12th February – Monchique

12 02 2012

When we decided to finally leave Sagres we first visited the market that was held just up the road but this offered nothing much in the way of anything different to any of the other markets we have visited in Portugal before, in fact the market was very small and didn’t really appear to be attracting many people unfortunately. We said goodbye to the people that were on the site by the sea and headed on our way, first stop being the beach at Ingrena which we had visited before but never stayed, no change this time either as we decided to head off and have a look at the aire at Lagos. There was no real reason why we decided not to stay at Ingrena and I’m fairly sure we will be back when we are around that area in the future. We headed toward Lagos and found the aire which was well signposted and located right beside the football stadium, not too far from the town but we decided to head on back to Silves (that place is like a big motorhome magnet for us it seems) vowing to return to Lagos and have a look around at some point.

The weekend of the Country and Werstern event at the Ponte Romana arrived and Marion and Dave had done a good job of getting the numbers up so nine of us ended up trooping over to the hotel for the afternoon of music and drinks.As always we had a wonderful time, the music isn’t my normal cup of tea but it’s always a great atmosphere there and it has been reported that I was up and dancing quite a bit, wonder why. There was a quick visit to the O’Cais bar by Lorna and I after the afternoon finished and that is about as much as I can remember, the people we went with were clearly a terrible influence on us.

Dave and I having a dance, country stylee. Photo by Bill

Settling back down at Silves it suddenly became very important to get our heating fixed as night time temperatures were beginning to drop to under freezing point. We suddenly were experiencing a very cold snap in the area, some parts of the world were really struggling according to the news and we were having to wrap up very cosily to ensure that we were warm enough in the night. We had our water heater on just to keep some warmth in the van and to make sure that the water wasn’t dumped overnight. Even the days were colder that we had been used to, even with the sun out the cold wind made it not particularly pleasant outside. I managed to get in touch with a company called CamperServ and after explaining the problem we were having we were booked in for the day after (Tuesday 7th) to get our problem sorted. The owner was excellent, friendly and welcoming and obviously very knowledgable as our problem was soon isolated to a fauly thermostat which was registering a temperature of 60° when it was only just over 20°, no wonder the heating wasn’t coming on. The problem was fixed very quickly by installing a new thermostat and with a parts charge of €10 and €10 for labour we were both well chuffed. CamperServ highly recommended!

At the Country and Western afternoon we had met Bill and Sue who had told us about a chicken restaurant in Monchique so on Friday 10th we headed up to the campsite just south of Caldas de Monchique and, after dropping off one motorhome, headed up to the restaurant in the other. It was a good recommendation too, great chips! After our lunch we headed up to Foia with Bill and Sue and had a wander around the highest point in the Algarve, not for too long though as again, the wind was very cold.

We have been on the site at Caldas for a couple of nights now and it seems that heating the motorhome is something that is going to be a bit of a recurring issue. Our gas heating still works ok but for some reason our small convector heater has now decided to stop working completely, Great! plugged into the electric and having to use gas driven blown air heating to keep us warm at night. Plans for the next while are to get stocked up with lovely Monchique water and then to see where we land before heading back inland where I might manage to get our convector heater fixed, if not I’ll be throwing in the first skip I see.

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25th – 27th February 2011 – Monchique to Odeceixe

27 02 2011

The weather over the last couple of days has been amazing. We saw temperatures of over 33° with no or little wind which, for me, was just a little too warm to be out and about so much of my time has been spent just pottering around both inside and out, taking Jack for a walk late afternoon and catching up on a few films. We had a walk virtually all the way to the centre of Caldas de Monchique, from the campsite, over the hills and down to the main road and then toward the water bottling ‘factory’ and then stopping off on the way back to take in a coffee and a beer at a small restaurant, that was about all the exercise we have had. We also managed to flush out our waste water tank as we were getting spurious readings from our levels meter, that worked and all seems to be fine.

On Saturday evening we decided that we would head off first thing in the morning toward the beaches at Odeceixe, somewhere we had never been before but had heard good things about, plus it fitted into our loose plan of heading up the west coast for a little while. We left Monchique just before noon on Sunday and headed up toward the town before heading off left toward Aljezur. This route took us up over the hills of the Monchique area, through some lovely forests which occasionally afforded us a gorgeous view out toward the sea. A very nice drive indeed, until of course you leave the municipality of Monchique and enter into that of Aljezur, then the roads change and on our way down from the hills we bumped and rocked on the very poor surfaces. Out of Aljezur toward Odeceixe was new ground for us both. Many of the places we have been on this trip out have been revisits but for once we were on roads that we had not been on before and heading to places we have never visited. Exciting times.

We had GPS co-ordinates for one parking area at Odeceixe but when we got there there was only one other motorhome there and they looked quite settled in so we decided not to park close by. We did see numerous motorhomes on the other side of an estuary so decided to head there, this was after a short drive to another potential spot that turned out to be a little too isolated. Pulling into our chosen spot we knew we had made the right choice as we were looking directly out onto the beach and sea and across to a small town but were still ‘away from it all’.

Jack

We went for a good walk with Jack along the beach and then up a path onto the cliffs before returning back to the motorhome to cook our dinner and then we spent a nice evening watching the sun set and planning our next move. We really need to find a supermarket as we are out of numerous essentials, butter, bread, olive oil, meat, vegetables, fruits, soft drinks, toilet rolls and of course wine!

Odeceixe Beach Walkers





24th February 2011 – Monchique

25 02 2011

It’s always the same, as soon as I finish writing a blog post and publish it something else happens that is ‘blog worthy’ and I have to wait to include it in the next days ramblings.

Preparing for our meal last night I needed to bring in our table from outside as we decided that we would eat in. The table was cleared off and the legs folded back in and was then carried into the motorhome, where I proceeded to unfold the legs. Unfortunately, my index finger was on the part of the leg that snaps into place when the leg is extended and so became trapped. It hurt. I freed my finger and went into the bathroom to see blood pouring from the wound, I initially thought that I might have lost the very end of my finger but luckily, when the blood cleared a little I could see that it was just the top part of the nail that had been severed and forcibly removed. Lorna and I managed to stem the blood flow a little before dressing it with a bandage and plaster. Throb, throb, throb for the rest of the night. Before I went to bed I took some co-codomol which helped with the pain and put me to sleep very quickly.

Taken 2 days after the initial accident.

I stopped in bed for a long time today, mainly due to another couple of co-codomol at 6.45am, but also due to the fact that I was feeling sorry for myself. It was a searingly hot day, reaching 32.5° at one point so I elected to spend most of my day in the motorhome messing on the internet, using Skype to speak to family, processing another of my photos from the other night and generally taking it easy. I did have a couple of walks in the sun but, for both of us it was a little too warm.

The extra photo I processed from the other day is possibly my favorite from the trip so far.

Monchique

I just love the light.

The afternoon and evening was spent hanging around and having some lovey chicken for our dinner. With it we had the remains of our 5ltr box of red wine and then watched ‘Acidhouse’ which is possibly the wierdest film I have seen for a long time, good but wierd!





23rd February – Monchique

23 02 2011

Well, how nice is this place?! a far cry from the hectic lifestyle of the car park in Silves. Very relaxed indeed.

We are having a most peaceful time, the weather is scorching hot and there are a number of nice walks around the area which we intend to investigate further over the next few days. Today has been mainly spent walking with Jack through the woods, investigating various paths and then, when it got too warm,  we returned to the motorhome for a spot of lunch, consisting of chilli from last night, salad, a cheese course (we picked up some more lovely cheese from the market in Silves on Sunday before we came here) and of course a few glasses of red wine. We bought a 5ltr box with us and seem to be running out too quickly.

Being in this relaxed and uninterrupted atmosphere I have had some time to actually go out and take some photos as well as having the time to edit them properly. Two from today at completely different times. The first was taken on the walk earlier today when I saw this old tree surrounded by pretty yellow flowers, there was a nice contrast between the old and the new I thought but I don’t particularly think it comes through in the photo, maybe it’s a little oversaturated.

Old Tree

The second from today was taken just as the sun was starting to set. On another walk earlier I had seen this outcrop of trees and could see that as the sun set it would light up this particular part of the landscape. I wandered off just as the sun starting to lower in the sky and took numerous shots of this one part of the view. Whilst up on my viewpoint I managed to get bitten more than several times so I think I shall be itching for a while now but worth it I think, nice sky, a bit of recession in the landscape and a nice bit of light in the foreground.

Monchique

For today that’s about it. Will probably have some dinner now and then watch a film before an early night I think.





19th -22nd February 2011 – Silves and eventually Monchique

22 02 2011

I said at the tail end of the last blog post that things here can change very quickly and there could not be a better example than what happened after I finished uploading that post. In it I said:

This went on for a good while and eventually as the group dispersed I wandered over to Martins van and ran through a few Photoshop techniques that I tend to use on my photos, then it was a quiet night in with Lorna and Jack.

Just after that was published i went back over to Martins motorhome and we both decided that it would be a nice idea to go to the O Cais bar to watch a band play. Whilst I suggested it to Lorna, Martin invited Johan, a Dutch man who I had spoken to a few times over the past week or so. Lorna didn’t want to go particularly so, at 9.15pm all four of us 🙂 wandered over to the bar and, whilst sat upstairs managed to have a few drinks and a great old chat. When we left we headed to the bar at the Bombeiros (Fire Station) and carried on there for a while before finally getting back to the motorhome close to midnight.

Saturday was planned as our last day at Silves, we had told everyone that we were due to leave on Sunday and that we were off to O Cais again, this time for the karaoke. A nice day was had where we went on a long walk with Dave and Marion and relaxed and chatted with people in the afternoon. Later we headed over to the bar and positioned ourselves upstairs, overlooking the stage. Aidee was already there and was soon up singing his songs, particularly good he was too. As we were a little early, the food staff had not arrived as yet so we ordered a bottle of wine anyway and enjoyed the music. At around 7pm the cook arrived and we ordered our food and were promptly served, then the drinking began, and the singing, and the line dancing from Dave and Marion. We had a particularly memorable evening, Lorna sang duets with Aidee and two or three other people as well as getting onto the stage herself. Even I managed to belt out ‘I’m A Believer’ (the Robert Wyatt version of course) toward the end of the evening. It took us a good while to walk back as certain members of the group were suffering from balance problems, there are photos but they are not going to be shared here i’m afraid.

Sunday was a write off really. Both us and Marion and Dave had planned to move on but before midday we had both decided that that simply wasn’t going to happen. Marion spent the entire day in bed, Dave was rough, as was Lorna. I seemed to be ok for some reason. I do believe that managing not to smoke during the night helped with how I felt the next day, no particular hangover and certainly no rough throat or coughing, excellent. By evening time though I was starting to flag a little and by 9pm I was in bed. During various chats during the day we had decided that we would go to the market on Monday and then move on……….a definite plan this time, no going out, no deviation, early night, up early, market and go. Simple. So, Monday arrived and we all managed to stick to the plan of getting up early, going to the street market and then heading off, well, nearly. All was going to plan for Lorna and I until I tried to start the motorhome, the battery had gone flat and it wouldn’t start at all. Very strange as we had only been parked for about a week and a new starter battery shouldn’t lose its charge like that. I can only assume that something, somewhere, is putting a drain on the battery whilst the engine isn’t running. Something I need to get looked at, but it can wait until we are back in the UK now. Luckily all of our friends rallied round and I soon had two batteries with jump leads at hand. It wouldn’t start with these so Aidee got his generator out and we ran that for half an hour charging the battery. This worked and we were soon off and on our way to the campsite at Monchique (Vale Da Carrasqueira). With the battery problem any thoughts of going to a beach for a few days and wild camping were out of the window as it would be likely that we wouldn’t be able to start again and that would be far from ideal, at least on the site we could plug-in and at least float charge the battery for a few days. We had to stop and stock up with food before we arrived as the park is quite isolated so I had to sit in the motorhome with the engine running whilst Lorna shopped.

Later in the afternoon we arrived at the park and, having parked up and sorted ourselves out we took Jack for a walk and on returning we were invited to play Boules with some other people on the site. There is only room for about 14 motorhomes on the site so it’s a small, friendly place were everyone seems to get involved. We suffered defeat to the French couple we played but 13-5 isn’t too shabby considering Lorna hasn’t played before. In the evening we ate early and then watched ‘It Could Happen To You’ before having a reasonably early night. Lorna was up early the next day, sat outside and taking advantage of the fine weather. When I eventually got up we moved the motorhome on to proper pitch (there wasn’t room when we arrived yesterday) and then went for a walk through the lovely countryside with Jack who seemed pleased to be able to run about freely again.

Monchique

As it seems to be very relaxed and quiet here, and the fact that we are quite stocked up with food etc I think that we may well be stopping here longer than the planned three nights. The days are counting down to when we need to be back in the UK so a week here relaxing before the start of the long drive back seems like a good idea at the moment.





3rd April 2010 Sagres to Silves

3 04 2010

I was up like a shot this morning and whilst Lorna lay in bed for a while I made tea and took Jack out. For some reason I really wanted to do a bit of exploring today and my first suggestion was that we head to Loule as we had heard that there was an Easter Sunday procession on, after a bit of discussion however we decided to head up to Monchique to see the scenery and look at a motorhome park close by.

The drive to Monchique was a slow one, mainly due to the condition of the road we were on. The main N268 and then N120 were fine but once we had stopped in the pretty town of Aljezur to buy some fruits and onions we got onto the N267 which relentlessly went uphill for a good few kilometres and the road surface was poor, very poor! Once we got into the area controlled by Monchique Council (I’ll have to find out how these things work over here) the road suddenly improved, and it was literally as soon as we passed the sign, suddenly we were driving on a good smooth surface.

The pretty town of Aljezur

The road then wound up and down hill affording us some amazing views across the hilltops and out to sea. A while later we arrived at Monchique. We decided not to stop but to drive through the small town just to have a look and to see if there was anything worth finding a parking spot for. There didn’t appear to be much there, having said that the roads were very narrow and parking would have been most difficult anyway so it was probably lucky.

We drive out if the town via it’s steep one way system and headed toward the motorhome park which was located at the end of a long gravel track. The place itself was very nice, plenty of room, electric hook up and all the services but it was a little to isolated for us as we were thinking of eating out that evening, nearest restaurant about 2km away and nothing inbetween.

We then decided to use our backup plan of going back to Silves. We let Graham and Diane know about the motorhome park as it was somewhere they had shown interest in, as well as telling them that we were headed to Silves. Not long after we had parked up in Silves a lady knocked on the door passing out flyers for a Country and Western dinner dance at a local restaurant, €14.50 for a three couse meal and all you could drink. Never ones to shy away from free drinks we thought it might be a good afternoons entertainment and so let Graham and Diane know about it.

A few hours later they turned up, parking right behind us. The lure of a nice town, free internet access and a good afternoon out tomorrow obviously too much for them to resist. It may be a little cheesy what with line dancing being taught at the same time but I’m convinced we will have a cracking afternoon. It’s all about new experiences after all.








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