Juromenha to Alegrete

Great night. Stunning views. Total peace and quiet. This was a great staging post for Elvas, which we’d both misunderstood to be a small town. We parked just above the famed and impressive aquaduct and coincidentally found ourselves next to Heather and Phil, other van travellers who we’d bumped into on a damp afternoon by Mourao’s castle a few days earlier. After comparing notes, and Phil kindly allowing me to grab a photo of a map from their Dorling Kindersley Portugal guide, we left them to their lunch.

As Heather and Phil had already spent a couple of strenuous hours trekking around this impressive hill top town, we convinced ourselves with a lazy logic that having chatted to them all about it, there was therefore little point in us having to do it ourselves. Pathetic, I know.

So after using Intermarché’s motorhome services we whipped up the adjacent hill to see the citadel. Really liked it, but as today was definitely turning into a lazy day, we passed on an in-depth visit.

My Wild Guide Portugal recommended a visit to the Castelo de Ouguela, just beyond Campo Maior, describing it as a “dusty border castle with Visigothic roots” and saying that “it surveys its land from its forgotten outpost on a rocky escarpment”. From this I’d made my second wrong assumption of the day, as I’d interpreted those words as meaning that it must be unloved, derelict, and away from it all, and therefore the ideal overnighting spot.

As it happens, the castle was larger than anticipated, renovations were well underway, and it was set in a small town, with such tight access, that if two cars visited there’d be congestion. Certainly an interesting castle and battlements, worthy of a visit, but sadly no obvious place to settle down for the night.

After a drive through more of Portugal’s lovely countryside, we finally found ourselves in a Park4Night near a picnic area in the small elevated town of Alegrete, set in the Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede. Seems peaceful so far.

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