Thursday, 26 January 2017

Monte Gordo to Albufeira



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 “” 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 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.