Where's Frankie?

On a clear day, you can see forever

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…

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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.

MG 7264

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!

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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.

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One of the five hydraulic gates used to let the water flood out, in times of emergency or repair I think.

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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.

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The dam is fairly recent, we think it was finished about 2007.

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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!

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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.

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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.

10 thoughts on “On a clear day, you can see forever

    1. Mark Post author

      It’s a joke I have with one of my buddies. You only ever get to hear one of their songs, hotel california. He loves the Eagles, I tell him I like music written this century.

  1. Nora+Neil

    Reading your blog with interest. What Aires book are you using? We did along the coast of Spain and Portugal 2 years ago but we hope to do something like the route you are taking starting in March. 2017. If you do go to the coast we loved the area Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain near Cadiz. Big Aire facing the sea.

    1. Mark Post author

      We have all the aires Spain and Portugal but the best thing we have is an app called motorhome camping, it’s a Dutch app, Google camper contact to find it. It costs €4.60 per year, you can use it offline and it has 17000 Aires in it. Far, far more than all the aires. We also have park4night but you need to be online. Sanlucar is very nice,we may give it another visit this time. Next blog I’ll take a photo of our map, I’ve put a dot in for every aire in the south of Portugal, it’s amazing how many there are.

      1. Nora+Neil

        Thanks Mark. Going to follow your excellent idea and will sit at our kitchen table on a wet stormy Sat afternoon tomorrow and mark all your places on the map. Great idea.

        1. Mark Post author

          There are a couple of other things you can do (or I do). I’ve marked all the world heritage sites with a square around the place name so I know that there is something worth going to see. I also have an app which sits inside google called stumbleupon; you can choose the type of websites that you just want to stumble upon so put in travel places, things to see, etc and everytime you press the stumbleupon button you are taken to a random relevant website. If it looks good, circle the place!

  2. Peter and Elaine

    Hi Mark. Enjoying following your blog. Not enjoying your comments about the weather lol. It’s pants here in the UK. Still, we’ll be heading south soon I hope..
    You mentioned taking a photo of your map to show where you’ve been. ..have a look at google ‘my maps’ It’s easy to use and you can easily add photos and comments.
    Sorry our blog site is ages out of date, but there is a google map link to our most recent trip.
    Maybe bump into you on the road somewhere..
    cheers, Peter

    1. Mark Post author

      Hi Peter
      Sorry to say but we have just had one of the hottest days ever and it was forecast overcast as well. Tomorrow should be warming up.
      I had a play with Google My Maps but managed to get it completely wrong, sometimes they ask a question and you’re really not sure what they are asking.
      The paper map is good, you can use it offline, share it with others and just get a general overview of everythihg. Shame there isn’t something that will do everything, we have to refer to a couple of apps, a couple of maps and two guidebooks and we know that we are missing out on so much stuff that is close.
      See you on the road somewhere, sometime

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