Friday, 25 April 2014

A sojourn in Almoharin

Almoharin, the 'fig capital of the world' and home to the smelliest cheese we've ever eaten....
The day after the fiesta de Sardinas, the Plaza de Espana has been scrubbed and cleaned, we venture out to find the famous 'Rabito Royal', smooth figs covered in chocolate with a chocolate truffle centre.... and the very yummy but smelly 'Torta de Casar' a cheese like no other that you eat with a spoon - oooh la la.
Our search takes us out of town into a Daliesque landscape, the kind of beautiful scenes that one would imagine Don Quite running around naked in, declaring his madness and love for Dulcinea... 
On the medieval sheep trail you might meet some sheep, coming to pick up their post from these custom made cork mail boxes. We didn't meet any nor did we find any smelly cheese here.
But we came across a giants golf ball. This one looks a little old and lost, but there was a shiny nice new and white one on the top of the mountain, ready for the tee off.
Still no chocolate or cheese so we get distracted by lots of beautiful wild flowers like this one... ( It is here in Almoharin market that we bought the best and most amazing honey called Miles Flores de la Virgin de Extremadura.)...
... Beautiful walks in the hills where you can get lost, enjoying the views and the eagles soaring ahead and the smells of the retama flowers in spring...
There in the distance. Is that maybe a Rabito Royal!?
No. It's one of these. 

Oink oink! Porco preto Alantejano. Oh no the pigs have run away from Portugal - Cerdo Extremeno.
So many cute animals!
But where's my chocolate!
It's back to the quiet streets of Almoharin. We got to meet some friendly people here like the Super Mario Baker Brothers, Inma from the shop with everything, mainly haberdashery but also bread and toothpaste and sardines, the matching ladies in the Churreria with matching baby blue crochet jumpers... The market was full of people  and all the people at the fun weekly market were we got a special deal on our Dulce&Camino underpants, they were fun too.
So to get the figs and the cheese we would have either had to go to the Industrial estate of Almoharin or to the 'Capital of Tomatoes' Miajades.
So we went there to see the giant tomatoe on a stick with a storks nest on the top, by the roundabout and the storks on the old tomatoe factory. In fact there was storks everywhere.
We had a little coffe in the cafe Cervantes just to keep the Don Quijote theme going and we bought our speciality Rabito Royales and Torta de Casar!
 We stayed at the beautiful Finca La Reina to help Jane and Steve, keeping Fergus amused and confused, helping Raoul and his ladies find delicious worms and grubs, staying away from scary Alex and Maggie who where guarding their nest, trying to figure out what Molly and Wooster where looking at all the time (we think it might have been a snake or two) and also clearing olive branches and doing all sorts of usefull things....
.... like putting up the tipi.
Here is Kevin celebrating his birthday....
He is very happy about his cake and bubbly and the visit from the vultures...
And we got to do our show again!
On a lovely Saturday afternoon for a fun mixed bunch of excentric local folk that we hope to see again one day.
Here's our best Raoul and his Ladies impersonation (if they were bike mechanics)
And of course we have to put a picture of one of our favorite things - a bicycle.
A Fausto Coppi bicycle for the Fausto Coppi Collection because Kevin has got Fausto Coppi cycling shorts.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Alcoutim to Almoharin

From the mouth of the Guadiana in Portugal to Spain in 10 or twenty pictures.
It's gorgeous along the river Guadiana, beautiful little roads, cute little towns, yachts bobbing up and down on the water, lush gardens....
Our view from the Nautical Club garden in Alcoutim, where we were camping thanks to the kindness of El Presidente.
Very pretty at night...
The mysterious rock giant, carrying a sack of rocks...
Further on up the Guadiana in Mertola we came across this beautiful cinema, built on an old cemetery in 1917 and still in use.

And then Serpa another special little town with a famous cheese. We didn't get a chance to buy any of the cheese because the Cheese Festival was on and all the cheesemongers were at the cheese convention.
Anyway we saw a very old olive tree by the old city walls.
And snake shaped cacti...
In a little sleepy village we stopped for cake but none of the coffe bars had any so we had to cycle on without. But there we came across this fine example of a portuguese farmers bike.
A Ye-Ye bike in fact, held together by bits of wood and...

.... some quality welding.... 
Rad kaputt - macht nix!
And then a weird place.
Minas de Sao Domingo, an ancient, disused gold mine with a complete derelict miners village and everything.
Best of all a still functioning public balnearios with showers and free camping next to the lake with beach ....

....  a miners liberation front club house and....
.... outsider art par excellence!

And a friendly Bon Voyage for us.

Then we hit bad weather and the Bomberos in Mourao saved us from a cold wet camping in a carpark next to the old castle walls in the howling wind and let us stay in their seminar room.
Bomberos are cool!

And then we crossed into Spain, where we were greeted by these lovley ladies!
It's Carnival in Alconchel!
And  then we rocked up in Almoharin, our destination for the next two weeks.
There in the Plaza de Espana was burning a giant fire. Ready for...

... ready for the Fiesta de Sardinas! The Almoharinian equivalent of Pancake Day. We got invited and went and ate many a sardine and drank wine by the gallon, met the mayor, danced with the vicar and his widows (the local carnival troupe).

This was a glorious week of cycling in beautiful scenery, on quiet roads with friendly people. 
Really enjoyable!

One of our favorite stretches of cycling.