Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Goodbye to Spain, Hello Portugal

Monday 15th.March

A very pleasant evening at the restaurant followed by tearful farewells on Friday morning as the wind whipped sand into the eyes of everyone watching us depart at 9.30 on the dot .....No, I jest,as it was a beautiful morning, the best we had had in 30 days. As we settled the bill at Reception for electricity (24€) we booked again for next year with a
60€ deposit and although the pitch we had been staying on and thought highly of this year (318) turned out to already booked from Dec-April 2011, we secured 177 which has been manicured with plastic honeycomb blocks to avoid sinking in the mud should next year be the third consecutive worst winter in living memory as the Gf confidently predicts. She is such a pessimist and says she will not give Spain another chance if she is right. I might be lonely in 2012.
Anyway the sky was blue all day and the sun beat down all the (uneventful) way to OLHAO in Portugal. On the way we passed the 2000 mile point for this trip and 25000 mile point for this motorhome in 2 1/2 years or exactly 10000 miles a year. The 180 miles to OLHAO was not remarkable for scenery and we sailed across the border at 2pm. Camping OLHAO was easy to locate and is a rather strange place. Lots of chalets and a large site with many smallish pitches under trees with lots of caravans permanently inserted and covered with tarpaulins. The wide roads however are nose to tail with motorhomes, cables everywhere and many looking as though they have been there all winter. It was just a question of finding a free bit of tarmac, parking and locating an electric point somewhere. We finally settled on a piece of sandy gravel at the bottom end ( conveniently close to the local railway line to FARO for irritating background noise) already occupied by 3 vans parked parallel to each other (sewdish,french & dutch). There was just room to park across them without restricting their exits too much but definitely close enough to be irritatingly obvious as they all sat in their sunloungers and watched the view disappear as we manoeuvred in front of them.........Hey..they usually do it to me - remember Lake Maggiore with the lake view obscured by a german van with malice aforethought when we were the only 2 vans on the campsite ! Anyway I had to be sure of getting a clear satellite signal for the Rugby and the Bahrain F1 and this was a very good spot.
The Campsite is large and very busy but mainly German,French and Dutch outfits with a lot less UK vans than we have usually encountered. The europeans love this kind of free-for-all site whereas the brits do like individual pitches with hedges that they can immediately surround with a windbreak whether there's wind or not. They have to use the roads here as most units have no chance of getting onto the shaded pitches but whether this is just a winter thing I don't know as we are all parked across obviously marked car bays which may well be needed in the summer when the tents and caravans fill the pitches and the chalets are all in use.
On Saturday, we walked the mile or so the town Of OLHAO which proved interestingly quaint but unremarkable. On the way we passed the fishing port and a carpark with about 60 motorhomes parked in front of the police station under a restriction sign indicating bo caravans or campervans. Again mainly German and french but 3 Uk plates who I chatted to for info. There are no official overnight parking sites for motorhomes (unlike France & Germany) but there are many places where it is tolerated-this being one-and you have to find out where they are by trial and error. I was shown a dog-eared copy of a 2005 publication (now out of print) called Motorhometrails-Portugal which listed about 70 of them with very detailed descriptions of how to find them in very isloated places on the Atlantic coast with spectacular locations and apparently well used by the wild-camping fraternity. I took some notes and GPS and we may well try to find a place called Porto Covo. OLHAO had avery nice market with loads of fruit and veg, and indoor fish market with fresh fish from the local boats in front of it. Back for the rugby which again disappointed with an England-Scotland draw that was dire.
MOTHERS DAY.... Julian and Justin, unable to be with their mother today, did the decent thing and took her out for lunch. Or I did on their behalf, and this may be the first they know of lads, she thoroughly enjoyed a splendid lunch of sizzling fresh prawns fried in lashings of butter and garlic followed by a local delicacy called Cataplana da Peixa which was very similar to a Bouillabaisse and served in a big bubbling covered pot, washed down with an excellent local Chardonnay,sitting in the sunshine on the quayside, and it has only cost you 30€ each. And she says thank you very much - as do I.
On Monday by bus and train to FARO, only 12 mins by train (2.10€ each return).A nice place, very pretty round the old town and harbour, and a jolly interesting lunch in a small square with a huge barbecue trough against a wall and where you picked your fish from the boxes on offer.....obviously fresh that morning, GF had 5 large sardines and I had Dourade. Other unrecognisable choices available and whole octopus which was v.popular and looked horrendous after being chucked on the barbie. This was all served with a large salad, small steamed potatoes in their skins, a dish of olives and pickles, puddings and coffee for 25€ all in. My Dourade was superb as were the sardines and a jolly good experience.


  1. So that's where you were on Sunday! I was sitting in a restaurant in Ginza waiting for your for hours...

  2. I was watching the Bahrain GP, Sorry.

    oh and beating both of you in the Predict-a-thon.
    hah ahhaa ha aha hha.

  3. actually watching is probaly the wrong word. Staring listlessly at the dull-a-thon that would appear to be what passes for the preimier motor sport formula these days.

  4. These days? I think you may have the rose-tinted specs on there...

    (and you beat me by what, 3 points? We'll see who's chuckling at the end of the season, laughing boy)

  5. 3 points ... 1 point... second place = first loser ;)

  6. Actually you were first loser, I was joint 8th loser - 1st or 8th, we're all still losers ;)

  7. Well yes, there is that I suppose. Good point.

  8. excuse me.......could you keep your sibling rivalry to your own blogs? and you still owe me 30€ each for mother's day

  9. Just becuase we both beat you ;o)