Wednesday 2nd December
We left Monsaraz surprisingly early for us, not that we had any true plans of where we were going, there were four places marked on our map and if the first didn’t suit then the second might…
Above is the view as we came down off the mountain that is Monsaraz, in the distance we can see the bridge that we will be taking and just beyond that is our first target.
Aldeia da Luz was the name and we arrived shortly after 10 in the morning. It wasn’t very inspiring, nothing that you could put your finger on really, the aire was fine enough but there was no views so we pressed on. We found out later that Aldeia da Luz was one of the towns moved lock, stock and barrel from the valley to higher up so the reservoir could be built.
The view looking back to Monsaraz, very nice place, full of Brits but we will be back.
Diesel was getting a bit low so we made a quick detour into Intermarche, might be good in France but not in Portugal and the girl on the till really does need a bit of training!
Our next target was the barragem at Alqueva or dam to you. One of the people we had met previously had recommended this spot to us and there was the circle on the map. All the Aires doesn’t know about it, Camper Contact doesn’t know about it but somehow Stella had it in her databank, she does have her uses.
One of the five hydraulic gates used to let the water flood out, in times of emergency or repair I think.
Technical details are a bit light here but we have two reversible turbines each generating 130MW each. Above is the Rio Guardinio, follow that river downstream a little while and you get to another dam. In fact there are half a dozen dams all interconnected, at off peak times the electricity is used to pump water back upstream so that it can be used again.
The dam is fairly recent, we think it was finished about 2007.
And this is the view from the visitors centre. Technical details of the dam (the bits that I find interesting) were severely lacking in the visitors centre. All the emphasis was on tourism (fishing, swimming, sailing) and agriculture (the fields can now be irrigated), The Alqueva system, including the outlying dams and reservoirs is the largest strategic water reserve in Europe creating 120,000 hectares of irrigated land in a region characterised by a Mediterranean climate with an average temperature of 17ºC and 3000 hours of sunshine per year. There is enough water here to provide in case of 4 years of drought!
Mediterranean climate, wild orange tree by the roadside, you don’t see that very often. The smell from the orange as I peeled it was was amazing, unfortunately the fruit was far too sharp to eat.
For some reason this slogan, in three feet high letters adorns the edge of the dam. Lucy keeps singing it which is unfortunate, it sounds like something the Eagles would sing but as we all know they only ever recorded one song.
We are sharing the aire with three French, one German and one Dutch motorhome. Despite that it is very quiet and we decided to have a break and stay a second night.
Frankie had a wash first thing in the morning, it was more of a bed bath than a proper wash though. This is another technical tip, I don’t have many to share but I like this one. Sometimes, especially when you are parked next to water you get a film of dew on the side of the van in the morning. Using a microfibre cloth just give the van a quick once over to pick up the moisture and all of the road dirt with it. I needed three microfibre clothes this morning, Frankie was so grubby and I didn’t clean the back end or the bits out of reach. I am allowed to have half a dozen microfibre clothes which I normally use to clean the windscreen and even better, once they are dirty I am allowed to put them in the laundry basket.
We also got the freezer defrosted, which was easier to do than expected and I built a little bit more of my wooden model Long Boat.
In between all that work we managed to fit in a good long session of sunbathing and reading Kindles.
Still debating wether to move on in the morning, we have enough food and water for a few mare days, we’ll see how we feel in the morning.