Caceres to Luz – Spain & Portugal Tour 2009

We left Caceres, via Carrefour (more strawberries…) and McDonald’s (more WiFi) again. I would tell you how to find them but alas, our route was unnecessarily circuitous and we did get slightly lost before we got there. Follow the signs for Centro Commercial or alternatively the McDonald’s/Carrefour billboards – that’s how we managed it (in the end).

Our main aim for the day was to get to Portugal – various delays meant that sightseeing was out and our goal was simply to get to another aire at Luz, close to the Barragem do Alqueva in Portugal (near Evora). We left Caceres and took the EX-100 to Badajoz followed by the EX-107 down to Villanueva del Fresno, where I filled up with cheap Spanish diesel before crossing into Spain. At the time of writing (April 2009), diesel was around €0.15 per litre cheaper in Spain than in Portugal.

Driving into Portugal from Villanueva del Fresno
Driving into Portugal from Villanueva del Fresno

The border crossing reminded me of why I like driving around Europe – nothing more than a couple of policeman standing by the side of the road, watching you go by. No checks, no passports, nothing! In my experience, border crossings on minor roads are often like this – I once crossed from France into Switzerland on a minor road and the border crossing was simple closed – we just drove through, even though we were leaving the EU when entering Switzerland.

Although the motorhome service and parking area was first class (and free), Luz was a slightly depressing and sad place. It is distinguished as the entire community that had to be rehoused when the original village of Luz was submerged as part of the creation of Europe’s largest reservoir, the Barragem do Alqueva.

Approaching the motorhome parking at Luz, Portugal
Approaching the motorhome parking at Luz, Portugal

The dam was intended to solve the chronic water shortage problems in the Alto Alentejo region and help its population to prosper and indeed survive. I am not qualified to judge whether it will be successful, but I did feel a little for the people of Luz, which our Lonely Planet guide described as “strangely antiseptic” – very aptly put.

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