I left behind life as I knew it & started on a journey. The journey in a physical sense has seen me living in vehicles for the past 10 years travelling parts of Europe & North Africa. This journey has & continues to be amazing, discovering new places and meeting new people who constantly inspire me. On an emotional level this journey has made me re-evaluate everything I believed in & helped me to become more open hearted & honest about myself & others.
Our next stop was Alora where Simons Uncle lives. We met him at a bar just outside the town called the Tropicana. It is a nice little bar run by an English woman with free Wi-Fi & English meals available. We were there the day before Kings Day which in Spain is the day when the children get their Christmas presents & people celebrate. On the day before there are often parades with people throwing sweets at the people they pass, beware they are boiled sweets & can hurt!
After visiting Gibralter we headed North again. Only about 20 miles away is Torreguadiaro where we stopped for the night. There is a beach park up there which a lot of campervans use. It is a handy place to stay if you want to be able to get to Gibralter or the Costa del Sol easily & you can pick up a couple of English radio stations there.
We stopped for a day in Gibralter as we were passing by. It was very busy at the border especially for vehicles where there was long queues. We parked in La Linea at the border & cycled in. It was strange getting the British money out again to use & seeing all prices in pounds. We had a look round although we didn't go up the rock to see the monkeys, we are going to do that next time. We did go to the Morrisons to get some English goodies & got some cheap tobacco. Gibralter is nothing special really but is handy for cheaper things & British things.
After three weeks at the Pig field we had to start heading North to Murcia where my Mum lives as my son Lee was flying in for a weeks holiday. As we climbed the mountain away from Tarifa we looked back accross the water to Africa. Agua is doing well now, putting on weight & is so cute even Busta loves her :)
Our next stop was near Tarifa on the Southern most tip of Spain. There is a tarmaced carpark & a field (known locally as the Pig field) where there is free parking at Punta Paloma. We spent Christmas & New Year there with lots of other van dwellers. We took lots of walks along the beautiful long stretches of beach & our new baby, Agua seemed to settle in, we even managed to teach her to recognise her name, to sit & to sometimes come when called!
On our first morning in Vila Real de Santo Antonio we saw a very young puppy looking very sad sat under a tree at the park up. After a couple of hours of her sitting there & no one collecting her I went over to see her. Immediatly she attached herself to me & came back to the van. She was thin but not too bad compared to some of the strays you sadly see around so often in Portugal & Spain. She was a bit smelly & had a couple of fleas but nothing too bad so we don't think she was born on the streets. I think she was probably about 8-10 weeks old. She didn't want to eat anything but was happy to hang around with us for the day. We were going to move on that day but decided to hang around an extra day to see if anyone came looking for her. That night she curled up on the front seat & we didnt hear a peep out of her all night. I think it had been the first night for a while where she was sleeping somewhere safe & warm. The next day we named her Agua (Portug…
After spending nearly two months at Barranco it was time to move on into Spain. We stopped for a couple of nights at a park up in Vila Real de Santo Antonio which is right on the border where the Rio Guadiana seperates Portugal & Spain. There is a large area just outside the town on the riverside where campervans park up. It is close to all amenities & a nice large area. We saw quite a few storks there in their big nests on chimneys. I had thought all storks migrate to Africa for the Winter months but obviously not!
At Barranco beach we were lucky enough to see all sorts of wildlife. The beach & surrounding area is a nature reserve & so there is no hunting & the wildlife is free to flourish. There was some amazing colourful small birds that I was unable to get photos of & we also saw a big white bird of prey one day that may have been a Sea Eagle that flew off before I could get the camera out! We also saw some amazing storms out at sea which I couldn't photograph with my main camera due to the torrential rain but I did take some videos on my phone of the lightening. Unfortunatly we also saw a Dolphin that had been washed up after being killed. We think it had got trapped in a fishing net as its tail had been cut off :(
Barranco beach near Sagres on the South West tip of Portugal was to be our home for the next few weeks. We had been here in the Spring & it is a lovely place to park up for a while. The nearby town of Villa do Bispo has everything we need; a supermarket, spring water & free internet access at the libary. It is a good base to explore the Algarve.
On the way to our first long stay park up we visited Algar Seco, a small lagoon among the rocks on the Algarve. The rocks around this area are amazing & well worth a visit. Algar Seco was a nice spot to visit but a bit touristy for us to stay any length of time. At nearby Lagos there are some other amazing rock formations at Ponta Piedade which are also worthy of a visit.
Our first night in Portugal was spent at the Neolithic site of Alamendres near the town of Evora. The whole area has quite a few Neolithic sites including Alamendres which at 7000 years old is one of the oldest sites in Europe & the biggest in Iberia. There is also some standing stones & dolmens nearby, one of which is huge! Alamendres is also a good spot to park up for a while, the nearby village of Guadalupe has water, toilets & showers as well as a cash point & bars.
We have now driven all the way accross Spain & into Portugal. I know there are some parts of inland Spain that are beautiful & well worth visiting but I must say that most of what we saw from Vitoria Gasteiz to Badajoz was pretty barren. There was some nice looking rocky mountains nearer the North but the further we travelled inland the flatter & more barren the land became. The land was very dry, I don't expect it has seen much (if any) rain for a few months & everything looked brown & dried out. There was very few crops or animals grazing & I wonder how the people living out here make a living as the tourism is all concentrated on the coast. It did make a difference from the mountain driving we did last year around some parts of Spain though & for a couple of days we did nearly 300 miles each day as there was nothing much to stop for. It also meant we got to Portugal a lot sooner than we expected!