After leaving Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, we decided to head West towards Portugal, and stop off at the City of Salamanca before the border. This was an all day drive as we tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to stay off the Spanish Motorways, it was 222 miles. Spain is a big country and it can be quite time consuming to cross it at a maximum 50mph!
We decided to top up the fuel tank en-route, as we were unsure how open Spain would be on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. So we spotted a fuel station just off the main road, perfect, apart from I missed the turning into the forecourt. No problem, there’s a huge piece of waste ground to the side of it, I’ll turn into that and then just drive off road on the petrol station (after all we do have a go anywhere 4×4 Tonka truck). All was going swimmingly until we realised (too late) that there was a huge drop off of the waste ground onto the forecourt. SMASH, from the back…. first thought, beer or wine bottles. Once at the pumps, Jac opened up the back to discover carnage….. One of the overhead lockers had jumped its catch, and the entire contents (which happened to be Tesco’s finest crockery) were in thousands of pieces all over the truck. There were lumps out of the worktop, but amazingly the glass cover over the sink was undamaged, and more importantly the ceramic diesel hob survived. Lesson leant, no crockery (apart from plastic) and all heavy items in the base units.
We visited Salamanca last year while we where away on the KTM, on the way back from Morocco with Clive and Jane. This time we were determined to see more of this beautiful place. As it was Sunday, we assumed it would be very quiet, and everything would be closed. WRONG! It was Easter Sunday in a Cathedral City in a Catholic country.
There was the most amazing, colourful, and noisy Easter Festival.
The Main Cathedral really is quite special, but there are many other churches all with fantastic carved stonework
One place that is a fantastic spot to chill with a beer, and people watch, is the main square, its a mass of bars, cafe’s and restaurants, with what I assume are very exclusive private apartments above.
There are Storks nesting in the most unlikely places, including this one right at the top of a church bell tower
The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we topped up Colonel K’s tanks with water, emptied the toilet tank, and set off for Portugal. It was about 100km to the border, then about another 180km to the coast, after a couple of coffee stops (in fabulously luxurous establishments….not) we have ended up in a small town called Estarresa, near Aveiro (south of Porto). Overnighting in a carpark for the local Park, and very nice cafe’.
I know some people are interested in how the Daf is performing (mostly those from the overlander.org website), well touch wood …… very well! The snorkel that I fitted before we left seems to allow the big Cummins engine to breath a bit better, and after about 1700 miles (since leaving the UK) we are doing about 14-15mpg. As usual it seems to use no oil, and all other fluids are ok. We had one instance while driving up a very steep and long small road in the Pyrenees where the temperature gauge was nudging the red line (but I was in low range gears, and was working the engine very hard). After that Ive decided to take it a bit easier on the engine on long sustained inclines. Hopefully it will be fine when the heat increases in North Africa.
Now that we have some proper sun, we are realising the difference that the window tinting on the cab makes, its an absolute god send! I know its still going to get much hotter, but before we had it done, the drive up to Scotland in April was unbearable, its might be technically illegal, but its making a massive difference (and looks quite cool too). It was done by the very helpful Kylie at http://www.ashfordwindowtints.co.uk
Tomorrow we will head down the coast towards Lisbon and then the Algarve. It seems that Portugal has a very relaxed attitude towards motorhomes and free camping, we will put this to the test over the next week.