Week 5 - Summer devastation

12th - 18th November 2017

For our last day in Haro we decided to give up on viewing the autumn colours from above and visit a local monastery. The sat-nav took us through the centre of Haro as we left the site and we saw something going on in the main square, tables had been set up around the square displaying something we could not make out as we drove past so we parked to have a nose. It was a display of all things fungus, edible fungus in all its forms is a speciality of the area, and this display showed all of those plus a great number of the deadly variety - fascinating.

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Fungus Art?

The Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Valvanera is high in the hills, (but still no autumn colours) and I confess I found it a little disappointing. There was no information to be had, in any language let alone English and the whole place had a rather forlorn deserted feel to it. We had a short walk about and returned to the caravan to prepare for moving on tomorrow.

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Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Valvanera

There was a great deal of hustle and bustle on the site this morning, virtually everyone is leaving, around half back to UK the other half south to seek the sun.

We have moved around 313 km (195 miles} south west to Camping Olimpia, small site just a few metres from the motorway near Salamanca, a town we visited last year so will give it a miss.

We visited Zamora today what a super town with a most pleasant atmosphere and the strong impression that when someone, a shopkeeper or local in the street said “Hello” they really meant it, it was a joy to wander the attractive medieval streets although sadly the cathedral was closed for lunch - from 1.00 till 4.30. An interesting point to note in this and many other Spanish towns is that we arrived at noon and paid €0.60 for two hours parking, the ticket was valid till 4.00 as parking is not chargeable between 2.00pm and 4.00pm the official lunch hour - weird or what! Perhaps The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan would consider adopting a similar policy with the various vehicle charges in London?

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Zamora cathedral roof

We were told this morning by a Dutch couple that the site restaurant was worth a visit so tonight we ate there. It was good and you can read about the meal HERE

Had a super drive into the country today to the Douro River that for much of its length acts a border between Spain and Portugal and along whose banks grow superb wine grapes. We crossed into Portugal for a minute or two as the road followed over a dam that created one of the reservoirs along the length of the river. We were only there for a minute or two but long enough to get a text from EE welcoming us to Portugal and very shortly after another welcoming us to Spain.

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The Spanish / Portuguese Border

The meal we had in the site restaurant last night was so good we repeated the experience tonight, you can read about that meal HERE.

Moving day, thats twice in a week. Things are getting serious. This time we have crossed into Portugal for a longer stay and fetched up at Quinta das Cegonhas Parque Rural a small Dutch owned site inside the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. I recently refuted a report that Little Henham had a very difficult approach, the guy who wrote the report should never under any circumstances visit this site. The reasons why are explained in my site report.

Friday to Monday
As a holiday destination, Serra da Estrela may not be as well-known as other regions, like the Algarve, mainly because the weather tends to be colder than other places in the country – but it’s nevertheless popular, especially amongst the Portuguese, who often travel here to hike or simply watch the snow fall.

We have spent four days exploring this beautiful area of Portugal. In some ways it is comic in that Torres (Tower) so named by Don João VI in 1817 decided that this, the highest point in mainland Portugal at 1993m was an affront to the country and had a tower built to raise the height by some 7m to over 2000m (it is, obviously, still listed as being 1993m) and in others tragic in that it was part of the area devastated by wildfires this summer (2017) when in central Portugal 64 people were killed and more than 250 others injured. In one incident, flames spread so quickly that some people died after being trapped in their cars as they tried to drive to safety. Some 520,000 hectares of land in Portugal were destroyed by the fires, which is nearly 60% of the total of burnt land in the entire European Union despite Portugal contributing 2.1% of Europe’s total landmass (source - Reuters). It was sad to drive round and see mile after mile of black sooty ground and black upright sticks that just a few months ago were full grown trees.

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To give scale the trees middle left, killed by the fire but still standing are mature pine trees

Right at the summit is a shopping mall, lots of small outlets selling local produce and what often looks like home made slippers, sweaters etc,. The "local produce” consisted mainly of a sheeps cheese and Presunto ham.

© S W Ghost 2017