13th January – Tavira

13 01 2012

Its been a while since my last blog post and, in reality, there is not much to tell, just thought I’d better get up to date whilst I have the chance to.

Our time since the last post pre-Christmas has mainly been spent on campsites due to the fact that we have had visitors over the Christmas and New Year period, firstly my mother arrived on the 22nd of December and was whisked straight to Silves from the airport and taken to the Ponte Romana for lunch. I am beginning to believe that this is probably the best, most authentic, Portuguese restaurant in Silves, the food is excellent, prices very reasonable and the atmosphere is very local with many Portuguese eating their lunch there. The fish we had was excellent. We relaxed around Silves for the next few days undecided whether to go to the beach at Alvor for Christmas or not, in the end on Christmas Eve we went shopping and after some discussion we decided to just stop at Silves and have Christmas there, it made sense as we know a few people there and we were fairly settled there. Christmas Day was one of much drinking, socialising and outside cooking, me being responsible for the stuffed turkey escalopes wrapped in parma ham, Lorna and mother being responsible for the veg and starters. Of course I got distracted throughout the cooking process so Lorna ended up looking after my part of the cooking as well, still it turned out very nice from what I can remember……..a Christmas present of a bottle of Gran Marnier has dulled the memories somewhat.

Alvor Beach

On Boxing Day we headed off to the beach at Alvor for a couple of nights where we walked on the beach and around the town and on mothers penultimate day with us we had a very good lunch at a small harbour side restaurant that we had spied on our last visit there a few weeks back. As mother had a relatively early flight on the day of her return to the UK we decided that we should be stopping close to the airport the night before so we headed to the campsite at Olhao which we have not used before. It’s a huge affair, and after a fairly lengthy check in process where they even asked for the dogs passport we were given a map of the site and told to simply find a place to site ourselves. I wasn’t keen on the place at all, far too cramped for my liking with just eight paces between the centre of each marked pitch (some say the site where we work in Stratford is fairly tight but we generally work on 12-14 paces between the centre of each pitch, bit of a difference). It wasn’t overly expensive though with our stay there costing just under €12  for the night. Next day we were up and about and at the airport for 9am saying our goodbyes to mother and then moving back to the site at Tavira where we planned to have a good clean out and relax in the good weather before a couple of workmates joined us on New Years Day.

Chillin'

On a New Years Eve walk into town we realised that there was something going on in the town on the night so after a quiet day we headed into the town at about 10.45pm to find a few people about but nothing much else happening apart from some musicians tuning up going on on the temporary stage that had been erected in the main square. At about 11.30pm things started happening and the band started playing music (old British and American classics) and suddenly the place started to come to life a bit. We ended up sitting outside a small French Cafe just off the river and, having ordered a nice bottle of 2005 Bergerac we toasted in the New Year accompanied by possibly the best firework display I have ever seen. Of course, the festivities went on until the very early hours but as we had left Jack by himself we opted to head back to the motorhome. Nice way to spend the New Year though.

Our friends form work were arriving on New Years Day and they were stopping at a hotel in Cabanas, just down the road from Tavira so we had already had a look at where we might be able to stay to be close to them. There were a few options including staying on a parking area right next to the hotel but we decided in the end to stop on the campsite at Cabanas which was just a 15 minute walk to the town and the hotel. Ideal. We picked up a drunk pair of travellers at around 3pm on New Years Day and dropped them off at the hotel to settle in and recover slightly whilst we went and booked in at the site for a few days. It was quite an expensive site for us coming in at just under €15 a night excluding electric hook up which they charged an extra €3 a night for, we decided that we would be fine running with our solar panel and battery. An afternoon BBQ was the order of the day for our next day, John and Byron came up to the site and we had a good afternoon and early evening having a few drinks, eating chicken and sausages and planning out the following week. Both John and Byron wanted to make the most of their week and had plans of their own so we arranged a day out to El Rocio in Spain as it is a place that I recommend anyone sees if they are in the area, we were just under an hour and a half away so, with a hire car it seemed like a good idea. We had a good afternoon there, wandering around the town which hasn’t changed at all since last time I was there, eating lunch in a small cafe where we had no idea what we were ordering (much like my experience in Caceres earlier on in the trip but this time there was no English translation). I ended up with some kind of fish ‘won ton’ whilst John had fried eggs with a cold bean salad and Byron won the day with a great lump of meat, chips and gravy (though the description on the menu did seem to be mentioning ‘toro’ so it may well have been bulls testicles for all we know. Nice anyway).

El Rocio

El Rocio done we headed back into Portugal where we took in some more sights before heading back and sharing an evening drink in the Hotel. After a few days we needed to move off the Cabanas campsite as it was a bit expensive for us and the old Police site in Tavira is generally a much nicer site, and cheaper, so we headed off whilst John and Byron entertained themselves for a couple of days. They did come to us on their last night for a farewell barbecue and some games of ‘extreme boules’ (which involved very unlevel ground, trees, rainwater ditches and other such sillyness) that went on until we could no longer see in the dark.

Camped

After all of our visitors had been dealt with we decided that we would stop on the site at Tavira for a week which is where I am writing this blog update. Plan is to stop here until the weekend then to go and investigate the parking spot at Manta Rota as we have heard that the local council is putting in a proper water and waste point for motorhomes, as well as a barrier so they can levy a charge for people staying there, much like one recently installed at Lagos which is also somewhere we would like to visit. No doubt we will be back at Silves for a while too.

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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.





5th February 2011 – Tavira

5 02 2011

As we hadn’t had time to look around Tavira yesterday we made sure we did that today. It was Moms last day with us and with the weather being fabulous it was a nice way to end her holiday. We wandered into town and after a good look around we had a snack for lunch at one of the cafes, mixed toast, cups of coffee for the girls and a beer for me. Following a walk up to the church and castle walls we headed back to the motorhome where the BBQ was again lit and we cooked two lots of kebabs on it, turkey and vegetable, we had these with more cooked vegetables and a few glasses of wine before watching some Alan Partridge and retiring to bed. Up early tomorrow for airport duties.

05-02-2011 Tavira3





4th February 2011 – Silves to Tavira

4 02 2011

A good lie in and a lazy morning was what was required today so that is exactly what we did. It was another hot day and sitting outside the motorhome all morning chatting to folk was a very pleasant way for Mom to spend her last day in Silves. Mid afternoon, we set off for the campsite in Tavira, we arrived in time to light the barbeque, have some dinner and have some relaxing time as the sun went down. Following that we sat in and watched Inglorious Basterds before going to bed.





30th January 2011 – Tavira to Silves

30 01 2011

Up early this morning as we had to get to the airport at Faro for 10.15 to pick up my Mom who is over in the Algarve for a week with us, checking up on me, seeing what I am doing with my life and coming for the ‘motorhoming experience’, and of course, to see us both. We arrived at the airport bang on time and as we were so punctual I parked right outside the arrivals building and we went in side. Panic set in as we couldn’t see an arrival from Birmingham on the board at all, Manchester, Stanstead, Gatwick but no mention of Birmingham and no arrival scheduled for 10.15am. Very strange. All of the people coming through arrivals were British so we assumed that it was a mistake and we were right, as soon enough Mom walked through the gate towards us.

We jumped back into the motorhome and headed off to Silves as we wanted our first night to be there, firstly because we wanted to take her to our favorite restaurant and secondly because there was the free and easy music afternoon at the O Cais bar, always a good one. We parked up at Silves and walked Jack into and around town before heading off for lunch where we all had chicken piri-piri and chips, Mom and I indulging ourselves in a piece of cake to finish. Another walk round with Jack followed and then at around 4pm we went to the O Cais and spent the late afternoon, early evening, evening and night drinking, dancing (some of us) and generally having a right old time of it. Back at the motorhome some time later (I can’t remember) we sorted out the sleeping arrangements and had a good nights sleep after a fairly long day.





29th January 2011 – Tavira

29 01 2011

We had a bit of time this morning before our man was due to come round at 1pm to fix the safe properly so we walked along the main road to the small supermarket to get some food for a barbeque that we decided that we would have later on in the day. At 1pm the man came along with our new lock and was soon at work fitting it. He did quite a bit of huffing and puffing (in Portuguese obviously) and finally managed to get the new lock fitted and working, he was trying to tell us that it needed a bit of force to get it to open. Lorna tried to open it and couldn’t so he disassembled it all again and refitted it, this time it worked perfectly, what a star. When we asked him how much we should pay him he looked quite shy and wrote €15 on a piece of paper which we thought was a ridiculous price to charge for the amount of time and work he had put in over two days, not to mention the new lock, so we paid him €25 and told him to buy himself a drink or two.

Mid-afternoon I got the barbeque out and it promptly started to rain so we had to wait a bit for the sun to come out again before I could light it, it gave the pork more time to marinade in the garlic and salt so it was no bad thing. Sun out again, pork on the barbeque and a beer in my hand we chatting to two people who had walked on to the site for a look around. How did they hear about it? My blog. The first people I have met (other than friends etc) who read this, and find it useful. I was most chuffed and it was a pleasure to meet you both Val and Oeds. I will have a read of your blog when I get chance but for others the link is http://www.odolphie.com

A very pleasant afternoon was followed by a most relaxing evening when we watched Shutter Island which was a great film.





28th January 2011 – Tavira

28 01 2011

Lots seemed to happen today but in reality i’m fairly sure that it didn’t……….life on a campsite eh!

Up late we were about to go for a walk into town when we had a knock at a door and five men appeared, two of them Police, one of them the manager of the campsite, “Hello” we thought. They had with them a router and were asking if they could plug it into our electric in the motorhome to test to see if it was transmitting a wi-fi signal or not. Only too happy to help we plugged it in and when they had connected the cable to it we had our very own router running in the motorhome, five bars on the wi-fi signal. They messed around with it for a while and they then told us that they were going for lunch and asking if they could leave it running whilst they were gone, of course we said yes. The Police were obviously having a quiet day as they just watched, chatted and departed at the same time as the others. So, the walk was delayed as we had no idea when they were coming back and wanted to make sure that if they needed the router back then we would be in to give it to them, though we did have a quick walk around with Jack as he had been denied his longer walk. When they returned an hour or so later we really needed to get to the shop to get some things so off we went. On our way we thought that we might ask in reception about where we might find a locksmith to look at our safe so we popped in and, after Google Translator was used to find out exactly what we were asking for, the receptionist smiled and pointed us to one of the men who had been by the motorhome earlier, saying that he was a locksmith and he would be able to sort it. She came out of reception with us and went to talk to the man about our problem, coming back a minute or so later to say that he would be round to sort it once he had finished doing the wiring for the new router (which essentially involved hanging a cable from the reception, over a few trees and on to a lampost in the middle of the park, where the new router was located). So, the walk was delayed again as when we asked how long that might be we were told about 5 minutes.

An hour later the same three men from the morning arrived and soon enough one of them head his head in underneath the seat and was fiddling with the safe, trying numerous different keys and getting nowhere. He went to his van and came back with a big drill and, after explaining that it would ruin the lock he commenced drilling it out. Within about 10 minutes of combined drilling and fiddling the safe was open. There was much cheering. We thought that that would be it but the guy then explained via the manager that he would be able to fit a new lock for us and could he come back the day after and do it. Of course, we said yes. So, safe problem sorted we finally got out for a walk down to the local mini-market to get some things. An early dinner was followed by watching Looking for Eric on DVD on the laptop, the highlight of which was me getting confused and thinking that Eric Cantona wasn’t actually in it when the credits said that Eric Cantona was played by some bloke called Lui Meme……….never heard of him!








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