Monday, 1 April 2013

Wednesday 27th March 2013 - Sunday 31st March 2013

Wednesday 27th March 2013

 We wake up to torrential rain!

 This is beginning to be, beyond a joke!

A quick photograph of the Santiago de Compestella campsite in the never ending rain, and, off we go, heading for Portugal, and, hopefully, better weather!

There is initial disagreement between Kathleen and the Tomtom (nothing unusual in that). Kathleen was expecting the Tomtom to take us on the N550 south, Which I agree looks the obvious option.
Instead, it took us on a “smaller” road (AC841 according to our road atlas), it was a good road, but, Kathleen was beginning to be concerned that she had entered the wrong details. We stopped to to check, but, all was OK. I had just made the re-assuring noises about the road being fine, when the instruction came, turn right ahead.
I had spoken too soon.
This was onto a really minor road (PO-VP something or other). What a shocker, it had been heavily potholed, but, the pot holes had been filled to be about an inch higher than needed. The result, we are given a given a good shaking for about ten miles, before we join the (decent) N640, then N550, on past Pontevedra, with some bits of free motorway (A-52) where it was finished before they ran out of cash.

Estela, Rio Alto (N41 27’ 46”, W8 46’ 22”) A large site, right by the sea, but, it would appear there are only three lots of people here, an Austrian van and another British van, plus ourselves of course. A fourth van arrives in the evening (Spanish).

The site is good, but, so far, the weather has not improved a lot. Just showers now, instead of a steady downpour.
Not cold however.
Our English neighbour is very informative, and puts us onto a new deal from Orbitur (Portuguese campsite chain), just before our friends Josie and Mack tell us of the same deal. By joining the Orbitur Club, you can prepay for ten sites and get them for 9Euro per night, including electricity. It costs 10Euro to join, so your first ten sites cost 10 Euro per night, there after 9Euro.
Kathleen loves that, she just loves a bargain.
The rain has eased to just the occasional heavy shower!
Decent facilities here, including enough amps to run the hair dryer, so, Kathleen amuses herself with the hair washing ritual.
Friday 29th March 2013

It has rained all night, and, when I say rained, I mean really rained, pissed down is I believe the appropriate expression!

It is still pissing down as I walk to Reception to ask them to disconnect the electricity.

The plan today is to go to Fatima, this being an appropriate religious spot for the Easter weekend. I do have doubts about turning up there on Good Friday, I would expect it to be full, but, we do have a fall back plan (Lorvao N40 15.539’ W8 18.918) about 50 miles from Fatima, according to the Satnav. Both options from the Spain and Portugal Aires Book.

A hundred and odd miles of pouring rain, and occasional fog, not one of our most scenic drives.

In many places, the fields are flooded, and as shown in the photograph, many rivers have burst their banks, flooding the surrounding fields.

This river is just a few inches below the road bridge as we cross, just inches short of flooding the road..

There is a major new road under construction as we approach Fatima, it is not finished, and even the bits which are finished are not on our Satnav, so we end up being taken on a circuitous, very steep (often first gear) and twisting route. There is water running down the road like a small stream. Gives Kathleen a chance to get in the praying mood.

Fatima (N39 38.003’ W8 40.217’) There are lots of Campervans here, mostly Portugeuse. Well, I suppose that is reasonable, it is their country.

All of the “top notch” bays (nice size and each with it’s own little picnic table, (on the left of the photograph) are occupied, but, there are plenty of spaces in “second class”.
So, my fears of not being able to get a spot, are unfounded.

No electricity, but, as the book says, there are toilets and they are very well kept.

Kathleen takes herself off to church on Good Friday evening and almost gets herself lost finding her way back to the van. Not surprising really, the "shrine" area is enormous.

Saturday 30th March 2013. It is dry and sunny, we cannot believe it.

We stroll around the Basillica area, as I said before, it is enormous.
Just look at those white fuffy clouds and that blue sky. Aren't they amazing?

OK, so you hink I am going over the top?, we have not seen blue sky for days and days.....
We meet what appear to be the only other English couple here (well, they are Welsh, but, they seem pleasant enough despite that).

I am pleasantly surprised, it is all very well done, and virtually no tacky souvenir and statue sellers, indeed virtually no commercialism at all, and what there is, is not overpriced.

The happenings at Fatima are fairly recent (1917), so, the buildings are all recent, some of them very modern indeed.

Kathleen has plans to attend the Easter Vigil, Saturday evening at 22:00, but is concerned at finding her way back by herself in the dark. I foolishly offer to attend with her.

 For now, the sunshine is too good to waste, we wander into town, find a bar, and sit in the sun drinking beer, now this feels more like a holiday.

Then, to lunch.
We are presented with bread, olives and two kinds of cheese to “nibble” while we choose from the menu etc. Odd to be given cheese at the start, for us, it is usually regarded as an “afters”.
Kathleen, the usually cautious eater, amazes me, by tucking into the unknown cheese, without even being sure from which animal it came, and, without waiting for me to try it first.

The meal and bottle of very pleasant red wine are excellent value for 27Euro.

Sure enough, we attend the Easter Vigil.
It is impressively well organised, but, it goes on for well over two and a half hours! It is actually still going on at 12:30 when we leave!
When we come out, it is raining again!
My presence does not prevent us getting lost in the dark and rain. This of course is deemed to be my fault. I do point out, that, by convention, the person thought to be in the lead is at the front.

Sunday 31st March 2013. It has rained all night, and is still raining as we leave, indeed it pours with rain for every one of the 160 miles to the next campsite. Villa Nova de Milfontes, Sitiva (N37 46’48” W8 47’1”). Another site from the ACSI book (belonging to the Orbitur group, so, we can use our 9Euro vouchers).

The site is fine, a bit big for our taste, but it appears well kept.

The pouring rain continues. We are parked next to a Scots couple, who arrived from Lagos yesterday, they tell us, they have had 7 days of rain there, and are heading North to attempt to escape it.

They are not really cheered by our news, that we are heading South for the same reason! Indeed, neither party have any cheer from the exchange of information!

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