A Travellerspoint blog

Wednesday 13th January

Up early and drove up into the town, in thick fog to the post office. After queuing up I used my line “Hay Alguna dois paquetes para mi?” meaning are there two parcels for me? The answer I received after a search was again no. So off to the tourist office to find out about the skiing, the ski station was open but yet again the roads to it were still closed. Armed with the tracking numbers for both parcels I headed to an internet café and established from the Portuguese post office website they were in Lisbon.
So as the weather wasn’t good for anything outdoors and the ski station we couldn’t get to, it was back to the car park to wait around and hope the parcels would show up tomorrow. Heating on and scrabble out. But the gas ran out! Luckily this time we were carrying a full spare one, so in the wind and rain it was changed.

Later that night the wind got very strong and heavy and the motorhome was rocking. Looking outside the wind was making the tree’s, lampposts and signs sway and bend. As the night continued it got worse and it felt like the motorhome would tipple over or the kayaks would be ripped off the roof. Come two am, as we were parked in a very open car park, we decided to drive to a more sheltered area we had seen up the road. After a nervous drive we found shelter behind an out of town small shopping complex. It was only a little sheltered, with the motorhome not rocking as much, but the noise’s of big billboard signs and the buildings itself was very loud. We tried getting some sleep but were constantly woken by either Hymer rocking or the huge noises, one being a big crashing noise.

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Tuesday 12th January

Today we decided to head for the town of Colvilha and hopefully collect our parcels, one of them being a repaired Tom Tom, in the fog and rain. We arrived in heavy rain and parked up and headed off on foot to find the post office. Well we found a hard job finding the centre let alone the post office and couldn’t even find a street map on any of the roads. After a while and now very wet we finally came across the post office. After queuing up I asked in Portuguese if there was any post for me, after a look around I was told there wasn’t, so off we headed towards the door. Lorna then found a book with all the postal town numbers in, as this was key for posting to Portugal’s Poste Restante. We discovered that the post town number we had been given further north in Portugal was in fact incorrect and for another town near by here! At this point one of the staff came across who spoke a little English and we explained that we had the town on the address, but the post number was incorrect. She explained that the number was more important than the name and would probably be sent to Guarda, the town the number was for. So off we headed for Guarda 40km down the road. We arrived in Guarda and had fun driving around small town streets. Until we found some parking a little out and walked into the centre, again in the rain. Again we couldn’t find the post office or the tourist information centre, no signs or town maps and again we were getting very wet. After a second walk around the same streets we came across a small sign for the tourist office. Then found out where the post office was and was also told the ski station was again open, but the roads to it were closed! So to the post office and after my line from our phrase book asking whether there was any post for me, I was told no. So we would be spending a night here, with the hope it would be here tomorrow. After driving around a fair bit we finally came across the motorhome stop, well car park, featured in our book.

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Monday 11th January

In the morning we were removing the front windscreen silver screens and getting the toast and tea on the go, as usual. When a police car pulled up very close to us, then an officer got out and walked past the motorhome. Now wild camping in Portugal is similar to England, it is not officially allowed but in places seems tolerated or a blind eye is turned. So a lot of time we run the risk of being told to move on or even fined. We are careful with where we park and as yet have had no problems, but was our luck about to run out? The policeman seemed to be standing slightly further up the road on his phone, they were probably just making their presence felt. In a lot of places so far in Portugal the Police had driven into the car parks to check them out, but had never stopped or spoken to us. We decided not to continue cooking our breakfast and to eat it under their noses. So off went the gas and on went the engine. We drove off and had breakfast in a supermarket car park.

We then headed off to find a tourist office and ask them about the roads as well as the skiing. We established that the roads were still closed, due to them not having many snowploughs and the ones they had were only on the major roads. Although all the roads to the ski station were closed we were informed that the ski station was open! Yeah, work that one out. We drove around the outskirts of the national park and towards the town we were due to be picking up some parcels from.
We headed away from the main roads onto the smaller roads through the villages. The roads started getting smaller and smaller, with walls on either side. It got to one point that Lorna decided to get out and have a look further on down the road. I was very glad she did as the road got too small for Hymer, so we turned around and headed back to the main roads. We ended up stopping the night under a Castle in a small town called Belmonte. In the middle of the car park were the remains of a huge bonfire, still with massive tree trunks that hadn’t burnt. After having a good chat later to a group of three students from the town, although one was from Brazil. I learnt this was a tradition, to light a huge fire on Christmas Eve that normally burns till new years day.

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Sunday 10th January

Headed off to a shopping centre for a food shop, as unlike the French or Spanish the Portuguese actually shop on a Sunday. Also the Portuguese have big food halls in their shopping centre’s, full of small restaurant outlets with huge platefuls of mouth watering food for a very good price. Anyway, we then headed off in the rain for the national park, Serra da Estrela, and skiing. After a couple of hours we were going up into the hills and the wind. The roads started getting icy the further we headed into the centre of the park, until we reached an electronic sign telling us the roads circling the mountains were closed. We headed back and drove around a fair bit near Gouveia until we found somewhere to park up by some sort of stadium, near the road.

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Saturday 9th January

Today we headed off to the city of Coimbra, and drove around a few times trying to find a parking spot our book recommended from a street name and a photo. We can’t wait to get Tom Tom back, as he is perfect for times like these. Paul had contacted us and was sending back a repaired Tom. We had arranged for him to send Tom to a town in one of the national parks back towards the Spanish border. We were going to head that way for some walking and as it also had Portugal’s only ski resort, hopefully a bit of skiing. I know we must be hooked, already wanting to ski again.
We eventually found the parking spot, that had now been made an aire, by the river opposite the old city and headed off for a walk around. All the towns seem to be built on hills, so off we went up small cobbled streets. Ended up going round a museum (Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro) that was two underground levels of a Roman Crypt, built half way up a steep hillside. Our guide leaflet said that this would have been the foundations of a big Roman forum. Then off for a drink by the river, before heading back to the Motorhome to get on the internet. A sign at the aire had stated Wifi, but there wasn’t any we could pick up. We were finding it very difficult to get access to the internet with our Laptop in Portugal. Even in their McDonald’s car parks we don’t seem to be able to connect.



Posted by marklorna 08:45 Comments (0)

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