Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Washout in Portugal

It was only a short journey along the Autovia de Castilla and within half an hour we were crossing the border into Portugal. We hadn’t brought our passports with us but this wasn’t a problem and at the border checkpoint we were waved through by the border guards who were more interested in the freight lorries that were passing through. We were heading for the city of Guarda, about thirty kilometres away, but the closer we got the worse the weather became and by the time we arrived the city was completely obscured by grey clouds and drenching rain so we carried on by and continued our drive through a gloriously wooded ravine with spectacular views on both sides. We were heading for the town of Covilhã but as this is one of the highest towns in all of Portugal there was no sign of any improvement in the weather as we drove into the clouds and we really didn’t fancy wandering around in the rain so we turned the car around and returned to Spain.

As we approached the border the weather started to improve and as we crossed through the clouds opened like curtains and shards of sunlight broke through again and for a few kilometres we drove in bright sunshine again and we were pleased to see the black disappearing in the rear view mirror as we returned to Ciudad Rodrigo. On the way we stopped at a curious roadside supermarket, which turned out not to have the things we really wanted but did have an interesting section selling rifles and ammunition.

The sun didn’t last long and when we returned the sky was a milky white and it was quite cool so a little later than planned we looked for somewhere for lunch. This wasn’t easy because it was mid afternoon siesta time so there was not a lot of choice but we found a small place down a side street that was still open where we had some tapas dishes and a cerveza.

After lunch we walked around the honey coloured streets but we had to concede that the fine weather had given up for the day and with cloud thickening all the time in what was becoming a very dreary sky we returned to the hotel where we had a drink in the bar, Kim thrashed me at cards and watched a massive rain storm that made us glad to be inside.

For evening meal we went to the Hotel Conde Rodrigo. It wasn’t open at eight o’clock when we arrived and they told us to come back in half an hour. It didn’t look very busy and I think they rather hoped that we either wouldn’t bother or alternatively would find somewhere else instead. But we weren’t going to be put off that easily so after a drink in the Plaza Mayor we returned and were indeed the only customers in the place. We were glad however that we hadn’t been diverted because the hotel served an excellent menu del dia and at a very reasonable price.

In the night it rained heavily again and there was a dramatic electrical storm and in the early hours of the morning we were worried that prospects didn’t look good for the next day.

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