Any port in a storm

Although Zamora had not endeared herself on our arrival, we were sorry in several ways to be leaving today and hope to return sometime.
Storm Anna, when she arrived, was sharp and shrewish but quickly gone. She was a reminder of home for a while as we were buffeted about but when I woke at 01:30 the wind had passed. Anna brought with her lashings of rain however and we found in the morning that the dry bed in the park was now a turbulent stream.
The weather, though much improved, remained dull and damp but was good enough for us to stroll out for lunch in the town.
The restaurant that we had carefully selected was closed so we set about finding another. Zamora offers many choices but none seemed to be speaking to us. We plumped for an upmarket establishment, listed at no 2 on TripAdvisor. It was just 2pm but they turned us away “service completed”. What? In Spain?
We ended up in a wee bar that served from 13:00 to 16:00 and had a rather good lunch for €12 each, though I was somewhat fazed by the whole bottle of wine to myself included in the price. A very nice organic Toro it was too.
Last night the temperature dropped below freezing, seeing the internal temperature in the van down to 5°C by morning. Jack Frost had visited and decorated the skylights with icy feathers but the sun was shining under a cloudless sky.
I had entirely forgotten that we were still at 700 metres but it certainly shows in the quality of the light as we are on our way to Bragança. Quite astounding. Also astounding is the scenery and I am amazed by how much grows up here. Tundra, it is not.
We reached Portugal at midday, local time and are now back on GMT. We are also back almost at 700 metres, though it feels higher here. We can see snow-capped mountains and there is a real chill in the air despite bright sunshine.
The Aire is quite nice and is sited above the town, just below a castle. There are water and waste facilities here so I can have more than a cat lick in the morning. No electricity though.
Repair attempts on the water system continue… and so far it appears to be holding.
A short stroll into town this afternoon yielded a Portuguese SIM card and a nice bottle of Tawny.
We are settling in.

Any port in a storm

Although Zamora had not endeared herself on our arrival, we were sorry in several ways to be leaving today and hope to return sometime.
Storm Anna, when she arrived, was sharp and shrewish but quickly gone. She was a reminder of home for a while as we were buffeted about but when I woke at 01:30 the wind had passed. Anna brought with her lashings of rain however and we found in the morning that the dry bed in the park was now a turbulent stream.
The weather, though much improved, remained dull and damp but was good enough for us to stroll out for lunch in the town.
The restaurant that we had carefully selected was closed so we set about finding another. Zamora offers many choices but none seemed to be speaking to us. We plumped for an upmarket establishment, listed at no 2 on TripAdvisor. It was just 2pm but they turned us away “service completed”. What? In Spain?
We ended up in a wee bar that served from 13:00 to 16:00 and had a rather good lunch for €12 each, though I was somewhat fazed by the whole bottle of wine to myself included in the price. A very nice organic Toro it was too.
Last night the temperature dropped below freezing, seeing the internal temperature in the van down to 5°C by morning. Jack Frost had visited and decorated the skylights with icy feathers but the sun was shining under a cloudless sky.
I had entirely forgotten that we were still at 700 metres but it certainly shows in the quality of the light as we are on our way to Bragança. Quite astounding. Also astounding is the scenery and I am amazed by how much grows up here. Tundra, it is not.
We reached Portugal at midday, local time and are now back on GMT. We are also back almost at 700 metres, though it feels higher here. We can see snow-capped mountains and there is a real chill in the air despite bright sunshine.
The Aire is quite nice and is sited above the town, just below a castle. There are water and waste facilities here so I can have more than a cat lick in the morning. No electricity though.
Repair attempts on the water system continue… and so far it appears to be holding.
A stroll into town this afternoon yielded a Portuguese SIM for the WiFi hub and a nice bottle of tawny port.
We are settling in.

Running away from the rain

Great banks of thick low cloud obscured much of the mountains this morning, their tops appearing as islands emerging from a pearl grey sea. Mercifully, the rain was light.
The Picos must be a fabulous place in better weather and I regret not hanging around to see them but the combination of rain, mud and hordes of children screaming until 11pm was quite sufficient to drive us on.
The aim, I was told last night, is to get to the other side of the mountains and be in the rain shadow as the medium range forecast for Avin offers nothing that is not rain. I thought it would be a fearful long way around in bad weather but was told that we were going through not around. As we now discover, we are going up and up and up and over. This became clear when we reached a section of crawler lane ten kilometres long!
(I have found another tool to help me with the blog and am now able to draft offline as we drive, or as at this moment , pulled up at a filling station. All the posts that I wrote in my head as we drove through France are long lost but hopefully now I can save some of our memories.
By the time that I get post this, we shall be perhaps 200 miles or more further along the road so this mix of running commentary with later additions may seem a little odd.
Brilliant, I can take and insert photos as I go! The featured photo, if it works, was taken at 1042 metres. I know that it is unfocused but I like that, it adds atmosphere.)
We topped out at about 1,325 metres, equivalent to the height of Ben Nevis. When we emerged from the last tunnel the rain had stopped and we could see blue sky in the distance and a weak sun overhead attempting to penetrate the cloud. It was unbelievable up there… there were trees growing, even deciduous ones. Houses and villages and farming… at that height. There was even a m-way services! The road rather surprisingly did not lose much height and we found ourselves remaining at around 1,100 metres for a while.
It turned out to be a long drive across a high plateau.
I believe that we may remember this as the drive of a lifetime. After the snow-capped mountains, we passed through a landscape of fascinating colour with terracotta-coloured ploughed earth fields punctuated by dirt roads of yellow ochre and burnt umber. Fields of sage green vegetation, so pale as to be all but grey and appearing as though frosted although, even up at 800 metres, the air temperature maintained a steady 8 degrees. The whole scene being muted and calm, wrapped lightly still in the low cloud we had driven through since dropping to 1100 metres or so. Once again I find myself wishing that I was an artist and able to paint.
It wasn’t all gorgeous. Some very dull and boring sections, some plain ugliness. Eventually we arrived in Zamora, which appeared pretty repellant as we entered the town. I was convinced that we would be moving on.
As it turned out, the Aire is not at all unpleasant and is conveniently close to the old town but more of that some other time.
We may stay for an extra night if we survive the storm.