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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tordesillas, Spain to Fundao, Portugal – Apr. 22-24, 2012

As Spain, this time around, was only a pass-through country on our way to Portgual, we didn’t spend a lot of time selecting our stops.  The night in Hondarribia was a treat and the area around San Sebastian, including the first hour heading southwest toward Valladolid, remains some of my favorite geography; lush rolling hills with towns snuggled into the valleys and an occasional glimpse through to the ocean (coming soon to a combination DITL and Scenic Drive video.)  But after climbing up to the plateau just before Burgos the geography becomes quite dull so it was with a great relief of boredom that we pulled off to our campsite in Tordesillas.

We booked two nights because we needed to do some laundry and experience has taught us that this chore quite often requires the flexibility of a full 24 hours.  The campsites that have laundry facilities often have only one washer and one dryer so you can never be sure when your time will come.  (Incidentally, since leaving England doing laundry has become a much larger expense; usually at €4 per wash and €4 for dry.)  The campground was serviceable but, alas, we were not the coolest outfit in town:  Around dusk three Land Cruisers rolled in, complete with steel roof racks and air intake snorkles, setting up tents just 100 meters away.

The following morning we walked into town only to find that it was a holiday and most shops were closed.  So with a freezing wind (and me with no hat and a head cold!) we headed back to camp.  Enter Rookie Mistake #10,000:  I put in two loads of wash even though there was only one dryer.  But it really didn’t matter as when it came time to dry, the dryer didn’t function anyway.  So SP gathered the wet clothes (does anyone need a reminder of how I feel about wet clothes?  If so, see a posting from Mammoth Mountain, California) and drove them to where Google Maps had indicated a Lavanderia.  Never found one.  But ever the resourceful partner, he bought some clothes pins and upon his return we stood in the freezing wind (and partial sun) hanging our clothes on the line.  (This is when you are glad you threw away that old stained t-shirt.)  I must admit that during this exercise I had a couple of flashbacks to my old laundry room at 1109 . . .

By 7:00 p.m. the clothes were mostly dry so we gathered them up, leaving a few items to hang in Salt’s shower until the morning.  All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience (except for the wasted money):  The clothes, if a little stiff, came out smelling fresh like only air-dried clothing can. 

And people ask us, “What do you do with all your time?”

The next day we left for Portugal, crossing the border just after noon.  No passport review, no questions about The Noses, nothing.  However, as we started down the highway we noticed a sign that displayed something to the tune of "electronic toll only" and SP, having read up on the country, knew we needed to stop and buy a temporary pass.  So we turned back to the tourist office and found the machine, purchasing a three day pass for €20.  The machine requires that you enter your license plate number and the country of origin however, it did not have an option for the USA, so we opted for UK thinking this was the next most logical solution--and, if they sent someone after us, they might send someone who spoke English.  Pass in hand, we returned to the motorway.

The geography changed back to the lush rolling hills last seen outside of San Sebastian but Portugal ups the ante with all-white towns topped with all-red roofs to make it even more picturesque.  The sun was out as we pulled into our first Portugese campground, Camping Quinta do Convento, and headed into the town of Fundao. 

Luck was with us as we were able to find AO Sept (our contact care solution) at the Pharamacia and buy two SIM cards from Vodafone, all in less than two hours!  Back at camp, we celebrated the sunshine and the fresh country with our first bottle from our “expensive” collection (€50-€100/bottle) purchased in St. Emilion – Chateau Canon’s Premier Grand Cru 2007.   Aventura rating:  Delicious.