Embalse de la Tranquera, NuévalosFebruary 4, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C
After filling and emtying at the aire services we set off realtively early. There was a spot in what we inaccurately called 'The Desert' that someone on Park4Night had recommended in the middle of nowhere and sounded like good place to camp. It wasn't too far to get to the turnoff but unfortunately, being in 'the middle of nowhere' meant it had no proper road and we didn't fancy pitting our 3.5 tonne van against the kilometre or so of gravel track after the rain we'd had, so we went to Plan B and set our course towards the Tranquera reservoir.
It had been close to freezing for a while and on the way there it began to snow! We'd kept our eyes on the weather forecast but the white stuff wasn't due for a couple of days yet. We were grateful that it melted off the roads and we had no problems. The route leading to the isolated patch of hard ground on the east shore of the reservoir was rickety and cracked, but at least it was tarmac. On the app there had been photos of sunsets over a calm expanse of water, but these had been taken 3 years ago and all that remained was a marshy, flat bed which supported a healthy growth of reeds and small trees. It is worrying how sustained Spain's drought has become.
Pulling into the car park we passed two small vans and were eyed suspiciously by their occupants. They stayed for a little while before one drove off and the other began driving in circles beeping their horn and waving at us. We waved back, reckoning they'd been smoking something more than tobacco in their cigarettes! Once they went, we were alone and that's the way it stayed for 2 days, save for a police car who came and turned round on the second day, giving us a nod as they did so. The police seem to like to drive around and keep an eye on things in this region. They don't mind us parking but like to keep aware of what's going on.
That evening we feasted on Calçots; large Spring Onions and a seasonal favourite in Spain. They are usually done on the BBQ but we didn't fancy the freezing temperatures, so Will griddled them. He'd spent all day making a Spanish Romesco sauce with almonds, hazelnuts, peppers and tomatoes, olive oil, chillis and roasted garlic - yum!
It snowed on and off during our stay and on the first morning we woke to a white winter scene. It was beautiful; the snow highlighting the strata on the series of hills on the opposite shore. At the head of the reservoir was the village of Nuévalos. We wrapped up and walked about a mile until we reached the outskirts. On the way Will noticed a large bird gliding overhead. It was difficult to identify but zooming in with the camera lens we eventually realised it was a vulture! More followed it on its path towards a rugged cliff, where we counted a dozen circling on the thermals, occasionally perching on a vantage point to survey the land below.
Coming down from the excitement of watching what we later found to be Griffin Vultures, we explored the lower town, buying a few apples at the little grocery store. Making our way up the steep hill, we peered over railings at the side of a church built on the edge of a sheer drop into a valley. As we were staying 2 nights we decided to have lunch in Nuévalos. The first bar advertised Spanish tortillas but when we went in it smelled of damp cigarettes. We were quite relieved when they told us the kitchen was closed!
Thankfully El Cazador was clean and smell free. It did an options menu for €12 including bread and a drink, so we settled ourselves in to the empty bar. Vicky ordered mixed vegetables for starters and was a little surprised when they came with chopped bacon! Will had a traditional white bean stew and was a little surprised it came with chopped pig's ear! The food wasn't top quality but it was warm and tasty. We really enjoyed being in the little bar, petting the 9 year old white and tan mongrel and greeting the occasional local who wandered in for a warm drink or takeaway sarnie. The licensee was friendly and patient with our limited language skills. Will really enjoyed having a conversation with her and answering her simple questions about our Poppy.
Back at the van we got the kettle on for a nice warm cuppa after our cold walk. The usually blue flame burned orange, possibly due to the cold temperatures and the mix of propane / butane we'd last topped up with. Different places provide different mixtures, with countries such as Austria, who are used to low temperatures, providing a greater percentage of propane, which doesn't freeze. Perhaps we bad a higher percentage of butane?
The snow that was forecast didn't materialise but in the morning Vicky took a short hike up the hill behind the van. Looking down she saw that the next valley was thickly coated in snow, so perhaps our little spot had been protected.Read more