Joined March 2022 Message
  • Day52

    Ubeda and the desert of Bardenas Reales

    May 15 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Before I continue on about our next destinations I realised I forgot to mention one anecdote about our night after visiting Cordoba. As mentioned in the previous post the day had been very hot and our campervan had nicely retained all that heat inside. The swimmingpool and shower didn’t cool us down sufficiently and therefore we decided to sleep with the van’s side sliding door open. It was the first time we tried this and we felt a bit exposed - I normally prefer to sleep with the doors closed AND locked! Necessity winning over comfort, the door stays open. Temperatures drop slowly and while a pack of street dogs is taking over the surrounding streets barking we start to fall asleep at last. Until… There’s a sound. I have woken up Tim twice before during our trip thinking to hear or feel something that wasn’t really there, so I wonder if it is just my nightly paranoia having me startled. Then there’s DEFINITELY a sound again and it is INSIDE of our van. What the..? As fast as I can I grab my glasses and switch on the light. At first I see one pair of eyes staring back at me, probably just as startled as I am, to then quickly jump away through the open door. A cat. A second later (I am still processing what’s happening at this point) I hear more rattling from behind the car’s front seats. A second cat makes its escape. Of all things or beings that could have been inside of the van waking me up, two cats is probably the best thing that could happen to me. But it did freak us out! Whenever we slept with the doors open after this night we made sure to use extra cloths as curtains so that it looks less “open”. Luckily we didn’t have any unwanted visitors after this night.

    Moving on! The next day we drive a little westward to the city Ubeda, a historical town surrounded by countless olive fields. Tipped through word of mouth our plan is to enjoy this UNESCO world heritage site and combine it with hiking in Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, a park with many beautiful routes and waterfalls. However we soon realise that this area doesn’t have much options to camp (legally) and the campsite we do find (owned by Dutch people, no surprise..) is small and fully booked. And so our plans change: we do still enjoy Ubeda, but we camp a little more north and use the entire next day to drive a longer distance to the north. Our next destination: Bardenas Reales of Navarre.

    Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert like area which is pretty unique for both Spain and Europe. More than 40,000 hectares big, the area is unpopulated and characterised by very hot summer, very cold winters, almost no rainfall, and lots and lots of wind. Unusable for agriculture it is now a popular spot for tourists, hikers, cyclists, and movie/TV makers (Game of Thrones, The Counselor, The World is Not Enough, and many others have scenes that were shot here). The landscape is bare with abrupt reliefs, plains, hidden ravines, canyons, limestone plateaus, and tumbleweeds. Of course we visit in late spring and so the desert is as green as it gets throughout the year: grass fields give the place some more colour. As it is a protected area we register and get a map with a route to drive. The ride is slow as we drive on sand paths, which is actually perfect to enjoy the surroundings well. Every now and then we stop and get out of the van to admire the view - although one can’t leave the paths as clearly warned on many sings along the road. At one point we park next to a mom with a kid and two dogs running around. It’s hard to put a finger on what’s actually off, but we both notice some some strange behaviour by the mom and kid. The look like attempting to leave a few times, getting in and out of the car, calling their dogs (that don’t necessarily listen very well), honking the car horn… it’s weird but eventually they get their two dogs, get in the car and leave. Meanwhile another couple arrives at the viewpoint. While we continue to admire the surroundings, we suddenly see a dog running towards us from the plains. Confused about what to make of it we check if the dog belongs to the couple, but it’s not… Seeing the dog frantically running around the parking spot we start to realise what might be going on and our hearts sink - is this explaining the odd behaviours we witnessed just now, and was this dog left behind by the mom and kid..?! With them being far gone, what should or can we even do?! The dog keeps searching for something, and we ponder about the situation, when… the car with mom and kid returns to the scene. They instantly see the dog, get out of the car and hug it hello. Turns out they went to search for the dog by car in the wider area as it did not return upon their calls and was out of sight for some time, thinking it must have wandered off. When that didn’t help they decided to go back to the place they last saw it. What a relief, and imagine theirs!

    After this strange experience we continue to enjoy the semi-desert in peace. The only other strange things we see is in the shape of rock formations we come across. Apparently in about 60 years time these rocks will be gone completely, by wind and erosion. It’s a unique landscape, definitely. A great place to end our stay in Spain.
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    Hihi allemaal dieren-avonturen. Wel vreselijk hoor om zo gewekt te worden door iets onbekends in je camper! Maar het zorgt weer voor goede verhalen. Gaaf landschap die woestijn met een heuse piramide. Gek dat dat niet wat algemener bekend is (althans niet bij mij, maar dat vind ik een goede maatstaf 😂). Bedankt voor de update, beter laat dan nooit! Leuk om je verhalen zo nog even compleet te maken. [Evelien]

    Willemien Sloetjes

    never a dull moment 🤣.. ik weet niet of ik dat zou durven met de deuren open slapen. misschien op een camping? Al met al hebben jullie een hele mooie reis gemaakt samen. Die pakt niemand jullie meer af.

    Two peas in a pod

    Het was ook even wennen, haha! Maar het was niet echt een keuze want anders was het gewoon te heet en te benauwd. Ook alleen op campings gedaan!

    Trudy Koper

    Brrr moet er niet aan denken maar ja je moet wát als het zó warm is! Geweldig verhaal weer. Jullie hebben een mooi avontuur beleefd hier én deze hele reis! Bedankt voor het mee mogen genieten én het meebrengen van dat mooie weer! 🌞😉 Nu weer jullie weg vinden in NL!

     
  • Day49

    Córdoba: arches, culture & patios

    May 12 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    As an admirer of Islamic architecture and having an interest in the historical confluence / mutual influence of religions, Córdoba is a city we can not give a miss on our trip. Córdoba has such a rich and long history, my imagination goes wild just by walking through the historical centre. The most populair sight in the city is also the best example of historical, cultural and religious dynamics in this area: the Mezquita.

    Civilisation in the region of Córdoba goes a long time back, when about 44.000 years ago the Neanderthals lived here. The Romans came to the city in 206 and gave Córdoba its current known name. In the eight century it was conquered by the Moors who made it the capital city of the Umayyad Caliphate. During this time the city was extremely sophisticated especially compared to the rest of Europe living their dark ages. Cordoba was world leading in education and learning, tolerant of religions, a centre of artistic expressions and was dedicated to science and philosophy. By the tenth century Cordoba was probably the largest city in the world! In this enlightened period the Moors built a giant mosque: the Mezquita. It was supposedly built on the location that was a Roman temple before, and has actual recycled Roman columns as part of its current architecture. The design and size of the mosque was a display of the sophistication that characterised the city at the time. Later, in the 12th century, the christians seized power. They kept the mosque turned it into a cathedral, eventually building a large altar and chapels inside of the existing structure. When we visit the mosque / cathedral today, this mix of influences and religions is still clearly visible. In real life we are dazzled by the actual size of the place - it’s really very large - and we happily get lost between the maze of arches and pillars. At one archway we’re admiring Arabic and Islamic decorations and at the next corner we enter a massive church altar. It’s astonishing.

    After spending some hours at the Mezquita we continue to explore the rest of Córdoba. We try a bit of tapas, we visit some other historical places, and… we are lucky once more to time our visit right: we celebrate a local festival! This time the festival’s name is “Festival de los Patios”. It’s a bit funny to us to organise a whole festival around little city gardens, but it’s a big thing here since 1929(!). More than 50 houses open up their private patio to visitors and contest against each other for the honour of having the most beautiful flowers and arrangements in that year (and a cheque of €1000, an amount that is probably more of a reimbursement of costs). Before and after siesta the streets fill up with long queues of people waiting to take a look at the patios, and vote if they want to. We can not ignore this curious festival and join the queue for a handful of patios ourselves. During the wait entertainment is provided by a group making Flamenco music, singing and dancing through the streets. It must be a famous song they sing because the crowds around us chip in too: suddenly the whole street is singing together! (See video)

    The patios we visit (we select the queue we join by looking at the number of plaques next to the entree, indicating previously won prizes) are indeed very lovely. The flowers bloom exuberant in all kinds of shapes and colours, and patio owners have paid a lot of attention to detail in their arrangements and decorations. Overall it’s the entire vibe of locals catching up with their neighbours while waiting to enter a patio, the house owners proudly showing off their hard work, and the festive music and dance that makes it an adorable scene to be part of.

    We end the day with some more delicious Spanish tapas, then picking up our van and taking a dive into the campsite’s swimming pool to cool off. It’s been a five-star day - again.
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    Dit hadden jullie echt niet willen missen.. schitterend. En wij maar denken dat wij zo'n hoge cultuur graad hebben. Deze uitvoering maakt ons nederig. Mooie herinneringen houden jullie eraan over. [Willemien Sloetjes]

    5/24/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Nou en of! Als meer mensen zich hier bewust van zouden zijn zou het vast wat perspectief bieden in die kortzichtige cultuur en religie discussies. Het was geweldig!

    5/24/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    Inderdaad een must see! Fijn dat jullie het zo goed troffen die dag! Maakt het plaatje compleet van die indrukwekkende stad! Jullie brengen met jullie verhaal óók míjn herinneringen daaraan weer tot leven! Zoals Willemien al schreef, je voelt je nederig bij zoveel schoonheid en haar bijzondere verhaal. Dankjewel en een mooie reis verder!

    5/24/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Ik moest nog aan jou denken met al die mooie tuintjes!

    5/24/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    Lief!!! 🪴⚘️

    5/24/22Reply

    Bijzondere architectuur in het groot en bijzonder mooie tuintjes in het klein. Je zal al die potjes maar elke dag water moeten geven! Echt leuk hoe jullie steeds ergens belanden waar het net een speciale dag is of een festival. [Evelien]

    5/26/22Reply
     
  • Day48

    Canyons of Ronda and Caminito del Rey

    May 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Inspired by a recent trip of dearest friend Karin and her partner we continue to explore more of beautiful Andalusia. It’s such a beautiful region, especially around this time of the year when nature is looking lush and green. Our next two stops, Ronda and Caminito del Rey, are both in the mountainous area of the region and are both characterised by a large, famous canyon.

    Ronda firstly is an ancient town frequently visited by tourists who want to take a walk on the Puente Nuevo: the stone bridge that connects two parts of the city that are split by a large and deep gorge running through the middle. It’s name is “new bridge” while being completed in 1793, as the initial “old” bridge collapsed during the built in 1740 and caused 50 workers their life as they fell down the gorge. Another salient detail: the top of the bridge has rooms used as prisons during the Spanish civil war. Apparently people were executed here simply by throwing them out of the window. All dark history aside, the gorge of Ronda provides for an impressive sight and the view - both of and from the bridge - is stunning. We take a stroll through the old and new town, and on a terrace with panoramic view we enjoy a coffee with cake. Pure bliss!

    From Ronda we drive on to El Chorro, the name of the river and tiny village that are close to the canyon walking route of El Caminito del Rey. Driving through a mountainous area we arrive at a campsite right next to a turquoise coloured lake. To get to our spot the road is even smaller, steeper, and curvier than the usual mountain roads, but once settled it’s a beautiful location. The owner tells us that all tickets for the canyon we come for are likely sold out (and online we confirm they are) but also that we shouldn’t worry: if we make sure to be at the entrance at 9:00 AM when the place opens up there should be about 50 tickets available for adhoc sales. Hence, early morning the next day we set out to the canyon to successfully “chope” (Singlish for reserving a seat) our tickets.

    When I told my sister Evelien we were going to walk El Caminito del Rey a day earlier she got a little worried and understandably so: until recently this place was notorious for being one of world’s most dangerous trails. Drawing rock climbers, adventure hikers and, let’s be honest, crazy folks, it used to be an hazardous path high up the gorge with holes, missing sections, and no safety barriers. Not being maintained since 1920 it’s no surprise many (including fatal) accidents happened. However in 2015 the entire route has been renovated and officially opened up as a walking trail for tourism: completely safe and suitable for all ages (if able to walk 5 km). There isn’t one time on the route where I lose my nerve or feel the need to be scared. At all! The outlook on the gorge below, the waterval and the river remains to be spectacular. At some spots we can still see the old path: there is no way I would have ever had the gut or stupidity to complete El Caminito del Rey prior 2015! In it’s current shape however I am glad Karin recommended it to us and I do the same for anyone who loves hikes and nature. What used to be the most dangerous hike in the world is now probably one of the safest. Worth the visit!

    Completing the trail without accidents (😉) we treat ourselves with an afternoon and evening at the lake: canoeing and having dinner with a view. When we are back at the campsite getting ready for bed we overhear our neighbours’ conversation: they are worried about the difficulty and risk of walking the canyon, probably also still presuming to find the unmaintained path. In the morning we see them set out just before we drive off: packed like professional hikers that are planning to walk a long and difficult trail. I’m sure they’ll be fine (a little disappointed, maybe)!
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    Zulke mooie foto’s weer! Al dat groen 😍 Echt leuk dat jullie nog kaartjes hebben kunnen krijgen. Wij waren daar in 2013 en toen we hier langskwamen kreeg die trail van ons een dikke vette NOPE dus vandaar idd mijn aanzienlijke zorgen toen ik van jullie plan hoorde. Maar gelukkig hebben de Spanjaarden goed hun best gedaan om het veilig te maken. Lachen die campingburen van jullie, ik zie ze al gaan met pikhouwelen en zo 😂 Eten jullie lekker in Spanje? [Evelien]

    5/21/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Haha ja en ze waren gewoon Nederlands maar ten behoeve van onze eigen entertainment hebben we niet geïntervenieerd - lekker alles z’n natuurlijke beloop laten gaan 🤣 Het eten is zeker lekker, ik ben vooral groot fan van Salmorejo en het mooiste is dat ik het voor je kan maken want ik heb het recept vd Spaanse man van Sophie 😍

    5/21/22Reply

    Jummie!! Ik heb ooit van Reyes ook het recept gehad maar ben dat weer kwijt. Weet alleen nog dat je dat groene puntje uit de knoflookteen moest halen 😅 hopelijk is het als jullie straks terug zijn lekker warm weer en dan kom ik bij je eten! [E]

    5/21/22Reply
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  • Day44

    Sierra Grazalema Natural Park

    May 7 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    At the end of the first week of May it’s time for us to leave the south coast and slowly start to move back up north, in direction of The Netherlands. We find ourselves a small, green campsite in Sierra Grazalema Natural Park to explore the environment for a few days. It’s Saturday and the campsite is quite packed with Spanish folks who enjoy the weekend away from home. There’s a big group of cyclists, a few families and some groups of friends camping together. Looking at the empty spots that are without electricity, flat and not too close to any of the larger groups we find ourselves a spot next to the only other Dutch camper facing away from the field, with a couple enjoying the sun while reading a book. As they seem to be purposefully isolated we decide to park in such a way that our own opening is facing the other way towards the field so we are back to back to limit any “noise”. However, while we are still in the midst of our parking exercise we are greeted by our Dutch neighbours in the most curious manner. Both have gotten up from their seats and are now looking at us with unhappy faces, while the man says in a critical tone: “well, that’s parking it pretty close next to us isn’t it?”. A little baffled by his attitude we explain that we found this to be the no-electricity spot available and deliberately parked our opening the other way (and hence the back a bit closer to their camper as our seating area is on the other side), to which he responds something like: “is it really? I find it parked VERY close to us…”. I repeat what I’ve just said and so does he, after which I politely ask him if he’s bothered by us taking this spot. I can tell this question makes him self conscious of the unfriendly tone he’s taken to us as he steps back a little and calms down a bit while mumbling “I sure hope not…”. I tell him we also hope not to be a bother and that if we are disturbing his peace at any time we gladly receive his feedback, annoyed by his behaviour but not tempted in any way to reflect his manners. Obviously his behaviour was ridiculous as you can’t deny someone a spot next to yours - it’s a campsite after all and it wasn’t like there were many other spots available - and it was no way to raise any concerns either. Something he now seems to realise too as while both walk back to their spot he states: “I may have reacted too quickly, it was a startle response”. Tim and I look at each other, shrug our shoulders about what just happened with a smile of mutual understanding and finish our business. For what happens next I do want to give the guy credit as I wasn’t expecting it - he actually comes back to us some time later to apologise for his behaviour. He explains they had already moved spot to get away from the noisy Spanish campsite guests (the large group of cyclists had parked right next to them) and they were worried to loose their oases of quiet again upon our arrival. We accept his apology and have a little chat to smooth out the rocky start of our neighbour-relationship, in the spirit of “better a good neighbour than a distant friend”. We don’t receive any further complaints the rest of our stay (of which we are mostly away from the campsite anyway).

    This part of Andalusia in Spain is absolutely incredibly beautiful. As we don’t plan to stay for very long we promise ourselves to come back one day to stay in this region for much longer and explore more of the nature trails and cute little towns. The town we stay at has a name we love to repeat many times for its pronunciation: Benamahoma (try it a few times; Benamahoma, Benamahoma, Benamahoma! 😄). It has less than 400 residents and only two streets, yet it does have a bullring and a brand new padel court calling for tournament participants. Says a lot about culture, doesn’t it? This and the other small towns we visit (Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema) have cute white plastered houses with flower decorated facades. We spend our visits getting lost in the little streets (mostly in those towns with more than two streets to get lost in) and enjoy the beautiful views of aquamarine blue lakes, green landscapes, mountains and valleys. We also planned a visit to the municipal swimming pool in Grazalema for its panoramic view but unfortunately for us the Grazalema people find May not hot enough to open the facility. Cold fish they are.

    The highlight of these few days on our trip is both figuratively and literally: a difficult hike of 17 kilometer on a path created by live stock roaming brings us to the top of the Albarracin, one of the surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful nature trail very worth the challenge of walking it. The challenge is because of the steep slopes we climb and the paths that sometimes are only known to us by spotting the little trail signs pointing to a certain direction rather than seeing where to walk per se. The last bit to the top is especially challenging (I actually doubt this was part of the formal route, it may have been Tim’s creative input): it’s a very steep and rocky way up to a very small top. The way down in particular is no joke: first getting off the rocky surface and second getting down to the “normal path” which takes us along steep, long, loose gravel paths and my fear of heights gets the better of me. Suddenly I wonder how we got up in the first place. But, we manage (BIG thanks to Tim) and continue the joyful part back down to town. On the way home we even come across the creators of the path: a white donkey and a group of goats are feasting on the grasslands. Cute!

    We look forward to explore more of this part of Spain in the future. For now, we shall travel on.
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    Goede reacties van jullie op deze man.knap gedaan! Wat je allemaal wel niet meemaakt...En dat van die geite/ ezelpaadjes is maar goed dat ik dat later pas verneem. Nu goede reis richting les Pays Bas. [Willemien Sloetjes]

    5/18/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    haha. kanjer ben je! op de top van de wereld!

    5/18/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    indrukwekkend!

    5/18/22Reply
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  • Day43

    Gibraltar: a quirky piece of land

    May 6 in Gibraltar ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    A single large limestone rock rising out of the Mediterranean Sea, geographically located at the southern end of Spain but formally being British Overseas Territory: welcome to Gibraltar. The Dutch had a hand in helping the British conquer this military strategically located (the Mediterranean Sea is only 14 KM wide here, so no ship can enter the sea without being spotted) piece of land in 1704 and the latter have declined to hand it back to Spain ever since. It’s an ongoing political discussion between the UK and Spain, sparked once again by the Brexit in January 2020. Gibraltar also being part of the European Union held a referendum with a strong 96% in favour of remaining in the EU - leaving it would give significant issues to its economy. Not only does it have work related border traffic of more than 15.000 people per day, it’s also 100% reliant on import of… well basically of everything. A Brexit would imply strict border control and regulations for both people and goods. However not including Gibraltar in the Brexit would likely work against the British negotiation position versus Spain in this ongoing dispute. It was only in the very last hours of 31 December 2019 that the UK and Spain came to a agreement “in principle” to keep Gibraltar in the borderless Schengen area while leaving the EU. All of this resulting in a bit of a funny situation wherein Tim and I can skip the immigration queue entering Gibraltar from Spain (and vice versa) while people with a British passport have to go through formal border control, while actually entering British territory.

    Another way to enter Gibraltar if not by land or sea is by air. Little as the territory is, it does have its own airport with only one (short) runway. Lacking more flat land (it’s mostly rock, after all) the runway is crossed by the main road from the border to the city. Whenever a plane needs to land or depart, one simple traffic light and barrier on each side of the landing strip is all there is to stop traffic from colliding with a flying giant. The event of the strip being used will not go unnoticed anywhere in Gibraltar, or directly outside of Gibraltar for that matter, we notice by the deafening noise of airplane engines echoed against the limestone walls.

    Just when we buy our tickets for the cable car up the rock we are told that while we can reach the top and come back down by cable car, apparently the nature park of Gibraltar has just closed unexpectedly. The ticket seller doesn’t have more information to share, they don’t know why it’s closed and for how long it will be. “This has never happened before”, she tells us apologetically. With the nature park closed we wouldn’t be able to see any of the other highlights of this territory nor would we be able to walk back down on our own. We are here now anyway so we decide to go up for some English style fish and chips at the top of the rock.

    Immediately when our cable car reaches the top we find the next quirky thing about Gibraltar hanging at our cabin: a Barbary Macaque (monkey). Gibraltar is host to the only wild monkey population living in Europe. They have probably been brought here by the Moorish who held them as pets and are thriving here compared to the declining native populations in Morocco. They are well fed (we see various feeding stations throughout the day) and seem to be unbothered by the many tourists taking their picture.

    After enjoying our lunch and walk around the top we notice that the entry to the nature park is re-opening. Great news! Apparently the whole park crew was on strike in the morning to join a meeting with a minister, to demand higher wages and better benefits. As the minister said to make a decision only a few days later, they promised to get back to work at least until a decision was made. We spend the afternoon walking around, making our way down by foot while stopping for some of the highlights. For example: one of the natural caves and some of the manmade caves. The most impressive (in my opinion) are the World War II tunnels that we visit with an audio tour. During WWII, the strategic location of Gibraltar was not left unnoticed by Hitler - he wanted to take over the land and tried to convince back then dictator Franco of Spain to let him attack it from Spain. The British anticipated this move by building a massive underground city inside of the rock. It actually contains more than 50 kilometer of tunnel while Gibraltar itself is only 6.8 km2. People lived there for many months at once without seeing daylight. Some were trained and facilitated to stay underground for up to seven(!) years, meaning to stay there (hidden) even after the rock would fall into hostile hands so they could continue to secretly pass on crucial information. The tour and provision of information is well done and we leave the place wiser and impressed. The “secret” operation planned by Hitler eventually never took place, by the way, as Franco wasn’t too keen to get involved in the war.

    Some more quirky fun facts about Gibraltar:
    - John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married here.
    - We saw a seagull try to kill a pigeon, holding it by its cloaca until we scared it off (it first flew away still holding the pigeon, until the latter managed to escape in the air).
    - In Gibraltar toilets use salt sea water to flush as water is scarce (and no, we didn’t put this to a test).
    - They used to have a habit of dumping old unwanted cars from the cliffs into the sea, apparently you can dive to find a car graveyard underwater.
    - (the obvious) One can see the continent of Africa from Gibraltar, as it is so close to Morocco.

    After a fulfilling day we pass back over the runway and the border to Spain, where our camper van awaits us in the harbour for the night. A warm shower and beautiful sunset later we get ready for the night.
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    Willemien Sloetjes

    interessante plek weer. zo leer je nog eens wat op zo'n reis door Europa. En wij erbij.... Gelukkig was de staking snel voorbij. good memories 😉

    5/16/22Reply

    Nooit geweten van die tunnels. Interessante day trip dus, en idd lachen van dat paspoortverhaal. Tevens uitmuntend gebruik van het woord cloaca 👌 [Evelien]

    5/16/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Hahaha dank voor die bio les

    5/17/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    Mooi verhaal weer! Dat stukje WWII was mij ook niet bekend. Bedankt voor het delen !

    5/17/22Reply
     
  • Day42

    Sevilla: royal beauty, tapas & flamenco

    May 5 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    A three hour drive from the Algarve in Portugal brings us in Sevilla, Spain. A city I have visited with my sister Marleen eight years ago and loved so much, I looked forward to go back one day. Like with most bigger cities we have visited this trip there is only one campsite to stay at, this time located at a little town outside of Sevilla called “two sisters” in Spanish. The campsite is packed and the spots are small, made for people like us who just plan to stay long enough to see Sevilla and then leave. For this purpose, it does the job!

    The bus we catch from the campsite to the city conveniently stops at one of the highlights of Sevilla: Plaza España in the gorgeous Maria Luisa park. Built in 1929 as part of the Iberco-American Exposition (wereldtentoonstelling), it was the largest and most expensive project. It still draws many admirers every day. Some come to explore in detail the highly symbolic architecture of the place, its shape and Andalusian tile art representing all Spanish provinces and other historical geographical areas of Spain. Others simply come to enjoy the sunshine. They relax at the fountain or on one of the many beautifully tiled benches, they romantically rent one of the rowing boats floating in the square’s canal, or they stroll around with a selfie stick at hand to catch themselves posing at every little corner - as all corners are just as beautiful. Meanwhile the sound of sweet Spanish guitar music fills the area. In the shade of one of the arches two elderly gentlemen share their talent hoping for some euros in return. We are only just starting our own experience at this attractive square when a single police officer is trying to block our way, clearly having some difficulty in achieving his task as he almost begs us in broken English: “you need to leave, please, no more” while the tourists divert around him in various directions. We ask him for the reason of his request and he replies: “heavy rain”, at which we wonder if he’s mixing up his English: the skies are clear blue and there’s not a single cloud in the sky. But, he doesn’t give in and repeats his plea. We have no choice but to leave both the plaza and park, as police is closing the whole place down.

    Still enjoying the sunny weather we proceed to the city’s historical centre, walking around sightseeing and having ourselves some delicious tapas. We visit one of the palaces and enjoy some ice cream under the famous modern architectural Metropol Parasol, still wondering when the “heavy rain” is gonna come as meanwhile it’s late afternoon and the sky is still blue. Was it a bad weather prediction earlier in the day or some kind of code by the police to clear the touristy spot?

    While we walk through the various neighbourhoods of Sevilla we are met by a lot of people dressed as if they are working at one of the (admittedly, many) flamenco dance theaters for tourists. At first we wonder if it’s just this in combination with tourists dressing up to enhance their holiday pictures, but after a while we conclude that it’s simply too many Spanish speaking people dressed up: young and old. That’s when we realise we find ourselves in Sevilla at the time of “Feria de Abril”, or “April Fair”, the annual highlight of the city. A bit of an odd name for a festival held in May, but that’s because it traditionally follows two weeks after Holy Week. Word goes that our king Willem-Alexander first met his now Queen Maxima at this festival, that’s characterised by socialising, drinking and dancing. As the day changes into evening we see more and more festive people all walking in a particular direction. While our feet are tired from walking the whole day our curiosity wins and we decide to follow the crowd.

    After a few kilometer of growing anticipation we reach the apparently iconic arch of the festival area. This is where the flamenco style dresses, flower head pieces, and traditional suits come together to party. As the dresscode is somewhat holy we stand out from the crowd in our shorts. In front of us are more than 1000 red and white striped party tents lined up; all providing for food, drinks and a dance floor. Lanterns decorate the tents and streets, and live flamenco bands at different corners invite the party people to get up and move their feet. Rows of standing horses have formed along the sidewalks, offering a seat to their single or duo riders (gentlemen astride and ladies sidesaddle) while they enjoy a glass of “Rebujito”. This is a typical drink for Feria de Abril, with the fresh taste of lemon-lime, mint, lots of ice and depending on the taste: mixed with wine or sherry. Something we would have liked to try for ourselves, but because the tents are private (they are rented by families, groups of friends, political parties, business associations, etc.) we aren’t able to reach any bar. It doesn’t really matter though, as looking around at all that’s happening and all the beautiful looking people is entertainment enough. Crossing the street is a challenge: an endless parade of horse carriages is continuously ongoing so you have to be very careful about your timing. At the time we arrive it’s considered early and “quiet” although it’s pretty crowded in our opinion. Most people join later in the evening and then stay until the very late (or early) hours. To be honest, we do feel somewhat sorry for the horses that are made part of this festival. There isn’t much space for them to move around, it’s hot, and they look tired. Still they are much better off than the bulls that are literally fighting to their death every day during the party week - another ugly part of this festival that looks so impressive at the surface. Obviously we stay far away from any such practices as we are strongly against these traditions of animal torture. Anyway - aside from us feeling sorry for the animals the feria is surely an impressive sight. And guess what? Around 20:00 in the evening we finally see clouds appear and it actually does start to rain. Time to hide indoors, eat some more tapas and return to the campsite.

    Our second day Sevilla consists of more sightseeing and walking through the city, with the Real Alcázar de Sevilla as the ultimate highlight. This palace and its gardens is breathtaking! Pictures can’t do this place justice but please do note in the attached odd illustrations shown on some of the tiles in this palace :-). We also use this second day to finish our visit to the Plaza España and Maria Luisa Park, without interruptions this time. Another great day in this fabulous city - I am sure it will be worth coming back again!
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    Willemien Sloetjes

    super om dit alles mee te maken.Jullie boffen. En ja cultuur is soms misselijkmakend. Gek dat het in deze tijd het nog steeds gebeurt. Ik vind het verhaal van de bui nog steeds vreemd.. Dank voor weer een mooi verhaal. liefs

    5/13/22Reply
    Trudy Koper

    Jullie reizen in een mooie tijd van het jaar! Steeds weer een mooi avontuur! Wat is Sevilla toch adembenemend mooi! Prachtige foto's!

    5/13/22Reply

    Mooie avonturen in Andalucía. Ik ben jaloers. Ik droom al jaren over flaneren in een flamenco jurk tijdens de Feria de Abril. 💃Hebben jullie ook het hotel van Willem en Maxima gezien? Schijnt ook een historische plek te zijn. [Sophie]

    5/14/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Dat gaat je geweldig staan! We waren ons van geen hotel bewust, haha. Oeps!

    5/15/22Reply
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  • Day38

    Last (in Portugal) and least: Algarve

    May 1 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    After so much beauty day in, day out, we still don’t get bored with traveling around and sightseeing every day. That being said, Algarve is probably a little underwhelming compared to all other places we have visited in Portugal. With fierce competition from the various nature parks, wine regions, surfer hot spots, medieval towns, picturesque cities, and dramatic coast lines of the west that have been entertaining us it simply doesn’t cut it to the top of the list. Don’t let the following somewhat sarcastic statement of events fool you: we are still having the best time and a lot of fun together. We did get bored of Algarve pretty quickly though 😅.

    We first visit Sagres, Europe’s most southwesterly point and in historical times known as “the end of the world” as no man had explored the globe beyond this point. Standing at the Cape Saint Vincent we realise that it’s in fact neither Portugal’s (and hence Europe’s) most westerly or southerly point. Also, there isn’t that much to see here except a shitload of tourists, tourist market stalls, and some ruins with a toilet costing €0,70 per visit. Dutch as we are, of course we skip the toilet at this cost and quickly drive on to another viewpoint: the Sagress Fortress.

    Again, on paper this sounds like a pretty interesting place: it’s a 15th century fortress with only one wall. The other three sides are protected by 60 meter high cliffs. To get in we pay €3,50 (unlimited toilet visits included), to quickly realise that there’s practically nothing to see. Walking around the whole area we see a dry bare landscape, some birds, little green and flowers, and a couple of fishermen. The ocean views are stunning but really just as stunning as we could see from outside the fortress, too. The money they earn from the relatively high number of visitors per day is clearly not used to maintain the information signs that are scarcely located in the area: we are left to guess about 50-75% of each sign as they are run down and worn out. Lured by an ice cream advertisement we end our visit in the gift shop, and there you have it… the one place they have clearly invested their money in (and where there’s actually something to see)! Nicer and more interesting than most souvenir shops we’ve seen this trip we decide to make our €3,50 worth by staying here a while. Consistently behaving Dutch, we stick to the phenomenon of “kijken, kijken, niet kopen!” (“look, look, don’t buy!”) and the ice cream is a hard no too: no one should pay €4,50 for a tiny jar (?!) of ice cream.

    With these two “highlights” of Sagres in our pocket we figure the rest of the town isn’t worth staying for. I’m a little sorry to admit our Dutch thrift continues in Luz where we refuse to pay €25 per night for a camping spot, after which we end up on a super cute little camper ground (€13!) somewhat further down the coast with the actual best thing of the day: a chicken nesting right next to the dishes area, allowing us to feed her out of our hand. CUTE! (Video for proof)

    The next day we set out to hike the “seven hanging valleys” trail. According to a survey conducted by a company called European Best Destinations this was voted by 28k people from all over the world to be the best walking trail of the continent. It’s a coastal walk covering about 6,5 KM one way, covering tracks above natural arches and caves shaped by ocean waves (hence the name). It’s a beautiful trail - does not beat the west coast trails in our humble opinion - that we get to enjoy twice as we walk the 13 KM back and forth (not being able to catch a grab on the other side of the trail). The reward is a dip in the ocean (Tim now also dares to go in!) and some time on one of the many the beaches.

    We do proof to be a tough crowd, and so we decide to cut our stay in the Algarve short. We will stay one more night before making a 3 hour trip the next day: we will be leaving Portugal and drive back into Spain. This country has given us the most enjoyable time and many good memories, it’s a little hard to leave!

    Tchau Portugal, muito obrigada 😍
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    Fieke Van Dieren

    zo mooi 🤗

    5/10/22Reply
    Fieke Van Dieren

    toch leuk om een keer te zien denk ik 🙃was weer leuk om te lezen! 😘

    5/10/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Haha ja we genoten wel hoor! 😄❤️ leuk je berichtje

    5/10/22Reply
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  • Day37

    The Fisherman’s Trail, the easy way

    April 30 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Following more of Evelien’s footsteps in Portugal we finally reach one of the areas of Portugal that we have much looked forward to to visit: Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. The North part of this nature park still being Alentejo, the South part ending in the Algarve. A 100 KM stretch of Europe’s best preserved coastlines, known by surfers for its waves and ecologists and biologists all over the world for its unique flora and fauna. No mass tourism, no mass development - and hence the best way to explore this nature park is by foot while following a multiple day hiking trail through areas no car can reach. We come by four wheels, however, and therefore only partly follow the footsteps my sister and brother-in-law took on this trail some years ago. Doing the trail the easy way, one could say, although we do face some challenges of our own in there next few days. But more of that later.

    We take it slow and follow a similar route from town to town, while stopping wherever we can along the way to walk up to the beaches and cliffs from a parking lot. A couple of times we take longer hikes on parts of the trail, and other times we watch other people hike past us with their walking sticks and packed backpacks while we chill on the beach in our swimwear. The temperatures have finally risen more consistently and we enjoy the feel of summer on our skin and in our minds. Tim calls me crazy, but I even fancy a swim in the (chilly) ocean! The cooling sensation followed by a light nap in the sun feels like freedom.

    Our first day on the trail starts at Porto Covo, a small fisherman’s town with again little whitewashed houses decorated with blue or yellow borders. Mom, you asked us the question whether these colours have any meaning. We hadn’t given it much thought before but since you asked we start to share your curiosity as to why these towns consistently have similar looking houses across a wider region. We haven’t been able to find a conclusive answer though: some say it is symbolic to reflect the sky (yellow for the sun, blue for the sky that apparently looks more blue in Alentejo than anywhere else, something to do with the way light is reflected in this region in combination of good air quality). Some have heard that it’s protecting residents from malifice (be it spiritual or flies). Our camp ground owner shrugs her shoulders when we ask her the reason: “it is mandatory by government rules to do so in Alentejo, to protect the traditional landscape”. At least it explains why the tradition lives on even today.

    Still in Porto Covo, a first challenge arrives. The display of our car suddenly lights up: “check transmission”. We experienced some vague display warnings before, that after a call with the owner appeared to be solved by simply re-opening and closing the doors (it’s like when IT asks you whether you have tried to reboot your troublesome computer yet), so we try a couple of things but the warning text and beeps stay present. Looking at Google and the car’s instruction booklet it could mean a number of things: small to big, cheap to expensive, quick fix to long waits for specific parts… We aren’t getting any wiser. Thanks to some helpful suggestions of family members and another call with the owner, we eventually drill it down to a probable defect break light switch causing the cruise control to be out of order and more importantly, the break lights to not work. Instead of driving to an automobile repair shop 70 km away we try our luck at the local shop for automobile parts. It’s so small that it’s hard to spot and while it should be open according to the time table we find the door closed. Looking through the window and walking around the building we ponder about what we should do next. Right then, a car pulls up. Some neighbours must have warned the owner about two customers at the door, as the guy steps out of his car and welcomes us inside. And luck we find: of the specific part we need he has exactly one item in store and we can buy it from him for a decent €22 only. We replace the item ourselves and like that, are on our way.

    From Porto Covo we slowly make our way down (via trails and beaches) to Vila Nova de Milfontes where we have one of the best dinners we have enjoyed this trip at a small local restaurant. The owner is super friendly and welcoming, the food is even better. The guy isn’t particular about sharing his culinary secrets: when we compliment him about the mushroom dish he explains exactly how we can make it at home (“it’s very easy!”) and a little while later we hear him go into detail about another recipe at one of the tables. Thanks to the vibe and hospitality it feels like we are having dinner at a friend’s place. I am sure the owner is a good friend to have! At the camp ground we make another friend, feline this time. I meet her somewhere between the sanitary building and our van when she cheekily follows me “home”. Requesting cuddles and staring at us from a small distance when we’re getting ready for bed, it is hard to close our curtains on her. In the morning a surprise awaits when the first thing we see outside is the same two piercing eyes. The whole morning she stays right with us: chilling, sleeping, cuddling. The little charmer almost tempted us in getting Musang a sister cat, if it wasn’t for her fat belly and shiny fur showing us she is already living her best life.

    On day two we include a longer hike. It is on these cliffs that we witness one of this region’s unique natural features: this is the only known site worldwide where storks nest in cliffs. On various cliffs and sometimes in groups of three or more, we see nests inhabited by one or two storks. The breeding season usually starts in April, but we can not spot any chicks yet at the time of our visit. It is very special to see these giant and beautiful creatures against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs and waves. Nature continues to amaze us later in the day when we walk, swim, and relax on probably the prettiest beach of entire Portugal. Thanks to not being easily accessible it is almost deserted (except a few naturists scattered here and there) which adds to our joy. We end our day at Zambujeira do Mar.

    Day three takes us all the way to Odeceixe, where we enter the Algarve and continue our rhythm of hike, beach, repeat. The only two incidents to disturb our zen takes place in Odeceixe on the way to one of the beaches. The first happens a little bit by our own caused misfortune of missing the correct turn and getting stuck into town. The hill town of Odeceixe is a little over 40 square meters with less than 1000 residents. This translates to: tiny narrow one way streets that twist and turn up the hill in a steep manner. No place for a camper van like ours… we are lucky that the one choice of direction we have somewhere midway allows us to skip a street with a warning sign about its width being “>less than two meters<“ (we are more than 2 meter wide), but soon after, our luck runs out. At the final turn to the top of the hill, where we will be able to resume our way on a normal road, we find ourselves in a tricky situation.

    The turn ahead has a rough 90 degree angle to the left after which it’s a 20 meter long steep slope up (our estimate: at least 15%). To our immediate left are houses, to our immediate right a thin little wall at the height of our knees is separating us from the valley below. In front two old local men who see us coming and by the look on their faces they too foresee the trouble we are in. They pause their walk to witness how we make a first attempt to go up. Making the turn, we realise furthermore that the road is only half paved: big chunks of loose gravel slip under our wheels. Pressing the gas pedal does nothing more than spinning our wheels echoing a loud noise against the whitewashed houses, and letting it loose for just a little bit the weight of our van immediately pulls us back down. Tim has to react quickly to react on the van losing grip, jerking us dangerously close to the side of the houses, and manages to keep us straight but not up. Midway the path we have to give up trying to make the van move, and pause to restrategise.

    Partially out of strategy and partially out of worry, I get out of the van (I actually thought to take my phone with me in case I’d need it). I help direct Tim to drive back down in reverse avoiding walls on both sides, the two old men still standing at the corner down below, and not the least of my worry: avoiding the fast way down behind the thin little wall. Having backed up as much as possible, the two men walk past us up the hill we try to conquer and say something to Tim that sounds like an encouragement. Tim hits the gas to try again. My heart stops once when before moving up the van drops backward even more - using every little inch possible without touching the wall - and my heart stops twice when again, the van skids on the gravel midway the road. I can see the front wheels spinning and I can hear the engine roaring, while Tim tries to get grip and make a move. It all takes way too long for both our liking and just when I think it’s an impossible task… The wheels suddenly find solid pavement to get grip and our camper van reaches the top of the hill. A well deserved thumbs up from the two elderly men confirm our success. Ronald, it was a good use of the anti slip training you and Tim once did together! The residents of Odeceixe may find traces of our challenge for a little longer in the black coloured stripes we leave on the road… (yes - we checked the tires and they were still in good shape! :-)). We take a deep breath (perhaps a few!), laugh off our nervousness together, and leave the little town for the beach…

    The second less so zen moment is when we return from the beach to our parking lot, although we are actually lucky this time. A lady who just arrived in her camper van busted two guys smashing in the windows of multiple cars parked right next to us, stealing people’s belongings. Thanks to this lady arriving and bravely starting to shout and take photos they fled before they reached our van. Luck is on our side! With police on the way and some other locals staying with the lady until they arrive we leave the scene and find our camper ground for the night for a good night of sleep, fortunately not reliving any of the challenges of the day…

    These few days were some of the best of our trip (despite the setbacks) and we will long remember the beauty and peace this park brought us! We highly recommend it to all nature lovers, avid hikers or not.
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    Willemien Sloetjes

    nou nou....blij dat ik sommige dingen niet geweten heb..knap van Tim zijn koelbloedig optreden. niks voor mij...Maar wat is het daar schitterend! Fijn om al die mooie foto's te bekijken.Ze zijn ook heel mooi genomen trouwens: complimenten! En hoe fijn is het dat de temperatuur omhoog geschoten is: zomergevoel. De gekleurde huizen: het licht is daar fantastisch en ik kan me goed voorstellen dat het daarmee te maken heeft. Één met het landschap.

    5/9/22Reply
    Jack van Delft

    Wie veel reist heeft veel avonturen.

    5/9/22Reply

    Wat mooi om de omgeving in de lente te zien. Prachtig met die bloemen en ooievaars! Wederom blij dat jullie er ook zo van hebben genoten, afgezien van de akkefietjes. In Papua trekken ze gras/riet uit de berm om onder de banden te leggen wanneer een voertuig vastloopt. Klinkt als een spannende manoeuvre, goed gedaan door Tim! Schitterende foto’s ook 💖 [Eef]

    5/9/22Reply
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  • Day31

    The hidden gem Alentejo

    April 24 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Alentejo, a region that’s covering a third of Portugal but is not so much discovered by tourists yet. Completely unjustified, is our conclusion. We drive through the rolling hills of this wine region and see that spring has arrived here earlier than in Douro, the other wine region we visited. The vineyards are already showing fresh green leafs and it’s beautifully green around us. Very conveniently the vineyards are accompanied by fields of cork trees, native to Alentejo. Another thing that characterises Alentejo are the megalithic monuments. These consist of prehistoric stones carefully placed in shapes and structures that are likely to have had astronomical and / or religious ritual functions. On our way to the camp ground we visit two of such sites. It takes a bouncy trip on a sand path and a muddy walk on a narrow path to get there (see the video and hear the sounds of nature!), but there’s definitely something special about seeing these large stones with our own eyes. This kind of site makes one feel like looking at the past, and wonder how on earth it was built without help of any machines. This has too been topic of many researches done. Possibly these big stones were moved on sleds sliding on rollers, needing up to 150 people to move them around!

    The camp ground we have chosen happens to be owned by another Dutch couple. We find ourselves a beautiful spot with view on the cork fields, where bunnies are hopping about and birds are singing their song enthusiastically. A perfect place to stay a little longer, relax a little, read some, explore the surrounding fields by foot, and use the “resting” day (who needs resting during a holiday?) to do some laundry.

    After one day of “rest” we go for a gorgeous 13 KM walk. It’s a nice mix of vineyards, olive groves, green hills, and the beautiful town Estremoz. Furthermore the sun is out, giving our day an actual summer feel. We also continue to enjoy the peace and quiet: apart from the cities it has been a blast to go without many other tourists around. I know it’s hypocritical but as two tourists ourselves we like places best when we don’t see any other foreigners enjoying the same place as us. We are actually guilty of whispering to each other: “there goes another Dutch couple, yuk!” - something I am not shy of sharing publicly as I know we aren’t the only one feeling like this. We humans are strange creatures, aren’t we? Anyway, we do care to stop for a good conversation with those we meet on the way - see video :-).

    Two nights at the Dutch owned site we pack our van and with a detour of sightseeing through Évora and Évora Monte get ready to return to the west coast of Portugal. A special mention to the “Capela dos Ossos” in Évora. This translates as Chapel of Bones and if you are left wondering about this curious name: that is exactly what it is. The chapel’s interior is not simply covered, but DECORATED with human skulls and bones of more than 5000 skeletons. Franciscan monks living in the 16th century thought this was a brilliant solution to overcrowded graveyards, exhuming the human remains to repurpose them in the chapel. They clearly took their sweet time and creativity to do so, I would almost dare to say they must have had fun playing around with the bones fitting them in the most beautiful patterns. This suspicion is supported by the somewhat humorous text engraved above the entrance of the chapel: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos”. In English: “We bones that are here, for yours we wait”. The two mummified bodies also showcased in the chapel could not get my appreciation as much - it made me a little sick looking at them (and therefore you won’t find any pictures included of these bodies here).

    I’ll leave you with this sonnet (dated 1845!) that was on one of the chapel’s walls and that I thought was worth remembering:

    “Where are you going in such a hurry, traveller?
    Stop… do not proceed any further.
    You have no greater concern,
    Then this one: that on which you focus your sight.

    Recall how many have passed from this world,
    Reflect on your similar end,
    There is good reason to reflect,
    If only all did the same.

    Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
    Among the many concerns of the world,
    So little do you reflect on death;

    If by chance you glance at this place,
    Stop… For the sake of your journey,
    The more you pause, the more you will progress.”
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    Willemien Sloetjes

    Bij de begraafplaats in Coevorden staat de volgende tekst: wat gij nu zijt, was ik voor deze. Wat ik nu ben zult gij dra wezen.Ook iets om bij stil te staan: reflectie is nooit verkeerd. Daardoor geniet je meer van wat je nu hebt of bent. ( Dit was de avondoverdenking van je moeder ..haha. Jullie reis is geweldig mooi om te volgen. En jullie koppies zijn leuk om naar te kijken: verregend, verwaaid, gebronsd etc... Heb het goed en welterusten!

    5/3/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Ook een mooie tekst! En lekker nuchter zoals het men in Coevorden en omgeving betaamt haha.

    5/4/22Reply
    Jack van Delft

    Tim de Turkey hoeder. Evora Monte, daar zijn wij ook gegaan.

    5/4/22Reply
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  • Day29

    Come rain, come shine: visit to Lisbon

    April 22 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    When exploring Portugal from north to south, a visit to the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, can not be missed. We park our camper at the only camper ground around (and priced as such too - with no competition they can ask for a lot!) and get ready to explore. Knowing that the weather was going to be rainy we kind of timed to be in the city as it’s slightly more pleasant to visit urban environments in rainy weather than it is to walk in nature in the rain.

    Being Portugal largest city it is remarkably small compared to some other European cities (less than 3 million people compared to, for example, 11 million in Paris / 9 million in London / 4 million in Rome) and also remarkably charming. It doesn’t have the big city feels, probably thanks to its age (it is the second oldest city of Europe, right after Athens in Greece). Once again we can stroll through steep cobbled zigzag streets and get inspired by the tiled facades. I have a love for anything tiled (you have probably noticed by now :-)) and so I eat my heart out! Fun fact: Portugal has so many tiled facades as their waterproof glazed surface helps to protect the houses from damp weather and low temperatures. It is basically for the same reason as to why our bathrooms and kitchens are typically tiled, only used on the exterior of the house (and making it an art to have the most beautiful patterns). It might not be such a bad idea to have more of this in The Netherlands too!

    Thanks to Evelien (my sister who lived in Lisbon for some time) we came prepared with tips on which highlights to visit, what to do indoors when it rains, and where to eat the best food. It isn’t the first time that we feed our itinerary on Evelien’s experience going places before us and so we know we are in for a treat following her advice.

    We spent a good deal of the first day walking around checking off most of the “miradouro” (viewpoints) and the famous points of interest in the city. For lunch we arrive just in time at a adorable cafe with less than ten small tables scattered on a sloping little street. A small crowd of people have already gathered for it to open in 10 minutes time, obediently following a sign that says “please do not sit at the tables”. We join the queue as anything with a queue is usually worth waiting for, and are lucky to get the last table available after some other people who clearly arrived last rudely pushed ahead of the queue before us. A small annoyance that’s quickly forgotten when we feast on our grilled sardines (Tim) and Alheira (a Portuguese sausage made of chicken, bread and garlic - Judith).

    Walking on we see a small shop with its owner having a smoke in the doorway. It’s a hairdresser “for men only”, located in a tiny space with two seats, a television showing a football match, and the smell of cigarette smoke. The perfect place for Tim to get a haircut local style! The barber puts his cigarette down, still lit and spreading its smoke in the small space, and after some Google Translate magic to explain in Portuguese what Tim wants we pray he understands it and he gets going. The result was a little different (and quite a bit shorter) from what Tim had imagined but ah well, still a proper €10 investment. The shorter the hair, the longer it will take before he needs a haircut again.

    The highlight of the day is THE BEST pastel de nata of Lisbon, some say of Portugal, at Manteigaria. Evelien made it a side job while living in Lisbon to try out many different bakeries specialised in this yellow little custard tart and called this one out to be the actual best. We can’t say we stuck to trying just this one (they are hard to resist when you see them somewhere baked fresh) but we do agree full heartedly that these are the most delicious ones we have had. Good thing we ordered not two, but four! Unfortunately the side effect is that we are so full that we can’t 100% enjoy the Israeli food also recommended by my sister. It is a cute place and the food we eat is great but we simply can’t eat so much… the owners are happy to have us though, especially after sending them Evelien’s regards. The fact that they knew who I referred to without finishing my sentence to describe her as the Dutch girl probably gives away how much time she spent here quite a few years ago :-) (of course she is also a gem of a human hard to forget!).

    The second day is giving us more rain than the first and so after visiting the tower of Belém we spent the rest of the day in a few museums and a hipster neighbourhood of an old factory that now hosts boutique shops and restaurants. Despite the weather we have a great day but without any noteworthy stories to tell. It’s a good thing we didn’t skip this characteristic city this trip. Tchau, Lisboa!
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    Willemien Sloetjes

    in gedachten ben ik meegewandeld.Dr nauwe straatjes met onmogelijke kinderkopjes om fatsoenlijk op te lopen,de authentieke gevels en de prachtige mozaïeken! Je brengt me helemaal terug naar deze mooie stad. Wat leuk dat je gegeten hebt bij de Israëlier. Het was daar zo'n warm welkom: alsof we familie waren en dat alleen omdat Evelien daar zo vaak at.. geweldig! En de pastel de nata: zelden zoiets lekkers geproefd. Jammer dat het regenachtige weer niet meewerkte, maar daardoor hebben jullie weer andere dingen gedaan en gezien. Ondertussen zal Tim wel gewend zijn aan zijn coupe de Lisboa,(haha....) Groetjes mama

    5/2/22Reply
    Jack van Delft

    Jaaa daar ben ik ook geweest. Mooie en leuke stad. Fijn om deze foto's te zien.

    5/2/22Reply

    Zo blij dat jullie een leuke tijd hebben gehad! De foto’s brengen mij ook helemaal terug. En in the mood voor pastel de nata 🥹🤤 Jullie hebben er zo te lezen veel uitgehaald. Zelf was je na je laatste traumatische ervaring nog niet toe aan een nieuwe knipbeurt? 😅 Leuk ook dat jullie Manteigaria ook de lekkerste vonden. Heb je je tomatenjam al opgemaakt? 💖 [Evelien]

    5/3/22Reply
    Willemien Sloetjes

    oh ja! tomatenjam Judith!!

    5/3/22Reply
    Two peas in a pod

    Ik heb alweer een aantal nieuwe potjes ingeslagen 😂 zo lekker! Ik laat mijn gehavende lokken nog even groeien voor ik er weer iemand aan laat zitten - en dan wel in Nederland deze keer 😜

    5/3/22Reply
    Willemien Sloetjes

    hahaha

    5/3/22Reply
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