Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Albufeira to the End of the World and Back

Thursday 26th January, we sadly left our lovely parking spot quite early  because the forecast predicted rain mid morning and we may have struggled to drive up the steep slope out if it was wet.

Fred & Chris had texted to say they were at an Aire in Amaco de Pera just twelve km away so weIMG_4299 headed there arriving at 09:30 we parked just behind them then the heavens opened and it continued raining all day and all night apart from a brief spell when we all decided to walk round the town, but we inevitably got wet when it started again after about half an hour. Unfortunately the quick fix to the leaking fanlight had not worked and we found another small drip.So Steve will have to get up on the roof again with his sealant gun when it all dries out.
We were really glad we had left the previous parking place because I think we would have been stuck there for a few days while the steep mud road dried out.

StanleyOur son had emailed an image of “Flat Stanley” which was a school project for our grandson Finlay. We are supposed to take photos of us with “Flat Stanley” at landmarks as we find them so “Flat Stanley” could travel the world. We had passed a photo shop the previous day while walking in the rain so we took the image file on a memory stick to get it printed out before heading off to our next stop which was “The End of the World”

Friday 27th January we left the Aire in Amaco de Pera at noon and arrived at Sagres which is20170127_154703 called the End of the World. It is the furthest point south and west of the European mainland and in the time of Christopher Columbus it was thought that to sail south or west from this point would be certain death as, because the world was flat you would inevitably fall off the edge. That is until Columbus took a chance and ended up discovering America. (Please correct us if our history is wrong!)
20170127_154838Like Lands End in the UK, Sagres was a very windy place but after a spot of lunch we braved the wind and walked to the fort at the end. Unfortunately because of the weather the fort was closed for safety but the lady at the pay booth took a picture of us with Stanley against the sign which unfortunately says Europe starts here rather than this is the end of the world.
This Judy at the entrance to the fort again holding Stanley absolutely freezing in the biting wind.

There was plenty of parking for Motorhomes but the wind would haveIMG_4303 made it a very rocky night and we would not have been able to put the Satellite Dish up to get the internet so we headed back to Lagos where we had seen a very large area with motorhomes on it next to the Sports Stadium. It had space for about ten motorhomes with electric if they wanted it but a huge area outside which could have lost about a hundred.
Steve did a scan before putting the dish up and found that there was free open Wi-Fi as well which was very fast. The cost was €3 which a nice man collected in the morning. The only disadvantage is that it is on the outskirts of Lagos so a bit far to walk, but another year when we have sorted out a scooter and it will be a great place to stop for exploring Lagos.

Sean who Steve had been chatting to at Manta Rota Aire emailed to say he had received a supply of special Satellite Boxes which would enable us to get a few more channels than just Sky News while travelling in Europe so we headed back there to pick one up. Unfortunately after taking the system apart Steve found he didn’t have the the right cable with him to connect it up as the one that came with it had the wrong plugs for our system.
The following morning Chris & Fred turned up and found a space next to us. Over a cup of coffee we explained what Steve was doing and the lack of the correct cable so Fred offered to take Steve into the next town on his motor scooter, it was about twelve miles away and had a large shopping mall. Unfortunately every cable except the one we wanted was in stock but another pointer to the need for the extra mobility of a scooter.
That afternoon Steve was able to get on the roof in the sun and put a bit more sealant round the roof light, let’s hope.
Fred did a barbecue that evening then they came into our van and introduced us to a new card game, which was great fun.

The next morning Chris knocked to say that Fred was very poorly, not the wine the previous evening, but it appears that he had been bitten by an insect, a sand fly perhaps as we were next to the beach, but it affects him quite badly. We decide we would all stay put till he was better just in case she needed any help.
Tuesday 31st January Fred was well enough to drive but still not right so we moved to Vila Real which was a much bigger town with more facilities but the Aire there had a couple of spaces but they were too muddy from all the rain so we drove back to a wild camping spot we had stayed on a couple of weeks back.

Wednesday 1st February Fred was much better this morning and they had decided to drive into Spain towards Seville but we wanted to go inland to Alcoutim which we had read was very nice so we said our farewells to probably meet up again along the way.

Till Next Time….

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Monte Gordo to Albufeira

IMG_7578

 

After three nights on our nice beach,
Prai do Cabeco and a couple of walks into the small town of Monte Gordo, we had been wild camping for five days so needed to empty our waste and fill with water and Auto Gas for the heating and cooking, we had been using quite  lot as it was cold morning and evening. So we moved just eight km west to an Aire de Camping Car or Aire de Service as they call them in Portugal.

        
Wild Camping at Prai do Cabeco                 

At this point we should give credit to a couple who write a Blog called “OurBumble.com” who have published their database of the nice places to stop and Wild Camping Spots they have found on their travels all round Europe. Steve managed to import them all into our Autoroute map so it is very easy to hop from place to place as they have included all the GPS coordinates and a description.

16th January 2017 Manta Rota Aire
Manta Rota Aire was quite large with about 100 motorhomes of all sizes and very few free spaces. Steve was about to reverse into the first space we came across, when a German motorhome IMG_7580pulled right up behind us then refused point blank to reverse back just a little when Judy went to ask, she then thought world war three was about to start when Steve stormed back to “have a word”. But it was obvious that the few brain cells the poor fellow had between his ears were struggling enough and to expect a reversing manoeuvre would probably cause total failure. So Steve just drove on to another space which somebody had just luckily driven out of, which as it turned out was a better spot.
Apart from being crowded the aire was quite good, €4.50 a night which included dumping and water and free Wi-Fi, very slow because so many were using it but adequate for emails. Electric was available for €2.50 for eight hours which we had a couple of nights to boost the batteries and reduce the gas usage for heating and fridge.
The little village of Manta Rota seemed to be mainly empty holiday homes but it had a couple of restaurants a Pharmacy, hardware shop and a good supermarket which sold us an excellent 5lt box of red wine for €6.
While walking round Steve spotted that a GB van had the same DIY satellite internet setup as us so went to chat to the the guy who turned out to be Sean who Steve had been chatting to on the MotorhomeFun forum. He was actually  a professional Satellite  TV installer and gave Steve a few tips on how to set the dish up a bit quicker as we move from place to place. Portugal is right on the edge of the Satellite footprint so spot-on alignment is essential.
Wdnesday morning we felt three days was enough in what seemed to be a village of motorhomes so we packed up quickly and got ready to leave. This is the first air we have been on with an automatic barrier and charging system so as there was a queue at the dumping and water point Steve went and paid as we would usually do then filled up before arriving at the exit barrier which refused to open with our validated ticket. It seems that with the automatic system 24hours means 24 hours so we had to pay for another day just to get out through the barrier. Lesson learned and only €4,50 luckily.

19th January 2017 Praia do Trafal near Quarteira
IMG_7583Again from the Bumbles list we chose a beach near Quarteira which is the buildings you can see along the beach in the picture to the right.
We walked into Quarteira a couple of times, which has a really nice promenade, very clean and a fish market at the end about 2.5 km. We bought a large Sea Bass about half a kilo for €6 (great price) which the nice man said he would fillet  for us. Well at the end there were two tiny fillets about 100 gram each which upset Judy a bit as she could have done it much better, but then we would have all the scraps to get rid of and the smell in the van. However after Judy had cooked them they were fantastic Very much to be repeated.
On our walk back we saw a restaurant advertising an English Sunday lunch so on Sunday decided that would be very nice, so took a leisurely stroll along the prom. As we arrived nearly to the restaurant an American couple stopped us as they heard us speaking English and asked where the Sausage Festival was which we didn’t know. But we got chatting and it turned out that they were full timing in a caravan in the USA but spent about six months a year in Europe. But their caravan was a 35ft Airstream which is a very iconic retro US design and with the truck they towed it with it totalled 52 feet which is nearly 16 metres! Not for the narrow tracks of Europe. They were heading for the same restaurant so we had lunch with them and all got on famously. The Roast dinner of Roast beef or chicken with Yorkshire pudding and all the vegetables that we had was excellent. Their names were Lance & Trish Harris, they had rented an apartment in Albufeira for three months and were just out for the day but we exchanged emails as they were planning on a holiday on the Midi Canal in France in July just a few miles from our house so we said we would try to meet up when they were there.
IMG_7606When we got back to the van this little chap was pecking around for worms just outside the van, We think it is a Hooper like the ones we see in France. But they are not usually as fearless as this one, he was completely unconcerned about how close we were to him.


 

Monday 23rd January 2017 Praia de Arrifes near Albufeira.
We had been on this beach for four days so it was getting time to empty again, while out walking we had seen a very large Aire de Camping Car about a mile away so packed up and drove there to see if they would let us dump. No problem the lady said and opened the gate for us, no auto barrier this time. We emptied our waste but some French vans were messing about trying to fill all their tanks up with water as the it was metered, just €2 for 100 litres! We still had half a tank of water and couldn’t really be bothered to wait for the French to finish so gave up and left with a thank-you to the lady at the gate.
Steve had looked up another of Bumbles great places near Albufeira so weIMG_7644 drove there just 31 km this time and again a really nice place,next to a very secluded beach with a beach bar which was closed for the winter. This part of the coast was very different to the miles of sand we had been used to. Steep sandstone cliffs worn into fantastic shapes by the sea. If you look carefully to the big rock in the sea in the picture here you can see a hole right through. There were many like this. it was fascinating looking at the shapes when we walked along the top of the cliffs. 
We emailed Lance & Trish to say we had moved round near Albuferia and they replied suggesting we meet for dinner that evening and they could pick us up as they had a car. We had a very nice meal and all just. seemed to click so it will be good to meet up again in July. When they dropped us back at our van they were very impressed and I think a little surprised at the quality of our European Motorhome. Meeting them has started us wondering whether we should do another tour of the USA, but ship our motorhome there this time which would make it far more fun than with the badly designed hire one we had before.
On Tuesday we got our bikes out and rode into Albufeira. a little apprehensive of our return journey as we descended  a very steep hill at the start. Yes a scooter will certainly make our exploring much easier. The old part of Albuferia apart from being very hilly  was a maze of little alleyways looking very much like some of the hill towns in Morocco but from the number of bars & nightclubs a very noisy place in the season.
The forecast is for rain tomorrow Thursday so we will leave early as the road out is a bit steep and could become muddy which would not be good for a 4 ton front wheel drive motorhome. Fred & Chris have sent a text to say they are about twenty miles to the west on their way back so we will try to meet up to hear about the places they have found.

Till next time….

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Christmas Eve till the New Year

Christmas Eve evening was spent with the Dutch at the site next door where Chris & Fred were staying, mountains of food but no entertainment at all which was a bit of a disappointment. Then Christmas Lunch was at the “Rovers Return” in Bernidorm with the Funsters from the MotorhomeFun.co.uk group to which we belong. We had a very good meal traditional Christmas dinner with crackers and paper hats then a long walk along the Prom in the warm sunshine.

Everything we could find was booked up for New Years Eve so we all decided to walk into town where they had set up a sound stage and see the New Year in with the Spanish which was great fun and we were drinking bubbly and eating nibbles and bopping on the beach till about 2am.

Benidorm is a great place with an abundance of very cheap eating places and Chinese nick-nack shops where you can buy almost anything. We usually stock up on cheap everyday watches and Judy even managed this year to get an eye test and new glasses at the Benidorm branch of Specsavers! But seventeen days was enough and we were ready to move off a day earlier than we had booked. But had another great meal with the Funsters dining club the day before we left. Which topped of our time there.nicely.

We also had met up with friends Ann & Colin and Tammy & Bob all who lived near us in the South of France and were wintering in Benidorm.

On the 4th January we moved 90 km south to a Camper Stop at la Marina near Guadamar hoping to watch the “Three Kings” parade which is on Twelfth Night but we had a ride there on our bikes during the day and decided it was too dangerous to ride there along the main road in the dark to see the parade. We are seriously thinking now of swapping our bikes for a small motor scooter which will enable us to explore a little further afield than walking or on our small folding bikes allows.

On the way back from our ride we stopped at a supermarket and bumped in to Darren & Lyn, “Dazlin” from the Funsters club who we had met in Morocco three years ago when they had just started “Fulltiming” in their motorhome. After about half an hour chatting in the car park we decided to meet for coffee the next day so in the morning we checked out of the Camper Stop and dove to their Dad’s holiday home where they were staying just a mile up the road.
Well, cofee became lunch then afternoon tea and we left them at gone five too late to find anywhere so just parked in the street for the night which was fine and we woke to the market setting up on the street just outside next morning.

Saturday 7th January 2017 - After a couple of hours walking round the market with Judy buying a couple of Jumpers for a Euro each and a big bag of olives we set off for Benijofar about 30km away where we had been told about a fantastic Fish & Chip restaurant that we must try. Yes it was a fantastic lunch which required an hours walk round the town before we could comfortably drive on.
We didn’t have far to drive, just about 15 km to a wild camping spot that Anne & Colin had texted us about at la Mata. It was nice, a flat grass area outside a Cemetery so no noisy neighbours! in a country park with a beautiful lake and walks all around. N 38.01912, W 0.66491. We took a walk in to la Mata where we had stayed last year, because a lady we met in Benidorm Market had said it had been devastated by storms, but the part where we had stayed was fine except most of it had been built on, so we were glad we were at the country park. We had hoped to meet up with some Painting friends of Judy just along the road at Torrevieja but received a text to say that they had other commitments.

Sunday 8th January 2017 - We drove a bit further today to a beach near Aguilas where friends had said they had spent a few nice days, that was a 204km drive. It was a nice place and we stayed a couple of nights but have since heard that the Police had cleared all the Campers off the three parking places by the beach there. Such a shame that some people stay so long and outstay their welcome spoiling it for the majority.   N 37.38001, W 1.62688.

Tuesday 10th January 2017 – we left early as we had another long drive ahead but the forecast was overcast so a good day to drive. We arrived at the Camper Stop at Mijas near Fuengirola after 368 km. this is just the car park of a Resturant attached to a riding stables but the owner allows Motorhomes for five euros a night and provides water and dumping facilities. – N 36.53232, W 4.63888. The main advantage is that it is walking distance from an Iceland Supermarket for good back bacon and English Tea and cheese and a large Lidl for other supplies but also a huge shopping mall with all the top clothes shops and January is Sale Time with massive reductions. So we were buying our years supply of tee shirts etc. at just two euros  each along with many other bargains.

Thursday 12th January 2017 – Another long drove this time to arrive in Portugal where we are heading this year. Exactly 400 km took us to a beach near Castro Marim just inside Portugal. We had downloaded a database of stopping places from some Motorhome Bloggers the Bumbles which we could use on our Autoroute mapping system and BeachyInPortugal1this was one of the first ones in Portugal and very nice it is too. Three large parking areas near the beach with about fifty campers.
We are told that the police patrol regularly and as long as all gear is stowed in the vans at night and they do not see washing hanging out they are happy and everybody is respecting that. Mainly Dutch & German some of whom come every year and have been here since October. There are no facilities but that is fine for us to just stop and relax in the sun.for a few days. We have walked into the little town a couple of times and Judy now has to buy some more sun cream because she is getting a bit low with all the sunbathing she has been doing. Steve has had to work on the Satellite system a bit because we are getting near the edge of the footprint but managed it so can now connect and send this instalment of our blog.
We are not real bloggers though so this is just a diary of our trips that we share with those interested in our travels and for us to have a simple permanent record. Till next time which will probable be in about a week, hope the cold and snow in the UK is not too bad for you all or France does not have too much rain.
Some of our comments above may make you wonder why we are staying in the p[laces we do. We hate sites, parked just a few feet from the next camper within fences without views. The beaches and parking spots we stay in are large and with plenty of space between us. Most of the time we do not need facilities we can go four or five days before we need to empty our waste or fill with water. Sometimes we will pay for a site or a special Air de Camping Car which has the services we need occasionally and for this we expect to pay and are happy to do so. What we look for really is quiet spots in the mountains or by the sea where we can park up spend the day walking or just admiring the views.  The beach we are at at the moment, the campers are parked well away from each other and the space for locals to park near the beach has been left clear so as not to spoil their enjoyment. Space perhaps for a hundred cars but perhaps only about five a day visit at weekends. In the season of course the campers will not be here.  
Till next time.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

December 2016 Jemima the Hymer takes off.

Yes Judy has given the ”new” motorhome a name ”Smiley” first sprang to mind because it appears to have a big smile on the front but a friend is already using that name so Judy said as we were going along; Jemima would be nice. So Jemima it is and little did we know that she would be needing web feet like Jemima Puddle Duck very soon!

Well after six months getting Jemima registered in France we finally managed it with only a week before we were due to set off for our winter trip.Steve had been busy during that time fitting all the gadgets we would need;.Solar Panels with a special controller that would switch the fridge on to battery when the sun was producing enough electricity, he converted the satellite dish to get the internet as well as TV and fitted the special aerial so we can park outside places like McD’s to pick up their free Wi-Fi while travelling. Plus all the other little things that make life simpler on the road like twelve volt sockets so we can charge our tablets and the computer on the dash that records our journey and the dash-cam to record the road ahead. Liquid soap dispenser and tooth brush holder in the bathroom etc.

Wednesday 14th December 2016
We hoped to get away before lunch but packing all the last bits-n-bobs as always takes far longer than expected and we finally got away at 6pm. After filling up with fuel we arrived at Jonquera in Spain at just passed 8pm which was a shame as we needed to buy a new side marker lamp which had blown and we thought the truck stop there would stock them but it closed at 8pm so we parked up in the large car park for the Escudos supermarket with about twenty other campers. Unfortunately we were not able to dine at the WOK-U in Figueras which is our favourite and usually marks the start of our holiday, perhaps on the way back.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday 15th, to 17th December 2016
The Truck Stop didn’t open till 10am so we had a leisurely start, but unfortunately they didn’t have the exact light we needed which is a sealed LED unit so we will have to order it from the UK or Germany when we return if we can’t  find it while away.

The petrol station opposite the Truck Stop did LPG so we took the opportunity to fill up while there.

The journey south was uneventful except for torrential rain and we found a few more new roads had been built which cut out some of the slow bits. Thursday night was spent in the lorry parking area of a petrol station near Peniscola, quite safe and quiet.

We arrived in l’Abir a few miles north of Benidorm at about 3pm and had a walk around then decided to move to a street near a Japanese buffet restaurant so we could have the meal we missed on Wednesday, it was nice, but not as nice as the WOK-U but we waddled out at about 10:30pm and had to walk around for half an hour  until we felt a little less full to go to bed.

On Saturday we moved to Benidorm but were not booked in to our site till Sunday so parked in the street to spend the night which is fine out of season. We took the opportunity in the afternoon to walk around Villasol, the site we were booked into to find a pitch for tomorrow, hopefully two together as Fred & Chris were due to meet us in a couple of days time.
Late afternoon and all night, the heavens opened and our road became a river, it looked as if Jemima would need her namesake’s web feet.

Sunday 18th December 2016 till Christmas eve.
Sunday morning it stopped raining long enough for us to move into the site but soon started again and continued on and off till Tuesday morning when the sun came out. Fred & Chris arrived about midday and managed to get the pitch next to us but after lunch took a look at their booking form and found that the site were charging them 30% more that us because they did not pre-book.
They checked at the site next door who had space and were actually cheaper than we were paying so they quite rightly moved there. we had looked at that site but they don’t take bookings so it is difficult  to not know there will be a place.

During the rain we found a small drip from one of our roof lights so the sun on Tuesday afternoon gave Steve the opportunity to get on to the roof to investigate. The sealant appeared to be applied very badly so Steve did a better job but the whole roof-light will need to be removed when we get home to be sure it is done properly because just a little dampness in the fabric of the motorhome can be a disaster and cause real problems later on.

The sun continued shining all week which is what we are here for. We have booked a Christmas Dinner with the Funsters which is our motorhome group and many of them over-winter here in Benidorm so it should be a good afternoon with them all, we hope . So we will probably be very busy enjoying ourselves so will not be updating this blog till we get on the move again in the New Year.

We wish everybody a Very Happy Christmas and a good New Year and hopefully a much friendlier 2017 than 2016 has been since the referendum.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Highland 500 April 2016 day 5, 6 & 7

Day 5 Friday 22nd April

We took a walk on to the beautiful sandy beach this morning, Steve dipped his hand into the water, it was freezing. So no swimming today.

We moved on to the Smoo caves at Durness, the main cave and waterfall cave were open but theP1060163 guide didn’t start tours into the other caves which could only be accessed by boat until 10:30 . So instead we walked upP1060156 the many steps and out to the headland. The inlet from the sea to the caves was really sheltered, no wonder the Vikings found it to use as a safe haven and to repair their boats.

Driving on from the caves the scenery became more dramatic and we were glad we took others advice to drive the route anti-clockwise, half the drive south from Durness was on single track which was not a problem at all as the road was fairly wide and there were many passing places. The glimpses we got of the bays along the route were amazing golden sands which would not be out of place in a Mediteranian setting, except for the temperature, we even had a glorious sunny day. Just after Kylesku the route turned off right (west) to loop round to Lochinver. Narrow single track with many twisty bends and steep hairpins. At one point we met a long “A” class motor home followed by a smaller “C” class, a very tight passing. When we reached the top of the hill where we had first spotted them there was loads of room, if they had hooted to beckon us to come on! anyway the route was challenging but completely doable in a wide “A” class like ours and great fun to drive.

While reading various travel books Judy had marked Achmelvich as having the highest water falls so when we saw the turning off to the right we took it, a sign said “Not suitable for Caravans or Coaches” so we thought it should be ok for us. She must have marked the wrong place because there were no water falls but there was the most glorious beach yet, with not golden sands but pure white silver sand so fine it was almost dust. The road was a dead end with just the beach, a youth hostel and a camp site. On our way out we ran in to the school bus, quite a big vehicle to be using the road, he reversed back a bit and we were able to just get past.

We didn’t stop at Lochinver but were told later that it has a fantastic pie shop, we were heading for a car park near Inchnadamph where we hoped we could park for the night so as to walk up to the “Bone Caves”, ice age caves where they had found Polar Bear remains and evidence of Stone Age occupation. The car park was there level and no “No Overnight Parking” signs so we settled down for the night.

Some guys came walking down the path to a Transit van in the car park and Judy got chatting and it turned out they were Archeologists searching for new caves.

132 km today N58.11556 W4.96671

Day 5 Saturday 23rd April

We woke to rain on the roof which turned to sleet then snow so we sat and read for a bit till about P106023611:30 when the sun came out so we decided to try the hike up to theP1060229 caves. But as a precaution we phoned our son Nik to tell him we were heading up to the caves and would phone again when we returned. We felt quite safe as a Mountain Rescue van had parked about an hour earlier and three people had set off walking without gear so probably a social walk rather than a rescue. The 3km hike to the caves was a bit challenging as we had not been walking for some months but worth it to see the caves. Just a look with our high power torch though, because a full explore would have needed a boiler suit, possibly ropes and quite a bit of crawling through small spaces.

Back at the van and preparing to leave and the Transit appeared again with the Archeologists so we had a good chat with them about the caves.

We headed off south towards Ullapool where we hoped to fill up with LPG and if possible some water as we thought we must be getting low but the tank gauge had stopped working yesterday.

Unfortunately the MOT station with an LPG pump was closed but we filled up with fuel farther along the road but could not get to use their tap as it was next to the car wash which was in use.

The road from Ullapool to Gairloch was pretty but a lot of forest with the occasional glimpse of another fantastic beach. Our wild camping database was showing lots of roadside places toP1060282 overnight but we suddenly spotted an off road picnic spot so pulled off and found it went way off road to the shore of Loch Maree where there was good flat parking with a few motor homes and tents already there. There were also very clean toilets with mains water so we could get some to tide us over.

141 km today N57.68887, W45.54428

Day 6 Sunday 24th April

We woke to a fine morning but decided to have a slow day so watched the London Marathon on P1060255P1060267TV, filled up with a bit more water then had a really nice challenging hike along the lake shore for three hours then a few chores in the van before continuing our trip tomorrow.

 

 

No travel today same coordinates.