30th March 2017. El Barco de Ávila, Spain.

The view from Marvão was so beautiful that it was difficult to leave today, it was equally difficult to leave Portugal.  We’re very pleased that we found the time to  at least see a bit of this country, we were told by various people that Portugal is beautiful and they were quite right.  We’ve also met lots of lovely people here too.

While Darren was cleaning the splattered bugs off the windscreen of the van (it reminded us of Norway where the insect population committed suicide on our windscreen as we drove through) the Dutch man whom we’d spoken to when we arrived popped over to chat to Darren and they got talking about our destination in The Netherlands.  He was so kind and told us not to go to the touristy part and went back to his van and got his map to show Darren a good place to visit, then they had a look on Camper Stop to see if there were any aires near there.  A short while later he re-appeared with some details of an organised bike ride/walk through the flower fields.  What a lovely person.

We were doing a reasonably long drive today, the idea had been that we would leave early.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  When we did leave I was surprised at how very close to the Spanish border we’d been, it took no time at all to reach it.

We drove through more beautiful countryside and stopped for lunch at a small petrol station looking out over fields.  During lunch we came up with several changes of plan, which reverted back to the original plan as we got near our turn off at Plasencia.  I’m SO glad we stuck to our original plan to drive to El Barco de Ávila via the scenic route.

The journey along the route through the Jerte valley was stunningly beautiful.  The trees in the HUGE valley were absolutely smothered in white blossom as far as the eye could see.

The beautiful trees spread up the mountain side to a backdrop of snow capped mountains and every so often a waft of perfume would enter the van.  This magical experience more than made up for the windy road up through the mountains (I was virtually sitting on Darren’s lap on one of the hairpin bends corners when the drop was on my side, and did contemplate keeping my eyes closed until we got to the top, I’m very glad Darren didn’t feel the need to do that too).

We were extremely surprised and relieved to discover that the road on the other side of the mountain suddenly became nice and wide, it looked like it had been a relatively new addition.  We followed it all the way to our stopover for the night, El Barco de Ávila.

It was a pleasant surprise when we arrived there, we parked up on the top of the wide car park right beside the castle wall which had a load of storks nesting on the turrets, the mountains behind it were topped with snow.

Down the hill to our right was a river and the fancy bridge we’d crossed to get here.

We parked and went out for a walk around the town.  We had a look inside the castle which is an empty shell but pretty nevertheless.

We hadn’t expected entertainment to be thrown in as well, as I was standing looking in through the door a large twig fell down behind me and when I looked at the ground around me I realised that it was strewn with twigs, in fact it looked like it was a large part of a stork’s nest.  We stood and watched for a while as Darren ran a commentary on the two storks that were standing on a turret which now only had a handful of twigs on it.  His scenario was that the female stork, in a fit of pique had thrown the nest to the ground because, in her opinion, her husband had built it badly from substandard materials!  She flew off while we were watching him attempting to rebuild the nest.  He looked like he didn’t have a clue and kept poking ineffectually at the pile of sticks.  I said to Darren that maybe he had missed the nest building classes and he replied that they probably didn’t have nest building classes, they just had to ‘wing it’!  Boom, Boom!

From there we walked through the old town (which wasn’t very big) and along to the enormous church (there’s always an enormous church no matter how small the town) and down to the river to see the mediaeval bridge.

Darren was feeling very tired after the long drive but suddenly had a little burst of energy when he saw the exercise machine for us to play on.  It’s amazing, we have stumbled across these exercise areas in the most unexpected places in Spain, we found one in the teeny mountain village of Alba, as we peered over a low wall to take in the scenic view far below us.

After we’d had a little play we had a slow walk back along the river to the van.

This evening we looked on the internet to see what type of fruit would appear once the blossom had fallen, they were cherry trees apparently and the website said there was a ten day window of opportunity in which to view them.  Wow!  We were SO lucky to have seen that.

I was hoping there would be a dark sky so I could see some stars tonight but unfortunately, once again, there was a lot of light pollution.

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