A week on the old smugglers’ trail in Spain and Portugal


Dixe Wills

Staying in a house with a colourful history, our writer enjoys a sunny week of cycling, markets and festivals in two countries

“This whole area is riddled with smugglers’ paths.”

Pepe spread an arm out wide – some feat as we were cycling up a hill at the time – and indicated the expanse of undulating scrubland to our left. Peppered with cork oak trees, and with Spain’s sparsely populated Extremadura region immediately to the east, this part of Portugal was once ideal country for contrabandistas evading the Guardia Civil, the feared Spanish semi-paramilitary force that used to patrol the border.

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