Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200410 2 Portugal

SATURDAY 16 OCTOBER – Lovely weather so we return to the beach near Raposeira.  Stop en route for water in Odiaxere (turn at the traffic lights towards the Barragem and water is at the windmill 200m on right).  We are lucky to get back to the same spot at the beach and park the vans in a “V” shape to give us privacy and a shield from the wind.



SUNDAY 17 OCTOBER – Cloudy start to the day.  I cook us all a tradition Sunday roast lunch.   



MONDAY 18 OCTOBER – Drizzly morning.  Just before we leave Steve decides to have a practice at golf.  It becomes more of a treasure hunt with John & Maureen helping to find the lost balls!  Head back to Lagos calling in for a look at Burgau and Luz en route.  Park by the marina just before the heavens open up.  Evening meal at John and Maureen’s.



TUESDAY 19 OCTOBER – On our way out of town we call in at the Portuguese hypermarket called “Pingo Doce”.  John stops to collect his new tyre from the Peugeot dealer but it hasn’t arrived.  Carry on back to Alvor and park up by the fishermen’s huts.  The rain has stopped so we take another walk around Alvor and make use of the free Internet at the library.  Evening meal at the Hof van Holland restaurant with an all you can eat buffet at Euro 7 (£4.90).  Steve, John, and Maureen follow this up with a visit to the Sports Bar to watch football.



WEDNESDAY 20 OCTOBER – A phone call tells John & Maureen the tyre won’t arrive until tomorrow so they decide to stay put.  We head further along and back out to the coast at Armacao de Pera.  Before we even get to the town we see the motorhomes parked at the cliff top and end up behind Jacky & Rae.  After coffee together we set out to explore the town.  The cliffs get shallower and we are soon at an area where you can walk straight on to the beach.  At the far end there are again fishermen’s huts with lots of net mending taking place.  Call in at the Dia supermarket on the way back and find out the special offers are only available to people with a membership card.  No problem once we sign up and with fake address info.  Sit out by the van for the afternoon.  Once again Steve has spotted a bar showing football so he heads out for his evening fix. 



THURSDAY 21 OCTOBER – Rain in the night but fine by morning.  Inspired by Rae, Steve goes out to wipe down the van.  Nice day, sat out sunbathing.  In the evening Ray & Jacky join us at the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant where the 2 course Euro4 (£2.80) specials are excellent.  Down the back streets we visit Lila’s bar and end up learning a Dutch game where you have to slide discs along a board and get them into different sections.



FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER – Set out to explore some more beaches on the way to Albufeira.  Turning off in Pera we follow the road until it splits into two dirt tracks.  They both lead to Praia Grande and we take the left one.  We are in a swampy area and Steve spots some “cattle egrets”, they next thing we see are the herd of cattle.  It comes as no surprise that the next thing we encounter are mosquitoes.  The road ends in a large flat car park, ideal for overnight in a motorhome.  To get to the beach you take the long boardwalk over the dunes to emerge on a lovely long remote stretch of beach.  The car park is also rather remote and when I spot a couple of places with broken glass we decide to give it a miss.  Double back then take the right hand track that goes right through a derelict farmyard.  This track fizzles out opposite Armacao de Pera and again it’s a long trek to the beach.  Next along the coast is Gale, a lovely little beach with rocks but no parking.  Adjacent to this Lourenco beach has limited parking and there is no sand, just rocks.  By the time we get to Castelo we are ready to “make do” regardless as it is hot and sunny.  We are lucky to get one of the few level parking spots at the cliff top.  An easy walk down stairs takes us to a very small cove.  It’s so small that when I set up my sun lounger the lady with the paid sun beds glares at me and moves hers along a bit.  There is a lot of seaweed in the water and from what we can see the bit attraction of this area is the walks along the sandstone cliff tops from where you can admire the rock formations.  Stay for about 3 hours then head further along the coast and find we are in “villa land”.  The only space not taken up by the villas is in the process of being developed.  Many of the properties are huge and have their own swimming pools.  Cliff Richard has a place in Albufeira; they have named a street after him and made him an honorary citizen of the town.  We turn off the dual carriageway at the eastern end of the town into the modern area.  End up driving down what is known as “The Strip”, a narrow street frequented by the British tourists because of the quantity of bars, clubs and shops.  It reminds us of Ayia Napa in Cyprus.  Off the bottom of the strip we manage to park and return to explore the area.  We are looking for a place called Legends.  The local “Kiss” radio advertises a Northern Soul disco there each Saturday night.  We find the “Kiss” disco but no one to ask about Legends.  I’m a bit taken aback when I see signs on their door stating admission Euro 12 (£8.40) plus you must spend a further Euro 50 (£35) on drinks.  Legends is supposed to be at the top of the strip but we walk the full length and can’t find it.  Spot that “Linekars” bar has beer at Euro 1 (70p) a pint so pause for refreshment.  The bar man tells us that we are only half way along The Strip, the rest is the other side of the dual carriageway.  Walk the rest of the gauntlet of bars, Irish pubs and places advertising live UK football on TV.  Legends is open and the bar man tells us that it’s free for the disco, drinks are “buy one get one free” until 9pm and then 2 for the price of 1 and it’s not even an Irish bar!  Walk around the area in search of overnight parking.  There’s a compound belonging to the Hotel Montechoro and the receptionist says it will be OK for us to stay tomorrow night.  Return to the van and move towards the old town of Albufeira where we spot Rae & Jacky parked up above Fisherman’s Beach.  There’s a sign for no motor caravans they were directed here by the Tourist Office.  Take an evening stroll around the old town.  Considering it is out of season the town is very busy, especially the area known as “Bar Street”.  Virtually all the tourists are British hence the amount of English signs.



SATURDAY 23 OCTOBER – It’s a gorgeous day so we head for Santa Eulalia beach on the eastern outskirts of town.  Plenty of level parking and you walk straight on to the beach.  A couple of areas are sectioned off for concessions with sun beds and another area is designated for umbrellas users.  We walk beyond all this and find a quiet spot at the far end.  Although there is seaweed on the beach there is none in the water.  It’s a bit cloudy but pleasant enough for cooling off in.  Leave the beach early afternoon the drive up to Hotel Montechoro.  As soon as we are parked up Steve is off to watch the afternoon’s football.  He returns later having watched matches in a few different bars.  We head out at 8.30pm but it’s really quiet so return and listen to Mark Sebastian on Kiss radio until 10pm.   Walk down to Legends and Mark has beaten us to it and is already playing his Northern Soul.  Reckon his name should be Mark “Obscure” Sebastian, as we haven’t heard hardly any of the tracks he plays.  There are 8 of us in total but we really enjoy the music and get up to dance a couple of times.  When he finishes at 1am he stops to chat and explains he worked on Radio in Manchester until 9 years ago and has been here since. 



SUNDAY 24 OCTOBER – On the N125 on the outskirts of Albufeira we stop at RS Camping to buy a few things.  Passing by Boliqueme we see a sign for gas so stop to get some.  Head towards Vilamoura and pass dozens of golf courses.  From the marina you can walk over the canal and on to Falesia Beach where we spend a few hours.  Steve goes off exploring and finds a much quieter area further west with a place to park overnight.  It’s taken him about 20 minutes to walk there and back but to drive it we have to return to the main N125 and back track before picking up signs for Falesia Beach.  Even then we seem to be driving round in circles before eventually picking up on a sign for Rocha Baixinha beach.  By following in this we turn off just before the Hotel and head down a dirt track.  Most of the land here has signs up saying “Private” and it looks to have been bought by developers.  There’s a gate on the right hand side of the track and this leads us over a hill and to the restaurant car park.  It’s taken us almost an hour to find it so I am glad that it is such a lovely spot with a nice sea view.    



MONDAY 25 OCTOBER – We’re unlucky that the morning is dull and drizzly otherwise we would have had the perfect set up.  It clears up after lunch so we set out to walk further west along the cliff tops.  The sandstone cliffs are very attractive having been severely eroded by the wind.  All the resorts and golf courses are along the cliff top and we have to walk a long way before we can cut through to return along the road. 



TUESDAY 26 OCTOBER – It takes awhile for the day to warm up enough for a beach visit.  With the sun behind hazy clouds the windbreak is needed to keep the chilly breeze at bay.  Leave mid afternoon and continue to Quarteira where we meet up with John & Maureen.  At the eastern end of town there is a nice parking spot behind the beach and next to a lake.  Evening meal at John & Maureen’s.



WEDNESDAY 27 OCTOBER – A wild wet and windy night gives us problems driving off in the morning.  After rocking backwards and forwards we manage to escape.  Next stop Ilha de Faro out beyond Faro airport.  It’s a long thin sand island connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge.  There are beaches on both sides of the road but with the wind blasting in off the ocean we can only park on the estuary side.  Pick a spot opposite the airport but the weather is so bad that it’s a long time before we see any action.  We think the airport has been closed because as soon as they begin arriving and taking off they come thick and fast.  Steve’s very happy to sit and plane spot with his binoculars.



THURSDAY 28 OCTOBER – The weather is OK in the morning but not quite good enough for a beach day.  Steve’s happy spending time watching the planes.  Leave late morning for Olhao.  Park by the campsite where prices are very reasonable at Euro 1.95 (£1.40) per person plus Euro 3.50 (£2.40) for the van and it’s free to use the swimming pool at this time of year.  Debating whether to stay when a noisy train comes past.  As the track runs right along side the campsite it’s a non-starter for me, being a light sleeper.  Just down the road from the site is the Rio Formosa National Park.  $1.50 (£1) admission and we get a leaflet in English with a map to show us the points of interest on the 3km walk.  The sights are pleasant although not outstanding, salt pans, signs of old tuna fishing industry, a tidal mill, kennels for breading the local “water dogs” and lots of birds.  Head back on to the N125 going east and turn off at the sign for “Ald a Marim”.  Drive to the end of the road and find a lovely parking spot by the water.  Walk round the area where there are lots of derelict buildings.  At one point a man comes through with his flock of goats and sheep again with jingling bells.



FRIDAY 29 OCTOBER – John & Maureen’s turn to get bogged today and we end up pushing them out but have no problem ourselves.  We stayed at Fuzeta campsite 7 ½ years ago with David but this time feel brave and cheeky enough to free park with other vans around the back.  Catch the small ferry across to the Ilha de Tavira, Euro 2.20 (£1.55) return.  Walk over the dunes then turn left until we get beyond the bungalows.  With the beach to ourselves we all strip off and bask in the sun.  Early afternoon the clouds come over so we walk back for the ferry.  We have ½ hour to wait so explore around the bungalows.  There are almost a hundred in total but most are looking rather neglected.  There seems to be a fresh water supply to the island but no electricity.  Very nice in the summer but no doubt rather bleak in the winter.  Return on the 2.45pm ferry.  Walk up into Fuzeta, which is quite busy.  Notice on our return that the campsite is full up, not surprising as they are even cheaper than Olhao, Euro 2.25 (£1.55) per person plus Euro 2.75 (£1.90) van, and offer a 30% discount after 3 days and even bigger discounts for longer stays.  We have quite a noisy night with disturbance from cars, trains, youths and dogs and it would be much the same on the campsite.



SATURDAY 30 OCTOBER – John & Maureen are late starters so we go on ahead and check out Pedras D’El Rei where there are 32 motorhomes on the car park.  The weather is still not good and it’s rather crowded so we continue.  Drive through Tavira, a bit of a challenge, where the view along the river is nice and also out to sea.  There is ample parking at Manta Rota but no one around, the town seems to be closed for the winter.  We know that Monte Gordo is a major tourist resort so head there in the hope that Steve can find a bar to watch football in.  There’s a big car park at the western end by the Fishermen’s Beach and we pick a spot by the promenade.  Walk into town where there are a few places open but not many.  Check out the Vasco De Gama Hotel where Steve’s Mum and Dad are coming in January, very nice and right on the beach but like everywhere else here it looks almost closed.  When Steve sees that the afternoon football is West Bromwich v Chelsea he says he can understand why there is no one around!  He goes back out later on in the hope that Monte Gordo has opened after having a siesta.  Nowhere is showing the Liverpool game but he does stay out and watch England get beaten by the Aussies at rugby.



SUNDAY 31 OCTOBER – Clocks go back and hour but we are heading to Spain today where they are an hour ahead so don’t need to alter ours.  A sunny but windy day.  We’ve had a brilliant time in Portugal and found superb free camping spots but it’s time to move on.  Double back to take the motorway into SPAIN, as this is the only road through.  Return to the coast at Isla Cristina, a busy fishing port.  Along the coast there are car parks in the pine forest then dunes leading over to the beach.  Everywhere is very busy with lots of tents and people gathering round the BBQ’s.  Further along the coast we come to La Antilla and manage to park at the far end.  It’s lovely to see that there are showers and foot washing places on the beach, in Portugal the “greenies” pushed for them all to be removed as the water was making the sand black.  We’re even parked up by some public toilets and a water tap.  The only problem is that with it being the weekend it is very busy.  There are sunbathers, walkers, fishermen, and birdmen.  The bird catchers are sat in the dunes in groups of 2 to 8.  In front of them they have put poles with birds in cages on the top.  In the midst of this is a framed net.  The birds are to attract the other birds that they catch in the net.  Late afternoon we walk back along the beach then 2 streets inland to find the heart of the town.  This is definitely not a resort for foreign tourists and the only concession is one solitary sign saying “English spoken”.   We see a restaurant advertising a choice of 10 first courses, 10 main courses plus bread, drink and dessert for just Euro 5.50 (£3.85).  Spain is definitely cheaper than Portugal now.  It’s such a lovely spot and great to be parked right behind the beach so it should be even better tomorrow when everyone has gone back to work.  Once the cars have left we move to the end of the road.  Get ourselves nicely parked up when I notice that although the road is a dead end there are 4WD tracks continuing into the dunes and we are right in the middle of their path.  Move forward and to one side and level up again.  This time we start to get a terrible fishy smell.  The road is covered with a layer of sand and embedded in this we find lots of dead fish.  We move back part way along the road almost to where we started but this time facing the way out.  We are still picking up Portuguese TV so make the most of it watching the films in English; the most frustrating part is the 10 – 15 minute breaks for adverts.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: