21st December – Tavira

21 12 2011

We spent a total of seven days at Silves and, after the merriment of the weekend in which we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and Lornas birthday we had a few quieter days just walking Jack and relaxing each day. The weather wasn’t amazing, though we did have a few days of decent sun allowing a long game of boules in the afternoon. Sitting out at night wasn’t really a good option as the temperature dropped quite steeply once the sun had set. It was good to be in company for our time at Silves but after a week we decided that we needed to move on to be closer to the beach and have some ‘quiet time’, the weather forecast was looking better so we set off and headed to the coastal town of Alvor. We had been to Alvor before, on our first visit we spotted the parking area but decided not to stay as the ground was rough and the weather not brilliant. The second visit there was a bit of a disaster as we couldn’t remember the right way to go and got slightly lost in the narrow streets, eventually deciding to give up and head elsewhere. This time though we had asked around and got better directions so we drove straight to the parking area set amongst palm trees and immediately decided that this would be our spot for a few days, the weather had improved, the sun was out, we were right next to a gorgeous beach and only five minutes walk from the town, excellent.

The next three days were spent walking on the beach, taking photos and generally relaxing. Jack, as always, had a great time running on the wide beach and even got his belly wet after getting caught out by a wave. The beach has a long set of board walks which take you all along the harbour, over the dunes and onto the beach at various points, very pleasant walking especially when the sun was setting. We even saw Santa flying by. Ok, it was a bloke from the local flying school, dressed up as Santa on a paramoto (if that is the right word) which was dressed up to look like a sleigh complete with reindeer!

Santa

The town of Alvor is quite cute, narrow streets lined with bars and restaurants and the occasional ‘beach’ shop selling all of the normal touristy ware. We found the small local supermarket and stocked up for our stay, deciding not to eat at one of the restaurants no matter how inviting they were, we were on a bit of a budget catch up.

Alvor Sunset

Needing to refill our gas bottles and have some space to look at our alarm ( it is giving an audible warning that a certain area is not being covered properly when we arm it. Can’t seem to find the problem at the moment, all of the wires are connected and switches are in the right place so something is not quite right somewhere) we headed off to the camp site we used last time out in Tavira. The main A22 motorway which runs along the Algarve has now been turned into a toll road, but not your normal type, it’s an automatic toll road which had electronic readers that charge directly. I’m not entirely sure how it works for people without the right equipment but I understand that if you use the toll road you need to go to the Post Office straight away to pay the toll, if not there are hefty fines involved. To be honest, whenever we have been on the A22 it has been quiet so introducing a toll if maybe not the best idea as now even less will use it and this forces traffic onto the EN125 which is already in a pretty poor state of repair. Still, they must know what they are doing but the move to toll seems to be a pretty unpopular one, we have heard of gantries being set on fire and the automatic reading equipment being vandalised. Another issue is that the fact that the road is now a toll isn’t on many signposts, I’ve seen the word ‘Portagem’ on a few but not on the majority of signs so I’m not even sure if the system is fully operational as yet. Anyway, we stayed off the motorway and took our route through Loule, it took a while longer but the scenery was nice and it was a fairly relaxing drive. We arrived at the camp site late afternoon following a short stop at the local ALDI to stock up, and had a barbecued chicken for dinner.Next day we headed off into town to post a letter back to the UK and, typically for Portugal, waited nearly three quarters of an hour to get to the counter, there were irate Germans everywhere complaining about the wait but we have never really experienced anything any different in Portuguese post offices, great place to people watch! After being asked to look after a shellfish store outside the Ping Doce supermarket, whilst the ‘vendor’ went off for a spliff, we returned to the motorhome and had a really good tidy up and another chicken dinner on the BBQ.

Tavira

Tomorrow we are off to the airport first thing to pick up my Mom who is stopping with us for Christmas, we will probably head back to Silves once we have collected her. We need to look at our alarm for definite as we heard yesterdaday that two motorhomes had been broken into that night in Silves, and although nothing of value seems to have been taken, and nobody hurt, we will feel much better about going back if the motorhome is fully protected. Surprised and slightly shocked that it happened there, it has always appeared to be so safe. A gentle reminder to always be on our guard and not become complacent.

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10th December – Silves

10 12 2011

We headed off from Vivonne after a good walk with Jack in the morning and headed along the main route toward Biarritz. The drive there would hve been too long for us so we stopped off at a small town called Marsas along the way. There was a designated place for motorhomes to park opposite the school and church so we checked that out before heading to another aire in a neighbouring village called Marcenais. This aire, parking only, was right in the middle of nowhere but it was a pleasant enough place for us to be stopped to have some lunch before heading back up the road to Marcas for the night. When we got back there there was one other motorhome parked up so all felt nice and secure for a restful nights sleep, even after watching Hostel II on DVD.

Next day we set off to Biarritz where we met up with Marion and Dave again. We decided that we would have a couple of nights here as the weather was wonderful when we arrived, bright sunshine, lovely blue skies and an outside temperature of 22.5 degrees. Jack had a lovely run on the open beaches and we had a load of fresh air before a good dinner in the evening. The next day I decided that the motorhome needed a good clean so I gave it a good going over, getting the bikes off the rack and making sure that every inch outside was washed off, how it managed to get quite so dirty I have no idea but it was a good job done. Typically, it rained heavily overnight and, as it was still raining the next day we decided to move on to our next stop of Hendaye Plage. This stop is only about 45 minutes away but it does knock that time off the journey to Palencia which we had planned for the next day. This drive is normally one of the longest and most stressful as we invariably get lost once we enter Spain from France, toll roads not signed properly, roads all with similar numbers etc, you’d think we would know our way by now!

So, on Saturday 3rd December we made our way from France into Spain, taking the usual detour along a toll road that we shouldn’t have been on and having to pay both on our exit and entrance back on to it. Nothing changes. We stopped off after about an couple of hours and had a quick bite to eat before setting off again and eventually arriving at Palencia late afternoon. As always seems to be the case when we come to this city, it all appeared closed so our initial scout around the town was just looking at closed shops and empty streets. Looking at some of the opening times on the shops showed the siesta in full operation, 8.30am to 1pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm, that’s some break! At the right time we wandered back into town and got some basic provisions and settled in for the night, discussing our route down south. Either we could drive from Palencia into Portugal and stay on a paid aire for one night or, head further south in Spain and use an aire in Caceres which we had been to before. The latter won so, the next day we headed off to the town of Caceres where we had stayed before. We remembered that it was a very nice town and recalled that last time we were there there was lots of work going on in the central area so we were interested to have another look around. Our journey took around three and three quarter hours but it was a nice steady drive along good Spanish roads. When we arrived at Caceres the aire was packed, it’s a popular place as it does have free electricity albeit with limited points available, generally there are leads everywhere and much evidence of splitters being used. We were not bothered about getting electricity so found a spot and parked up. Because we wanted to have a good look around the town we decided that we would have two nights here and spent the next day walking Jack around the town, taking some photographs and looking for somewhere that we thought we might like to eat lunch. The central square, where the work was being carried out on our last visit, was now very pretty with plenty of folk around and restaurants taking advantage of all the space to have their tables and chairs out in the beautiful sunshine. We dropped Jack back off at the motorhome and went for lunch.

Caceres

When we got back into the square we saw that it had become extremely busy so we had to wait for a table at the restaurant that we had decided to eat at, being typically British we started a queue and once a table became free we were seated. This was not before our waited had to throw someone off a table as they just marched up and sat down without queueing, he probably thought this was most strange but he did it and then proceeded to keep shouting ‘Loverly Jubberly’ to us every time he passed by, quite a character. The menu was in both Spanish and English but the English translations left a lot to the imagination, I started with an Iberian Mixed Platter which ended up being a good portion of salamis, hams and cheese, Lorna had the paella. My main was described as ‘Serloin of the cake of to Mary’ and obviously I had no idea what was going to come when I ordered it but I was very pleasantly surprised to get chunks of steak served in a quite strong cheese sauce with a peeled pepper salad and chips. Lorna had suckling pig. Our sweet was a creme brulee each and for just €12 for three courses, in that location, it was a complete bargain.

Caceres

From Caceres we moved in into Portugal and made our way to an Orbitur campsite in Evora. We had wild camped in Evora before but we needed to get some washing done as well as making sure that everything was charged up and we were full and empty with water. We booked in for two nights at a cost of just under €30. Our afternoon was spent clearing out and washing so the next day we headed into town to have another look around, maybe to see things that we missed on our last visit and then we treated ourselves to a late afternoon BBQ.

Evora

Next stop was Silves on the Algarve, a place where we will probably spend most of our time over the next few weeks and where I am writing this from now. The weather isn’t brilliant at the moment but we are here with friends and it’s not raining. We celebrated out 6th wedding anniversary yesterday and it’s Lorna’s birthday tomorrow and a big BBQ is being planned, hopefully the showers that have been forecast will hold off and we can have a good day of it.








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