Sun 24/04/16: So what could be finer than starting your Sunday with eggs and bacon, well for me anyway for David a bacon roll and then a long walk in the National Park Cabaneros. This is a small park just down from Toledo and a lot of its visitors are from there at the weekend. We opted to do a walk up the nearby mountain as recommended by the waiter, checking out what time last ‘knockings’ was for the menu del dia. The walk was lovely and at the moment all the wild spring flowers are coming out including a lovely one that is on mass here- the crimson spot rock rose, it’s everywhere. The walk was a decent one and brought us back via the nearby village which can be spied upon from NiKi and the restaurant veranda which of course means that the end of the walk is uphill and given that at that point lunchtime serving was coming to an end we really had to run up that last bit, so we really felt we had done our own marathon as well as London at the end. We threw ourselves into the restaurant shouting at dear Jose “Menu del dia, por favour” just to establishment our requirements for Sunday lunch. It was a good and fair price at €10 which included as ever the better share when having wine so a half bottle which I was having with lemonade and ice- tinto de verano, very refreshing. David seemed to get the better choice on starters with his migas whilst I did better on main course with a grilled sole. Having exerted a fair amount of calories we both had pud which for David was strawberry cornetto and me a very sweet rum cake. All in all another lovely Sunday
Mon 25/04/16: Another sunshine day and a walk to the nearby waterfalls and so we decided to use up some of the bits in the fridge of sausage, chorizo etc and make them into a picnic to take with us. The walk started in the village and so of course we had our usual morning coffee con leche, we have to give all the locals something or someone to talk about and stare at but this time we did well and got ‘cake tapa’ with it. Very nice sponge but with some cinnamon and hint of something else but certainly kick started the walk which ended up being 20K some 6 of it trying to find the start! Dinner was home cooked and was chicken cous cous this time using chicken breast rather than thighs like before. Not entirely sure why but this time we ate it all so no left overs to be had for a 2nd dinner
Tues 26/04/16: Time to head away from Camping Red and this National park and get into Extremadura region and we had done some research on where to go but we are wanting to time it for a ham festival which isn’t until the 6-7th May and there are no camp sites in the region only Aires which means we can stay only 2 nights so timing wasn’t working, so what to do. We had been told about a lovely campsite just over the border from Badajoz which was a must apparently of the area, walking, cycling etc and so we decided to alter our route and include this and make everything right for piggy festival and so we headed to the lovely city of Merida. The city has an amazing amount of roman ruins and also a delightful Roman bridge which sits quite nicely next to its very modern counterpart. We were late getting to the city and therefore had missed the lunchtime servings and we had no food in house to get excited about but we managed to get some tapas from a lovely well rated restaurant- jamon as ever as we are really in the zone now just amazing, morcilla, cheese, anchovies etc. So a delightful mid-afternoon feast that came with wine from the region which was not to be dealt with likely as it was 14.5 per cent. It was really really nice but you certainly knew what you were drinking.
Wed 27/04/16: Portugal here we come and after a visit to another of Merida’s roman ruins we exited our home for 4 months. Mistakes to be made, let me see –petrol and shopping. For some reason we decided that we would get both in Portugal, why on the food front when we were actually parked outside a supermarket at the ruins and then just as we left Spain we passed a Carrefour hypermarket, Primark, Decathlon and Corte de Ingles outlet store, all of our favourites, well discount Primark but it was a biggie, but still we didn’t stop and then we were in Eastern Portugal and it all became very foreign. Our campsite is about 40k’s from the border but the journey was very rural and there was not a supermarket to be found on route or very few petrol stations so few in fact we actually went onto red. Eventually we spied one and pulled in but petrol in Portugal is about 20 cents dearer than Spain so David refused to fill up and just put €30 in to keep us going. We pulled into camp and indeed it is very lovely and in a wonderful rural location, no restaurant on site and the town about 5k’s away. To make our timings right we had opted for 3 nights here and so eating out it was going to have to be unless the nearby village had some offerings. Our camp site host gave us a lovely sheet on what’s what in the area but it didn’t mentioned supermarkets just places to see and restaurants, never mind there’s bound to be butchers perhaps some steak and mushrooms I was thinking to myself. We walked along the road to the village which in itself is quite life threatening as we both soon realised that after crossing the border the Portuguese drivers here are speed freaks and do not give an inch to pedestrians nor cyclists so the walk was more than scary. The village and the castle were lovely and we had a lovely coffee to meet and greet the locals most of whom seemed to be elderly or at least those out mid-afternoon were and they took great delight in laughing at and with us, all having such lovely characterful faces. After a walk around the town we soon realised there was no supermarket or butchers to be had and so we opted for the local restaurant which was called Emigrante and was run by people from Moldovia. Not what we expected at all but the young girl was extremely delightful and helpful given it was mid-afternoon and our main choice was that of pork which she assured us we would like. To start along with some wonderful olives she then presented us with home grown habas which were warm and cooked in oil, garlic and I would think a squeeze of lemon, so for me an absolute delight, David liked them but of course didn’t love them and they still had their 2nd skin on!!. Main course was pork with clams and the pork was chucks not slices – what we have had thus far and the meat was fall apart with a light, not overpowering sauce. Very, very good indeed and again we had a wonderful powerful red wine with it. Gave us the superman powers to walk back down the main road with the articulating lorries thundering inches by us.
Thurs 28/04/16: A long cycle ride into the nearby pottery town, not unusual given its Portugal but this where the clay comes from and is then sent off to the Algarve and many other places. We didn’t actually find that many pottery places to be honest other than the museum after our lunch and it like the wine museum was wonderfully quaint and charming. Lunch again was a revelation to us we entered a small establishment that was a restaurant and we entered a world of people not to be seen on the street and for me it was like entered the City of London world where there are only men and maybe on a good day a few woman-but here not women other than the waitress who held her own it seemed whenever challenged. The menu was hand written and a lot of swirls and loops that no google translate could get to neither grips with nor us and the waitress wasn’t giving an inch of help. Soupa I opted for and David pork. David’s came up first along with a lovely carafe of wine and we decided he should start, then my soup came, usual bowl stuff, carrots, potatoes etc but alongside it a plate of ham, bones, fat etc, for another ‘build your own’ soup and we did adding the ham off the bone leaving the fat behind and it was the most wonderful vegetable and ham soup ever. I was living in horror of the chicken course arriving so full I was but the waitress appeared beforehand and somehow had the fore sight to ask whether we still wanted the chicken which of course we didn’t. The lunch was wonderful not the menu del dia we have come to expect in Spain but still amazing food.
Fri 29/04/16: Off to cork world-the whole area is based on the cork industries and you can see that many of the tress have been peeled and numbered. So after another 8k ride we hit the town of Azaruja famed for its world of cork and the shop was lovely, A German tour was in progress so we left it as was, just looking and trying to understand the obvious within the factory and shop. The town like any Portuguese and Spanish ones was quiet and sleepy, very sleepy but our camp hosts had told us of a restaurant to head to and again despite our language diffiituculies we had the most wonderful jamon and then for D lamb chops that might have been slighter older and longer cooked than in Spain. I had salted cod and for which there are apparently 365 days of recipes for this fish. Mine was of the house and was huge, way too huge to be honest but covered in lovely sweet onions very tasty and a first on the bacalao front.
Sat 30/04/16: Monsarez and what a place. Our Aire really is prime real estate but obviously not, here we are a group of motorhomes looking over the most wonderful view, would never happen at home and the small castle top of the town stood proud for all that it offered. We wondered and wandered at it all as we walked through the little back streets overlooking the many wonderful vistas. We opted for one that was still serving after 3pm and we were lucky that we had a terrace view. In Portugal life of food is different even just here some 40 k off the border. Bread, olives, pate etc are a cover charge, not much by any means but nevertheless a change where in Spain the world of tapa is completely different- right or wrong who knows but each to their own. For main course D had beef and me pork stew. I could have lived with more sauce and for David a huge dinner, but the view and the outlook just stunning. Coffee and desert set us back at not too much just short of €40 and then back to one of the most wonderful outlooks that could ever be had. Well done Monsarez.
Sun 01/05/16: After a quick coffee and nata in the old town we headed off on a walk downhill along the road to the nautical centre where all sorts of water sports can and do happen allegedly. Allegedly because on this Sunday which was also mother’s day not much seemed to be happening on the water sport front, which was a shame as we both quite fancied a little float around over the largest man-made lake in Europe. So we had a couple of drinks watched the world go by and headed back up the hill to have a wonderful home cooked English dish- enough of all this foreign muck a lovely chicken jalfrezi- marvellous made from Auntie Fran’s donated spice mix. A lovely last evening was spent just looking out over the view and reading.
Over and out Portugal, no chicken peri peri to be found so back to Spain…………