So we have finally made it to the land of sunshine, beaches, bacon butties and carparks full of motorhomes – only joking, we still haven’t found a decent bacon buttie 😦
I am painting a bad picture and I don’t want to as we are having the most fantastic weather, the temperature in the last week has risen to between 16 and 18 degrees during the day, going down to about 8 degrees overnight with beautiful blue skies – you can see why it attracts so many northern Europeans.
First stop on the Algarve was Sagres which is about 6km east of Cape St Vincent, Portugal’s most westerly point. We had been told that we it was a place ‘not to miss’ for the sunset and whilst here we thought it would be rude not to have a Sagres beer or two 🙂
The sunset was stunning and the beer was pretty good too, however we were disappointed to learn that Sagres beer is not actually brewed in Sagres, but just outside Lisbon and, worse still, it is owned by Heineken…. Portugal has suddenly gone down in our estimations …. Thankfully we still have the pastries and some lovely wine to turn to in a time of despair.
We parked in the Fortress car park along with 20+ other motorhomes and walked out to the Cape.
The car park was enormous, so despite the growing community we didn’t really notice the other motorhomes and it was very quiet – it was also an excellent location to watch the sun slowly disappear behind the clouds and into the sea.
Having drunk the beer, seen the sunset and visited the cape, there wasn’t much left to do in Sagres so we moved on to Lagos for a couple of nights. Lagos has a nice old town with twisty cobbled streets but the northern European influence has definitely taken a hold with estate agent after estate agent, blocks of luxury apartments overlooking the marina and we spotted no less than three indian restaurants ….. definitely for the Brits. Not in the market for a new apartment yet as ours seems to still be working really well for us, we parked our ‘apartment’ up just by the sports stadium in an Aire which cost us 3 euros a night plus 2 euros for 100Litres of water. Despite there being between 30 and 40 motorhomes each night, it was peaceful and only a short walk from the center of town.
After spending the rest of the day exploring the town itself, we set off to the market in the morning to stock up. Although the market lacked in fruit and vegetables on the day we went, it made up for it in fresh fish and Keith took the opportunity to try out his culinary skills on a bit of squid …. Cooking up a very simple recipe with olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of lime – worked a treat… not a rubber band in sight!
Moving slightly further along the coast we stopped at Alvor, a small fishing town on the river mouth. I am sure that the town itself used to be quite pretty, but unfortunately it is currently in that transient stage caught in between the ‘local’ fishing village and ‘Tourist’ town, lots of shops closed down and generally looking a bit unloved and deserted. However, the seafront and the walk out to the river mouth is beautiful and they have invested money in making it easily accessible, so I am sure that the rest will follow over the next few years.
The Aire is effectively a large sandy car park on the seafront and costs 4.50 euro a night plus 2.50 if you want electricity, but it is quiet and friendly (I think more than 50% of the motorhomes are here for the winter) and very well located if you want to walk/cycle anywhere. We walked out to the lighthouse at the river mouth and then back along the river on Saturday and then on Sunday got on the bikes and rode round the coast stopping briefly at Ferragudo, where they had a very large flea market, and then onto Carvoeiro, where we sat and ate our lunch on the beach before turning back and stopping for a slightly over indulgent ‘Bolo de Raina’ in Portimau. The Portuguese eat Bolo de Rei (Cake of the King – large polo shaped bready cake with cristalized dried fruits, sultanas and nuts mixed in) and Torta de Rainha (Cake of the Queen – a folded bready cake with sultanas and walnuts) between Christmas and New Year and we had been looking for a decent Torta de rainha, but hadn’t found one as they are less common and the ones we found looked dry and un-appetising …. This one however looked very inviting …. even more so having just cycled 30 miles. Sold by the kilo, this one was probably around 400g ….. probably more like a four person portion than two, but it was heavenly 🙂
As we have now been away for a reasonable length of time, we have had time to learn a little about living in a motorhome, what is and isn’t important, what we would change / add / not bring with and we have decided to upgrade …..
……ahem, perhaps not 🙂