Travels through Portugal and Spain

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Diary Update 17 - Adventures through Portugal and Spain
 
Day 291- Saturday 16th December... Segres -Portugal
We went for a final walk along the amazing beach here and then had a great English breakfast at one of the local cafes. Talked with Garth and Helen (friends in OZ) on the phone except out phone card ran out!! Gem had given Garth the phone number for the public phone and told him to try and ring it, not sure if it would work or not...but next minute it is like something out of an episode of CSI and the public phone booth is ringing and Gem picked it up and it was Garth man on the other end of the line!! Very excited as they are coming to visit in January. At lunchtime we finally said goodbye to everyone and then set off further along the coast line. We stopped at one of the big supermarkets and got a yummy Portugese chicken.... We drove to the town of Segres and went for a walk along the amazing coastline that just drops straight off into the ocean. We watched all the local fishermen who sit up on the cliffs and drop their line about 30 plus meters into the sea below. Next we went out to Cabo Sa Vicente which is the most westerly point of Portugal and Europe. We stood on the cliffs and watched the sun set. We went back to Segres for the night and found an awesome spot to park with about 15 other motor homes on top of the cliffs looking out at the sea.
 
Day 292- Sunday 17th December... Segres to Porto Covo - Portugal
Big drive today of about 120kms (we have gotten so lazy in the last 4 days that we now think driving 120kms is a long drive...that's what happens when you hang out too long with Brits) but it was not the flat coastal road we thought it would be, instead it was quite mountainess and reminded us a bit of home as there were heaps of trees that looked similar to gum trees. We finally arrived in Segres, only to find that we did not like it too much. So we went back to Porto Covo...well this place is Campervan city....they are everywhere and everyone is parked somewhere along the coast line admiring the view and soaking up the sun. There are also heaps of surfies along here in their batted up vans. We saw about 4 young surfy boys jump out of one beat up old van that they were living in...all we could think of was how much it would smell!! We found a great secluded spot a couple of meters from the beach that was with 3 other campers. We wandered over to say hello and next minute the two British couples has us filled up on red wine and we were all sitting around laughing and talking...soon to be joined by the German couple next door who could speak excellent English. When it got cold, Tony and Shirly invited us over to their motor home for drinks and we ended up listening to the best of Queen...which is Tony's favourite band....did we mention that Tony is a mad 70 year old Welsh man who had us in stiches with all his weird sayings.!! Rock on Grandpa!!
 
Day 293 - Monday 18th December...Portugal
Lazy, Lazy day today. We had a bit of a hangover from being fed red wine from all the oldies who top up your glass every five minutes. We laid in bed for ages listening to the surf which is just a couple of meters from our door. Gem cooked up some brunch (she is getting better!) and then we went for a bike ride through town. We spent ages on the internet trying to find a Hymer dealer in France so that we can get our bumpers fixed before going back to England to get Misty re-registered.
 
Day 294 - Tuesday 19th December...Portugal
Today we drove back to Pria de Rocha and spent the night again with the Brits.   
 
Day 295 - Wednesday 20th December...Cadiz Tarifa
Said goodbye to everyone again this morning and drove to Cadiz. Very pretty old town. Decided to keep going and stopped in Tarifa. This is wind surfing city. We saw a heap of campers free camping on the beach and decided to try and find out way out there. However, the road was only suitable for a 4WD so we are not sure how they got there...obviously we could not find the right spot. We decided to turn around because if it rained there was not way we would have gotten out of this spot as the road was already half mus. We found an awesome camping site where we got a great spot next to the beach taking in the view of Africa across the water. We were the only english speaking people though as the campsite was full of Germans wind surfers and those escaping the German winter.  
 
Day 296 - Thursday 21st December...Tarifa
Lazy Day in Tarifa taking in the view of Africa.
 
Day 297 - Friday 22nd December...Tarifa to Marbella
Said goodbye to beautiful Tarifa and found our way to Marbella. Happy to see that the resort was very very lush and five star all the way. Picked Mum and Dad up from the airport and spent the night catching up.
 
Day 298 to 230- Saturday 24th to 26th December... Marbella
Merry Christmas everyone or as the Spanish would say...Feliz Navidad!! We have been so lazy just enjoying the resort and lazing around. Mum and I did manage to go for a walk on the beach though!! The Spanish celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve so there we lots of parties going on. We did something very different on Christmas Eve... we went to a bull fight in Marbella...which was interesting. Mum and I were not sure if we wanted to go as they do kill the bulls. However, we thought that it would be an interesting experience and when in Rome.... Well it was interesting, they had a big brass band and they played lots of Spanish music and wound of the crowd as the Matadors entered the ring and each time they got the bull. There were four fights and two matadors had two rounds each. The matadors and their 4 assistants wore very bright and beautiful outfits and very funny little hats. It was quite gruesome and Mum and I and the lady next to us decided to cheer for the bull...especially when it knocked the matador over...I was hoping one of them was going to get a horn in their but as then they would know what it is like to be stabbed with a sharp object...no such luck ...but one of then did get stomped on quite badly. It was interesting to watch the bulls attack the red and pink capes... it was sort of like watching Ruphus with his ball... they are absolutely obsessed with it and can't help but charge for it... and despite being injured (because the bastards stab them with 4 barbs and then put swords into them) they still keep going back and back to the cape... very much like Ruphus who keeps going for the ball despite having an injured leg!!! There must be something in their brain that does not turn off... bit like OCD I think. After about the fourth round, we were all feeling a bit sick (except for Wayne who loved the whole experience!)  and were going to leave but were happy to learn that it was the last one. There was certainly lots of beef being sold in Marbella...we were told that you can go to a special restaurant that serves the bulls from the fight. 
  
  Day 231 - Wednesday 27th December...Malaga
We actually had to get up early this morning as we had the hire car arriving. We drove into Malaga where we spent the day exploring the old town which was beautiful. Picasso was born here to there is a great Picasso meuseam and lots of art. We introduced mum and dad to Tapas....Dad was not keen on any fancy shit (such an ocka Australian) but he actually liked it. Dad and Wayne kept going to the bars and filling up on beer whilst Mum and I checked out some of the shops. This was our second trip back to Marbella from Malaga and this time we managed to get very lost again as the road signs are very confusing on the way back...our lonely planet says that they do that on purpose with the hope of luring you onto a toll road...which happened!!!
 
Day 232 - Thursday 28th December...Gibralter
This morning we set of for Gibraltar, minus a Mr. Wong who wanted to stay home and do nothing. Thankfully we remembered to take our passports to get over the border as Gibraltar is still owned by the British...they decided to let us in. We stopped to take some pictures of the massive rock of Gibraltar that dominates the landscape, then across the border where we had to drive across the runway...thankfully no planes were around. We visited the lighthouse and the mosque. Next it was into the main street to have some lunch...we chose to have a very English meal...fish and chips and mushy peas...it was great. Gibraltar is a tax haven so everything is tax free but we were not sure how much things would be as the currency is the pound...which just kills us on the Aussie dollar. Poor Dad had to wait outside while Mum and I went shopping in the perfumeries... it was surprisingly cheaper despite being on the pound and we stocked up on some perfumes and creams. Next we went up to the Upper Rock where we stopped to take in the view across to Spain and Africa. Next minute a massive monkey had come up behind us and was checking us out. He was a very curious fellow and next minute he had jumped in the window of the car that Gem had left down. Dad had to hop in the other side and yell at him so he would jump back out of the car. We drove further up and found that there were more monkeys everywhere outside the entrance to St Michael's caves. They think the monkeys came across from Africa and there is a saying that "when the monkeys are gone, the British will also be gone".... It is still a bit of a sore point with Spain that the British continue to rule Gibraltar. We checked out the stunning caves which have a huge natural auditorium in it and was used as a hospital during the war. More monkeys were waiting for us when we stepped outside of the caves and they were busy stealing lollies from people's bags or hands and one of them tried to steal Dad's ice-cream...but Ronny was not sharing and managed to run away before it got to it!!. Next Mum and I walked through some of the tunnels inside the rock which were built during the wars and had massive canons inside them. The rock actually has 52 kms of tunnels running through the inside of it, despite it being only 35km on the outside.  
 
Day 233 - Friday 29th December...Ronda
A hair raising drive this morning up the mountain range to Ronda. Mum and Dad got to experience some of the crazy European drivers first hand...they could not believe it as people overtook on blind corners and drove on the wrong side of the road!! Welcome to Europe...we kept saying "this is good driving compared to Italy!". Then next minute we had a run in of our own...we were stuck behind a truck and could not overtake as there were so many blind corners...but the crazy French driver decided he would try and as he was overtaking another car came around the corner and he tried to push in between us and the truck when there was no room...Gem had to slam on the brakes to avoid a massive accident and beeped him for being such a wanka...Next minute he had slammed on his brakes, stopped his car and jumped out and was abusing us....he got more than he bargained for as Wayne and Ronny were straight out of the car abusing him right back, and Gem and Denise were also giving it to him through the window...he turned to get back into his car and Wayne did the best thing he could have done and called him "A F*^kin French Frog" which really upset him but he was not coming back for more and took off. We finally made it up the mountain, only to find that the French Frog's antics had only gotten him two cars in front of us...Wayne wanted to get out and give him what for but we managed to talk him out of it. Ronda itself was amazing old town that is built on either side of a ravine and is connected by a stunning old bridge over the ravine that connects the two sides. It was very very pretty and full of interesting little shops and restaurants. We had a great tapas lunch and did a spot of shopping. The drive home was non eventful but a bit scary as vision was hampered as we were so high up we were driving through the clouds.
 
Day 234 - Saturday 30th December...Casares and Peurto Banus
Today we drove into the mountains again to explore the very Spanish town of Casares. Not as touristy as Ronda but also not as beautiful. It was still very pretty though and is an old town built in a valley and is full of white washed houses. It has the remains of a palace that Julius Caeser used to rule. After exploring Casares we went to the very posh part of the Costa Del Sol called Peurto Banus which was very ritzy and sort of like a smaller version of Monaco...lots of flash cars. Parking was a nightmare and we were glad we were in a relatively small car and not Misty!! With Dad's direction Wayne managed to do a 100 point reverse turn and squeeze the car into a spot that looked like only a smart car would fit...all the time trying not to hit the Merceded in front of us!!! This is when you want Dad's mini moke so we could all take a corner and just lift it into the space!!
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