And never came back again!
Mon 02/05/16: Headed back home to Spain after our short ‘holiday’ in Portugal making a lovely if not slightly long drive down and across country. So far south in fact that we were just 40k’s short of Seville again. In fact given the weather that was ahead of us a trip further south might have been a good idea, but No we headed on to our town of choice heading upwards in the Extremadura region to a small town called Monesterio which is King of the jamon region and actually hosts its own museum based on jamon and the story of the pig. It was quite a drive that we had chosen but it was very pretty, some 150 miles odd drive and so we never arrived in the small town until late afternoon, but the same as the UK it was Bank holiday Monday so the town was still alive with people sitting, eating and drinking enjoying the sun. It is also on the pilgrimage trail from Seville to Santiago de Compostela- Via de la Plata –Camino de Santiago and so when we arrived feeling a bit stiff from the drive we were humbled by many people either doing the route on foot or by bike. It is about 1000 kilometres so we opted to just stretch our muscles quietly in awe of these travellers. On the food front sparing too many details my stomach had opted to go a bit strange and I therefore really didn’t want to push my luck with too much food (Yes strange I know) given that we were again overnighting on an aire just on the edge of town. We had a wander and then sat down for some refreshment and watch the world and travellers go by, but this is jamon region at its best and so I opted for a salad of jamon and David the secreto solomillo. My salad was huge but was not dull by any means and had a lovely dressing with pine and walnuts as well as the usual salad stuff and was covered with a layer of Jamon. D’s secreto was up there as one of the best he had as well. We headed back to NiKi early evening to spend the night alone as unusually no fellow motorhomes joined us.
Tues 03/05/16: We had three main reasons to come to the town and one of the main ones was to meet up with friends we had first met in Vejer where we were all at language school- us in beginners and them in I think would be fair to say middle school, although both David and I would love to be anywhere close to their language levels. They wisely or unwisely had opted to do the Camino de Santiago by bike, they are ‘proper’ cyclists and have already stunned and amazed us by their travels by bike (link to their site) in many countries. But beforehand we went and visited the Museo de Jamon in the town-a whole museum given over to just that- pigs, the history, making and story of jamon. The museum was very modern and covered every detail that could be had on the subject and to be honest I might just have liked to have stopped on the subject of the 4 different types of acorn there are that the pigs can feed on, as some of the later details are quite gory. I do realise that all meat has to come from somewhere but I can live quite happily without the full knowledge and just buy and cook the various dissected and re-packaged forms! So on leaving the museum with vague thoughts of vegetarianism we meet John and Syl for lunch after they had made home for the night in the town having only had a light cycle (by their standards) of some with 30k that morning. We just had some tapas and bocodillas between us with David and I heading off to another nearby village for the night arranging to meet them further up both our paths the next day in Zafra. David and I drove off to another nearby town where still conscious of my stomach I just picked at D’s garlic prawns and jamon he had chosen.
Wed 04/05/16: A mixed start to the day, cloud that was eventually surpassed by sun but the last that we were to see for a few days. We had our usual 2nd café con leche in the town and did some shopping opting to get some chicken and jamon in the local butchers- again not much Spanish passed our lips but we still managed to get what we wanted plus a 2 litre drum of what we were assured was the very best local red wine at just over €2- uhm we’ll see just how good later. We then headed off to the pretty town of Zafra arriving and finding a big Carrefour where we stocked up and prepared to cook for the intrepid cyclists. Despite the weather being very close and humid I opted to make a chicken coq au vin which I have to say I think turned out fairly well and I would repeat. However, I would say for us gas conscious motorhomers it was on the stove for some time and might be a better one to have when hooked up to power. A lovely evening was spent eating, drinking, laughing and singing a few hymns- as you do when you have drunk the very nice 2 litre container of local wine. That unfortunately was the last we will see of John and Sly for a little while and also the last we saw of the sun as well for a few days!!
Thurs 05/05/16: The rain arrived during the night and by breakfast time was as heavy as it could be. What to do, we put our rain coats on and dragged out the umbrellas to investigate this little white town that boasted so much. But the weather really was against us and the many pretty little plazas are where just wandering, sitting and watching are the order of the day. We passed a few hours in the lovely little convent Santa Clara which is still a working convent. It was a delightful building, very calming and was currently hosting a display of 1st edition Don Quixote books which was also lovely to see. The pouring rain finally got the better of us and we beat the retreat back to the van on the town’s Aire which was the car park of the local exhibition centre so quite a bleak outlook of concrete and main roads even though very functional and the facilities well looked after. Even though there was a small superdia opposite we were fortunate to have some of the curry left over from Sunday and so we padded this out with some more chicken which I stir fried and then added to the curry and again not wishing to venture out again it worked very well. We passed the evening watching the rain outside and another Harry Potter film inside and even the hot water bottle was brought into use again that night.
Fri 06/05/16: Spain, rain and motorhomes aren’t really a mix and we were really at a lost what to do- stay, move on. The weather was bad all over the country with one low over us and another following bringing rain and lower temperatures across the country so heading off across the country as we have done before wasn’t really an option and geographically we were still well within the southern half of the county. There was an option of some lighter rain and so we optimistically got the bikes down and prepared to try and have a cycle but no sooner where they on the ground then the rain started falling down again and we really don’t have proper wet weather gear for cycling or walking. The car park no longer held any appeal and so we decided to stick to plan and head to the jamon festival that was happening in Jerez de los Caballeros and stay overnight there. The jamon festival had been on for a day already and the last day which was to include the awards for best regional jamon 2016 was to happen on the Saturday and so we thought we would have a look around that day and the next morning and then head to Caceres and a campsite. The festival was lovely and fortunately underneath cover and there were lots of individual producers all showing their wares and claiming theirs to be the best, some but not many had some tastings but in general the main tastings and judging’s were all happening back stage. The was also the other usual associated foods, bars and dancing by the local children and it was great to participate but you could tell that the rain and cold weather was putting a dampener on the actual festival and for the Spanish in this region very, very unusual to have this bad weather. We spent a good few hours wandering and taking it all in with amazement that again it was all about the ham and the pig here. Food wise again we really couldn’t get a plan together- a menu of the day, a plate of jamon from the festival or some paella at the fair. We opted for the paella and David rabo de torro but to be honest it wasn’t the best we had had on either front or again was it just the whole ‘flatness’ of the weather and greyness just drawing everything down.
Sat 07/05/16: Caceres camp site and a very late decision last night to move. Upon commencing a walk into piggie fair town we both suddenly had a light bulb moment and decided where we were wasn’t going to work sleep wise or what more could we achieve there – waiting for the best winner local jamon wasn’t going to get us anywhere as we certainly aren’t going to buy a whole leg of the gold dust for some €400 plus that the black footed pure acorn fed ones would sell for and asking for a ¼ lb of it certainly wasn’t going to happen so at about 7.30 we hot footed it to Caceres and a campsite to hook up and ride out the bad weather. However, some best ideas aren’t always thought through and after a good few no turning back k’s we realised it was one of the biggest music festivals WOMAD happening in Caceres this weekend, would we get into the campsite?. No choice but to continue and when we arrived at just before 10pm we were lucky to get a space, so we bedded up for the night as the rain started. Saturday morning was cloudy but had a moment where we might get some much needed exercise after being cooped up for a good few days and so we got the bikes down and did a circuit heading back into old town Caceres where we had a drink and a lovely tapa watching all the festival activities. We still had our ‘what shall do heads on’ food wise and couldn’t see anything menu wise that appealed and we needed to do some shopping so we decided on the ‘what did we eat before pasta’ pasta moment and got some ready-made pasta and an arrabatta sauce and had that when we got back to the van late afternoon. The ready-made pasta could have been better and it is a brand available in the UK, but the sauce was very good, fairly spicy and low on sugar. We finished off the evening by heading back into town to see some of the music but became very Spanish and decided we couldn’t cope with the rain or cold and after a few sessions headed back home and bolted everything down for the evening
Hope you have enjoyed your lovely weather in the UK and the many Sunday BBQ’s that would have happened. We have the heating on for now……………..