Leaving the Douro behind us we continued the windy road to Chaves – a pretty little medieval town situated on a river roughly ten kilometres from the border with Spain. We parked up in the old town, by the side of the river (Parking only GPS n41 43’9 w7 29’55) and went for a meander through the ghostly quiet streets.
We had a good wander through the old town and along the river, finding a little lady selling local bread-type goods – a round loaf containing a meaty substance and two different cakes, one was scone-like with a hint of lemon, the other with filo pastry wrapped around a condensed milk type substance….. we tried the scone-like one which was pleasant enough 🙂 We also found a supermarket to stock up on some more Portuguese wine before we head over the border and obviously food and drink aside, had a good look around the Castle – or perhaps better described as Tower.
The evening was spent with our new family friend ‘Mr Nierpoort’ – Aka 10 yr Tawny, doing a bit of route planning, changing our minds again about heading back to the Northern Spanish coast and instead deciding to stay in land -bring on those chilly mornings – for a while.
We moved to our last stop in Portugal this time round – Braganca, with Keith deciding to take a road that if the map was correct, shouldn’t have been a pre-pay toll road however, upon entering, definitely appeared to be one. As we hadn’t pre-paid we assumed the worst but it appears that the 80km we travelled on wasn’t toll …. or if it was I am sure that we will get a nice letter from the Portuguese Autopista demanding some money in a few weeks time 😦
Toll roads aside, Braganca is a small but beautiful walled fortress town looking out into the vineyard cladded valleys. The Aire (GPS n 41 48’14 w6 44’45) is situated just below the old town nestled amongst the stunning tranquil surroundings…..apart from the water purifying plant that is…. Ahem – to be fair you couldn’t see, hear or smell it from the Aire, it was only when we got up to the historic part of the town and looked down we realised it was there.
The morning run was a little hillier than I have been used to even in the last couple of weeks, but it was tranquil and mostly alongside a fast running river. Monday was Independence Day in Portugal which meant that it was unusually quiet in the morning at least, even more so than Sunday’s …. Although I am sure that there would have been fireworks and celebrations later on in the day!
As we traversed the mountains crossing between Portugal and Spain the snow topped Cordillera mountain range came into view in the distance …. thankfully, we were only at 1000m, they were a few – hundred – meters higher 🙂
We stopped at Leon for the night (Aire with water and waste GPS n42 36’16 w5 35’3) to see if anything had changed and buy some of the lovely cured meat (Chorizo, ham, sausages, etc) that the region is famous for and as the sun was shining I even managed to get some nicer photos than our last visit :).
Leon is as beautiful as ever and we would both happily stop here any time we pass by, especially when the sun is shining however, we were keen to see new places so only stayed one night, moving down to the Aire in Palencia (GPS n42 0’14 w 4 32’4).
Thankfully we arrived early, or we possibly wouldn’t have found a spot as there appear to be a huge amount of motorhomes travelling through this area at the moment, mainly French, although in Leon we were surprised to see 10 Spanish vans travelling together parked up in the Aire …. how they managed to get all the spaces I don’t know, but thankfully we fitted in a parking spot and only had to pay 2.80 euros for 24 hours.
Back in Palencia, after a quick trip to see the very friendly lady in the tourist office we set off to explore the town, which has a lovely feel, beautiful architecture, lots of green space, a good market and nice shops and bars.
Whilst in the tourist office yesterday we picked up some information on other areas to explore within the region and decided to set off on the bikes along the canal to Becer de Campos which is roughly 20km away. It was a bone rattling ride and the town itself had more houses and churches falling down than standing up…. The Storks had found a good home in this one….
Needless to say we did the journey back on the road….