Nature protection reservoir in north Portugal and Santiago de Compostela

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09.07.2013

The morning started relaxing like always. The sun was high on the sky already, but with the wind from the sea was it still nice. We opened the sliding doors on both sides a bit and had a nice draught.

We was very lazy today. No mood for nothing. And the best was to make a lazy day again. Especially with this nice beach in front of the door and the internet. Like that I could write a bit more for the webpage and we could relax. Sounds strange, but when you are every day somewhere else, then is it also exhausting. And I am always the driver, on top.

Gordon at the beachIn the afternoon we even managed it to go a while to the beach. The weather was good and the sea… sorry, the ocean, looks really nice here. Unfortunately is the current also very strong here and the waves are strong as well. Just Julia went full in and I was enjoying the surf. It’s anyway cold in the Atlantic.

There is nothing else to tell about today :)

10.07.2013

What can I say? We got up today… like every other day as well :) Maybe a bit earlier today, then usually. Our nice lady from the tourist office, Ielva, was sending us a SMS that we definitely have to visit the nature park. We had a look where it is… and it would be direct on our way to Santiago de Compostela. So we decided to check it out. Maybe it could save Portugal from its ‘boring’ status.

I was drinking again a coffee in the café, 10 meters away (also to use the toilet). And then we started the engines. :) First of all we went to the next post office. We still had to send our postcards, before we could leave Portugal, which would be the next day. Inge was leading us, in the next village, to the local post office. But I couldn’t see any post office, when we arrived. I just saw a pharmacy. Maybe the post office is in it. So we went in and asked if here is the post office. No, around the corner. Ahh… ok. So we Post office in Portugalwent around the corner, behind the house. There was a DIY store. Hmm… we saw a tiny sign with ‘Correiro’ (portug. For post). Okk… we went in the store. Looked like an information stand in a DIY store… in which was no light. The both guys in there were talking to each other and one was typing something.  They didn’t deigned to look at us… for minimum 10 minutes. We felt a bit ignored. We wanted to go already, as we got finally a bit attention. Julia was waving, a bit pissed off, with the postcards, in the hope that they will understand what we want. The lady, which joined the scene, took the postcards and started to read them… the addresses and the messages… we didn’t thought we become mad. Then she started calculating and the man, who had to translate, because he spoke a bit English, said that we have to pay a little amount, because we used the wrong stamps. The ones we used where only for Portugal. Interesting… someone was cheating us. But what could we do. So we paid another 5 Euro for our postcards… which went hopefully on their journey. So, who gets a postcard from Portugal, please let me know!

Nature park in GeresAfter that experience we went further to the north. To Geres. Here starts the natural protection reservoir (or it is already in it). It starts already with a nice lake, on which they offer even water sports. We stopped quick for some snapshots and went straight further to Geres. But we went also just trough, on the way to the next camping place. I wanted to see how the prices here are. We reached the next camping place, which was easy to find, by all the signs, very adventurous. The surrounding here looks really like a nature protection reservoir. The nature is very lush, in compare to the rest of Portugal (but also south Spain or Cyprus). Many trees, hills, fern and so on. And of course mountains again. And almost no traffic, which is good with this narrow streets here.
The way to the camping place was leading us down from the tarmac, on a country road. We had to drive over a wooden bridge, crossing a river… I was a bit worried. :) And further on a ‘field road’ to another bridge. Here was a Stop sign (on the bridge) and we could recognize a camping place. A young man came and took the sign away, to give us the way free…

We went first of all to the reception and asked for the prices. 3,50 Euro per person and per car. So, 10,50 Euro for one night for us. Very nice prices.
But it was just noon and we wanted to have a look around. Julia was asking the guy what we could see here. We were especially interested in waterfalls. In a bad English/Portuguese mix he tried to answer our questions (very friendly and helpful). We bought also straight a map from this area. So we could check on the way also where we are and what where is. Our navigation systems wasn’t helpful here. Inge had at least streets here.

The first point was an allegedly a great waterfall (we saw a picture in the office of the camping place… looked great). We had to went up the hill. Via small, narrow roads and many curves. The slopes we could drive mostly with not more than 30km/h.  But it was ok. Like that we could see more from the park. And we can also slowly arrive at our target.
We reached finally the point where the waterfall is supposed to be. But there was no waterfall. Instead of the waterfall we found … well, a small waterfall and a natural pond in front of it. That looked also very nice… for the first time. Just the parking was around 300 meter up the road. I could convince Julia to a small walk and we were walking to the pool. It was a bit lower located and the decline was a bit complicated… but it was worth it. There were a lot of people already. Mostly young people.
The water was crystal clear and chilly as well. Actually exactly as we needed it. And as I said already, with a small waterfall.
Of course I didn’t go there without my diving mask. And we went straight snorkeling a bit. We was a bit surprised to find small trouts in this little pond. They were swimming there happy between all the people.

We stayed there around an hour and enjoyed the atmosphere of the pool. :) Then we went back to the car. The map was showing more waterfalls. We wanted to try another one. The next one was 10km away. We had to drive back to the camping place, from which we started. Inge doesn’t know waterfalls, of course and so we told her to lead us to a small village behind the waterfall. This one she knows.

Unfortunately we was probably on a point where she was a bit confused. So we made a victory lap on one of the most plunge road I ever drove. I have no idea how many percent the descent was… I would guess around 30%. And the with curves and narrow roads through a village. We made it without any accident… luckily. And came back to the same point where we started. We took a wrong turn. So back again and now the right turn.

We went some more kilometers through this beautiful nature and landscape. Lonely streets up the hill and down again. I can count the cars we passed on one hand. Partly we got a view from the hill over the whole valley and Geres. Amazing beautiful. And the forest looks partly really like an enchanted forest… here is Portugal’s true beauty hidden.

We had to take a turn, on which the road ended and a sand trail started. It was leading us to a bridge. From here we had to walk to the waterfall. But it’s just a few minutes by walking. He is just around the corner. This waterfall is already more impressive. He has 4 levels. From the top is the water falling into a pool, approx. 8-10 meters deep. Then the next fall into a pool, 4-6 meters deeper. And then the big fall to the bottom, which is approx. 20-30 meter. From the 4th to the 3rd floor was just climber busy with abseiling. It also looked like that a cave is in the 3rd level. At least I believe that I saw stalactites and I couldn’t see the end of the cave. Now I am curious of course :) But I think I will never know it…

It became late slowly… what to do? After a bit watching around, we found not far a parking with view. Just made to sleep there :) We parked there and made a BBQ (with a common grill of course). It was a great day and a great evening. :)

And the best was, after we converted the car, the light was off and the night came. I never saw such a clear star sky. I could see clear the Milky Way. A dream (just hardly to ban it on a picture or video).

11.07.2013

It was again a surprising morning. We woke up from very strange, very close noises. Like a jingle. Goats? … Goats! … What now? Julia opened carefully the door and we got a very … strange view. Direct next to our car was goats walking. But not just 5 or 6 … dozens.
A goat is looking in the car.The goats didn’t feel bothered by the car. Not even as Julia opened the door and we was starring out of the car. They just passed by, like here would park every day a car and strange tourists would stare out of it.
Just 2 or 3 stopped for a moment and was gaping inside like we were gaping out… and continued walking after a few seconds.

But suddenly one young ram felt bothered from our car and attacked the kangaroo. We, still inside, could hear how it was hitting the bumper with its horns. Julia tried to banish it from inside by calling it. But it didn’t work out. Finally she got dressed and went out of the car, to stop the ram. Actually we didn’t want to present us to the shepherd, because we were still in a nature reservoir and he shouldn’t really now that we are in the car.
But Antonio, this was his name, wasn’t interested in it. Julia caught him quickly in a ‘conversation’. If you can call it like that. Antonio didn’t spoke any English and we don’t speak Spanish. But somehow we understood that his name is Antonio and he takes care of 500 goats… which just passed us. His shepherd dogs were small… I mean really small. I have no idea what race it was, but they were mini. But they were 2 and very agile. They were good after the goats.

We packed together, after this interesting start in the day, and went to the next highlight of the day. A shower under the waterfall or at least in the pool in front of it. The waterfall was just 100 meter back the way we came from. So we was rolling down the hill and parked the car a bit below. We packed our stuff… diving mask, snorkel, GoPro and swimwear… and started. On The pool at the waterfallthe stony riverbed in direction to the waterfall. We reached a pool which we couldn’t pass without swimming through it. But we couldn’t see the waterfall itself yet. It was around the next corner. But the pool looked also very nice. So we changed and went carefully into the water. The water was again crystal clear and a bit colder. Also here were small fishes inside. But I don’t know which race.

We relaxed here for approx 1-2 hours. It was a beautiful place. Quite and calm. After the swimming we laid down on a big stone in the sun.
Julia found in the pool a bottle of beer. It was still closed and good. It will sweeten one of my next evenings. :)

Some when we realized that we still have a long way in front of us today and that we should better start. The target of the day was Santiago de Compostela. The end of the Camino de Santiago. It was still 200km to drive. It doesn’t sound far, but without a highway it takes it’s time.

We had to drive through the whole reservoir again. A very beautiful place and the most beautiful in Portugal, which we saw here. Just here I could spend weeks, to go on photo tour. The reservoir adjoins in the north to Spain. We left the park direct to Spain.

Cathedral of Santiago de CompostelaAround 5pm we reached Santiago de Compostela and walked straight to the cathedral, of course. Santiago has a very beautiful and old city center and the cathedral is really not bad. Old… and she looks like that. But it has its own charm.
We needed also postcards. So we checked first only the opening hours. The cathedral itself is open until half past 8pm. So we had enough time to go to buy postcards and some souvenirs. The streets around the cathedral are full with souvenirshops and cafes. We bought some postcards, stamps and souvenirs and went back to the cathedral.

Basically is it very simple. No paintings on the walls, no marble… but 2 things strike the eye immediately. The organ with its tubes, which are hanging into the room and the huge golden altar. And you can go in. Below are catacombs, which are also partly open.

For our surprise they started a mess at 7:30 pm. No camera and no video were allowed anymore. And being quite was requested. Julia wanted to stay, I am not really a friend of this things. But ok, in this special cathedral… an exception. :) So we sat down on a bench and I hold my camera shut.
A nun came on the microphone and said something in Spanish. She finished her speech and the organ started to play and she started to sing… breathtaking! She had an amazing voice and with the acoustic in this place… amazing.
Then someone else was speaking and in between she sang again, from time to time. And then came the best. The filled up the incense holder and moved it… and how they moved it! I really thought it will fly out of the window in a second. At this point I didn’t know the whole cathedral and didn’t know that there is another hallway to the left and right of the holder. The people who were sitting there must have got the whole incense load.
After one hour was the mess over. Of course I made secretly a movie with my GoPro. I had to record the nun. I hope the sound is good on the movie, I couldn’t check it yet.

We continued to have a look around, after the mess was over. Until we got kicked out, not even 10 minutes later. And really kicked out. A guy was running around and told the people very rude to leave the cathedral.
We decided to have a look into the city center and then to walk in direction to the car. Behind the second corner we heard suddenly music. The sound was very interesting and it was anyway on our way. Around the next corner was a place. And in the middle of the place was technique and between was musicians sitting. An orchestra… wou. In front of the orchestra were stone steps.
Concert on a city placeWe stopped and listening to the music. Really nice music style… and the acoustic on the place… just great. We decided to stay longer and sat down on the stairs, in front of the musicians.
We sat there at least one hour and listened banned to the music. I can’t say which style it was. It wasn’t classic. At the end they were playing something African style.
I made videos. So you need to wait until it is uploaded. ;)

We stayed there until the concert was over. It was already half past 9 and we had to go back to our Kangaroo. It was in a car park and the clock was counting. We had to pay 5,70 Euro.
Then the question of every evening: Where will we sleep. We decided to drive a bit further and to see where we can find a nice place to stay overnight. The next tour will be long anyway. Good 950km to the Dune du Pyla in France. We are slowly running out of time. We have just a few days left and have to cover the distance. 2 Points are still on our list. The Dune du Pyla and Paris. Those are our last targets and this time without wasting time and stopping 5 times somewhere.

It was already dark and I don’t really love to drive in the dark. It is very exhausting for my eyes. But we could still make 160km. But only because 90km was on the highway. Later it became suddenly foggy (very foggy) and curvy. We reached probably the north of the Pyrenees. Some when at 1 in the night wasn’t it possible to drive anymore. Luckily we found a cemetery with a huge parking place in front of it. Here will nobody bother us and we were converting the car in the rain. I think I never fall asleep so quickly

12.07.2013

The place was holly quite. :) In the morning we heard an electronic car driving over the parking place and later a tractor. But nobody bothered us. We go up around 9. After a while we had a look to the cemetery. Very strange thing. Julia was calling it cupboard cemetery. I have no idea how I would call it. But you can imagine it as cupboard. With many small, but (obvious) deep, holes. There are the dead bodies in it. 4-5 ‘levels’ on top of each other. Very… unusual. But space saving.

We packed our stuff and went back on the street. The weather wasn’t the best today. Cloudy and foggy. For us very nice travel weather. We had to be the whole day on the street. 750km to be exact.
And so we was driving the whole day trough the landscape of north Spain. First we had the luck that we could use the A8. Later we had to continue on the N634. The fog stayed the whole day and converted the landscape into a mystic view.

One stop we made finally anyway. Of course at Mc Donalds. To do something against the hunger, a (more or less) good toilet and Internet :) We are junkies!
Ah, and we had to write and send the postcards from Santiago, before we could leave Spain. We still had many Spanish stamps.
We spent again 2-3 hours in our favorite restaurant and had to go afterwards into the city center, to the postbox. And then back on the road. Further trough north Spain… which reminded me totally on Middle Germany.

It became dark again… surprise, surprise. :) Inge said that it would take until 2.30 in the night until we would be at the Dune du Pyla… still 250km.
 We made it until the French border and just stopped on the next Mc Donalds parking. The restaurant was closed already, so nobody could bother us anymore. We converted and fall asleep. The day was tiring. Driving makes tired as well, especially driving in the night.

Best regardsGordon


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