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.





18th March 2010 Evora to Barragem de Pego Altar

18 03 2010

Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if it is even worth going back to the old life of having a house, paying a mortgage, paying council tax, paying water rates, paying for gas and electricity and working for a living. It seems that life on the road, on the continent, can be enjoyed for a very small amount of money and it certainly beats the day to day humdrum of a ‘normal’ existence. Take our last few days for example:

Ovar Beach: cost nothing to stay
Praia de Mira: cost nothing to stay
Figueira de Foz: cost nothing to stay
Fatima: cost nothing to stay
Evora: cost nothing to stay

That’s five consecutive places where we have had to pay nothing to live in our motorhome apart from fuel and insurance (electricity courtesy of a solar panel and a spare leisure battery which charges when driving), and we have only stayed a maximum of three nights in each place, a hell of a lot less than others we have met, some who have stayed for months on end, the weather is nicer, the food and drink is cheaper and you have everything you need in your motorhome. Ok, there may come a time when people in motorhomes are not as welcome as they are now and there is some evidence of this happening already, particularly, if some if the stories we have heard are true, on the Algarve and Spanish Med. But, for the moment it seems that you can live for next to nothing for long periods of time if you have a motorhome and know the places to be. So it really makes me wonder if returning to the stesses of modern life is really worth it. Even when we return to the UK in late June our costs will rise considerably as we will more than likely have to pay to stay somewhere. I can’t see us staying long for some reason! (sorry Mom).

We got up today to a slightly cloudy outlook, the temperature was still very pleasant but the sun was not to be seen. Another walk around Evora was our first job and we managed to see a different side of the town (geographically speaking), walking past the Police station and some kind of military building, we saw the mounted Police out and about on some gorgeous looking horses, happily trotting along the road, holding up traffic and unsuprisingly no-one complained. A quick sort out back at the motorhome and we were on our way to our next destination, Barragem de Pego Altar, a large dam around about an hour and a half away.

We weren’t sure if we would be staying the night as it could have been deserted and in the middle of nowhere so the back up plan was a little town calked Alcacer where we had been told there was places to park. We set off and headed out of Evora toward Montemor before turning off the main road and taking the N370 toward Santiago do Escoural. The road was rough again and I did little over 30mph all the way along it which increased our travelling time considerably. After negotiating the tight cobbled roads of Santiago do Escoural nothing much improved and we must have done nigh on 35km on rough roads. Though the roads were not good the drive through the olive groves was very nice, lush green grasses, herds of cows and bulls and the occasional abandoned house made for nice views. There were a number of occasions that I wanted to pull over and photograph some of the buildings but the road was essentially a single carriageway though you could just about squeeze a lorry and a motorhome past each other, good job as we met a speeding lorry who was simply going too fast to slow down enough for a comfortable passing manouvre.

Once off the N370 we took the N253 to our destination and this was a much better road. We had hoped to find a supermarket en-route but on these small roads there was no chance. Before arriving at the Barragem we passed through the beautiful little town of Santa Susana which had lovely houses all along the road, all painted in blue and white, very pretty. Finally we saw the sign for the Barragem and we headed along another decent road toward the car park. Our concerns about being alone in a deserted place were soon put to rest as we turned the final corner and saw about 5 motorhomes parked up beside the large lake. That was the tip of the iceberg though, a little further on there was about 20 more from all over the place including The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal and of course the UK. We found a spot looking over the lake and parked up next to another British motorhome (N38•25’14 W8•23’29). After a quick chat with the chap next door we had a wander up to the small cafe about 300 yards up the road and had some lunch, something that we can do now because this is still oficially an extended holiday, should we decide to do it full time we would be on a tighter budget so that would be a no no. I had steak and chips whilst Lorna went for the rabbit and chips and ended up with a full portioned rabbit on her plate, including the head which Jack enjoyed enormously. With drinks, of which we had a few, the bill was still just €25. Back at the motorhome we had a lazy afternoon with Lorna having a mid-afternoon sleep whilst I got my bike off the rack to go for a ride, first having to get the locks off which ended up with me ruining one of them and having to throw it away as the constant barrage of muck had stiffened it so much I needed pliers to loosen it off which wrecked the key. The remainder of the afternoon and early evening was spent with me chatting to neighbours whilst Lorna slept.

Such an amazing place to be it’s a shame we can’t spend longer here but to the Algarve we must go to meet one of Lornas friends who is flying over to spend a week in Armacao de Pera and to catch up with us. We are now seriously considering missing out the Costas of southern Spain to spend more time in Portugal, our favorite country so far.





17th March 2010 Fatima to Evora

17 03 2010

We were up relatively early this morning as we knew we had a long drive to our next destination, Evora, around 3 hours away.

Another quick walk around the town of Fatima was had to visit the post office to send some bits back to the UK and we finally pulled off the car park at about 11.45, about an hour later than we had originally planned. We headed into Santarem and got onto the N114 hoping that the road surface wouldn’t be as bad as the roads prior to Santarem were, if it was we were thinking if turning back and getting on the toll motorway. Luckily the N114 was a lovely stretch of road with some lovely straight runs with nice landscapes on both sides of the road. The plan was to stop at Coruche to get some lunch but roadworks in the town made it difficult for us to access the car park, and so we carried on and stopped at a little cafe just outside of the town and had a beer with a pork sandwich (the pork was like bacon but seasoned and very tasty).

Not long after we arrived in Evora and found the large car park just outside of the main town easily (N38•33.58′ W07• 54.24′) and found a spot right underneath the lights, there were no other motorhomes there when we arrived. We had a quick drink and then walked into the main town, Jack in tow.

Street Scene - Evora

Navigating around the streets was not easy and we found ourselves in the same place a few times, always approaching from a different direction. I’m not even sure we managed to find the central church. After a while we found a butchers and bought some sausages to have for tea with pasta and then made our way back to the motorhome a little weary from our drive which ended up being nearer 4 hours. A refreshing cup of tea and a bit if relaxation time back at the motorhome made us feel a bit more human and we were glad to see a French motorhome had parked beside us, affording us a bit of security for the overnight stop.








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