Two Go Back to Spain

Discussion in 'Spain' started by DBK, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    The migrations of birds into Europe continues. After yesterday's Swift's I watched a dozen or so Black Kites fly in this morning. :)

    We have a prime bird watching spot. This is us on the right. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180515_195254.jpg

    The lumps in the background are the Rif mountains of Morroco. :)

    The van to the left of us had just arrived. A very new UK registered Vantage Neo with an interesting layout - and, if the owners don't mind me pointing out, some expensive extras, including the £4K garden shed door on the side. :) Nice folk though. :)

    We even have a beach side bar.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180515_195250.jpg

    Which would be even better if it was open tonight! It was open yesterday but has shut tonight for some reason.

    Charlie is enjoying the waves. :)



    Tomorrow we are going to drive into Tarifa. We may even have lunch at a restaurant! :)
     
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  2. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    Our vigil near the Pillars of Hercules continues. Where we are there is no beach at high tide but at the moment low tide is mid-morning so this is a convenient time for a walk with Charlie.

    The rocks on the beach are interesting.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180516_185008.jpg

    The horizontal strata has been turned on their end leaving jagged teeth but at one point the rocks have been deformed significantly.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180516_185014.jpg

    It looks from this angle like the jaws of some sea monster. :) But from another angle what's going here is clearer.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180516_185027.jpg

    The strata has been folded over - either a syncline or an anticline depending on whether the older rocks are on the outside or the inside of the bend respectively. :)

    The geology of this area is interesting. Until I looked into it I hadn't realised the Straits of Gibraltar are the result of two meteor impacts.

    The first about 5.9 million years ago closed the entrance.

    Gib88k.jpg

    While it was blocked the Mediterranean dried up leaving a layer salt.

    Then some 600,000 years later another impact off north west Spain opened the Straits up again, allowing the Mediterranean to flood in.

    GibB800Large (1).jpg

    Fortunately, things are geologically slightly calmer these days. :)

    Dodging meteors we went shopping this morning to Lidls on the outskirts of Tarifa. The plan was to go into Tarifa afterwards for lunch but it was blowing a gale and the thought of being sand-blasted walking the streets of Tarifa didn't appeal so we have postponed lunch out until the weather improves.

    During the afternoon some more Black Kites came across from Africa and I managed to photograph one - mainly to be sure my identification was correct. :) They are a pretty nondescript looking bird but the faint V in the tail is the main clue.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180516_185003.jpg

    I also watched these two boats for a while.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180516_185006.jpg

    They were moored up off shore for a couple of hours and the occupants didn't do anything obvious like fishing or diving.

    Then I read an article in today's Times about the drug smuggling around here from Africa.

    The guys in the boats were almost certainly police or customs. :)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  3. Riverbankannie

    Riverbankannie Funster

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    Your posts are always so interesting. Never too old to learn something new :)
     
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  4. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    After a week here near Tarifa we are moving on tomorrow a little further up the coast. We still have another six weeks left so we are moving slowly. :)

    From our perch above the sea I have been watching a lot of shipping making its way to and from the Mediterranean. There are several apps which show where ships are. I use one called Marine Traffic which shows screens like these.

    Screenshot_20180516-161812.png

    Screenshot_20180516-161802.png

    Screenshot_20180516-161751.png

    The ship symbols are colour coded, red for example are oil tankers. If you click on one, as I've done in the second screen it shows the name of the vessel. If you click again a window opens showing more detail. In this case a ferry going to Tangier. Many harmless hours can be spent with a pair of binoculars and this app.

    When not ship watching there has still been some opportunities for bird watching.

    These were a surprise.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180519_183938.jpg

    And a little later one on its own.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180519_183950.jpg

    Griffon Vultures but over the sea? I suspect the first group were in a thermal which drifted away from the land. The second bird seemed to have flown from Africa across the Straits. A few young Griffons do fly over there before returning to settle down like sensible birds when they get a bit older. There are a very few vultures from Africa which come over as vagrants. The Rüppells Vulture looks like a slightly smaller dark Griffon but even with my most optimistic glasses on I can't say any of my photos reveal a Rüppells Vulture. :)

    The number of seagulls we can see is enormous. Having been corrected by my brother for thinking I had seen Herring Gulls I now know the birds here are Yellow Legged Gulls - and I've even seen their yellow legs to confirm this!

    Sometime flocks of two hundred birds or more gather over the sea and start to feed. Through binoculars I could occasionally see the surface of the water erupting with tiny fish. The flocks feed for a few brief moments then disperse until one of them spots more fish at which point the flock reforms and they all pile in.

    The interesting question is why are the little fish jumping out of the water? I suspect they are being hunted by bigger fish from below. :)

    But probably not as big a fish as what washed up today.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180520_120221.jpg

    Some gulls were perching on the carcass. Later it washed up on some rocks.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180520_120214.jpg

    Forensic icthyologists will be able to make a better guess but I'm thinking some sort of tuna. It must have weighed 50kg - 100kg when it was alive. Intriguingly even the gulls shunned it once it was beached. It must have been very ripe. I stayed upwind. :)
     
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  5. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    Great thread John keep the info coming.
     
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  6. Jenowen

    Jenowen Funster

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    That’ll teach me to be smug! We’re in Dax in the Landes region of France, en route to Spain. Dog wearing brand new ceresta collar - and I found a tick on her this morning!! I’ll definitely be super vigilant now.
     
  7. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    Thanks for the reminder as I meant to give an update on the tick situation. :)

    I think our error was working on giving the Advantix every month, but the dose is once every 28 days. So I think we were a few days late giving the repeat dose and even then it took a good 48 to 72 hours to begin to work. Once it did we found a few ticks on Charlie's bedding or which came away with the brush. Yesterday we even found a dessicated one under his chin.

    So once it begins to work the ticks don't want to bite him and fall off and crawl about or if they do bite, like the one under his chin, they die.

    The lesson I think is to stick rigidly to the 28 day interval. :)
     
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  8. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    We have shuffled a bit further up the coast to Camping Pinar San José near Barbate and Cape Trafalgar, CC 57777 and ACSI.

    Screenshot_20180523-202928.png

    It is a good kilometre walk to the beach but worth it when you get there.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_163808.jpg

    The lighthouse is Cape Trafalgar and it looks quite close - don't be fooled it must have been nearly another two kilometres away along the beach! :)

    But we plodded stoically on, being overtaken by a party of Brits on horseback just before we reached the lighthouse.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_163803.jpg

    The view from below the lighthouse looking back the way we had walked.

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    And looking inland - with horses. Eat your heart out Peter O'Toole. :)

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    Nature Notes

    We'll get the plants out of the way way quickly. :)

    The Large Cuckoo Pint Arum italicum very like the Lords and Ladies we get in the UK except for the colour. Poisenous seeds too but not normally deadly. The roots can be boiled and eaten but something from Lidl or out of a tin would be generally be better. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_163815.jpg

    And the Spanish Oyster Plant Scolymus hispanicus a weird fusion of thistle and dandelion.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_163812.jpg

    Bugs Section

    This is a great place for Coleoptera and I have seen several interesting beetles. The star in terms of size were these, which are numerous.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_163813.jpg

    A relative of the Stag beetle I think. Lucanus barbarossa (TBC) and a male about 4cm long. I suspect it can give a painful nip! :)

    We only saw one of these, a European Rhinoceros Beetle Oryctes nasicornis and if it looks a bit dirty I had just rescued it from an outdoor sink. I suspect it can't do short or vertical take-offs. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180523_224617.jpg

    Spider-phobes stopping reading here. :)

    Mrs DBK turned out her sandals today, which had been sitting outside the 'van and the biggest spider I've ever seen in Europe fell out of them! It was grey/brown colour but with banding on the legs. Too quick for a photoshoot it fled rapidly. In size because of the brief glance it would be easy to exaggerate but I would guess not less than 100mm and probably bigger.

    My guess is it was one of the Huntsman spiders. The image below isn't mine but it looked like this. :)

    huntsman-spider-2.jpg

    Sleep well and check your shoes in the morning!
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
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  9. Jenowen

    Jenowen Funster

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    You’re in a fantastic place. Check out the pines just over the fence and see if you can find the chameleon. It’s quite a big beasty!
    There are lovely walks through the pines to Barbate and further afield as well and don’t miss Saturday’s hippy market.
     
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  10. Coastal Cruiser.

    Coastal Cruiser. Funster

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    A good guard dog would have seen that spider off:LOL:
     
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  11. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    Showers were forecast for Thursday so we decided to use this as an excuse to move on. We went via Barbate to do some shopping at the Aldi and saw the signs to the walks @Jenowen mentioned. They looked intriguing although I don't think there is anywhere to stay nearby. The aire in Barbate gets muted reviews.

    We drove for less than an hour north to Camping Las Dunas in Puerto de Santa Maria opposite Cadiz. It's listed in ACSI and CC 48789. We stayed here on our first visit in the MH to Spain. It's a big and busy site but is well positioned though in an ideal world it would slightly closer to the centre of the town. :)

    On Friday we took the ferry across to Cadiz and following almost literally the steps we took on our first visit as we toured the older parts of the city by following the green line painted on the road!

    LRM_EXPORT_20180526_193137.jpg

    Which took us past the cathedral.

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    And cool courtyards.

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    We ate a light lunch of tuna which was delicious - it had been marinated I think and it melted in the mouth - and I forgot to take any photos or even note the name of the place! But it was slightly under €20 for the two of us including two glasses of wine each.

    First thing this morning we took Charlie on a geocaching hunt and placed a new travel bug (Travelling Terrier 4) in a cache near the campsite.
    Afterwards we walked into Puerto de Santa Maria and did a sherry bodega tour and tasting - again at exactly the same place as we went last time. Adventurous aren't we! :) But it wasn't boring and the bloke who took us round was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I even remembered to take my mini-tripod with me this time. The shot below was taken with it resting on a barrel.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180526_180419.jpg

    Afterwards we really forced ourselves to sample 6 different sherries. :)

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    We then grabbed the last available outdoor table at the La Venencia restaurant and shared a salad.

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    Followed by garlic prawns - only five left by the time I remembered to take a photo. They were very yummy. :)

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    Followed by a tuna steak we also shared. It was slightly overdone but ok. And I forgot completely to photograph it!

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    €35 for us both including two glasses of wine each.

    Afterwards we visited the beer festival being held in front of the castle. Storks nest on the castle but they seemed unphased by the noise. We had a very nice beer brewed by a British family based in Malaga - Baker's Beer.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180526_180408.jpg

    It's a tough life being a tourist. :)
     
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  12. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    We have been staying for a few days on the outskirts of the Doñana national park at Camping Doñarrayan (ACSI and CC 54347) which is literally in the middle of a vast pine forest.

    Screenshot_20180530-194500.png

    Dissapointingly, there is a dearth of interesting bird life but I did manage a brief snap of a red rumped swallow.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194048.jpg

    Given I failed to photograph the eponymous rear-end feature you will have to take my word this is a red-rumped swallow! :)

    The major tourist attraction here, apart from the park, is El Rocio, which saw the annual romería a couple of weeks ago. About a million people converge on this little town over a weekend, many arriving on horseback or horse drawn carts.

    The focus is the Iglesia de Neuestra Señora del Rocio.

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    A statue of the Virgin in the church is believed to have performed miracles since 1280.

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    The church was busy.

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    And the alter impressive.

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    During the romería the statue of the Virgin is taken in procession around the town and further afield. At other times of the year various "Brotherhoods" from all over Spain come and hold events here.

    A nearby building was full of folk lighting candles.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194022.jpg

    Overlooked by a curious Madonna stained black by the candle smoke.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194031.jpg

    Curious because she isn't holding a typical figure of the baby Jesus! Which suggests this statue isn't a Madonna but I haven't worked out who she is yet. The skirt on the figure is shiny because the people entering always touched it. Suggestions welcome. :)

    Historians believe the traditions derive from fertility rites of the Phoenicians who settled around here in the year dot. I kept quite about this as I watched folk entering the church, kneel and cross themselves.

    In hindsight I should have lit a candle for my dicky hip. We may go back tomorrow. :) If only to see if this bloke has worked out how to play a tune. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194043.jpg

    Interesting though El Rocio was (for a brief visit) I was more interested in the bird life so we called in at the Doñana visitor centre at El Acebuche where there are some lagoons and bird hides. (Not the gazebo - the thatched but in the background. :))

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    Almost entirely bereft of birds other than a few Little Grebes and a Ferruginous duck. But a dopy lizard posed for a photo.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194029.jpg

    The lack of birds wasn't a surprise as these lagoons are apparently only used when the water levels in the main part of the reserve are low, which given the rain earlier this year probably doesn't describe the current position.
    There are 4*4 tours of the park which leave from here but there was zero information about them at the visitors' centre. Indeed, as a visitors' centre it was strangely devoid of basic information such as a map of footpaths.
    In the afternoon we walked over some dunes towards the sea from the Laguna del Arjal. The path crosses a band of high dunes before ending on a cliff made from a dune turned to stone high above the sea.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180530_194037.jpg

    Sadly there was no way down to the beach for a very hot Charlie. :(

    We plan to spend the weekend near another beach then head north - into the interior. :)
     
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  13. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    We are now in Portugal. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180602_182307.jpg

    Though some might argue the Algarve is not proper Portugal. :) We are staying on a commercial aire near Albufeira, with the catchy name of Acoteias Albufeira, CC 60473. Just €6 a night without electricity or €8 with. The place is fairly new and has free WiFi and free hot showers. It is in competition with the much larger and more established Algarve Motorhome Park (AMP) a few hundred metres up the road. I initially selected AMP as it had a better overall rating on CamperContact but when I looked more closely at the reviews for AA I noticed a couple with very low scores but glowing reviews and in another one Brit had scored it 1.0 complaining the pitches were too narrow. I've checked and if you think 6.0m is too narrow you must be driving a bus - except there is a converted UK bus here and obviously had no problems getting in. It all makes me wonder if rival establishments post negative reviews of the competition? :)

    The beach a few minutes walk away has striking cliffs.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180601_163436.jpg
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    They are mostly a soft sandstone and like the cliffs on the Jurrasic Coast chunks fall off from time to time.

    We went on a search for a geocache along the top of the cliff today which afforded a different view of the cliffs.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180602_154052.jpg

    The path was close to the edge at times. :(

    The erosion is spectacular.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180602_154105.jpg

    We found the geocache - a nest box up a tree! :)

    A large flock of sheep graze on the rough ground either side of the aire. Amusingly, when the shepherd stopped for a lunchtime rest all the sheep did too and stopped grazing.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180602_182935.jpg

    Later, one of the sheep discovered the best grass was inside the aire. :)

    LRM_EXPORT_20180602_182938.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
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  14. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    A breezy and often cloudy day today but warm in the sun. On this morning's dog walk I turned a plank over (as you do) to see what might be lurking underneath. Hoping for perhaps a scorpion I was surprised to find this.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180603_122257.jpg

    It was obviously feeling a bit chilly first thing in the morning and was in no hurry to move off. On our first trip to Italy I saw several snakes but each view was measured in micro-seconds. This one posed for photos though I only had my mobile phone with me. I returned later with the proper gear gear but it had vanished. :(

    It is an Iberian false smooth snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus) described reassuringly on one website as only "moderately venomous". :) Their main prey are small lizards and are normally nocturnal apart for some strange reason on the Balearic islands where they are diurnal. Not a big snake, they grow to only around 55cm and this one was less than that and very slim.

    Later on the same walk I flushed a red legged partridge but it didn't go far and went into a distraction display which worked effectively on Charlie who pulled hard on his lead to catch it. Being more wiley I examined where it had come from and spotted a tiny chick, pale with stripes, in the low scrub. It must have only been a few days old and no doubt there were others close by. I left them to it. I watched a kestrel hunt over the same bit of ground yesterday and there are numerous Azure winged magpies plus of course at night other terrors for young chicks - like snakes. :)
     
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  15. jumartoo

    jumartoo Funster

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    Funnily enough we've not seen any live snakes yet this year. Plenty of lizards of varying sizes though. Seen a few dead snakes on the roads though :(
     
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  16. Viennese

    Viennese Funster

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    Thanks John - I've just caught up with several days of your log, this is all fascinating. I really want to do this area, perhaps next year. We saw vultures in 2010 in the Desfiladero de la Yecia Gorge, near Santo Domingo de Silos (not far from Burgos). Very interesting little place where the monks still sing Gregorian Chant in the Abbey - which dates back to the 10th century, although most ancient parts now are 11th. We diverted there to hear the chant and see the Abbey. If you haven't been to the Abbey or the Gorge it's worth visiting. No campsite but we overnighted in the public car park which seemed OK.

    Catherine
     
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  17. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    The slow trek north has begun and we have arrived at the picturesque town of Mértola and a free aire (CC 12238) without facilities other than a water tap beside the river Guidiana. This is the river if you enter Portugal on the main coast road from Seville you cross on an impressive modern bridge.

    On the way here we stopped to do some shopping at a small supermarket on the outskirts of Albufeira.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180604_193557.jpg

    This I assume is bacalhau or dried salted cod and a Portuguese favourite. It needs to be soaked in water first then cooked. It is not something I've ever eaten but I'lI give it a go if we eat out and it is on the menu. :)

    Mértola is approached over a narrow, traffic light controlled bridge.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180604_193529.jpg

    Which is a good introduction to Mértola! Do not follow your satnav. :) There is a sort of ring road which ends in a roundabout near the river. From the roundabout it is relatively easy to get to the aire. However, this road is one way and when we leave tomorrow we may have to cross the town. :)

    Which has steep, cobbled streets wide enough for cars.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180604_193548.jpg

    And some a little narrower.

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    The aire is on the quay by the river.

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    That's us in the middle of the picture but all the other MHs left in the afternoon so we have the place to ourselves tonight. :)

    This afternoon we explored on foot and being a Monday the castle and the Roman excavations (a few mosaics etc) are all closed. We should have learned by now to stay in bed on Mondays. :)

    But the cemetery was open and white like the town.

    LRM_EXPORT_20180604_193546.jpg
     
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  18. Teuchter

    Teuchter Funster Life Member

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    Love Camping Pinar - nice restaurant across the road from site & Cape Trafalgar is a good say oyt on the bikes from the site! :)

    Funnily enough there is no mention of Nelson or the Battle of Trafalger on the information board telling the history of Cape Trafalger! o_O
     
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  19. matamoros

    matamoros Funster

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    Downstream from Mertola on the opposite bank is a small village called Pomarao with an aire by a bend on the river, there is a road bridge that forms the border with Spain. The road was closed on the Spanish side due to a landslip when we were there last year, don't know if it has been re opened.
    There are a couple of restaurants and the remains of a pier which was the end of one of the first railways in Portugal from the Minas de Sao Domingo, discharging ore into sailing boats.

    Love the Guadiana, keep saying that one day we will take one of the river cruises from VilavReal de Santo Antonio.
     
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  20. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    We should have tried that restaurant - it was always very busy but all the others, including the campsite restaurant very quiet - so the signs were there it was good.

    According to a recent review on CamperContact the landslip has been cleared. The aire looks good, similar to the one we are on now but we need to find somewhere to dump this morning so we will go on to Sao Domingas and have a look at the lake where apparently you are now allowed to stop overnight.
     
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