The Next Travel Chapter
Whilst we stayed at Mikki’s Place for three weeks, we received 3 pieces of news that would change our travel plans and have us heading back to the UK.
We were offered jobs as seasonal campsite wardens for 6 months. We thought this wold be the ideal job allowing us to save the majority of our wages during the season as we were provided with a free pitch, electricity, laundry, wifi etc on top of our wages. The only real expense we would have for 6 months whilst working on-site would be our food and groceries. We could then travel in our motorhome during the winter season.
We also received the news that Alan’s son and his partner were expecting their first child in November making us first-time grandparents.
Michelle was due to have a hip replacement carried out and we found out that this would also take place in November.
With the later pieces of news we knew that we would not be able to travel over the winter of 2017/2018 as we were looking forward to the birth of our grandchild, but also because Michelle’s operation would require a long period of recuperation.
So we pointed Kelpie north for the long journey home knowing that our travels had ended for the foreseeable future, hence the lack of updates to this blog.
On our way home to the UK our concentration was on driving as much as possible and finding a place to overnight. We did however fit in a couple of visits on our way home. Our first stop was still inside Portugal close to the Spanish border at Monsaraz.
Monsaraz is a small ancient castle town which sits atop a hill. It has views for miles over the surrounding hills and valleys. Now it overlooks the largest man-made lake in Europe . A huge reservoir which snakes it’s way through the valleys below.
There is a free motorhome Aire at Monsaraz but it is not suitable for large units, so we parked in the coach parking below without any issues.
There are huge steep walls surrounding the small village encamped within them. The castle keep is at one end of the village and the church at the other, with small former houses in between. You enter through an archway on the east side.
This little place oozed charm and although our visit was brief we loved the place and will definitely return another day.
From Monsaraz we crossed the border into Spain, skirted around Badajoz towards our next chosen destination for the night, Càceres. Again there is a free Aire in the town but when we arrived it was full . Beside the Aire is another coach park but we had read that if you park in these spaces you will definitely receive a ticket and fine.
We headed back into the main car park where we had seen a couple of other motorhomes parked and put Kellie along a keen taking up about 4 car parking spaces . The car park wasn’t busy and again we had no issues.
We walked the short distance into Càceres town . After walking through some old streets we heard the loud sound of a brass band leading a religious procession of children to the church. I’m sure you have heard these bands before with loud banging drums and all the brass instruments seemingly playing different tunes!
From here you arrive into a large central plaza off which lies the “Star Gate”, the entrance into the old medieval section of the city . What a beautiful place the medieval quarter is. We explored the ancient streets filled with tall stone buildings and stopped for a beer with free tapas in one of the most charming streets you could imagine.
There are two huge churches in the old quarter . There was a queue about 100m long outside the main church as it was holding a special mass . We had a quick look inside the side door at the splendour of the internal decoration.
As darkness was descending it was time to head back to our motorhome and take a last look back at the old city now all illuminated. This is another must visit again place for us in the future.
After spending the night in Cáceres, we headed off the next morning n our trek north to our next destination which was to be the oldest university city in Spain, Salamanca .
The free Aire here is about 4 km away from the city. We wanted to be closed for our visit. Luckily it was a Sunday . We drove from the Aire towards the city and luckily there was a deserted Lidl car park just across the river from the cathedral.
The cathedral in Salamanca is huge and has been extended a number of times. It is paid entry and as we had already visited a number of cathedrals on our tour we did not want to pay to enter another.
We did though have a careful look around the main portal entrance. The stonework around the portal had recently been restored .It is very intricate, but the stone mason had a wicked sense of humour and amongst the intricate gargoyles and figures, he had carved a spaceman and a dragon eating an ice cream cone!
We also strolled around the university where there are some beautiful buildings eventually making our way to the Plaza Mayor.
The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is one of the grandest plazas in all of Spain. All four sides are lined with tall Spanish baroque style apartments with decorative wrought iron balconies . Entrance into the square is via small alleyways on each of the 4 corners. Around the base of the apartments are a myriad of cafés and restaurants perfect for sipping a coffee and people watching.
The Plaza was used as the scene for the movie Vantage Point starring Dennis Quaid which is about an attempted assassination of the US President and well worth watching.
Unfortunately on the day of our visit there was set up masses of temporary display booths for a future exhibition which ruined the view of this beautiful plaza.
From the Plaza, we made our way back through the city past the university and cathedral . On the banks of the river stands the art deco museum held inside a beautiful art deco building . We walked from here across the Roman bridge back to Kelpie to return to the Aire for the night.
From Salamanca we stayed in small village Aires until we reached Calais and back to the UK.
Here we completed our first season as campsite wardens split between the beautiful Cotswolds and the stunning Lake District . At the end of our season we headed home to Northern Ireland where we had rented an apartment for 6 months in our home town of Carrickfergus on the shores of Belfast Lough.
Michelle had her hip replacement completed successfully in November and a couple of weeks later we welcomed our grandson Cónan to the world. Over the next number of weeks Michelle started to regain her mobility and at the same time Alan started to lose his! He sustained an injury in his first year as a campsite warden which resulted in a bulged disc . The bulge started pressing on his siatic nerve causing him lower back pain and severe leg pain .He underwent regular physiotherapy and in the end had to have an MRI scan and an appointment with a orthopedic surgeon who recommended time rather than surgery as the best way to recover.
Luckily the pain started to ease just in time for the new season and we secured a position as campsite wardens in the Cambridgeshire Fens for 2018.
Now this season has ended we have just hit the road again in our motorhome leaving for France at the end of October 2018, after a hiatus of 18 months.
So keep a check now for more regular updates as we bring you along with us on our latest travel adventures.