Back on the road

December 8, 2017

After enjoying city van life for three months, the winter finally arrived in the Spanish capital. Temperatures close to -10 degrees Celsius pushed me back on the road towards the milder coasts in the south.

I decided to drive back to the Portuguese coast. South of Lisbon, where I left the sea to visit Madrid back in August. Without a solid route, I started driving west early Monday morning. A few kilometers outside of Madrid, I stopped at a rest area. Nothing fancy, but I wanted to work outside of Madrid. Otherwise I might have stayed even longer in the city. :wink:

In the evening, right after the sunset, I arrived at a nice lake a few kilometers further west.

Embalse de Almaraz-Arrocampo

The park in front of the lake was a perfect spot to spend the night: quiet, picnic tables and water dispensers.

Van parked near Embalse de Almaraz-Arrocampo

Away from the bright capital, I could finally see the stars again. They were hard to capture with my smartphone camera. But if you look closely, you might see at least a small percentage of all the stars that I saw that night. :wink:

Van parked near Embalse de Almaraz-Arrocampo

No matter how beautiful the view was, I had to go back into the van and cuddle under my two blankets. It was still cold there.

Early the next morning, I was having a hard time leaving my warm bed. But my reward of getting up early in the cold was seeing a nice view of the sunrise in the fog.

Sun rise in the fog

I drove a bit further to escape the fog and also had the benefit of the heat from the engine. A few minutes later, I stopped at a rest area with facilities and a spacious parking area. A perfect spot to spend my working day. The fog was gone and the sun started heating up my van.

Sun shine into the van

I even had to open the door because it got too hot inside the van. After noon, it was even warm enough to enjoy lunch in a T-shirt in front of my van. Nice! It started to seem like I could actually escape from winter without using an airplane! :sunny: :minibus:

When I finished my last video call, it was already dark outside. I decided to spend the night in the parking lot. However, when a truck with a loud refrigerator parked right next to me, I drove further to a park near Mérida. Nothing spectacular, but the huge parking lot was completely empty. Again a perfect spot to spend a quiet night.

The next morning, I spotted another van in the parking lot. Neighbors? I walked over to say “hello”. It turned out that the Spanish couple arrived late at night. They are on vacation and are driving around Spain in their van. It was nice to meet like-minded people in an average parking lot in the winter! We had breakfast together and exchanged our experiences before they left to visit Mérida. I wasn’t really interested in Mérida and decided to stay at the park.

After work, I continued my trip further west towards the sunset.

Sunset on the highway

My goal for the evening: a tiny lake right after the border that I spotted on Google Maps. This time, I wanted to stay at a nicer spot again. After crossing the border in Portugal, I finally arrived at my destination. It was hard to tell whether that spot was nicer than the previous park. Except for the dirt road and some trees, everything was hidden in the dark. :ghost:

Trees in the dark

The first night back in Portugal already felt much warmer. 3 degrees Celsius. At least my olive oil didn’t freeze any more! :laughing:

When the sun rose, I could finally confirm that this spot was nicer than the park near Mérida!

Van near tiny lake

Although I spent my lunch break without a shirt, I didn’t go for a swim. Tempting. But in the end, I didn’t feel like jumping into the cold water. :cold_sweat:

Tiny lake near the border of Spain and Portugal

I really enjoyed my working day at this spot. I thought about staying a bit longer. However, I was hoping for even warmer temperatures, the closer I get to the sea. So I ended up driving further west.

Same story as the night before: Yesterday, I arrived at a lake after the sunset and couldn’t see a lot. But what I saw, looked promising:

Sunset at Barragem do Divôr

When I woke up this morning, I was impressed.

Sunrise at Barragem do Divôr

Wow. What a beautiful spot! Without any other people. Definitely worth to spend more than one night here!