27-28 November 2019
On another grey day we said goodbye to our lovely hostess and the “wettest part of Spain” as declared by the noticeboard outside the campsite. We had 2 days to make it to our Christmas quarters in Portugal and although we could have done it in one, we wanted to do some back-roads travel.
We headed out and onto the scenic A372 – why does “scenic” so often go along with disintegrating, narrow roads with crumbly edges? Well, it all adds to the interest and Kate took up “spotter” duty, calling “clear, clear, clear” on the left-hand hairpins as we twisted our way up amongst the oaks in the Sierra de Grazalema national park.
It’s a lovely area with Grazalema village itself (pop. 2,205) nestled beneath cliffs in the valley carved by the Guadalete river. We noticed a complete lack of air conditioning units which could be down to its altitude (800m) or shade from the surrounding mountains, and it has the most spectacularly situated football pitch we have seen to date – and we’ve seen a few on our travels!
We followed the road up through pine trees into the clouds and over the watershed where the Guadalete river rises and a viewing point was barely visible through the mist.
Going down the other side men with buckets were collecting acorns from the ground – free food for their animals perhaps, although we are told they can be used to make flour or coffee from them apparently.
Approaching El Bosque we looked down on our first covered bull-ring – we assume a testament to unpredictable weather.
As we left the mountains behind the sun came out turning the stubble on the rolling arable fields to light gold.
We spent the night on the quayside at Puerto Santa Maria just outside Cadiz where we sorted out our New Year plans and revisited Romerijo’s where Danny re-acquainted himself with the best Tortillas de Camerones in the world and had his first Percebes (Goose barnacles) which Kate couldn’t bring herself to try but mastered the art of preparing – holding the tip, twisting and pulling so the leathery sheath comes away to reveal the red flesh. Danny really liked them.
It was foggy when we woke and it lingered over the coast as we headed off to fill up on LPG which we had just run out of. Not so bright of us! We took a detour at Seville to Autocaravanas Hidalgo where we managed to get a replacement heating relief valve – ours is leaking – and mid-afternoon we entered Portugal and headed straight to a car-wash where we finally got the caked-on orange muck off. All bright and shiny we drove to our home for the next month. The entrance was festooned with Xmas decorations and playing Xmas music and it was beginning to feel a bit like Christmas 🎄🎵🎶🎵🎄