30th March 2010 Bordeira to Boca do Rio

30 03 2010

We woke up right next to the beach in Bordeira, the sun beating down on us and a slight breeze reducing the temperature a touch. I had a quick compare of notes with the German chap who we had next to us before we got ready to move off. We were not planning to go far as I didn’t particularly feel like doing a lot of driving so we started to get ready, gas off, drawers and fridge secure, table empty and levellers in the hold when a British couple pulled onto the car park. We had a long chat with them about stop off points, availability of water and facilities and ended up with a good choice of places to go that were quite close. Jack needed some more food and us a small stock up of supplies (washing up liquid) so as soon as we set off we headed to the Ecomarche about 10km away. The British couple had told us about a water tap in the cemetery just above the supermarket so as soon as the shopping was done we investigated the location and found the water supply. We drove up and filled up with water without any problems and then headed off to have a look at some of the suggestions that were given to us.

First port of call was a small beach called Ingrina Praia (N37•02.763 W008•52.873), just east of Sagres which was accessed by a narrow country lane which took us through fields and past isolated houses before reaching the small cove with an amazing little beach. Parking there was all above the beach looking over the sea but there were obviously a lot there who had been there for a while as all of the most accessible places were taken. We moved on, rejoining the N125 and turning off toward Salema just a few kilometres up the coast. Narrowly avoiding colliding with two speeding coaches we soon reached the small resort which had a little port, some shops, restaurants (including an Indian takeaway) and cafes. It was a lovely little town but parking was scarce so we moved on again to Boca do Rio situated mid-way between Sagres and Lagos. This was a beautifully isolated spot with a few motorhomes parked up, right next to a rocky beach where the waves crashed in right in front of the small car park. Perfect location (N37•03.992 W008•48.526).

We parked the motorhome, levelled it up and had a natter with a British couple who had sold their home in the UK and now live full time in their motorhome before I cooked sausages and pasta for a late lunch. We then spent the afternoon watching people coming and going, relaxing by the sea and basically chilling out in a stunning location.

View to the parking spot at Boca de Rio

Later on in the evening I took Jack for a walk over the cliffs heading west and we ended up very high with a magnificent view of the town of Salema and the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean out to the horizon. We went to sleep that night with the sound of waves crashing against the rocky beach, something we are getting quite used to but it is still just as relaxing as the first time.


29th March 2010 Sagres to Bordeira

29 03 2010

Well, the rain that was forecast last night came and hit us early morning, with strong wind helping, the rain battered the motorhome and woke us up. However, by the time we got up it had stopped and the skies were clearing to leave us with a nice sunny day. We wanted to go further up the west coast of Portugal to a beach car park that we had been told about but first we needed breakfast and a coffee.

We walked to a beachfront cafe that we saw yesterday and sat down outside, first asking a waiter if we were ok with the dog and if we could have snacks and coffee. The rather offish waiter said the dog was ok if it was quiet. We sat and ordered coffee and then when it came we asked for the snack menu only to be told that they didn’t do snacks but could do us ham, chicken, cheese or tuna sanwiches, sounded like snacks to me. Anyway, we didn’t appreciate the waiters attitude so drank our coffees, paid and left. The first time on our travels we have done this, didn’t expect it to happen in Portugal. We then walked to another cafe and had coffee with a mixed toast (ham and cheese) and a pile of chips.

Back at the motorhome we packed up, emptied the waste and toilet and headed off to go to Cape St. Vincent, the most south westerly point in Europe. Bit of a milestone for us both on our travels knowing that we could go no further in Europe in that direction.

After we had had a walk around and taken a few photos we then set off for our next stop off, the beach car park at Bordeira. I decided that we only needed to travel on two roads so confidently set off without the sat nav guiding me, typically I had to turn around after about 10km as I had missed the turning, shouldn’t be so daft as to think it was that easy really but that’s the way it goes I suppose. On our way to Bodeira we saw a turning to another beach and the co-ordinates that we were given told us to go there so we did, following a long winding road toward a beach just south of Carrapeteira. We arrived there to find numerous motorhomes parked and a lot of surfers so we decided to have a look around to see where we could park. I drove to the end of the road and turned into the car park on our left where there was much more room. On our way through this car park we were both looking at the other car park, now on our left when I drove over what I thought was a big pothole. There was a big bump so I stopped to have a look. It turned out that I had actually managed to drive over a 18″ deep chasm in the car park made by running water, quite how I managed to do it without getting stuck still defies me but I did and we were now the wrong side of the obstacle. I had a look to find the best way back across as the exit I was heading for in the first place appeared to be blocked by boulders. I decided in the end that I needed to use our levelling blocks to give us a path over the ditch and set about getting them in place the right distance apart to allow me to drive over them. This failed and though the front wheels made it over they promplty got stuck in the shale that made up the surface of the car park, the back wheels providing enough resistance to make the front wheels lose traction. Great! So, there we were effectively stuck. A bit of a think about things and I decided that I needed to reverse out of the situation, so I made the passage as easy as I could by moving the levelling blocks and supporting them with large rocks and then digging out behind the hole that the front tyres had made in the ground with them spinning (thanks Andy, you know why!) and in one easy manouvre we were back on terra ferma, though still the wrong side of the ditch. I had another look to see where we had crossed it and I think I found the spot but now the edges of the ditch had been eroded due to me driving over it. I started filling the ditch with stones and gravel in a carefully chosen levelish spot where my next attempt to get across would be, still confounded by how I managed to get across in the first place, when Lorna spotted an alternative way out which would require me driving at a certain angle between a couple of big boulders and then onto the road. I was initially unconvinced as it looked quite steep in a short distance and I wasn’t sure that if I didn’t have enough grip I would get stuck on an incline with rocks either side, just waiting to damage the underside of the motorhome. We both pondered the situation, laughing at how we got there when the decision was made to try Lornas route. She kept watch as I carefully positioned the motorhome and then accellerated slowly up the incline, praying for grip. After a few spins from the front I managed to get on solid ground and at last I was back on the road. Never a dull moment eh!

After this little episode we decided that we wanted to have a look at the next beach along at Bordeira so we got back on the main road and headed that way. The car park there was much less challenging so we parked up in a nice spot overlooking the sea (N37•11’34 W08•54’10), levelled the motorhome, had a de-stressing drink and went for a walk with Jack down to the beach. We had to cross a sea water inlet to get to the beach and whilst we rolled up our trousers and waded through, Jack was only to happy to demonstrate his new ‘no fear’ of water and bounded through, up to his belly.

Bordeira Surf Shack

From there he decided it would be a good idea to run round in the sand like a nutter and so got absolutely covered in the stuff, sticking to his already wet coat. On our way down to the beach we had an unexpected downpour of rain so we headed back as quickly as possible, back through the water and back to the motorhome where we de-sanded and dried ourselves off.

Deciding that that was enough for the day we had our last serving of chilli with pasta and some red wine whilst reflecting on the days events before retiring to bed, slightly shattered!

28th March 2010 Sagres

29 03 2010

It was obvioulsy going to be another hot one today as even going outside first thing with Jack I could feel the power of the sun. We lost an hour of the day straight away and though we rose at a reasonable hour it was mid-day (new time) before we got out for a walk around the fort, free entry on Sunday before 2pm.

The Rocky Landscape of Sagres

The landscape was very rocky once we were over the confines of the fort with the odd building dotted about including a small cinema playing a repeating film, a lighthouse, a small chapel and the usual shop.

The cinema building inside the fort

The views over the steep cliffs along the coast were wonderful and Portuguese fishermen diced with certain death by standing on small outcrops and casting their lines into the sea below.

We returned to the motorhome and spent a relaxing afternoon Reading, looking at maps and eventually we took Jack for another walk down to the beach not far from us, me annoyed that I didn’t take my camera as the moon was full and high in the air which was a deep blue as the sun began to set on the other side of the coast.

Portuguese TV was sampled again that night, we caught an episode of the Simpsons and a weather report that told us that we should expect rain tomorrow.

27th March 2010 Senhora da Rocha to Sagres

27 03 2010

After an early rise Lorna went to the hotel to take adantage of her last free breakfast whilst I took Jack for a quick walk in the quickly rising temperatures, it was clearly going to be another hot one and I was now wearing shorts instead of my jeans which I have worn pretty much every day, not the same pair you understand.

I arranged to meet Lorna outside the hotel at noon so we could say our goodbyes and get on the business of travelling again, the time spent hopping between Senhora da Rocha and Silves had been enjoyable but it was nice to be moving and exploring again. I had identified a place where we could dump our waste and fill up with water before our main journey, a small motorhome dealer in Guia (N37•07.443′ W008•19.344′), not far from where we had been staying so we made our way there first, did all the things we needed to and headed back west toward Sagres and the point furthest south west of Europe, Cape St. Vincent. The journey took us past the turning for Alvor, a place highlighted to us by a few people as a nice place to stop so we took a slight detour and had a look. We found the parking next to the beach with ease and it is somewhere we will probably stop at on out journey back east in a few days. Back on the N125 we then headed into and through Lagos, ignoring the sat-navs attempts to get me onto the motorway we went all along the port of the very nice looking town, we noted a camp site there too so we may well stop there for a night as there didn’t appear to be any wild camping spots. Further along the N125 toward Luz (that of Madeline McCan fame) the landscape changed slightly with less development and a positively rural feel to it. We stopped at the Ecomarche at Budens to get some supplies for my late lunch and dinner and then headed straight through Sagres and parked up by the fort with a few other motorhomes (N37•00’16 W08•56’43) and waited for the temperature to drop a bit before heading out for an explore with Jack. It was much windier here than along the coast toward the middle of the Algarve so we had to be careful not to be fooled by it and get sunburnt.

The fort just at the start if the peninsula at Sagres allowed dogs through but when we got there it was not far off closing for the day and the lady in the ticket office told us that if we went before 2pm on Sunday it would be free to get in which was a great tip and saves us the normal €3 each entrance fee. From the fort we walked along the cliffs and then into the edge of the town where we had a nice coffee and then headed back to the motorhome.

A chilli for tea with pork mince was yet another cooking triumph by Lorna and there was enough made to have it for dinner tomorrow as well, chillies are always better after they have stood for a day in my experience.

26th March 2010 Silves to Senhora da Rocha (Porches)

26 03 2010

We were up at a reasonable hour and just in time to see around 200 children being marched into the area in front of the swimming pool in Silves, mainly in pairs, the train of bodies all wearing similar t-shirts took a while before it ended and when they were all assembled in the area the music and dancing started. We were intrigued as to what was going on so we had a walk up with Jack. It was obviously some kind of keep fit exercise for the children with two dancers on a temporary stage leading all of the moves. We watched for a while before heading into town. I think Silves is one of my favorite places to be, modern in places and in others almost a slum but the people and atmosphere in the place is just so relaxed. We visited a ‘chinese’ shop which sold just about everything and we picked up a few things that we needed before going to a small cafe for some breakfast. When we returned to the motorhome we locked everything down and headed back to Senhora da Rocha for the rest of the day.

Lorna spent the afternoon with Phillipa and her friend Bev whilst I sat in the sun on the cliff tops listening to the sea crash onto the beach below, playing silly games on my iTouch and having a nice relaxing pint of Sagres. We had made arrangements to go out for a ‘final night of the holiday’ meal with our two visitors and at 9pm we sat down in a superb Italian restaurant in between where we were parked and the hotel. My mushroom and gorganzola starter was excellent and my pizza main course was equally as good, although I didn’t have one the fillet steaks were enormous and beautifully cooked too.

Motorhome and Moon

We all had a great night.

Tomorrow we will probably end our little liason with this part of the Algarve and will move on but we are not sure if we will head east or west. I need to return early next week to see if my hard drive has been delivered to the hotel so the likelyhood is that we will head west to Sagres and spend a bit of time on the west coast of this lovely country. I think we are both decided that we won’t go to the Costas of Spain now, we will make a point of visiting both Cadiz and Gibraltar and will then probably head north either back up Portugal or through Spain before heading to the south of France and then east before finally going north on our way back to the UK.

25th March 2010 Silves

25 03 2010

Well, what an amazingly lazy day we have had.

It was raining in the night and early morning through to nearly mid-day so we confined ourselves to the motorhome and made use if the free wi-fi to do some financial tasks as well as some other web browsing which resulted in us applying for a job back in the UK as workers on a campsite in Devon, only a two month job but it would suit our needs fine, somewhere to stay, a bit of money coming in and, in the UK closer to friends and family. I very much doubt we will be selected as we won’t be back in the country until late June and the job starts mid-July, hardly helpful for interviews etc but we’ll see what happens.

When the rain stopped we headed out to investigate the town of Silves a little further and it was pretty much how I rembered it from a previous visit many years ago, narrow cobbled streets with some amazingly decaying houses set inbetween other ones in better condition and very colourfully painted.

Doors and Windows - Slives

Up at the castle we remained outside the walls as we had Jack with us. Walking back down into the town area I satisfied my ‘thing’ for photographing some great doors and windows, these little streets are packed full of interesting textures and colours, I could spend hours doing it. I still can’t post any photos as the laptop is still FUBAR*.

Via the local supermarket where we bought some nice ham and some frozen cubed potatoes we headed back to the motorhome and had ham, egg and ‘chips’ for a late lunch and then spent the afternoon relaxing whilst more rain came down and gave us a lovely full rainbow in the sky.

The evening went pretty much the same way, both of us relaxing and feeding ourselves Piriton to stop the mad itching we both have from mosquito bites. Precautions now include not opening the door with the lights on and applying every manner of garlic, orange and citronella oil to discourage their attacks in the night. I have a bite right on the sole of my foot which is making walking most uncomfortable, just wish Jack could do the same job on mosquitos as he does on cats!!

* f****d up beyond all recognition.

24th March 2010 Senhora da Rocha (Porches) via Armacao de Pera to Silves

24 03 2010

After a fairly early rise for me, always the same when i’ve had a few tipples the night before, we decided that as we still needed water and had two toilet cassettes full that a couple of days on the local campsite wouldn’t go amiss so at around noon we left the spot at Senhora da Rocha and headed off to the other side of town to the campsite there.

We pulled up and registered and then found a pleasant spot at one end of the site where we parked. I took Jack for a good walk into town and when I returned carried out the most enjoyable task of emptying two full toilet cassettes. After this I filled up the water tanks and then went for a shower in the very clean shower blocks.

As we are now getting decent sun most days I decided that I needed to lose some facial hair and set about cutting my beard down to just a goatee, now my cheeks might see some sun at least.

After a short spell of rain the sun came out again so I put the awning out as well as the deck chairs and started writing today’s blog. I got as far as campsite when Jack, who was tethered to the motorhome steps jumped up and shot forward, he’d spotted a cat. I waited for the usual recoil when the cable reaches it’s 2 metre stretch but it didn’t come, instead Jack was off on the chase. He had rushed forward with so much speed and strength that the plastic clasp on his collar had broken.

I chased after him but he already had the cat in his mouth when I caught him. I did manage to seperate them but it was too late, the cat had put up a good fight leaving Jack scratched and bleeding but it wasn’t enough. The commotion had bought a few people out to see what all the excitement was about, including a Belgian guy who had seen the entire thing, he was very quick to tell everyone that Jack was in fact tied up and not running free (initially at least). After we had Jack back on a lead I went to reception to let them know what had happened and they hardly batted an eyelid, apparently they have a big problem with wild cats on the site and they seemed almost grateful. When I returned Lorna was still chatting to the folk who had come out and later told me that an English woman had told her of a recent incident where some people next to her were throwing stones at the cats to discourage them from being around their pitch. Apparently some cat lovers on the site took exception to this and allegedly carved a big scratch along the side of their caravan. With this we decided that it would probably be wise to leave, the cats would drive Jack mad and I wasn’t prepared to risk having the motorhome damaged.

We decided to go back to Silves as we didn’t get chance to have a good look around when we were there a few days ago, free parking and internet access also helped. So, after washing Jack down and cleaning up his wounds we headed off, stopping only to refuel (the price of fuel in Portugal is steep, €1.15 per litre of diesel and €1.42 for unleaded) and to do a quick shop at the supermarket. We pulled up in Silves at about 6.30, just as the light was fading, cooked up some hamburgers for dinner and had a restful evening after the days madness.

First job tomorrow is to replace Jacks collar with a stronger one, though I have a concern that next time he decides to sprint off whilst tied up he will either rip off the motorhome step or, break his own neck. Daft dog!

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