1st March – Barragem de Pego do Altar

4 03 2012

So, we are on our way back home now and currently sat at the Barragem Pego do Altar as it pours down with rain outside, the first rain we have seen for a good couple of months and, having seen the level of water at three Barragems in the last three days it’s much needed. We have been so very lucky with the weather whilst we have been in Portugal this time, seeing temperatures as high as 30° on quite a few days and with an average of about 26° most days over the period, just lovely.

There is a bit of catching up to do blog wise but I’ll try and be fairly brief (though with the current weather I might be prone to rambling on a bit). If memory serves me correctly, at the last update we were at the site in the hills of Monchique with Bill and Sue where we spent a few days relaxing and enjoying the good weather and company. Sue makes fantastic cakes! When we left the site, Lorna and I decided to head down to the beach at Bordeira as we fancied another meal out at the nice restaurant that we visited last time we were there a short time ago, however, when we arrived at the parking area there was just one motorhome parked there, maybe an indication that the local GNR had been round and moved folk on which happens from time to time in some places. We decided that if this was indeed the case that we wouldn’t park there as we prefer to be fairly inconspicuous and not to tempt fate. We have never been moved on in our three years of motorhoming and didn’t want this to be the first time so we headed further south to Sagres where we knew parking up and staying was not a problem. Sagres is a beautiful spot to stay anyway so in reality the only loser was the restaurant at Borderia who missed out on our custom.

During our few nights at Sagres we both found ourselves hankering after pizza and found ourselves going out twice in the town to satisfy our craving. On Valentines Day we went for lunch at D’Italia, a small Italian restaurant overlooking the cliffs and beach which, despite a sign saying it was closed, was open especially for Valentines. Unfortunately the special they had on only applied to evening meals but both of the pizzas that we had were excellent. I think maybe that they didn’t have many bookings for the evening as the waitress was trying her hardest to get us to book a table for later on in the day, we may have had a pizza craving but two in one day would have been overkill! A couple of days later we headed back into town during the evening and, after a rather costly pint of Super Bock at one of the trendier looking bars we headed to a small pizza bar called Columbus which had a good selection and was also much cheaper than D’Italia, I would go as far to say that the pizza was better too. After a few days we decided to head back to Silves as we wanted to have Sunday afternoon at the Grand Cafe O’Cais, but, not before we met Tom and his wife who were parked next to us. Tom appeared at our motorhome one morning and asked if our dog was called Jack, after we said he was Tom said hello Steve and Lorna. A bit surreal but it turns out that Tom has been a follower of my blog for some time and had a fair bit of it printed out for reference. Hello Tom, nice to have met you!

We filled up our water at the wash house at Ingrena and then headed back to Silves where it was rammed full of motorhomes. It has been a busy place since we first arrived mid-December but more so when we arrived back this time due to there being a section cordoned off for a Portuguese motor caravan club of which there were about 20 vans. A credit to the opinions of the council at Silves who seem to understand that allowing motorhomes to park there does wonders for the local economy at a time where the country as a whole is suffering. There may well come a time when Silves will, like some other places such as Manta Rota, Lagos and Quarteira, introduce a charge to stay. If this happens then fair play to the Council, they have the room and the services and I’m sure they will be watching carefully what’s happening in other areas. My personal opinion is that if charges are aimed toward stays of around a week then this would encourage people to stay for that period and use the local facilities to the maximum, eating out, shopping and visiting attractions etc. Motorhoming on the Algarve, for those that free camp, is changing.

We met back up with Bill and Sue and had a good few days at Silves, an afternoon at the O’Cais bar, a very good meal out at a small cafe we had been recommended and, when Bill and Sue left to go to the local campsite, Lorna and I went to a restaurant that constantly puts flyers out on the parking area. We had been to this restaurant before with a good experience but on this occasion it wasn’t as good as we perhaps expected, Lorna’s was generally good but my meal arrived cold and despite a doubling of the portion after it was sent back I just didn’t fancy it, fish and almonds, bad choice, I’ll be having the chicken next time.

Silves

The next day we went up to the campsite in Silves to join Bill and Sue. The site has a special offer on at the moment (til May) where you can stay, with electric and wi-fi for just €5 a night, it’s a bit tight to get to and isn’t really designed for anything over 8m but it’s a beautiful place with views across the River Arade to Silves. We did a fair bit of walking and had some pleasant afternoons cooking, drinking, chatting and eating before we all headed back to Silves for our final Sunday afternoon at O’Cais where we had another top night.

Silves

On Tuesday we said our goodbyes to the people who we know at Silves, it’s been great to catch up with them all, too many to mention but, as with every other time we have been out abroad, it’s been the people we meet who really make our trips memorable. We had planned to drive further North than we actually ended up doing but after a bit of a lie in, the goodbyes and the shopping we decided to just make the short drive to the Barragem de Arade for one night and then head further North to the Barragem Pego do Altar just outside Alcacer the next day.

Barragem de Arade

It’s taken a while to write this post so forgive the rambling. I’m currently completing it on a site just outside Estremoz where we arrived yesterday having spent two nights at ‘Pego’. Tomorrow we intend to drive back into Spain to the aire at Caceres where will will have a couple of nights before heading further North to Palencia, then it’s back into France, a quick visit to Lourdes and then a different route through and up to Calais.

At Camping Alentejo





30th January – Sagres

1 02 2012

Although we had planned to visit the beaches at Manta Rota, Altura and a few other spots when we left the campsite at Tavira we found ourselves bypassing these places and heading straight back to Silves. I think that maybe we had had our ‘quiet’ time and subconsciously decided that we wanted to get back with the crowd at our favourite place. It was much busier when we arrived compared to when we left so we were lucky to get a parking spot fairly close to our friends, luckily someone moved the next day so we managed to move into the vacant space and be right back on ‘Park Avenue’ the affectionate name given a particular section of the car park. After virtually a full week of late morning rises, pleasant walks, afternoons spent playing boules and general relaxation we arranged to go up to the local barragem for a weekend with Marion and Dave, just a change of scene more than anything.

We have a small problem with the motorhome at the moment in that the heating isn’t working. Hot water is fine so the boiler itself isn’t at fault, more likely the fan that circulates the hot air isn’t functioning correctly, either that or the thermostat has given up. In an attempt to get it looked at I contacted a mobile motorhome servicing company that had been recommended but they failed to get back in touch after two phone calls to them so I have, for the moment, decided to leave it be. The daytime temperatures are currently anything from 22° to 28° so there is no worry there but the nighttime temperatures are dropping close to freezing so, for the moment, extra blankets required until the problem is sorted.

My apologies for the constant change of tense.

We had our weekend up at the barragem with Marion and Dave which was most pleasant, hot sun, long daytime walks and lots of barbecued food followed by evening campfires to keep us warm. That was until our second night there when another person in a motorhome came over just as we turned the barbecue into a campfire and told us that open air fires were now banned in Portugal because of the dry conditions and increased fire risk. That put a bit of a dampener on our evening but we still managed to stay up relatively late and have a good night up there, and a very nice weekend. Back at Silves the following afternoon after more walking in the beautiful countryside we soon settled back into the swing of things with no particular plans to move on anytime soon.

Lorna had been talking about doing some Yoga and meditation for a while and we had both searched the internet for retreats in the Algarve without any success. By chance, Lorna got chatting to a German lady we had seen a few times and she gave her the number of a girl that ran retreats just south of Aljezur in a small place close to Alfambras. After a few phone calls and emails a course and price were agreed and Lorna was all booked in and ready for a three day retreat where she would be shown both Yoga and meditation and although the landlord of the property where it was held didn’t like to accommodate motorhomes, a special request was made and all was well. On Wednesday 25th January we made our way up to the retreat and, after a bit of a bumpy ride up a dirt track we arrived in a heavenly little place right in the middle of nowhere, the only noise being the ‘whooshing’ of the blades of the wind turbines that were about 2km walk from the house. The lack of light pollution at night here really allowed the sky to light up with stars, so many, quite a sight.

Kaya, the girl that runs the courses made us both very welcome and, in the hours that she spent with Lorna over the next three days, helped her enormously. I’m not a big one for ‘all that sort of thing’ but it’s certainly true that Lorna got a great deal out of it, clearly much more relaxed in general. In my own way I got a lot out of it too, in more ways than one. Firstly the location was stunning, we walked one afternoon for nigh on two hours and didn’t see a single soul, just so very peaceful and tranquil and a wonderful place to be, on one of my walks I saw a wild boar, Jack saw it too and was most confused. Secondly, Lorna had mentioned to Kaya that I liked photography so I was soon enlisted to take some photographs for her website. Kaya said that she wanted something that showed the tranquil location but were also dynamic images so I set about taking a few photos for her.

Kaya

Meditation

Pleased with the initial results from photos at the retreat, we arranged to meet up at the local beach at Vale Figueira and take some more shots the following day so, there I was, jeans rolled up over my knees, in the sea taking more photos of Kaya as she bent her way into various positions on a rock looking out to sea, a stunning location.

Yoga

Yoga

We parted ways with Kaya and, as we had stocked up on food and water before we arrived, we went down to the beach at Bordeira for the next two nights. The only thing dictating our time on the beach was the limitations of two toilet cassettes, one already full, so we thought we may as well spend as much time as we could there before heading to Sagres to empty out when we had to. This part of the west coast of Portugal is simply stunning, huge cliffs on which fishermen find the most precarious places to stand, beautiful wide beaches and a sea that is so blue it defies logic. On one of our long walks we happened upon a small restaurant that was absolutely jam packed so we decided that we should have a Sunday afternoon treat and eat out there. Jack walked and back in the motorhome, we had a lovely few hours sat outside the restaurant, in the sun. Lorna had a craving for fish but as soon as she saw lamb on the menu she opted for that and was served up a huge plate of roast lamb with really nice roast spuds. I had fish which was also very nice, although not up to the standard of the Ponte Romana in Silves I have to say.

So, that’s pretty much up to date. We are currently sat on a parking area in Sagres, looking right out to sea as the sun is slowly setting casting a lovely light on the cliffs. We have some more shopping in so I shall be alright for crisps for the next day or two at least and then we plan to head back to Silves for the weekend where the annual visit to the country and western afternoon is on the cards. On our way back for that we shall hopefully be going to Lagos for a couple of nights at the new aire there which will give us the opportunity to have a look around the town which we have not seen before. This country and western afternoon has come around much quicker than we thought and it bought home just how soon it will be that we will have to start planning our journey back to the UK to start work again on March 26th.

For the moment though, this is the view that we are waking up to each morning.

Sagres

Time flies when you are having fun!





14th – 17th February 2011 – Silves

17 02 2011

Valentines Day 2011, the day that I decided that I needed to give up smoking and try to live my life without the dreaded tobacco. I was of course helped in this decision by smoking too much the night before, running out of tobacco, papers and filters and confined to the motorhome because of the poor weather we were experiencing, still, any reason or combination of reasons is good enough I suppose.

On the first three days of this week we have been woken up early by the sound of rain hitting the roof of the motorhome, sometimes accompanied by thunder and lightning. The weather during the day has not improved much either with rain belting down and sometimes even turning into hail. It’s not been particularly cold but it has been very wet indeed. Luckily, we have a few people about us that we can chat to, invite over, forget to mention in my blog (sorry Viv, the glorious winner of the Boules competition) and generally keep us both company during the miserable weather. We have been entertaining Dave and Marion, Aidee and last night, Martin. Martin is a keen photographer (www.martintaylorphotography.com/) so we had plenty to talk about and even arranged a trip to the coast for earlier today when the West was expected to be hit by some huge waves, 30′ waves according to a website. So, at 7.30am my alarm went off and by 8.15am we were on our way to Sagres to photograph what was sure to be a fantastic sight. The weather was still thinking about raining but we were afforded brief periods of sunlight which gave us hope of a few decent shots. Unfortunately however, we didn’t account for the wind that was blowing in and flattening all of the waves down so we ended up seeing some nice waves but not the huge ones we had been expecting. I returned with no photographs of merit and I am unsure if Martin managed to get any either, not a very successful trip unfortunately but a nice break from the cold and wet car park in Silves.

The weather improved mid-afternoon so things are starting to look brighter for the weekend where we have a market to look forward to and possibly our last night in the O Cais music bar with Dave and Marion on Saturday night………..Karaoke night no less so that should be some fun though I am sure I will find it very difficult as it will be my 6th day without cigarettes and people are allowed to smoke in the bar……..time to get some Zyban I think!





23rd January 2011 – Sagres to Portimao

23 01 2011

Out and about by 10.30 this morning for some reason. We first gave Jack a good run on the beach as he had been desperate for a bit of freedom for a few days now, he loved it, running around in circles, running back and forth between Lorna and me, I had stopped to take some photos. It was extremely windy and the waves were crashing in on the beach, the grey skies just letting a little bit of light through occasionally.

Sagres

We then had a walk up to the fort and then back into town and bought a few vegetables to go in the chicken soup that was already virtually cooked in the motorhome. Lunch done we both decided that we would head away from Sagres as there wasn’t much we hadn’t seen already, Portimao wasn’t that far away and it was somewhere we had not been before so we thought we may as well go and see if the winds were any lighter there. We arrived there about an hour or so later on (N37°07.207′ W8°32.867), following a bit of a drive around Praia da Luz and Alvor, parked up on the car park and then walked into the marina area with Jack. We narrowly avoided being drawn into a Pizza Hut only to return to the motorhome, in the rain, to cook a hearty dinner of black pudding, eggs, bacon and tomatoes, very healthy!

The rain continued throughout the evening, so we watched Naked by Mike Leigh with an earphone each as we couldn’t hear the film over the noise of the water hitting the roof.





22nd January 2011 – Silves to Sagres

22 01 2011

Again the morning was spent chatting to folk that we have got to know over the past few days, this seems to be taking up most of our time at the moment. We didn’t get up late and were cooking sausages, bacon and eggs for our early lunch at about 11.30am, this drew people in as the smell from the cooking wafted out on the wind, before we knew it we had three people at the door chatting to us whilst we ate, after this things stayed pretty much the same as the last few days and it was nearly 3pm before we finally managed to start the engine and get to Lidl to do some shopping. That done we headed out of town to get some water on board, our tank had been empty since yesterday afternoon and we were using bottles of water that we had bought from the Modelo to sustain us. As we knew the location of the spring water tap in the next village this was an easy task and we were soon on our way to Baroa de San Joao where we were to be parking for the night awaiting the start of the market in the morning. I have to admit to driving on the wrong side of the road for about half a mile after we left the water tap, it happens very occasionally!

We found the village easily and soon spotted some of the motorhomes of the people we had agreed to meet there. After a short walk around the small village we returned only to be told that the market had been canceled, apparently due to the elections going on in Portugal at the moment, shame, we were both really looking forward to it. We decided not to stop where we were parked and instead headed down to Boca do Rio which is a popular parking place right on the sea front, we had heard that the GNR had recently thrown a few people off and this certainly seemed to be the case when we arrived as there were only about seven motorhomes parked there. Lorna wasn’t comfortable with the idea of stopping and getting moved on so we headed back out onto the main road and traveled toward Sagres where we knew of two places we could stop. Luckily, when we arrived we managed to find a place on our preferred location, right on the cliffs over looking the sea, it was not level and very windy but too nice a view for either of those things to be a major issue, the leveling was helped by using our blocks and the wind was just wind, it promised to be a noisy night but natural noises are strangely relaxing in these situations. Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow as it has been quite cold today and, as I write this it has started raining.





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.





2nd April 2010 Boca do Rio to Sagres

3 04 2010

We were half and half about whether we should move on today or not. We had a concern that so many more motorhomes had arrived that there was not much parking space left for the local Portuguese who might want to visit their local beauty spot over the weekend, that didn’t seem fair to us. The other factor that made us decide to move was that we needed to empty our toilet cassette.

Whilst we were getting ready to move off I saw a few men converging on a small motorhome that had become stuck in some loose sand so I went over to lend a hand, smirking at Bernd who was also there as he had seen our unfortunate position in the car park close to Bordeira a few days earlier. The chap who was stuck amused me as he spent his time directing people, even getting someone else to drive his van out whilst he filmed the whole episode on his video camera. Van freed we said our goodbyes to Bernd, Martina, Graham and Diane before we left the site. Graham and Diane left before us, also headed toward Sagres and kindly let us know the parking situation before we headed there.

On our way to Sagres we stopped off at an old ‘washroom’ just off the main road and whilst Lorna hand washed some clothes in the traditional method I filled up our water tank using a watering can which took ages.

We arrived in Sagres and had a drive through the main town area before spotting a local market that was just about shutting down for the day, we had a wander round looking for some fruit but none was available so we headed off to the fort car park. Once there we did the necessary with the toilet and caught up with Graham and Diane, after which we walked back into the main town to get some money out before heading down to the port, a very pretty area with windsurfers carving their way across the sea just outside the confines of the port walls.

Sagres harbour

Later that afternoon Graham and Diane came round for pre-dinner G&T’s and then we spent a quiet night eating hot dogs and reading.








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