Travels in the Van 2023: Week Three

Campsite hopping and cycling Saturday 28th of January  We’re headed into the mountains above Monchique, to the cutest little campsite with the promise of good cycling and hot showers. It has one single line of pitches on a curved terrace overlooking the valley. It’s idyllic. V ery pretty, simple and beautifully kept, a small immaculately clean pool (freezing) and the hottest showers we’ve had so far.   We head off for a sunny climb on tarmac roads and see azure winged magpies and what I think was a mongoose. We stop at the Velochique cafĂ© in town for a late lunch before Richard heads off for one more climb and I find my way back to the van. We feast on three bean Chili and rice with all the right spices.  After dark, there is an unexpected knock on the van door, this has never happened before.  "Excuse us" There are two German men outside. I recognise them as the couple from Zambujeira.  I had a conversation while I was cleaning my bike .  "H ello, we’ve met before"

Travels in the Van: week two

Storks nests and pylons. Week 2 Storks nests and pylons. Sunday 21st Jan  “Look up there!” I say, as a fortress town appears to the right of the motorway as I am driving. The first ridge in an otherwise flat terrain.  “The storks nests?” he says.  I’ve missed them.  “On the pylons” he says.  Then I notice the pylons. So many of them - the cheerleader type. No stork nests for the next few kilometres, all I can see are pylons. There are hundreds of them. Just when I’ve forgotten about the storks nests, there they are, clustered five or six on each pylon, and then abruptly they stop again. What makes them choose those particular pylons? Again after some distance, another cluster of pylons with storks and it occurs to me that we’re crossing rivers flowing underneath the motorway.  When it’s his turn to drive, I search on my phone for ‘storks nests on pylons in Portugal’ and it’s all there - the data, the research, all kinds of facts and figures about the phenomenon.    It's a thing. My

Travels in the Van 2023: week one

First week January 13th-21st Travelling in a camper van means we can run away from bad weather and change plans as we go, so we headed south after a rough crossing, to Lisboa where we’ve spent the week. The wooded campsite is in a big national park close to the city. It’s huge and in the summer full of families around the pool and the park farm. In winter it’s quiet. We’ve made friends with the Campsite cats, the donkey, goats, potbelly, pig, chickens, and one sheep. It’s the perfect place for the other joy – exploring the city and the park by bike. City cycling is not for the faint hearted, tramlines and cobbles add to the usual hazards but it’s great for food-market hopping and sightseeing. We can move quickly, see backstreets and get the views that other tourists wouldn’t see. Catching a train with a bike is easy here. We’ve headed west to Sintra and cycled back along the coast.   Go, go, go   Friday 13th Jan (I know!) I've never felt so prepared for a trip or an adventure. Sett