Page 3.

Found out after we had arrived and set up that the Battery in the ‘Tin Tent’ is starting to ‘fail’ as it is only getting up to 90% of its full capacity! I just hope if it goes down the tubes that we can source another Leisure Battery during the trip!

While it was very cold last night and we went to bed complete with Thermal Hats on which really helped stop the heat loss, it was a surprisingly quite night considering Gatwick Airport is fairly close by.

Now it’s time for breakfast then get hitched up again and make our way to ‘Le Manche’ for the drive on - drive off 45 minute trip under the English Channel!

We roll up to Le Manche and surprise surprise find that the car/coach park is quite full but ‘problems’ with the Ferries and a rough sea along with a 7 Mile traffic jam into Dover means a lot of coaches have switched their reservations, this was not helped by a ‘Technical Problem’ at the Tunnel that literally stopped all Freight traffic as you will see, but at least we find a parking spot as we are a little bit early for our Chuffer Train.

First nice surprise as we pull into the car park at the Tunnel was this restored Jensen Interceptor only 1 of 14 LHD left in the World!

The owner was quite concerned about leaving it on the trailer while he went for a coffee, but I am not surprised really!


Got this just after 15 Coaches had pulled out for the next train, they were expecting over 140 coaches today!


We finally after 3 hours get called and make our way to the gate!


The barrier opens and as we make our way to get on board we pass the stationary Freight (Trucks) waiting for the service to be resumed. :eek:



Off down the ramp, hang a left and drive down the inside of the train.



45 Minutes later after a bit of a ‘bumpy ride’ this time we arrive and roll off into France. The train supervisor told us the it was bumpy because they could not inflate the train suspension fully before it departed!



Next stop is the Carrefour Market in Montreuil for a bit of shopping, dinner and hopefully a quite night before we set off again tomorrow, the ‘campsite’ will be the car park for tonight!

Bonne Nuit! :D

11-27-2011, 01:04 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

France Page 4.

Well after a really bad night with a migraine headache that kicked off at 12:30 and would not let me sleep even with suitable medication, and a visit to the ‘Small Room’ to sadly dispose of my dinner, we set off at 07:15 this morning for what I can only describe as a positively awful day with very little sleep, but we had a very pleasant surprise at the end of the day which you will see later!

A head wind for the best part of the day really played havoc with the fuel consumption as even on small hills with the wind pressure Flamenco Red was struggling having dropped down 2 gears and instant consumption of around 14 MPG when before on this road it has been up near 30+!

Having said that the roads I thought were very quite as you will see in the following pictures, even though it was Sunday!







Now on the outskirts of Rouen, and this is one City that I get very nervous about going through, after the route on a previous trip took us firstly under a 3Mtr bridge (No problem there) and then we find this was followed by another bridge at 2.6Mtr and the height to the top of the bikes was when I measured it 2.6Mtrs!!! :eek:

I expected to hear all sort of things going on ‘Up top’ but we made it with no damage.
I was shaking, and hanging on to the steering wheel as we came out the other side, but feeling very relieved at the same time. :D

This time we kept to the LEFT of the City and had no problems along with a clear run through. [thumbup]


Next stop was ‘Under the Pepper Mill’ for lunch, which worked as it was a Beef & Pickle Sandwich with a much needed cup of coffee!


Having then made our way to the campsite that we expected to be staying at confirming the date with the English Owner by telephone that they would be open we roll up after traversing some ‘hairy roads’ only to find that he has gone off on vacation and has left a lady in charge who is keeping the place ‘secure’ with around 15 Dogs of different species and size, all hers! We are then told the site is ‘Closed’! :mad:

We have no choice but to leave and head for another campsite which is another 4 hour drive away! [cussing]

So off we go again and make our way through some nice little places.

‘On the road again’ and we called in for some needed Gazole before making our way through ‘Tours’ and alongside part of the Loire River.





Then follow the smaller road through the villages.


Passing this ‘Special Haystack’ advertising one of the Christmas Markets in the village!


Nice ‘little’ house set back off the road!


Daft place to land, having missed the airport!


Entering St Maure de T.

We think the Statue on top of the Church was the Virgin Mary



As we come up to this traffic island you cannot help notice this effigy with cars travelling down it! Rather weird we thought and still trying to make sense of it!


Yesterday evening I thought about the possibility of having Dinner ready for us when we arrived at our next stop, so as we have a 230V ‘Slow Cooker’ and I also have a 600Watt Inverter I thought why not put them together and let Flamenco Red cook Dinner as we travel via the 12V Outlet in the luggage area!

So that is what I did having put the Minced Beef, Sliced Onion, Sliced Mushrooms & Bolognese Sauce in the Slow Cooker that evening, just before we set off I started the engine, then plugged in the Inverter and after a 12 hour day we had Dinner kindly cooked for us by Flamenco Red during the day!

Seems like I might have to put Flamenco Red in for a ‘Special Citation’ after today! [thumbup]


Bonne Nuit!

11-28-2011, 08:15 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

France Page 5.

After a really quite night with a great sleep, we woke to bright sunshine and a nice blue sky today!

First was shower, then breakfast followed by a very short walk around the campsite as this is ‘Camping a la Ferme’ (Camping on a Farm) and this Farmer is a Miller who mills the wheat and sells it to various customers along with the public, and his wife runs a 3 days a week Bakery!


Entrance into the Farm:


While around the left hand corner is the Electric Mill (Sadly no Grinding Wheels)


Inside the Mill


The Warehouse with bags of Flour


The Bakery. (2 years ago he was building the Oven which is below the Chimney in the picture)


Inside the Bakery


Next stop was the local Supermarket to fill up with Gazole before we set off tomorrow and also to get a new inner tube for my bike, which on our return was duly fitted and after a bit of lunch, being such a nice day we set off for a bit of exercise and a ‘pedal’ around the local area:

First stop was….


With a few views around the village….


As we walked passed we saw it was the entrance to a Hotel



Window display in a shop specialising in Central Heating!




This ‘Solar Setup’ consists of 1368 Panels. To give you an appreciation of the size look at the person in the bottom left hand corner!

If they are 200W/Panel then this can produce 2736Kw/Hour! That’ll make some TOAST for breakfast.


Next stop was the village of……



We stopped to look at this fella who heard us and came running over, all for a couple of handfuls of grass, and someone to scratch his nose and ears!


The village Chateaux


The building with the funny tower is the Marie (Town Hall) the one on the right is a normal house, but we were not sure if the small building next to it on the right was a BBQ or the outside Jacuzzi!


Around the back of the 12 Century Church


As the last picture came out a bit dark as I was hoping to show the ‘Wood Store’ better with all the cut wood for this Winter, but it was time to say goodbye to the Sun and make our way back to the campsite, putting the bikes back on top of Flamenco Red for the next step of the journey tomorrow.

Bonne Nuit!

Ocean Racer
11-28-2011, 04:43 PM

11-30-2011, 09:06 AM

Thanks, and we ain't finished yet!!!:D

11-30-2011, 09:12 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

France – Spain Page 6.

Gave some thought last night to the possibility of seeing if we could get into Spain today depending on how the traffic and road conditions fared while going South.

Well we made it and here is the update…..

Left the campsite in Chassagne at 07:30 this morning and headed off in the dark to make our way South.

I used to enjoy ‘Night Driving’ partly because of the ‘quite roads’ but now with the build up of traffic, especially the overnight freight trucks it’s not ‘Fun’ anymore and you really need your wits about you. :eek:

On the road ‘EARLY’!!!


Sunrise on the N10 Southbound



Just get into Bordeaux and find ourselves in a Luverly Traffic Jam, but it was around 09:20 so I think we have a few Late Arrivals for work on the road!


Nearly as bad going the other way. :p


Around 3 years ago there were some horrendous Storms that ripped through forests just North of Bayonne that destroyed very large areas, the clean up operation and replanting is still going on and here are some pictures of the progress…..

Still collecting fallen trees that are cut into logs and stacked waiting collection.


Behind the trees in the picture below are part of 5000 Tons of Tree Logs brought in from the forests that were destroyed by the storm. The logs are being continuously sprayed with water just in case of any potential fire hazard!


Old trees that survived and new trees that have been planted


Meanwhile and also, there is a large road widening scheme going on at the moment on this road that is the main link between France & Spain also for traffic going to and coming from Portugal of which a very large portion is Freight Lorrys (Trucks). This time of year is getting quite but I hate to think what it will be like in Summer with ‘Vacationers’ and the road works will not finish till the middle of 2014!


Not much further down the road and we see the Pyrenees of Spain as we are getting very close to the border



Over the France – Spain Border and the Sun really comes out with the temperature reaching 20C (68F) It’s not long before I have the Air Conditioning on and the Seat Cooling Fan running as I am seriously leaking with the heat coming through the windscreen!


Shortly after crossing the Border and having made our way around the outskirts of San Sebastian via a maze of roads that without TomTom we would have become hopelessly lost we hang a Left and start heading off on the l o n g climb up over the Pyrenees, then Flamenco Red starts the Low ‘Growling’ and we are going like a ‘medium rocket’ past all the BIG Trucks who were just about crawling up with their loads!

The only ‘downside’ was the ‘Instant MPG’ readout was showing between 9 & 15Mpg depending on the frequency of the ‘Growling’ coming from Flamenco Red!

But still the scenery and the views were excellent!





9 Hours later we arrive at our next campsite in the town of ‘Haro’


Nice cold drink and it’s time to start preparing the evening meal, so I BBQ some Pork Chops and while cooking them I am serenaded by the Bell Ringers at the Church on the Hill in the picture above, a rather nice end to a good day!

Buenos Nochas!

Next stop for tomorrow will still be in Spain at the city of Caceras.

11-30-2011, 11:52 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Spain Page 7.

Well after for us a HOT Day, and a FREEZING night when the temperature swung between 20C & -2C which I felt at 03:00AM when ‘it’ woke me up and not being able to find my Thermal Hat I then pulled the bed sheet over my head and found it quite stiff, but it worked and stopped my nose snapping off!!! :eek:

Breakfast was 07:15 and we were ready for the ‘Off’ at 07:55 even with my nearly frozen fingers from packing things outside away.

As we set off from the campsite at Haro and made our way out of the town we saw these rather nice Sculptures placed on Traffic Islands, but I must say that Haro is near enough the centre of Rioja Wine production in Spain.

A Bunch of Grapes


Treading the grapes


This one is for Giorgio (XC Volvo & Wine Connoisseur!) in Italy as it shows the Rioja Vineyard in its full colour with no fruit!

Salud Buena Giorgio! [thumbup]


Now on the main road and heading for Caceras


Sadly TomTom misled us and we ended up going through this rather nice ‘Hole in the Wall’ before we could turn around and get sorted out for the correct way!


You can tell you are in Spain, just look at a certain size of his ‘anatomy’ (In between the branches)


OMG! We just get on the Spanish ‘Trunk Road’ (Non Toll A62) and run into FOG that stayed with us for some time, temperature was between 2 & 4C, not good! :eek::eek:


When we got to a clear section we saw the ‘Storks Nest’ on several poles including the Power Line structures but as they could not plug in their Electric Blankets they had all flown off to warmer climates!



As it was nearing lunch time we decided to find a Garage and have a sandwich will giving Flamenco Red a short rest and a fill up of Gazol as the tank was getting a wee bit low!

We turn off the ‘Trunk Road’ (4 Lane road, 2 lanes each way) and see this contraption on the garage forecourt…..


It turns out it is used for making Wine! I am sure though with a small ‘modification’ it could be used ‘Up in the hills’ for Moonshine? :D

Nice Beef Sandwich, with a cold drink, at the ‘Tin Tent’ followed by our first Spanish Coffee in the Garage Cafeteria, and it was nice!


Back on the road and what’s that in the distance that looks rather white in colour?


Well, “There’s SNOW on them thar Hills” :eek:


We did think about a small detour and see if we could use the Kayak as a Snowboard as it’s got 3 seats, but decided to keep going to Caceras as we wanted to get there today!

Interesting to see that while there is the Snow, there are still the Autumn Colours on quite a few of the trees as we travel by.


Bit further along we come across this Lake/Reservoir, not sure of the name but it was quite low on water



Not long after, and another 8 hour day driving we get to the campsite for the next 3 nights.

Before we set off we set up the ‘Slow Cooker/Inverter’ again with some Chopped Pork, Hot Pot Sauce Mix, Onion, Sliced Potatoes, Carrots & Peas, some Herbs du Provence, a bit of Salt and Ground Pepper all mixed up!

We then hooked it up and let Flamenco Red do the cooking as we travelled along & it was GREAT as our evening meal!! [thumbup]

Tomorrow is a day off for Flamenco Red and we are on the Local Bus for a day sightseeing in ‘Old Town Caceras’!

12-01-2011, 09:14 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Spain Page 8.

A day ‘Exploring Caceras’, but before we set off, a couple of pictures of the campsite.

The little building at the side of your place consists of a Gas Boiler Powered Shower, Toilet (WC) & Washbasin which was very nice and saved hiking very far when you got caught short at 02:00AM!


Each and every camping pitch has its own facilities!


Set off from the campsite for the Bus into Caceras that runs every half hour and costs €0.75/Person One way which is a heck of a lot cheaper than Bus fares in the UK!


On the way into the centre we pass this statue but cannot find any information about it on the Tourist Map!


Old Ships Anchor in the middle of a traffic island which considering the city is a long way from the sea seemed a bit strange!


Pass through a park running down the main street with some more statues in


The we start making our way to ‘The Old Town’


Passing this Church with a couple of strange figures outside!


While opposite was this Lady selling her Newspapers


On the way to ‘Plaza Mayor’ and every city in Spain has a Plaza Mayor!


‘Plaza Mayor’ which is on the edge of the Old Town



Main entrance to the Old Town




San Francisco Javier’s Church with the Plaza de San Jorge in front


In the centre of the back wall of Plaza de San Jorge is a statue of St George slaying the Dragon


While up the steps and into the Church we are confronted after paying the entrance fee of €1 with…..


I could not resist the offer to climb up, as it offered memories of a climb up 299 Steps that a guy called Chuck Bish (Who sadly passed away last year) and I did at a memorial to the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston (USA).

When we got down I was wheezing like a stuck pig, but Chuck was a lot better, so I dedicate this to him and the GREAT Memories we had together, and off I went, the first stop being the Balcony with a nice view down into the church itself


While tucked away in the corner was the second ‘stairway’ of concrete steps


So up I went again (Apologies as I took the picture looking down the steps!)


Out through the little doorway and I am in one of the two Belfry’s



Rather glad they had taken the ‘Gonger’ out, but some nice views were to be had from the windows





Back down I go and make my way to the rear of the church while my thigh muscles are killing me from the trip downstairs and into a small room that is full of very nice Icons



The back outside looking across the Plaza de San Jorge


Some views of other churches




Then we find ourselves in the Old Jewish Quarter



After walking down the road in the picture above we found ourselves at…


This is the only Roman Gate that exists in the fortified walls nowadays and is called Christ’s Arch



Then following the walls we come to…



While a bit further along, and for this you have to use your imagination…


Imagine looking inside the Horn of a Bull and seeing a set of very steep stairs that bend like the Horn…..?


While walking further around we saw….



Then we saw the door to the Palace of los Toledo Moctezuma open and no one around, so we went inside, got into the courtyard but could not go any further!


We then made our way back to Plaza Mayor, and sat there while we ate lunch, then made our way into the newer part of the city with again some nice scenes…


Seed Pods on the branch of a tree, never seen them this BIG!


As the city came to life they turned the fountain on. Nice touch


Finally stopped for a ‘Coffee con Leche’ in this bar and found a very nice backdrop along the bar!


Then made our way back to the Bus Stop for the return to the campsite after a very nice day in Caceras.

Tomorrow we are off to Merida for another adventure as we understand that this city is full of antique Roman bits!

Buenos Nochas!

12-02-2011, 11:35 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Spain Page 9.

A day ‘Exploring Marida’

But first…. The End of a perfect day in Caceras.

Sunset at the campsite last night!


We set off at 09:00 today for the short run to Merida as it is listed as a World Heritage Site and when you get there you can see why with all the Roman/Arab buildings that are in place!

Entering the city we pass over the ‘Guadiana River’


With a city view shortly after…


Followed by a rather nice ‘Traffic Island’ that we think is a War Memorial…


After finding a parking space near the Roman Bridge, we get to an information plaque that gives the story of Merida, hope you can read it…


We then admire the Roman Bridge, built some 1700 years ago and while requiring a bit of ‘maintenance’ has stood the test of time…


Then up on the bridge and the 1Km walk across it into the city…


Part way over is this nice view down the river of one of the Road Bridges…


While from one of the small offshoot side roads to the bridge was this nice view of the central span…


While on the opposite bank was the old Roman/Arab main Fort…


We made our way to the entrance to the Fort and having bought our tickets for the sum of €6/Person, we then found that it covered the entrance to 5 other ‘exhibitions’ two of which you will see later!


Now inside the Fort/Gateway to the city…


After the Romans came the Arabs who modified the Gate to one entrance directly into the city and the other entrance into the Fort/Castle…


The second ‘modified’ gate into the Fort/Castle…




Now having passed through the Arab/Muslim gate we are now inside the Fort/Castle…


Some more information about the ‘Barracks’…


Then the overall view of the ‘Barracks’


Now for a very ingenious Fresh Water Supply!


The building…


Entrance door…


Having entered the doorway, you go down a few steps then turn right…


Follow the steps down again and you come to the Fresh Water supply complete now with Goldfish but not sure who feeds them…


Meanwhile back outside…


I also saw several Black Olive trees in the grounds but when I tasted the fruit it was very sour, which I soon regretted!


Then walking around we saw other stones from the buildings that have not been re-constructed…


The remains of other buildings…


And finally a wall…


But just look at the size of the blocks of Granite!


We then made our way up through the city to our next stop with some nice views as we went….




A lone Stork who hasn’t yet migrated!


Then one of those ‘Fab Four’ got remembered!



It was interesting watching all these guys trying to get this sculpture through the door!


At the end of ‘Calle John Lennon’ we hung a left and went onward and upward to our next destination…


Which was…


The Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro)


A bit closer…





The Theatre (Teatro)…


A bit closer…





The Roman Relaxation area, and the black hole in the middle was where the fire was lit…



The floor of the Roman Basilica…


Walking area…


Another building close to the Theatre


View across the Theatre from one side to the other…


We then made our way out of this exhibition only to be accosted by several ‘Restaurant Sellers’ offering us the ‘Menu of the Day’ at a few restaurants for a very good price, but then we saw the other Pensioners on the left with the sign outside the café….


As we had already had our lunch while sat on the steps inside the Theater we continued back into the city…





To our next stop which was the ‘Cripta Santa Eulalia’ underneath the Basilica…



The Basilica was actually enlarged over a number of centuries which is difficult to show as the picture below had different coloured LED’s fitted to show the different times, but did not come out on the picture, sorry


Now underneath the Basilica and in the Crypt…



I think the next picture gives an idea of the different centuries due to the graves, some direct in the earth while others were in sarcophagus


And then we see the remains of a little Chapel…



With the burial chamber outside of a Roman Soldier


The Basilica itself was closed but I managed to get 2 pictures one direct and the other a copy of a picture showing the inside…



Then we made our way back into the city…


And the City Market…



When we saw the SIZE and PRICE of the Broccoli and compared it to the price back home we nearly fell over in shock it was that much cheaper and so much fresher! :eek::eek:


Then making our way back to Flamenco Red for the trip back to Caceras…



While on the Roman Bridge again we look over the side and spot….


Who got disturbed and took off!


Only to land again a short distance away!


Well that’s it for today, but it was very enjoyable and like good explorers we have left a bit to see for the next time we come! [thumbup]

Next stop tomorrow is Portugal.

Buenos Nochas!

12-03-2011, 11:18 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Spain - Portugal Page 10.

On the road again!

Finally left Caceras at 09:00 this morning after the Security at the campsite allowed a camper to arrive and start ‘banging around’ at 00:05 this morning! I did ask them as we left to consider a specific place for late arrivals that was some distance from folks already here, but if we come back, and I would like to then we will opt for ‘the far corner’ as I had around 2 hours sleep last night!

On the road it felt like Sunday & not Saturday as once again there was very little traffic on our way to Portugal, and the first section consisted of crossing over the ‘Sierra de Don Pedro’ a not very high mountain range, I say 'not high' as Flamenco Red was not 'growling' as much.





Heading for Badajoz which is not far from the Spanish/Portuguese Border we pass by a couple of villages that specialise in Olive Oil and the Olive Groves off up the hills


After taking a wrong turn we ended up just on the outskirts of Badajoz when we should have given this a miss and gone round the city!


Managed to call in for a ‘Gazol’ fill up before we got to the border which was quite close now and spotted some more Storks on various structures


Next we pass over the border, but no security or formalities as both countries are EU Members


You can always tell when you are in Portugal because 90% of the houses are painted white to reflect the Sun in Summer!


As we trundle along we spot this rather strange ‘Wall’ and as we got closer we could see that the blocks were in fact Marble which is to be found in this area of Portugal at a city called Estremoz


It also has a ‘Walled City’ which we thought was interesting and carried on


Having gone a little bit further we spot this campsite at the side of the road not far from Estremoz and decided on the spur of the moment, like you do, to take at least 1 day/night out, stop over and go and have a look at the city, so we turned around, came back to the campsite, checked in, got set up, met the owner and learned that there was a market in the city, so off we went….


This is the ‘Faturas Chef’ which was for us a ‘snack’.


It looks after cooking like a Catherine Wheel which is then cut into pieces and dipped in Sugar and tastes ‘Yummy’ so needing a ‘fix’ to keep me going we got a couple!


Finished that and then we set off around the rest of the Market and came across these ‘Bells’ for Sheep and Goats


Then around some more of the Market



Spotted this ‘contraption’ which was manufactured in Manchester (UK) but haven’t got a clue what it was used for, and neither had the stall holder!

We think it might have been for the Yarn Industry but not sure. Any ideas would or knowledge would be most welcome?


But more Market….


Then off to the Castle, via a Marble Statue to the Volunteer Firemen of the town…



With a view of the Castle as we continue on our way…


Entrance archway…


Then the other side looking downhill !


Then outside the Church at the top was this Marble Statue of ‘Rainha Santa Isabel’


View out of the wall…


The Tower which is now an extremely expensive ‘Luxury Pousada Hotel’


Another archway & gate on the other side of the city


Another view ‘Over the Wall’


Some of the City Wall…


The Church of Santa Isabel…


On our way back to Flamenco Red…


We then travel back to the campsite for some long overdue lunch and get set up properly, and find that the campsite was only opened last year and is a really nice place so have decided to stay 2 nights and ‘explore’ a bit more tomorrow…


Ultra clean and modern toilet block


Bom Noite!

12-04-2011, 12:20 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 11. (AM)

HOT & Cold!

After a really quite HOT day yesterday, well it got me in a pair of shorts! The temperature plummeted last night to around 3C (-16 F) but I did have a good night’s sleep, however when it came to breakfast this morning then all I can say is ‘Thank God’ for Porridge Oats as they are truly the ‘Central Heating for Pensioners’!

After a bowl of that with some honey and a good shower I fell ready to face another interesting day, but first I have to clean me teeth, and after the COLD Night I had one heck of a job getting the toothpaste out of the tube, it was like it was FROZEN!!

Put a few sandwiches together and we are off for a look around ‘Evoramonte’ (A Walled Town) which is a World Heritage Site & by all accounts really interesting place…..

The Model in the Castle


Coming in via….



But before we go through the Sun Gate a few views from around the outside…




Then having climbed up on top of the Sun Gate where ‘Health & Safety’ left it to what you had between your ears to look after you as there were no handrails which I found quite invigorating…


I got this view….


While up the main street…


The views around the area were quite breathtaking….







While looking left from the Sun Gate….




Climbed back down the steps and started to make our way up the main street to find….



We then get to and enter the Castle which was FREE Entry but I think that was because it was Sunday….

Ground floor (There are 3 floors)



Up the stairs to the 2nd Floor Entrance…


While the main central room was the same as the previous floors the outer rooms were slightly different…


Looking into the central room…


Side room with fireplace…


Then up on the roof…


With the view through the castellated top….



As we got to the bottom we saw some information about the ‘build/defences’ of the castle…


Then about the ‘Knots’ you can see on the outside walls which I hope you can read…



Then we set off down the other side….



Next stop was the Church, but sadly it was not open….



As that took care of the morning we then went back to the campsite for a bit of lunch with a view to going over to Estremoz for a look at the Food Festival in the afternoon, which turned out to be a nice experience as I am sure you will see.

12-04-2011, 12:59 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 11. (PM)

OK so lunch is taken care of and we are now on our way back into Estremoz for the last day of the ‘Food Festival’

After following the signs for the festival on the outskirts of the town we find ourselves in the car park of a large hall. Flamenco Red seems to be getting a lot of attention, but I think it is the kayak on the roof that is making people curios!

Meanwhile inside the hall we find…

Restaurants serving local produce, and in effect you could have ‘Sunday Lunch’ :D


Along with a number of side stalls displaying local produce which was for sale…



Then we spot this ‘Little Cutie’ along with her Mother and another member of her group….


Around 30 minutes later they are all making their way up on stage for an exhibition of local dance and song…







The next routine involved the Men using sticks which they smacked together with some force!


Not to be outdone, the Ladies then had a go, and I am glad I was NOT on the receiving end of one of their ‘Thwacks’!


All too soon it was the end of the performance and the end of the festival…


We then made our way back to the campsite, and as the time had really shot forward I fancied a nice drink, but while we were at Evoramonte on our way back to Flamenco Red, I spotted a Lemon Tree with some fruit overhanging the public footpath, so detached a Lemon from the tree….


It made my Cuba Libre really special and very nice! Cheers!! [thumbup][thumbup]

Tomorrow we are back on the road to Evora but it is not far so a short drive is on the horizon!

Bom Noite!

12-04-2011, 06:44 PM
Wow - looks like a lot of sunny days. What's the temperature like?


12-05-2011, 01:00 AM
Wow - looks like a lot of sunny days. What's the temperature like?


Anything from 16C (60.8F) during the daytime to 3C (37.4F) at night when the Thermal Hat appears! :D

This morning though it is quite misty outside which I think was a left over from yesterday, possibly cause a short delay in us moving off to the next place while we wait for the Sun to burn it off!

12-05-2011, 11:19 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 12.

Hey Ho, another day another city!

After a nice quite night, that was not cold due to the clouds moving in, we take the short drive to Evora which is another World Heritage Site.

Outskirts of Evora.


Having arrived but had to wait until the mist partly cleared at our last campsite before we could head off, we decided to have an ‘R&R Day’ as we needed some groceries and to sort out some other bits and pieces.

‘Flamenco Red’ also needed a ‘Bath & Vacuum’ to get back to looking good as the fog that we passed through a few days ago had left both the ‘Tin Tent’ & ‘FR’ looking decidedly unclean.

So apart from a bit of ‘work’ it has been a somewhat lazy day, but we are planning a day to go ‘exploring’ in Evora tomorrow and will report back the results in due course.

‘Bo Noite’

12-06-2011, 10:48 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 13.

A day exploring Evora.

But first our ‘campsite’…



So now you need to ‘Get on your Bike’ and start pedalling towards the City Centre and on the way you see…


Town Gate (It’s the space in the middle of the picture!)


Looking back across the traffic island we see more Marble!


While up in the City Square we meet Granddad selling Hot Chestnuts!


While at one end of the square is the church of St Antao with its little altars around the walls for different saints, and there was one that was asking for donations to the value of €8000 for repairs!






Then back outside we see the other end of the square and fountain...


We then set off for the Roman Temple and see this nice view up an alleyway…


Then a bit further see the top of the Cathedral…


But got to the door, saw the price of admission and decided no…


Shortly after we arrived at the Roman Temple…



While across the road was the Church of Loios…






While excavating some of the surroundings they came across the bones of Monks from the Monastery next door, so moved them to a space under the church.



Christmas display in the church…


Not sure if these are Choir Boy seats or what?


Now out of the church and on our way to the Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval


And judging by the furnishings and surroundings it was very ‘Upmarket’!








The Helmet in the picture below reminded me of the Spanish ‘Conquistadors but not after a 'Rainy Day’!


I think this was the guy that lived here as his picture is all over the place in various guises…


Not sure if these ‘bells’ were for the Servants?


Some of the items from their overseas adventures!


Finally got back outside making our way to the Roman Aquaduct….




And there it is….



Very interesting how the houses have been built into the columns…


Top view showing how it was fully enclosed…


This was the start point, just to the left of the NO ENTRY sign!


City view of the narrow streets…


Interesting carving of what appears to be ‘Wings’ in Marble….



A City Hygiene ‘Truck’!


Evora Theatre with a nice little park that we had lunch in….


A statue of Vasco De Gama that was given to Evora by Africa…


Another Palace, with nice interesting architecture, but it was closed.






The residents of the palace have long since gone, but the Peacocks are still here!


We then made our way back to the campsite and tomorrow we are ‘On the Road again’ to Serpa.

Ps. I think we are getting close to Christmas as we heard Bing Crosby singing a Christmas Carol with a Backing Choir on a radio in a small cafeteria in the Municipal Market as we called in for a coffee on our way back to the campsite! :D:D
Must dig out my Christmas Stocking when we get back unless I have a ‘Senior Moment’ and forget again! :eek:

Boa Noite!

12-08-2011, 10:42 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 14.

Woke this morning to a very foggy day so our start time to Serpa was delayed hoping the fog would lift, but 2 hours later there was no difference so we decided to head off and take it easy as it was not a long drive.

During the journey we were absolutely amazed to see a number of vehicles driving along with no lights on and also a couple of drivers wearing Sunglasses while driving! [nonono] [cussing]

Arrived at our next campsite to find that the place is undergoing some changes in ‘Tree Planting’ along the edges of the roads and some of the people here think it is to stop people camping there, which makes no sense.

After a short while and having checked in we found a place that was relatively flat and got parked up and set up as we are here for a few weeks, well certainly till the New Year!

As the fog actually lifted around 16:00hrs today we decided to go out after dinner and see what we could find in interesting views around the town during the evening, but a word of warning….

We set off without a map and after 45 minutes got completely LOST!:eek:

While we have been in many places we have never felt so concerned but eventually we found our way back to a part we knew so all was well again!

The small church just around the corner from the campsite


Road leading to the Roman Aqueduct


Part of the Aqueduct


The rest of the Aqueduct


Town Wall Gate


Narrow street with part of Town wall going across


Another Town Wall Gate


The main Town Wall Gate


A rather nice little chimney


View up to the Castle


If it’s a nice day tomorrow we might be able to get back in the daylight for a better view!

12-08-2011, 10:47 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 15.

Again we wake up to a foggy day but not as thick as yesterday and by 11:00 it was starting to disappear, meanwhile we kicked off after breakfast with the laundry hoping it was going to clear up weather wise, and it has but the laundry is not quite dry!


Here in Serpa today is a holiday and it is the 38th Anniversary of the local Band, so we were treated to some very nice music as the band made its way through some of the streets of the town.



The little church just outside the campsite


The view towards the Aqueduct albeit on a misty morning


Another narrow town street


The Town Hall


Bell Tower that is in front of the church of Santa Maria


The church of Santa Maria


The part of the Town Wall that nearly ‘fell over’


‘Moorish’ style houses near one of the town squares


Bo Noite!

12-10-2011, 04:21 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 16.

It has been the Immaculate Conception Public Holiday here in Portugal today so the majority of shops and certainly Public Buildings have been closed.

As a result, Pages 14 & 15 were uploaded last night with the Laptop ‘balanced’ on the Telephone Distribution Box outside the ‘Bibliotech’ in Serpa while using the ‘Hotspot Wi-Fi’ connection! :eek:
(Next time I take a picture, promise.) [thumbup]

As it was somewhat dark at the time, and getting colder by the minute I am extremely glad it was a fast connection as my fingers were in the process of clamping up and Laptop Battery life was depreciating rapidly!

I think if my good lady had been with me and I had tried to warm my fingers up on her, I would have had my face slapped! YEOW! [nonono]:D

Thankfully the Library is open tomorrow, so we can go inside and stay warm with a mains hook-up!!! [thumbup]

Now on the day after and we face yet another ‘Foggy Day’ but I must admit it looks a bit thinner, however we decided to have breakfast and toddle off to a place called ‘Mértola’ which is described as ‘The place where Islam meets Christianity’….

So off we go travelling down foggy roads, and having arrived at the town we park up and find the Tourist Office which has this nice picture on the back wall of the office…


Whereas at the ‘entrance’ to the town you are met by this nice sign and sculptures…



Then not far from the Tourist Office is….


First stop was the Parish Church that was formerly a Mosque, and before that a Roman Temple!…


Then inside the Parish Church, which was quite plain in its decoration, we saw the ‘Mihrab’ behind the Madonna & Child statue…


While a couple of the doorways still had Islamic styles visible…


Back outside the Church and making our way to the Castle, look back and you see a nice view of the Church Roof…


Then onward & upward to the Castle via the entrance gate…


And into the inner area…


Next we climb the stairs of the Tower that have been illuminated with LED Rope Chains from the local Chinese Shop!


With a view back to the town that is not good!


Nice view of the ‘Castellated’ top of the tower…


Then a view over into another corner of the Castle…


While having come back down the Tower we find a coat of arms in the main area…


Then some information about artefacts that were found in the ‘living space’ of the castle…


That concluded we make our way outside and see this Moor Horse Rider outside who only appeared to ‘last’ 3 years…


We then started to make our way in a circular fashion down to and along the road adjacent to the river…


I think some of the corners and angles of descent would have brought me close to ‘PANIC’ if we had driven around town, and I did not fancy any bent panels in Flamenco Red, so I am rather glad we walked!


Our next stop was the Islamic Art Collection Museum…




Spotted this Stork as we wandered around the Museum…


The ceiling in the picture below was re-created from a place in Morocco called Chefchaouene…


Back outside and further along the ‘River Wall’ we see the ‘River Tower’ where the Toll was collected from ships using the Port and also water was drawn from the river for the town…


Further on we pass this ‘Ancient Clock Tower’ on the right and the ‘Roman House’ on the left…


With the top of the Roman House, which is now a Council Building…


As it was now ‘lunch time’ here in Portugal which lasts from 12:30 till 14:00hrs we decided to go and seek some sustenance which turned out to be, a bowl of soup, followed by a nice cake, followed by coffee for the princely sum of €4.50 for both of us!

Now refreshed and the caffeine levels back to normal we just took a stroll around the rest of the town with the following results…


We think that the Christmas Tree was purchased by the Council from the local Chinese Shop, as it was very nice but quite cheap!...







Lastly for today, a Shepherd with his small flock of sheep & dogs just outside Serpa as we got back…


That’s it for today, we are hopeful that tomorrow is a nicer day, but we have a forecast of RAIN, so there is no chance for the laundry!

Bo Noite!

12-10-2011, 07:55 AM

12-11-2011, 09:10 AM

Glad you are enjoying the trip!
I hope when you read the next bit your coffee is not to hot! :D

12-11-2011, 09:12 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 17.

Sadly the morning fog/mist was with us yet again today but cleared around lunchtime to be followed shortly after by the rain, not heavy but persistent, bit like the incessant drip, drip, drip of a leaky tap into a metal bowl, so now you know what inside the ‘Tin Tent’ sounds like!

Our laundry has still not dried out completely after 4 days, and the Tumble Dryer at the campsite is out of service with no sign of it being replaced or repaired, so below is what a ‘Tin Tent’ resembles looking a bit like a ‘Drying Room’!

The picture of the hanger with all the ‘smalls’ on where omitted after protests from ‘er indoors! Sorry!


The ‘Tumble Dryer’ saga is not really surprising when we think back to the ‘antics’ witnessed a short while ago in another ‘event’ on site!
In 1 day it took 9 Men all of the day to plant 2 trees on the campsite!

The first tree was what can only be described as ‘Forcefully removed’ with a mechanical digger that just ripped it out of the ground, leaving around half the roots behind, and after much discussion re-planted in a new hole some time later. If it survives it will be a miracle.

The second was brought in and again after much discussion duly planted.
9 Men @ €5/hour x 8 Hours = €360 WOW! Expensive Trees!

Gone but not forgotten!


Re-planted but already the leaves are wilting.


As today draws to a close it has not been our finest day in Portugal but we have kept our spirits up by taking turns in pedalling the onboard generator in an effort to rustle up the evening meal of ‘Spag Bol’ with a bit of extra spice ‘cos it has been dam cold basically all day over here!

While our trusty ‘Slow Cooker’ has once again come to the fore with the ingredients literally thrown in, then pedal like hell to cook it!


Then 4 hours later on the HIGH Setting which means you have to pedal FASTER!!! :D:D

We eventually have dinner! [thumbup]

Bon appetite!


We hope you can smell it and it makes you jealous, cos it tasted Luverly!

Bo Noite!

12-11-2011, 09:16 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 18.

WOW! It was a bit clearer this morning but the sky looks a bit dark as the return of the rain has been forecast!

Decided to take a chance and go off for a ‘Sunday Drive’ even though the sky looked quite ominous with black clouds around, but it wasn’t long before we were in Olive growing countryside…


Then trundling along very quite roads with little towns/villages popping up on the horizon…


Then we spot this Portuguese Windmill that was in good condition…


It looks like it is still used as in this picture you can see the ‘Canvas Sails’ wrapped around the spars…


While just across the road was this rather interesting flower shaped like a trumpet…



As we drove along we passed several ‘Bridge Constructions’ that appear to have come to a total halt, as there was no sign of any of the normal machinery used in there construction. Maybe this was one of the things that the economic depression caused a halt to in Portugal…



Went into a small village as we spotted a couple of buildings that looked interesting and found this rather nice set of tiles in the wall of a house…


While around the corner was the local church, with the Christmas Bells in place..


Then around another corner were these chimneys with the Shepherd, sheep & dog as a wind vane…


Coming a bit further we spotted a group of people filling water containers from a spring in the village but did not have time to get the camera set up before we had passed, but it made me stop and think that some people still don’t have running water from a tap over here!

We then turned left and went ‘Semi Off Road’ as the road surface was diabolical and it felt like the suspension legs at one point were coming off!!!


Bit further along and the surface got better but we were then driving past the local Vineyards…


Time for a spot of lunch while parked alongside the Olive Groves…


Then on our way back to Serpa we spot this ‘Cork Yard’ where they take the cork which is basically the bark of a certain tree, and sort it before it goes off to be used in the industry…



Finally back on a different road on the outskirts of Serpa and we get this nice view of the town, castle, aqueduct and city wall…


While a bit further up the road is this structure which we are not sure if it was a water tower or something else, but there is water running into the bottom of it.


This reminds me that when we got back we still had 3 pieces of laundry that were not totally dry, but as the wind has now got up, it should not be long before they are!

12-13-2011, 04:33 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 19.

It really defies belief!

We went out for an evening stroll last night and while going past the Aqueduct we get stopped by whom of all people, Santa Claus asking us if we had a cigarette!

Then a bit later as it was a really clear night with a full Moon and getting quite cold, we get passed by a Brass Monkey with both his hands cupped together in front looking for a Welder, poor lad, we did feel sorry for him!

But now it’s Monday, the shops are shut, so no bread, the library is closed so any updates will have to be done outside while sat on the marble steps with the cold seeping into the ‘nether regions’ AGAIN! And to top it off it’s…..MISTY, but at least the mist is about 120ft off the ground!

Here goes another day in paradise, but when I get back to the ‘Tin Tent’ I will be hanging from the skylight while re-vitalising those ‘frozen bits’ over the halogen heater!

Still today we are off to a small place called ‘Monsaraz’ which is up in the hills and if we believe the Tourist Information leaflet has around 150 inhabitants.

So come on, climb aboard and let’s be off!

While passing through one of the villages we pass this nicely decorated church…


Then a bit further along we spot a large walled town on our left that looks interesting, so we make a diversion to ‘go see’…


Then find out it’s called….


First stop is the Tourist Office which was small but kind of ‘cute’…


Then having got some information we set off up the hill to the Church & Castle…


First stop was the Church…


Which I must admit was really nicely decorated inside…


Nativity scene inside…






Then back outside with views over the Barragem…


Then down into the town…



Short walk and we are at the castle entrance…


With some details about it’s history…


Sadly however the interior had fallen into a sad state, and even the steps up to the top of the walls did not look inviting, especially with all the ‘greenery’ along the top…


But the view after we came back out and went around the back was stunning…


As it was ‘coffee time’ we decided to walk back into the ‘Centro’ and find a little café so wandering down the narrow streets…


We finally come to…

A nice archway


Turning right we then see a rather nice garden with a Nativity on the Bandstand…




With some nice buildings around the outside…



As we then get to a café we spot these Olive Trees with there rather distorted trunks…


Then on the way back to the car park we spot this Storks Nest with the ‘spike’ through the centre! (Bit uncomfortable maybe?)


And up a side road inside a doorway were these old ploughs hanging on the wall…


Back on the road and after a short distance there is Monsaraz…


After a bit of ‘Growling’ from Flamenco Red as we went ‘hill climbing’ the town starts to get BIGGER!


Then in the car park we get out and look up…


Then a few feet further up and look back…


While on the archway leading into the town we spot this….


And there we are, I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story…..









Having then made our way into the Castle we went up a steel staircase were the view from the top looking into the town was…



While the next couple of pictures show the Bullring that was inside the castle…



Followed by a good view over the countryside. This is the largest Barragem in Portugal and forms part of the border with Spain…


While back down in the town we take a stroll around with the following results…







While back at the main town gate and looking to the left…


Made our way back to the car park…


However I thought a double wide shot of the Barragem would give you some idea of the size…

From Left to Right…


Next stop on our way back was under that very long bridge in the previous pictures…


10 Miles further on we followed this trailer for a short while with its load of Olives which are still being harvested and taken in to the Co-operatives for processing…


While a bit further down the road was this rather palatial residence with presumably the owner’s initials on the gates!


Thankfully the weather forecast got it wrong again so the rain did not materialise, so let’s see if they get it right tomorrow or we get another cock up from the weathermen!

Bo Noite!

12-13-2011, 10:16 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 20.

Today has been a rather lazy one, with grocery shopping this morning after a rather nice lie in, then a bit of lunch followed by some exercise of a stroll around Serpa while the dark clouds came over threatening rain but never quite making it!

So today comprises of some pictures from around the town….

While on our way to the Castle we see this small ‘altercation’ between Truck & Car, which completely blocked the rather narrow road. The arrival of the Police meant that written statements had to be made by each of the drivers and the paperwork was duly completed while it was placed on the hood/bonnet of the Police Car!


As we make our way further along the road we spot this rather nice Roof Garden…


Then while walking along the various streets/roads we see all different shapes & sizes of chimneys & views…




Walking passed a local Garage Workshop I was intrigued to see this ‘Car Hoist’ which looks like a ‘Vertical Scissor Jack’ a hydraulic ram being in each ‘leg’ for raising and lowering each one.


Then I spot the local Cooperative Hall with a date of 1886 on it!


Dropped into a little café for coffee and spotted these old farming implements on the wall…


In the next one I found the Bamboo structure under the roof tiles rather strange but quite fascinating…


Fresh Water Tap in the wall…


Narrow street with the back of another Church which until we saw the tower we thought it was an old barn…


Rather strangely shaped roof…


The next couple of pictures were taken through the window of the local museum as it was closed, but they do not allow pictures to be taken inside, so this was a bit of cheating! :D



Another of the numerous ‘Town Gates’


Then finally, and I haven’t seen one of these for a very long time, but this one was in very good condition…..

A ‘Mini Moke’ [thumbup]


Not sure what is happening tomorrow, but after it does, then I will let you know!

Boa Noite!

12-14-2011, 08:33 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 21.

Well today started out OK and then it went downhill quite rapidly as we tried for a day out in Beja, however before we got there we passed this rather large Olive Oil Factory which was in full production!


With the squashed/pulped olives coming out ready for disposal….


Just as we arrived in Beja I managed to get this rather decorative Traffic Island….


Then as we started to make our way into the centre the rain started and very shortly it was running off my jacket into the legs of my jeans which did not bode well!

With this picture of a ‘Paddling Pool’ near the centre


We then did an about turn and headed for the Supermarket for some food shopping, but once inside the colours and layout of the store was a rather nice surprise…

Just inside the entrance…


While up at the Bacalho (Dried Cod Fish) stall we saw the ‘end of the road’ for fish that we saw while at the top of Norway (Mehamn) on our Arctic Circle Tour.

The fish had been caught in Norway, then dried out, packed and sent to Portugal as it is in great demand there.


The ‘Grey’ thing in the middle of the picture is a Bandsaw, and while the lady on the right of the picture has a fish in her hand, she will take it to the person operating the Bandsaw to cut it into pieces which is then bagged and priced for the customer to take home!

Some of the people on the left of the stall had 3 or 4 fish waiting to get them cut up on the Bandsaw. Business there was quite brisk!

Moving on we came to the ‘Cooked Meats’ counter with something that you definitely do not see in the UK…

A couple of complete Pigs…


Now for the YUMMY’s!

Traditional very sweet cake shaped in a ring with fruit in and also very sticky!


Then looking back along the confectionary stalls…


Next came the ‘Fruit, Nuts & Vegetables’ and they all looked good…


With some rather dark ‘Sweet Potatoes’…


While further along but up at the back was the Fresh Fish counter, and the variety of different types was tremendous…


By this time we were getting a bit hungry looking at all this food, so after getting what we wanted it was back to Flamenco Red for the drive back to the campsite, some lunch and hopefully some peace and quiet for the rest of today, as we had the mechanical street sweeper around again this morning for the third day at 07:30!

Boa Noite!

12-16-2011, 03:31 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 22.

Boa Dia! (Good Morning!)

Well it was nice to see the Sunshine today, even if the darn Street Sweeper woke us up again at 07:30 this morning! [cussing]

The 4 Hours later it was still trundling around the town sweeping the streets! :D


But we decided as it was a nice day to ‘Get on our Bikes’ so off we went for a ride around the small roads….

As you can imagine the land is literally covered in Olive Groves…


With new ones being planted all the time…


However, they are still harvesting the crop and this guy had a power tool that was like a Comb with L O N G ‘Fingers’ that when pushed into the branches knocked the Olives off and onto the ground…


With a nice result after a short period of time…


While on the other side of the road was a Walnut Grove…


Then a bit further up the road on the other side was this ‘Sharon Fruit’ (Not sure if when there are a lot of the trees together you would call this an Orchard or Grove?) with a few of the fruit left, OK that’s how we knew it was what it was!


At various points in the fields as we cycled past we saw these ‘Radio Controlled Irrigation Points’ where they can turn the water supply to the fields on or off via Pumping Stations!


Then coming a bit further along we saw this group of workers collecting the Olives by hitting the branches of the trees with long poles that caused the Olives to drop off onto a large sheet placed on the ground under the tree…


When I saw the next thing it made me think back to the Tree Twigs and Logs that some people paint in Silver paint for Christmas only these were very ‘spiky’ weeds growing along the roadside that looked like they had just been sprayed Silver for Christmas…


While in the distance was this rather striking building that looked like a Hotel, but had a Church as part of the complex (Right Hand side of picture), but then had the ‘Round Tower with Central Spire’ between the main building and Church…


I nearly passed the next ‘thing’ which was Mother Nature and some Spiders Webs, but these were different in that they were shaped like Jellyfish without the tendrils, or maybe even a ‘UFO’ and there was a small hole in the centre at the top presumably to let the Spider or the ‘Aliens’ out…



After finally making it back to Serpa, we stopped for a coffee and to warm up a bit as we had ridden through a fair bit of very cold mist and then we see this ‘Trotting’ down the road….



Coffee drunk, it was time to get back on the bikes and get back to the campsite to ‘chill out’ in the sunshine for the rest of the day!

Boa Noite!

12-16-2011, 10:34 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 23.

Boa Tarde! (Good afternoon!)

I think the Street Sweeper must have overslept as we didn’t hear him this morning, but we did have a dog that was incessantly barking till around 11:45 last night! [cussing][cussing]

After a shower, breakfast and a few chores around the ‘Tin Tent’ we decided to set off again using ‘Pedal Power’ (Flamenco Red is currently having a bit of ‘Extended Leave’) and see if we could get to the place from yesterday that looked like a Hotel & Church on the hill…

Set off and finally worked out the way to get there and as we travelled along we spot this rather nice coloured fungus growing at the base of an Olive Tree…


While a bit further up the road, and we were now ‘hill climbing’ via ‘Pedal Power’ we spot this nice pair of ‘Legs’ that was actually an Olive Tree that had split into 3!



As we finally get to the top of the hill we see…


This is the place where the Serpa Carnival finishes up after it runs each year with some of the festivities inside the Marquee on the right of the picture...

Then just a bit further up the road at the very top of the hill is…



Which was consecrated in 1946…



While inside, the church is very small…

Apologies as the picture was taken using flash through a hole in the door as the church was shut up and locked.


While outside is this structure which I think is a Geographic Trig point constructed in 1969…


Moving over to the outer edge of the hill we had this rather nice view of Serpa and the surrounding area…



Then as we made our way down the hill we spot this Farmer trying to send a few smoke signals and failing miserably as by this time it was quite windy!


Now heading back into Serpa and we find the place where some of the Fairground ‘Snack Bar’ trailers go for the Winter…



Next up we spot this odd piece of concrete that looks like an old ‘village prison’ but after some hunting around as no-one knew what it was, it turns out to be the result of a ‘Project’ by the students at the local college in Construction!


Overtaken by but caught it back up as the driver went into a shop, was this load of Olives to the processing plant…


After a quick coffee we went into a small Municipal Garden that has a pond and found this rather elegant Black Swan…


Then after a quick visit to a Pasteleria it was back to the ‘Tin Tent’ for a bit of recuperation and the enjoyment of one of the best things in Portugal…

A ‘Natas’ which is like a Custard Tart but much nicer, especially after is is warmed up!


Boa Noite!

12-18-2011, 08:12 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 24.

Boa Tarde! (Good afternoon!)

Well here we are on our 3rd Weekend after getting out of the UK! WOW!

The Sun is shining nicely, but the constant wind has dropped the temperature which is a shame as it could have been a nice WARM Day otherwise

Still as the weekend is upon us & not to be outdone our first visit is to the Library to deal with our email and a few other things.

Included in that visit is the daily ‘fix’ of a local Coffee in the cafeteria and what looks like a piece of ‘Black Pudding’ but is in fact a slice of Chocolate Cake with a few Nuts thrown in to keep your teeth from getting ‘clogged up’! Well that’s my excuse and it was very nice, the cake that is.


All completed at the Library and it was back to the ‘Tin Tent’ via the Supermarket for a few things and then some lunch, after which we decided to let ‘Flamenco Red’ continue having a rest and we would once again use ‘Pedal Power’ for a trip into the ‘countryside’ along a route we used a couple of years ago.

As we cycled down the ‘road’ we saw that work had been carried out on ‘improvements’ as we were not able to get this far previously due to their being no track and a serious amount of water running down!


The stream/river bed has been deepened with concrete drains being fitted under the track.

Then a bit further along, up over the hill you see the track running off into the valley below…


At this point we decided to ‘about turn’ and head back, noticing as we came back up the track that the farm buildings we pass are now deserted, while 2 years ago they had animals in and goats in the fields outside.


Even the farmhouse behind these buildings is deserted with the roof falling in…


However a bit further up the track we see that the land is still being farmed, but this could be by another farm..


But then….I think I am being looked down on as a ‘potential meal’ by the equivalent of a UK ‘Red Kite’ but he or she decided I must have been too big and thankfully flew off with his or her mate to look elsewhere…


Boa Noite!

12-19-2011, 09:37 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 25.

Bom Dia!

But firstly apologies as there are no photographs today! [nonono]

Well while Sunday was a nice sunny day it was time again to get the laundry out of the way and thankfully we managed to get it all dry the same day, unlike the last time when it took 4 DAYS thanks to the misty days, other than that it has been one nice big ‘Bone Idle’ day for everyone!

This evening we set off for a night at the Cinema to watch the Johnny English film with Rowan Atkinson playing a ‘spoof’ James Bond.

Must say I was impressed by the size and condition of the cinema, but was a bit concerned when I saw a group of girls arrive with Blankets, as I thought we might have gate crashed a ‘Sleep Over’! :D

So after getting it the queue for our tickets for which we paid the princely sum of €2 EACH which is about a third of what we would pay in the UK we took our seats along with a few other adults and around 200 children for the performance to begin at 21:30hrs.

The film was in English with Portuguese Sub Titles which was great for us but to be honest the sound could have done with being a bit louder.

At just on 22:30 the film stopped dead, but hadn’t finished and the house lights came back on, it was the intermission and around half the kids disappeared outside for a quick smoke which we picked up from the smell when they came back in (Uggh!). No drinks popcorn or sweets where on sale inside the cinema, and definitely no Ice Cream!.

15 minutes later the film started again after the guy in the projection room pushed the ‘Go’ button and at the end of the film there was considerable whistling & cheering from the younger audience, after Rowan ‘made good’ then when the house lights came back up I saw the reason for the blankets that the girls had brought in.

As there was no heating in the cinema they had wrapped the blankets around their legs and waists to keep out the cold, meanwhile we were feeling quite cold which was not helped with the temperature when we got outside! So it was a very short but brisk walk back to the campsite and we are still trying to warm up this morning!!! :eek::eek:

Boa Noite!

12-20-2011, 11:43 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 26.

Bom Dia!

Monday came and went in a blaze of bright blue sky but a cold temperature if you got out of the direct rays of the Sun!

We were hoping that the camping book that we ordered would have arrived today but once again the post has been delivered and that item was not in the ‘Postie’s sack or should that be Santa’s sack? So we will have to wait until tomorrow and see if it arrives then.

Meanwhile it was out after lunch for a few more groceries from the local supermarket with a nice coffee and pastry from a Pasteleria in town.
I think the boredom is now setting in as we have seen as much of Serpa and the surrounding countryside as we can, we also get the feeling and looking on the ‘Event’ board that not a lot happens around here at Christmas time so getting to the next campsite is at the forefront of our minds.

However on a stroll into town this evening we saw in front of the ‘Moroccan’ style houses the waterfall was now running and the display with the coloured lights was active, so that made a nice change to watch that for a couple of minutes!


Walking on further into town we see these Olive Trees. We have no idea how old they are but their trunks look quite ‘ethereal’ and a bit spooky in the light as we pass them by….




While around a corner we see this house where the owner obviously thought about keeping dry as they stepped through the front door!


A short while after we are back at the campsite and looking at a few of the Christmas Decorations on the outfits in the camp ground, but bear in mind we only get 6Amps here!




Now we can look forward to another night of Barking Dogs that are left out overnight by their owners and the ‘good old’ Street Sweeper for the 07:30 Alarm Call!

Jeez I hope that delivery arrives tomorrow, and we will be gone faster than you can say ‘Donald Duck’ backwards!

Boa Noite!

12-20-2011, 01:00 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 27.

Bom Dia!

Well what an absolutely GOBSACKING night! :eek: [cussing]

From 11:00pm (or 23:00hrs) till 04:00 this morning we had this one Dog who sadly was left out all night by its owners and was clearly not a ‘Happy Bow Wow’ as it did not stop barking or squealing all night! [cussing][cussing]

This was duly followed by our ‘Friendly’ Road Sweeper who literally went up and down the road 4 times ‘Brushing up the leaves’! [cussing]

So at 09:15am we decided to go down to the Post Office and see if we could establish if the expected delivery had arrived.

After some trips between the Post and Tourist Offices the parcel must still be in ‘transit’ or lost as it was not there, we then went back to the campsite to hear once again the barking/howls of the same dog, so enough is enough and we packed up and left after a more permanent person on the campsite said he would let us know if and when the parcel arrives.

As we made our way across to Castro Verde and our next campsite we took a ‘short cut’ as advised by the ‘Sat Nav’ and found ourselves on a couple of rather narrow roads that approaching vehicles come towards you with 25% of themselves on your side of the road!!! :eek::eek:

So you just have to ‘stand your ground’ and you ain’t got much choice when the ‘Tin Tent’ takes up 50% of the road width! Grit your teeth, close your eyes and go for it while waiting for the scraping sound as the other vehicle passes you! [nonono]



We then come to the wider road that has the little white line down the middle…


But… then as we come up against the ‘12 Legged Road Block’ you see that you cannot overtake as the solid white line is on your side!


It was actually quite strange, while there were 2 horses at the rear, the cart was being pulled by a Mule!

However we did slow down so as not to upset the ‘Trio’ as we went past and got a BIG Wave as 'Obrigardo' (Thank you) from the man on the cart which was nice! :D

Just a bit further along the road we see these 2 Storks waiting for a ‘Christmas Delivery Call’


While a bit further was this 3 Nests on a pole but it looked like all the Storks were out making deliveries!


Half a mile later and I pulled over to check some loose items and I heard this bellowing down below us and saw this herd of cattle who were having a right fight amongst themselves, with a couple of them literally being forced backwards with the other animals horns! :eek:


Not much further and in glorious sunshine we pull into the campsite…


Then having got set up and had dinner we see this rather nice sunset behind reception, with hopefully a nice quite night in front of us!


So. How did the Night go?

All will be revealed next time!

Boa Noite!

12-21-2011, 12:14 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 28.

Bom Dia!

Last night and this morning was absolute BLISS!!!! :D:D:D

No Dogs howling or barking and definitely NO Road Sweeper rolling up and down at 07:30! [thumbup]

But…wait for it, the MIST was back! [nonono][nonono]

However by 10:30 it was being burnt off by the Sun and today was a ‘special day’ here in Castro Verde as it is Christmas Market Day! :D

So, after breakfast and a quick brush of the teeth, not forgetting a wash especially behind the ears, we are off with rucksack (Just in case) to the market!






OK, so what do you do with 4 children, while their parents are looking after the Market Stall?

You give them some polystyrene pieces, a few sticks and you let them create something!


After getting a few things like Fresh Figs & Almond Nuts along with a new pair of shoes as the ones I got in the UK just before we left are literally falling apart! We head back through town and see this rather impressive building….




We managed to make some enquiries about the building from local people and a man who works in Porto but has a house in Castro Verde and spoke very good English.

It seems that the house was owned by a very rich business man who possibly had connections in Macao (China) hence the Chinese style roof and the stairs that look a bit like The Great Wall of China.

He also owned a lot of land around the town and used the towers to watch his workers in the fields as formally Castro Verde and the surrounding area was the ‘Market Garden’ of Portugal as it grew many things (Vegetables & Cereals)

I then went up to one of the windows with the ‘Bars’ on the window and took a picture through of the inside, but I am not sure what it shows?


We then made our way back to the campsite…


After a late lunch it was time for a bit of laundry to be done while for me it was to clean the roof of the ‘Tin Tent’ and then to watch the Sunset after a day of 17C (62F)

Looking away from the Sunset, we got this…


While looking into the Sunset we got….



But I think these guys had a better view from their ‘perch’ or should that be ‘nests’


Ps. We have a number of people from Finland on the campsite and the gentleman behind us and to our left has a very nicely decorated awning on his RV/Camper with quite a number of Christmas Lights, so if the power ‘dies’ we all know who to blame, but…

Have you ever listened to ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ in Finnish?

Well I was singing along tonight when I heard it, but it was in English!

Boa Noite!

12-22-2011, 01:02 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 29.

Bom Dia!

After another night of shear ‘Heaven’ in terms of NO noise we woke this morning to some mist but nowhere as dense as yesterday, and by 09:00 it had virtually ‘burnt off’ with the Sun. :D

We had been told about a small lake near to the campsite that might be OK to go and use the kayak on, so after breakfast we took off on the bikes for a look see that took us past….

The Municipal Sports Stadium, which has Football Pitch, Running Track, Javelin, Discus & Hammer Throwing areas…

The front of the Sports Stadium…


The ‘Boiler House’ in the Stadium for providing hot water etc…


The Sports Field with some of the facilities….



Moved on past the Sports Stadium then just away to one side and away from some houses we see...

Which is the ‘Residence’ of a family!

There is a garbage bin which is just out of the picture, and I think the little ‘blue lump’ at the left hand side of the picture is a fresh water supply, but there is no electric, and there does not appear to be any sanitation!


Having arrived a bit later at the small lake we could see that with the steep banks it was not practical to try and get the kayak into the water, so we head back to town and on the way we see…

Our first ‘Metal Sculptures’ and we understand there are more around the town


Then we see the remains of the ‘insides’ of a couple of either Windmills or Water Pumps, which from yesterday we understand were quite prolific in the area as this was ‘The Centre of the Garden of Portugal’ …



This afternoon was a blistering 20C and I did not expect to go Sun Bathing 3 days before Christmas, but that is what happened, coupled with giving Flamenco Red a ‘Wash & Brush Up’ as she was looking decidedly ‘grubby’ after some of the roads around Serpa, so in between Sun Bathing and cooling down, that’s what happened.
I was also asked if I would remove the kayak from the roof of Flamenco Red as a number of people had been paying rather a lot of attention to it while parked outside. :eek:

The man from the campsite who asked me did not realise that it was also ‘locked’ to the roof bars with a heavy duty cable lock, but as he pointed out, it would not stop the nylon straps being slashed even though the kayak was not removable, so we took it off and he broke into a BIG grin with a double ‘Thumbs Up’ [thumbup]

Tomorrow promises to be another ‘Hot Sunny Day’ and we have reserved our places at a Campsite Dinner being organised by Reception where we will sit down to a 3 course dinner with other people from the campsite and if I understand correctly some people from the Municipality!

Sounds like a bit of fun, and the results will be posted after the ‘event’!

Well come on, give me a break, did you expect to see them before!!! :p

Boa Noite!

12-23-2011, 08:47 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 30.

Bom Dia!

Sat here this morning and must admit I was feeling ‘grumpy’ about the fact that the Mist/Fog was once again with us and a bit thicker and then I received this email from friends in Christchurch New Zealand…..

“Well, what an afternoon! Between 2pm and 8pm we have had 29 shakes and we have felt most of them. We started with a 5.8 which was bad enough but then we got a 6.0 which is almost twice as strong. I was at home and the place really shook and it certainly brought back memories of the past. The two big ones today are the fourth and fifth biggest quakes we have had. Although we have been getting several tremors a day over the last few months they have been that small that we don’t feel most of them so everyone felt that things were settling down but we were obviously wrong. It’s a very scary situation but I haven’t found any damage so we are very lucky on our side of town. Kayes brother is on the other side of town and he has liquefaction for the fourth time which is not very pleasant as sewerage is often mixed with it. All the shopping malls closed down just like Boxing Day last year so they will suffer again. It’s really worrying when I can’t get hold of Kaye because the phones are down but she eventually contacted me which was a great relief. Kayes company is good as staff get sent home if there has been any big shakes.

We have had nearly 8000 shakes since September last year so you would think we were used to it but I can tell you, we ain’t!!

I was originally sending this attachment to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and never dreamt I would be writing the above.”

It certainly made me stop and think how lucky we are to live where we do, and also to spare a thought for people and friends who are not as fortunate especially at this time of year.

Decided today to take a walk over to the Supermarket on the far side of town which would hopefully show us some of the ‘Sights in Castro Verde’ and we were not to be disappointed !

Just after leaving the campsite we pass this ‘Arena’...


Set in a grassy area with another Iron Plate Sculpture...


While a bit further along we see in this small square the familiar Red Post Box!


Yet another Town Garden a bit further along...



Turn left at the top of the road, look to the right and we see the Council Workers making the outside of a school look neat and tidy with the neat little houses on the other side of the road...


A bit further up the road are these tiles set into the entrance of the house, showing an old scene from the area...


While further on is the ‘Pensioners Residence’ and we understand that you really get looked after in there!


Then as we make our way nearer the centre is this Traffic Island with the plastic sheep and steel Shepherd!


While looking up towards the Church we see in Steel Sculptures the 3 Wise Men with their Camels...



With the Nativity in the centre...


While for the arrival of Santa Claus we have some knitted woollies hanging in the window of this house!


A rather nice flowering bush was a bit further down the road but it had no fragrance..


Then just across the road we spot these nice chimneys..


However for the person living in No 13...


Our next stop as we saw the doors open was...



Once we stepped inside and through the curtain we were totally blown away, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves...

As you got inside your eyes were immediately drawn to the Roof...

Wooden construction with this fantastic mural...



While up on the left of the altar was this Nativity...


Along each side were 2 Nativity scenes made by pupils from the Primary Schools...


Then as you stood in the centre of the Basilica and turned through 360 degrees your eyes took in the tiles, pictures on them and the altar...








Then back outside and strolling down the road we spot this little Cactus that seems to gender images of ‘Texas’ and the wild outdoors!


Remember that LARGE Canvas ‘Residence’ from yesterday? Well we think some of the family were out for a ‘spin’ today....


Passing yet another Town Garden...


We come to the ‘Construction Materials Factory’...


Get to the top of the road, turn around and there is the Basilica...


Cross over the road and we are at the place where the Christmas Market was held with this ‘Spaceship’ style WC in the middle of the site!


Then over in the corner we see the Windmill, with the sails out and they are turning!


Not being ones to miss an opportunity we went over to see if it was open and it was,


But after sticking my head inside and shouting “Bon Dia” there was no answer, and as I could not interpret the note on in the window of the door, I stepped inside...

Ground floor...


While overhead...


Then to the left is this narrow stone staircase...


So off I went, up it!

And up in the top we see....

The Gears from the shaft that goes out to the sails...



While at the end of the vertical shaft are the Millstones sat in a wooden case with the seed being fed by vibration into the centre...


Then out on one side comes the ground seed...


While up in the top is the ‘Wind Direction Indicator’ (The small wooden ‘pointer’) with the metal one outside...



We then saw 2 men sat together away from the Windmill and when I pointed to it one of the men got up and came over inviting us to go inside and have a look!

I didn’t have the nerve or language skills to tell him that I had already done it but my good lady hadn’t so off we went.

It turns out he owns the Windmill and still uses it for personal use, and was grinding some seeds to make things for the family, we thanked him, wished him a Feliz Natal and gave him a few € which brought a nice smile to his weather beaten face made our goodbyes and then headed for the supermarket!


Where looking at all the delicacies for Christmas we indulged in one of the items that looks a bit like a ‘rolled up hose’ and is the circular item second from the left in the picture...


Must admit that it has been one heck of a day today, and we still have the ‘Campsite Dinner’ to go tonight so I will put the update on for that tomorrow and will let you know what the ‘rolled up hose’ was like after we get our teeth into it!

Meanwhile the Sun is now shining away and Flamenco Red is enjoying another bit of Sunbathing after the wash and brush up of yesterday!

Boa Noite! (Portuguese)

12-24-2011, 07:09 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 30 Part 2.

“The campsite dinner”

Well I must admit when we looked back today, yesterday evening was wonderful thanks to the hard work of the ‘Castro Verde Parque Municipal Camping Staff’

On the menu for the dinner were ‘Starters’ of Meat, Cheese, Prawns, Olives & Bread.
Followed by a very nice Vegetable Soup
The main course was Bacalhau Pie (Cod Pie) with a side salad
The Desserts were too many to mention but what we tried were delicious!
There was Red Wine, Orange & Apple Juice and to go with the Desserts and just after them we had a small glass of Port from Porto!

The room



The campsite staff with ‘The Boss’ on the left…


Just before dinner commenced…


The Bacalhau Pie, which was Cod fish from Norway, cooked in Olive Oil, Mashed Potatoes and Bechamel Sauce, and we had to go back for extra portions it was that nice!


Then came the ‘Entertainment’ which was the daughter of one of the campsite staff singing some typical Portuguese Christmas songs…


Followed by a gentleman from Finland who played a number of tunes and carols on his Saxaphone!


Then finally we also had this gentleman from Finland who had to take his waistcoat off before he could drink any alcohol!


With the last event of the evening which was the Christmas Gift Draw.


After returning to the ‘Tin Tent’ and falling into bed, looking back it was the best night’s sleep in the last 3 weeks!

Hope we can do it again…..soon!

12-24-2011, 10:46 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 31.

Bom Dia!

Well after last night it was a late start this morning, and as it is Christmas Eve then after a quick breakfast we set off for a bit more grocery shopping and a few more of the sights from around the town!

First stop was the rather impressive Bombeiros (Fire Station)

While next was the ‘Centro de Saude’ (Hospital) which although it looks small it has an Emergency Department and you would be brought in by the Bombeiros in an Ambulance!


Yet another couple of decorated Traffic Islands…



Then just outside the Tourism Office we see the explanation of why the houses in Portugal are painted ‘White’…


While inside the Tourism Office we are given a brochure that shows the indside workings of the Windmills…


A bit further down the road we see this nice Infants Playground…


While on the rear wall are some large pictures and descriptions of some of the Birds in the area as it is a Wild Bird Paradise and Ornithologists come from far and wide to see them…


Then at the top of town looking down one of the main streets we see that the Windmill is still ‘churning away’ but what I didn’t realise is that the ‘Black Top’ swivels to get the best wind!


A couple more of the Iron Plate Sculptures…


Then on our way back to the campsite we stop off in this very small ‘Pastileria’ for a ‘Grand Coffee con Leite’ and a Pastry each!


Passing this nice row of bungalows just outside the Bibliotech (Library)


We then pass a house with an Orange Tree and this other Tree in the front garden, but we do not know what the fruit is that grows on it.
So unless anyone out there does and can tell me we will have to go and knock on the front door and ask!


That’s it for today, but to everyone who is reading this Blog and enjoying the trip in the ‘Third Seat’

We would like to wish you all…..

Good night! (English)
Boa Noite! (Portuguese)
Hyvää yötä (Finnish)

Then tomorrow have a truly…

Merry Christmas (English)
Feliz Natal (Portuguese)
Iloista joulua (Finnish)

12-25-2011, 09:39 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 32.

Bom Dia!

“It’s Christmas”

Woke to a beautiful Christmas Day Morning with a clear Blue Sky, not a sign of mist anywhere and a temperature that was making a very definite upward motion! [thumbup]

Shower, shave, breakfast and a cleaning of the ‘toothy pegs’ and we are off into town for a nice walk before Christmas Dinner!

First viewing was this Solar Array and we thought the installer had maybe one to many to drink before they put it up!


As we then get up to the entrance to the ‘Centro de Saude’ (Hospital) this Moped Rider comes past with his left foot in a green covering and a pair of crutches in his right hand while riding his bike! :eek:



Then we spot this rather strange Cactus with its Centre Spire!


We then pass by that rather intriguing building where we learn that the rich business man’s wife was very beautiful and she used to go up the tower to watch what was happening in the fields but no one could see her!


Next stop was another café for coffee except this time it came with a small Christmas ‘Present’ which was a small liqueur chocolate


After the coffee stop we set off down some roads we had not travelled and found some nice tile scenes at the entrance to the houses, sadly one was slightly damaged…



It was also interesting to see that there are NO Metal Street Name Signs in this town. They are all made with Tiles!


Then we get into a new area….


Spot the small windmill?


OK so the next one is easier, or you need new glasses!


Children’s Play Area….


Interesting ‘rounded’ corner building…


Then up a side street we see the ‘Marble Works’


As we then make our way back to the campsite to prepare Christmas Lunch we see that the ‘Canvas Residents’ appear to have some friends over..


Then under the roof of the Sports Hall we see all these Birds Nests…


We then arrived back at the campsite, prepared and cooked Christmas Lunch from which we wish you all….

Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for 2012


After polishing off the lunch and some very nice Christmas Pudding, it was time for some Sunbathing, but only after washing the dishes!

End of a Beautiful Day! [thumbup][thumbup]

Boa Noite!

12-26-2011, 12:29 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 33.

Bom Dia!

Yet another bright, sunny, mist free, day greeted us this morning so after breakfast we hopped into Flamenco Red and set off for….



The town is built on a hill which very soon becomes apparent…







While after a bit of puffing and wheezing with all that Christmas Lunch still floating around you get to a point where….


Then a bit further along you get to a small square where you have…

The Church…


While alongside is the Cinema…


Then on the other side is a Roman Church (That is what a local person told us) with the writing above the door…


While inside is now a Paint Shop!


Start off downhill again…


Turn a corner and you get…


Then we pass the ‘School for Politicians’! :D (Kindergarten)


With all the footwork a coffee was definitely next so we stopped in a Pasteleria for “2 Café Grand con Leite” and what I thought were 2 nice pastry cakes, except mine wasn’t, it was a small Chicken Pie!

This really brought a smile to the lady’s face as she ‘tells’ me what it is by flapping her arms and clucking, which had us all laughing! However I must admit it was very nice and went OK with the coffee!


Back outside for a bit more walking and we pass this building that was a garage but is now an antique store with some nice Roman figures up on the roof


While down the road and around the corner is…

The Ice Cream Factory, but it was very quite!


On our way back to the carpark we see this nice little display in a Farmacia…


Back at Flamenco Red we get the map out and see that there is a Barragem not far away so decide to go down there for a look see and maybe have lunch, and after a short drive with a bit of off road as the road ran out we are there…




This is the outlet for when there is too much water!


Making our way back to Castro Verde we come to Orique Gare which is the railway station that is strangely away from the town of Orique!



Then after travelling further across open fields, but on tarmac we come to the other side of Castro Verde…


While tonight we see again the Water Tower with its Christmas Lights…


Boa Noite!

12-27-2011, 12:47 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 34.

Bom Dia!

I cannot believe how nice this weather is, with yet again a bright blue sky and no mist this morning!

So after loading the Kayak up on the roof of Flamenco Red we are off to…
(It’s the top one on the signpost!)


Then after we arrive and get the Kayak off the top and into the water, you might just make out a ‘Third Seat’ in the middle.
(It’s that ‘black bit’ behind the back rest on the front seat, but you will have to bend your legs as you cannot stretch out! Sorry!)


OK? You are in, and we are OFF, so sit back, move your eyeballs from left to right or vice – versa and enjoy the view!






We reached the other side of the Barragem and strangely found that there was a significant amount of Green Algae in the water and when it was disturbed with the paddles it made trails in the water similar to the ‘Northern Lights’ in the Sky that we managed to see in Meeham, Norway in January 2011!


OK back to the scenery!


Not sure what this was, but a possibility was a water wheel pump taking water from the Barragem to the farm that was just outside the picture


Back to the lake…




Towards the left hand side of the next picture you might just make out 2 Motorhomes (RV’s) or as we call them ‘Trucks with Beds’ who were ‘Wild/Free Camping.
We had seen them yesterday when we came to see what the Barragem was like .
They packed up and pulled out as we were going around the lake, but not before dumping their garbage and ‘chemical waste’ in the derelict building near the lakeside that we witnessed as we made our way further along! [nonono] [cussing]
Considering that the Barragem is a reservoir for surrounding towns I find that type of behaviour disgusting! [cussing]



I think this sailing boat was up on the ‘boards’ to stop it picking up the lake algae!


Lakeside house with very nice outlook…


Slowly going along…..


The Barragem Dam & Overfloe from a distance…


Finally back with a couple of pictures of the ‘Man in the back’!



One last view of a part of the landscape, when all we could hear was the clanging of the cow bells from the other side of the lake!
The ‘silence’ and blue sky was very peaceful and also quite stimulating…


While a few hours after we got back to the campsite and before dinner we see our New Moon coming out above the campsite entrance as the Sun departs…


End of another wonderful day! (With one 'glitch'! [cussing])

Boa Noite!

12-28-2011, 02:23 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 35.

Bom Dia!

After praising this wonderful weather yesterday, I was forgetting that before the Sun comes up and after it goes down it still gets surprisingly cold, and there are nights when the Thermal Hat is still worn when snuggled down under the duvet, so it’s not all ‘nice’, trust me!

Well I guess I don’t have to tell you as you will see from the pictures that it was another nice day!

After going over to the Swimming Pool to find that it is closed till Jan 2nd 2012 we decided to take a ride down to the village of Entradas and the ‘Rural Museum’ which was absolutely fascinating and soaked up a good 2 hours!



While inside we find…

Originaly made in Ipswich (England) and imported to Portugal via Lisbon

A Threshing Machine…



Then we move into some other displays of local tools and items from a bygone age!




Then we see the details about this local man...


…. who made models in local materials…



This is a replica model of a Hay Baler, and a full size one appears later…




Iron working…


Hand Drill (No ‘Power Tools’ in them days!)


Carnival Day in Entradas…


Guitar manufacture…



‘For Serious & Other Disorders’!!!


Typical ‘Workshop’…


Farming implements…




A Wheat Drying machine…



The ‘Hay Baler’ shown earlier as a model….



A local field scene…


Some more Farming implements…


Outside the museum we made our way for a look around the village…




Then dropped into a small Café for a couple of coffees and a nice pastry and spotted this nice assembly of ‘Cork Pullers’ on the wall…


I then noticed that this bar is for ‘Serious Drinkers’ due to the wide and quite strong metal bars for resting your feet!



As sweet pastries were a bit in short supply we settled for 2 coffees and 2 small Chicken Pies, but once again very nice and for €3.80 for everything we thought it was excellent value!

Back outside and making our way back…



While at the top of the village, turn left and you get this optical illusion…


We then made our way to ‘Ste Barbara de Padroes’ and making our way up to the Church we see this Well with a ‘modified’ Pram Wheel for drawing water..


The spot this rather interesting building…


That turns out to be….

The local ‘Laundry/Washhouse’

Next door to the Church which was closed and locked is a ‘small holding’ with a few animals…



All being ‘Guarded’ by this 4 Legged ‘Friend’!

I say ‘Friend’ as I spoke to him as I walked towards him when he started barking, and his tail, which was the give away, started wagging. Next thing he is crawling along the ground towards the fence along his restraining chain, then my hand is scratching the top of his head and he is loving it!
I can only think that he was hacked off being on his own with no one to make a fuss of him…

I did feel a bit sorry for him being out there 24/7/365 just with a bunch of Birds, Sheep and Goats for company!

As close as we could get on this Stork…


“The street of the Flowers”…


Strange to see this shaped & glazed window in the building in ‘Fabric Street’…


Back to Flamenco Red and we set off for ‘Minas’…


‘Minas’ is actually a Copper Mine and is possibly the 3rd or 4th biggest in the World.

It is jointly owned by Canadian & Swedish organisation and employs around 2000 Portuguese manual workers.

The main site is 3km wide (Front to Rear Gate) as I was told by the Security Manager when we met at the Rear Gate, but a bit more of that later!

While we rolled up at the ‘Front Gate’ there was no way we were going to get in, so we turned around and hightailed it back up the road towards the village of A-do-Neves and got these couple of pictures as we travelled to the village..

Pit head on the right, Fumes Extractor on the right….



The ‘Mound’ you see to the left of the picture is what they have taken out of the mine so far in terms of ‘waste material’ and it’s still coming, but the main shaft is now over 1000 meters deep!


Having passed through the village, we found a back road that took us around the rear of the mine which was a ‘nice’ lumpy/bumpy bit of ‘Off Road’…



As we came over and down the hill we saw the rear of the mine complex that was outside the ‘Rear Gate’…


Get closer and you realise that they are ‘Pipes’…



So, we hung a right, took a chance and drove up to the ‘Rear Gate’!


I think we gave the Security Guard the fright of his life, but I got out of Flamenco Red after making sure I was not blocking any Trucks coming through, went over to him, shook his hand, wished him ‘Boa Tarde’ (Good afternoon) and asked him if he spoke English or German, he didn’t but called the Security Manager who arrived from the other side of the site and again after introductions explained what they do.

The pipes carry water from the mine itself to a lake, and that water is then ‘cleansed’ of its impurities as the mine produces the copper ore that is taken from the mine in containers by rail.

Sadly they do not have Tourist Visits inside.

Many thanks offered for the information and friendliness of the security people after which we got back in Flamenco Red, did a bit more ‘Off Road’ back over the hill and back to the campsite!



I must also say a BIG ‘Thank you’ to my ‘good lady’ as without her steady hands using the camera, the wibbly/wobbly ride up and down the Off Road bits could have turned out ‘fuzzy’! [thumbup][thumbup]

I think it’s going to be a case of washing Flamenco Red’s ‘rear end’ tomorrow as it looks seriously ‘grubby’ from today’s travels!

Boa Noite!

12-30-2011, 10:11 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 36.

Bom Dia!

Sorry no update yesterday but I don’t think you would be interested in hearing about ‘Laundry, Car Cleaning or Shopping’ so after that exercise we had a nice quite day!

However last night for all of you who think maybe the weather is being very good we actually woke up this morning to ‘ICE’ on the outer walls of the ‘Tin Tent’ and the droplets of water on the Kayak had also FROZEN!

Our neighbour who is from Finland tells me that the overnight temperature went down to -1C!

‘Frozen Kayak’!


Our ‘Exploration’ today took us to a Roman Lamp Museum in Castro Verde which is the largest in the World with all the exhibits coming from around the local area as it was a Roman area between 1st & 4th Century (AD)

We were met at the entrance to the Museum by the founder of the exhibition and Chief Archaeologist who led the various ‘digs’ that unearthed the Lamps, although he did tell us that a number of them were found just lying on top of soil that had been farmed!

No photography of any of the lamps was allowed inside the Museum, so I had to settle for a few of the ‘Information Boards’ which are difficult to read, and the copies of lamps that were on sale at reception.

Describes how the lamps were made in 2 Halves which when ‘fired’ in an oven this joined them together to make the lamp.


Inside one exhibition room…


Copies of lamps for sale at the entrance to the Museum…


Lamps depicting different types of ‘Fauna’


Lamps depicting different Roman Gods…


I have to say that it made the visit very interesting as we were able to listen to the information about each type & style of lamp and also see underneath who the maker of the lamp was.

While making our way back to the campsite we passed this rather nice decoration in a town garden…


Followed by a couple of views that we found while traversing different roads…



For tonight, those that are occupying the ‘Third Seat’ will have to put on your ‘nice clothes’ as we are going over to a Choral Concert in a Church in a small village “Igreja de Santo Barbara de Padroes” which was funnily enough the main excavation site for the Roman Lamps, while also having Roman Baths but sadly these are no longer there.

If photographs are allowed then we will hopefully bring back a few, and post tomorrow, but the music/singing I guess is something that you will just have to come over and listen to for yourselves, sorry!

Boa Noite!

12-31-2011, 12:17 PM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 37.

Bom Dia!

We set off for the Coral Concert making our way over to the small church “Igreja de Santo Barbara de Padroes” parked up in front and walked into the village as we were slightly early.

While making our way back a short while later we are passed by 2 Mini-Buses who we saw when they parked up were Choir Members.

They made their way to the entrance door of the church to find it locked and then came back to ask us if we had the key!

“Locked out!”


Some 20 minutes later two old ladies walked up the road one of whom had the key, so we all piled into the church, however there was no heating and it was like that until we left around 2 hours later!

However we were treated to some really nice singing by 3 Choirs during the time we were there…

Inside the church after they found the light switches !


The wooden roof which I think helped with the acoustics…


The strange ‘Motif’ seen on one of the archways in the church that no one could tell us what it signified….


Outside warming up, literally, before coming in to give their performance!


The arrival of the First Choir…



Second Choir, with some of the Ladies in National Costume…


Then the Third Choir…


Whilst trying not to be biased, the Third Choir did remind us of the Welsh Miners Choirs back home.

After we got back to the campsite, even though it was quite late, we decided to take a run down to Faro during New Year’s Eve daytime, for a bit of exploring as we have not visited this city.

Boa Noite!

01-01-2012, 02:37 AM
“Snowbird Run – 2011”

Portugal Page 38.

Bom Dia!

Having arrived back quite late from the Coral Concert and turned the heating off in the ‘Tin Tent’ as a precaution it was a bit like an ‘Ice Box’ when we got inside upon our return which did not bode well for a good night’s sleep, the result being that I was up searching for socks at 03:00 as my toes were about to drop off! (Yes they were inside/under the duvet!)

Still around 09:00 after breakfast we headed off for Faro electing to go by NON-TOLL road, but unsure what we would find on the 60+ mile run, and it was not long before ‘Flamenco Red’ is ‘Growling’ nicely as we start climbing up the hills!


Rolling along the roads we see some more of the trees with the lower section of bark missing…


Then pass the place where it is stored….



While a bit further along we spot this, but not sure if it is a Radar Dome or a Satellite Tracking Station…


Stop off at a café for coffee and spot this nice little house on the other side of the road…


While inside the café are these Cork ‘Spoons’ used for holding drinking water for workers out in the fields…


Not much further along the road which in places was very twisty with many bends, some hairpin, but a ‘drive’ as opposed to going in a straight line down the Toll Road, we arrive in a nice large ‘free’ car park in Faro!

A ‘Self Appointed’ car park attendant (CPA) did try to get us into a ‘slot’ presumably for a fee, but we declined his services, and saw him some time later being given a partly consumed bottle of wine by another driver who came back to collect his car, the ‘CPA’ then went off and started looking in a litter bin for a couple of used cups so that he could share the wine with his mates as they sat by the small harbour! (How kind!)

The rear of Faro Castle…


While under the sign was the ‘Free Gym’ which was being used by the Senior Citizens! [thumbup]


Having parked up I did get a bit concerned as we walked across the car park and spotted this…. :eek:


Meanwhile we followed the signs and found ourselves outside Faro Municipal Museum that is housed inside the Castle!


Entrance fee of €1 for Pensioners and we are in…
As you start your tour you are confronted by a Tapestry of some significance, and I hope you can read the story behind it…


The Tapestry…


Then through the doorway and into a very nice arched corridor that is one side of a quadrangle…


This leads into what looks like a former church…


With a nicely decorated domed roof at the end…


Back in the corridor with a view across the quadrangle…


Next we see a bust of Dr Constantino Cumano who discovered the cure for syphilis…



While the next corridor has a few Moorish Pots, but when we rubbed one sadly we didn’t see any Genie! :D


Next room after turning right was about the Romans in the Algarve…


With bits of stonework found in the region…


While in another room was this Mosaic Floor, a part of which (The Middle) was never found!



The floor was built in a special way using 3 layers of materials to get it flat and ensure it stayed that way… (Bit like a chocolate sandwich!)


The wooden roof of the corridor…


Looking over into another corner of the quadrangle…


Part of a temporary exhibition of Postal Telegrams & Cards…



House Tile designs…


While in yet another room was this Nativity display…


Then we saw some of the Islamic Lamps that had been discovered from the Moors occupation…



Visit finished we made our way out of the Museum…


Then around to the Cathedral…


With this rather elegant building just opposite….


As it was getting on we then made our way through one of the City Arches looking for somewhere suitable for some lunch while finding these nice sights on the way…




This next one was the only complete one, the others had all been vandalised!



Then found one of the main shopping streets while looking for a café…


We then spot this roof that appears to be covered in ‘Kitchen Foil’ but it was a special insulation layer as part of a new roof, while our café for lunch was next door…


Across the road was this rather strange sculptor in hollow Bronze (Rather surprised it is still there with the price of metals in these economic times, especially as the description plate had been stolen!


While ‘strolling off’ our Bifana & Coffee lunch we pass a shoe shop and having seen the ‘Sale’ prices I was shocked at just how expensive the items still were!

Top Left = €92 (£76) ($115) Top Right = €60 (£50) ($75) Bottom Middle = €101 (£84) ($126)!

While I purchased a pair of the 'Top Left' boots in the Market at Castro Verde they cost me €30, and in a shoe shop in the town they were €45, so I felt good, :D

I also saw the Top Right shoes in a Supermarket in Serpa for €33, but to me the Algarve has always been more expensive than places further North.

Strolling on down to the water front we get these views…



While over the other side was Faro Airport…


The railway line that runs along the sea front…


With a ‘Push Me – Pull You’ train that came trundling through…


While a bit further along are these ‘Beach Huts’ but sadly not in very good condition as a number had been vandalised with broken windows…


As it was a rather HOT day at 18C we could not help but indulge in a couple of Ice Creams, which is our excuse for a small but quite expensive treat to see out the Old Year.
We did enjoy them, but felt rather full after doing so!


I will say in passing that we were not impressed with Faro and having now been there we would not be planning to return any time soon.



Boa Noite!