Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Wednesday 24 February–Fregenal de la Sierra and Badajoz

Where's Colin? He’s in the very new Municipal Aire at Badajoz.

My misgivings about spending the night in the Aire at the bus station in Fregenal, which is also frequented by artics, were either unfounded or I was just very tired. Between putting my book down last night and Mick waking me to tell me that the alarm was going off this morning, I heard nothing. Funnily enough, as soon as I was awake, there were bus engines galore (they really ought to turn them off when they’re on the stand for more than a minute, I reckon).

Clear skies weren’t forecast at all, and they didn’t last into the afternoon.

Our walk for today, chosen from the six glossy route cards given to us by the Tourist Office, was an 8-mile lollipop-shaped outing, on fast-going terrain such that it only took us two and a quarter hours (described in more detail on That had us back in Colin for a lunch so early that any Spaniards seeing us eating our ham/cheese sandwiches no doubt thought it was breakfast. By 1pm we were all packed away, the ‘there’s a service point right next to us’ chores had been completed, and we were away.

This trip was originally billed as being a tour of Spain and Portugal, but it was soon apparent that we weren’t going to fit in the Portugal element. However, I’ve never been to Portugal, and there’s a particular town just a few kilometres over the border I’m interested to see, and as it lies just a short detour from our route north it seemed silly not to swing by.

That’s where we would have headed this afternoon, but the Aire there doesn’t look nice in the photos in the Aires book, and the on-line reviews aren’t good either. Meanwhile, just 20k away in Badajoz, on the Spanish side of the border, is a brand-new Aire, which hasn’t yet made it into the book, which has excellent reviews. So, even though the town doesn’t receive a promising write up in the Rough Guide, we opted to come here instead, and to head over the border tomorrow.

Previous experience on this trip tells us that places which are poorly reviewed by the Rough Guide are not necessarily uninteresting to us, and first impressions of this place were favourable. The Aire is next to the river, right next to the old bridge, with a clear view across to the old town, with its fortifications and many churches.

Colin is in this photo, but he’s blending into the great big bus of a motorhome behind him, so he doesn’t really stand out.

A slightly better composed shot of the town across the river, omitting the Aire.

Unfortunately, our arrival coincided with both siesta time, and rain. The rain finally abated and the sky brightened at 5pm, and I wasted no time in declaring a quick trip to the Art Gallery to be in order; it’s only just over the other side of the bridge, so surely we could make it before another shower came in? I was wrong. By the time we had jackets and shoes on and Colin’s blinds had all be closed, I’d just put my hand on the door handle when the heavens opened (heavily enough to wash the dust off Colin, I reckon). There was no chance of us choosing to go out in that. Shoes and jackets were shed and we resigned ourselves to not seeing anything of the town.

By 6pm the skies were clear, but by then tea was cooking, so it wasn’t until 7pm (just about sunset) that we finally made it out for a very short stroll across the bridge. The town is obviously making an effort to make itself appealing to tourists, as between the Aire and the town sits a series of half a dozen bi-lingual information signs giving the history of the fortifications.

 The town/EU has obviously invested in recreation facilities too, with pathways, outdoor gym equipment and children’s play areas having been recently installed alongside the river.

If it wasn’t for the lack of time remaining, I’m sure we’d spend the morning tomorrow looking around. As it is, we’ll be heading west first thing.

(Random aside: “Autogas!” I cried twice before Mick realised my meaning and managed at the last moment to pull into the fuel station I’d spotted before we sailed on by. It’s the first time we’ve had trouble getting a pump to couple with our adapter, but we got there in the end (ha ha! Mick was holding the pump this time so for once it wasn’t me who got a hand covered in spray-back). It was the most expensive LPG of the trip, albeit only by 0.1c. Overly simplistic calculations this evening tell me that when we’re not hooked up to electric, and we’re running the fridge full time, we burn somewhere in the region of 0.7 litres per day.)

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