Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Thirteen

Thursday 14th November – Alagoa Beach to Manta Rota (3 miles)

I can personally recommend ‘Baygon – Moscas, Melgas E Mosqitos‘ to aid a restful, mosquito free, nights sleep !! It is non toxic so you can use it without having to vacate the van, however, we gave the van interior a ten seconds spray before going to the beach and when we returned we opened some windows just to be on the safe side. I conducted a ‘mozzie’ patrol before going to bed and it looked all clear, we turned out the lights, we waited, we listened, the only sound that we could hear was the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach, wonderful !! The following morning normality was restored and I awoke refreshed, although bless her, Shazza was still suffering from the bite that she had received the previous night and her hand was well and truly swollen, not quite to boxing glove proportions but it was getting there !!

Although we were originally going to stay on for an additional day at this location, we had a change of plan. I think that part of the decision to move was due to the Mosquitos, even though we had now discovered a solution, knowing that they were there in abundance had its effect on Shazza’s fascination with the place ! also our friends were moving on today so it was time for us to once again continue our solo travels. Not that we were venturing much further afield, in fact just under 3 miles further West to Manta Rota. Lots of the people we had met so far on our travels had spoken of this place, telling us that it was a must see place, Tom and Karen, who we had first met at Monsaraz and then travelled with for a week or so, had even marked our map with its location and so we pointed ‘Big Momma’ in the direction of Manta Rota. The ‘Lonely Planet’ guide for Portugal had also quoted Manta Rota as a must see destination, however, it tended to indicate that this place was in the ‘sticks’ with nothing other than the vast golden sands and blue azure sea. We had provisions enough and the ‘Aire’ would have the necessary facilities we required, how long we would stay would be very much dependent on what we found when we arrived and also we were rapidly approaching yet another weekend !!

Camperstop Europe‘ informed us that the ‘Aire’ had space for eighty Motorhomes, it was one which required payment of €4.50 which included ‘Fresh Water, Grey Waste & Chemical disposal’ and also included WiFi. However,  for an additional €2.50 there was 12 hours supply of Electric if required, which we didn’t require, well not initially and provided the sun continued to shine then the Solar Panels provided ‘Big Momma’ with all the energy we needed.

We passed through the narrow streets, although it may not look it there was more than enough room for Big Momma !

We passed through the narrow streets, although it may not look it there was more than enough room for Big Momma !

 

As you pass through this small village towards the beach the sign clearly tells Motorhomers where to go, in the nicest possible way !!

As you pass through this small village towards the beach the sign clearly tells Motorhomers where to go, in the nicest possible way !!

 

The approach to the entrance of the 'Aire'

The approach to the entrance of the ‘Aire’

 

'Big Momma' parked up and we made sure that this time we were able to take full advantage of the sunshine., fron sunrise to sunset, lovely !!

‘Big Momma’ parked up and we made sure that this time we were able to take full advantage of the sunshine., from sunrise to sunset, lovely !!

‘Big Momma’ was soon. converted back from ‘transportation’ mode and into ‘home’ mode. Alagoa Beach had provided us with two nights ‘free’ parking and within walking distance to a beautiful beach and it was always nice to find some freebie locations to park up especially with a beach right on the doorstep ! However, as the saying goes “You get what you pay for” and at the end of the day Alagoa Beach parking was just a piece of uneven and potholed waste ground that had been ‘adopted’ by the Motorhoming Community, and for two days that included us. The Aire at Manta Rota though was nicely laid out, a proper road with parking bays at the side with sufficient space to get out Awnings, Tables, Chairs and it even permitted BBQ’s. There was a well-kept grassed central reservation planted with small trees and night lighting. Directly from the Aire were several boarded walkways leading directly to the golden sandy beach, just as there were at Alagoa beach but along ‘these’ boarded walkways, within a matter of metres from the ‘Aire’ were beach showers, the kind that are provided on many public tourist beaches on the Costa’s to wash off the sea salt once you had been swimming, or for washing off sandy feet and flip-flops

The 'hut' where you checked in, got your WiFi code and if required, paid for the electric. You do not pay for the parking until the day you leave. Normally you would have obtained a ticket from the barrier when you entered and then as in 'Vila Real' you paid on 'Exit' at the payment machine (on the right of the hut in the picture). However the entry barrier was not working so entry was via the 'Exit' barrier and payment on Exit made to person in the 'hut'

The ‘hut’ where you checked in, got your WiFi code and if required, paid for the electric. You do not pay for the parking until the day you leave. Normally you would have obtained a ticket from the barrier when you entered and then as in ‘Vila Real’ you paid on ‘Exit’ at the payment machine (on the right of the hut in the picture). However the entry barrier was not working so entry was via the ‘Exit’ barrier and payment on Exit made to person in the ‘hut’

 

This boardwalk, which had beach showers to the left of the beach sign, led directly from the Motorhome 'Aire' to the beach !!

This boardwalk, which had beach showers to the left of the beach sign, led directly from the Motorhome ‘Aire’ to the beach !!

 

The nice wide boardwalk

The nice wide boardwalk

 

Looking ok ing back towards the 'Aire'

Looking back towards the ‘Aire’

 

Okay ! Shall we find a space ?

Okay ! Shall we find a space ?

The ‘Lonely Planet’ guides are really useful and well worth investing in, but I have to say that on this occasion it has done Manta Rota a severe injustice for it is not isolated at all, the front entry/exit barriers to this Aire are directly at the village with its Municipal Market, numerous Cafés and Restaurants a well stocked Supermarket that sold all the usual items you would expect and it had its own individual butchery, cheese and ham counters. The local paper shop even stocked three English newspapers (and not one red top amongst them) and they were all the same day edition as in the UK.

So let's see what is going on back in blighty !

So let’s see what is going on back in blighty !

If you looked at the earlier street photo above and thought that they were a bit narrow then look at what got thorough them !!

A 23 year old 'Cloud Liner'

A 23 year old ‘Clou Liner’

 

And the 23 year old Mini 'Cabriolet' which believe it or not fits neatly into the rear garage  !!

And the 23 year old Mini ‘Cabriolet’ which believe it or not fits neatly into the rear garage !!

There are probably around 50 Motorhomes parked on the Aire at the moment, there are some nice big ‘Concorde’s’ that dwarf me and then the usual mixture of ‘Hymers’, ‘Pilote’, ‘Rapido’ and ‘Frankia’s’ and from my casual nosey around I have observed around eight different Nationalities, again predominantly German and Dutch but the nice thing is that everyone speaks to each other. not sure that the Germans will be speaking to us on Wednesday morning when England beat them in the ‘friendly’ football match on Tuesday night !! Well we can dream of a miracle happening can’t we ?

Everyone comes out from their vans in the morning,  do a few warm up stretches then go for a 5 mile run along the beach, finish off with a quick swim and then back to their vans to mill around and smoke cigarettes !! Of course I am part of the ritual, someone needs to hold their coats, cigarettes and lighters until they get back !!!!!

Everyone comes out from their vans in the morning, do a few warm up stretches then go for a 5 mile run along the beach, finish off with a quick swim and then back to their vans to mill around and smoke cigarettes !! Of course I am part of the ritual, someone needs to hold their coats, cigarettes and lighters until they get back !!!! 

When the weekend is over we will be given our escape chit and allowed to move on ! Until then we will just have to make the most of these horrendous conditions, drink the vile ‘Vino Tinto’, get badly burnt from a combination of the Sun and the heat off the Barbecue and can only dream of the day that we can return to the sanctuary of our homeland !!

How Much Does It Cost ?

Since writing this blog i have had quite a few questions sent to me via Email asking about ‘Budget’ and ‘Costs’. I know that when I was researching ‘Fulltiming’ this was one of my primary questions, however, none of the books or the blogs that I read actually gave any real information, probably because ‘Finances’ are a very personal thing. One of the key factors that I wanted to include within ‘my’ blog was to try to give an indication as to what it was costing us. Every individual will have their own budget, some will do it on a ‘limited’ budget whilst other’s may be a little more affluent. The important question for those of you who may either be in the ‘dreaming’ or ‘planning’ stages will be ‘Can I afford to do it” ? So, before I start with a breakdown of costs so far on this trip I do need to clarify some points, First, the costs will be for the European leg of our travels e.g. From when we got off the ferry at Santander. Second, we started with a full tank of Diesel and 2 x full 11kg bottles of LPG, Third, we stocked up on shopping at a Supermarket before boarding the ferry. Fourth, we had spent several weeks stocking up on items prior to the trip to cut down costs whilst ‘On The Road’, items like Nescafé Coffee, Varieties of Pasta’s, Shower Gels, Toothpaste, Kitchen Rolls, Toilet Rolls etc. We learn from experience and I can now tell you that probably 80% of what we brought with us could have been purchased either in Spain or here in Portugal at no more cost than in the UK, in fact, many of the items are probably a lot cheaper with the exception of Nescafé Instant Coffee, Butter, Imported Cheeses (British, Dutch, German etc.), however, there are lots of local cheeses that are quite nice. Basically, we would not buy in bulk like that again !!

Okay, the important stuff !! We purchased our Euro at a rate of £1=€1.1520 and that is what our conversion rates are based on, although I will round-up to the nearest £Sterling. At the time of writing this we have been on this side of the water (Spain & Portugal) for 35 days. In that time we have travelled 840 miles (not Kilometres!), although over the last fourteen days we have stopped at five different locations we have only travelled 42 miles. We have a daily budget of €11.50 (£10) for Campsites or Aires and have spent €146.00 (£127) so we are currently +£223. We have spent 6 nights on Campsites, 5 nights Wildcamping and 24 nights on ‘Aires’ (Many of which are ‘free’ with full services such as Fresh Water, Facilities for Grey & Black waste. Some Aires levied a small charge) On this particular trip, as it is our Retirement holiday we do not have a set budget for Diesel, however, we are trying to stick in principle to what would be our normal Fulltiming’ budget of €155 per month (which equates to £135 or one tankful of Diesel or 400-450 miles per month). So far we have spent €186 on Diesel (£161) in five weeks so are probably just about on target. Worth mentioning here though, that if we were actually fulltiming and not having to return to the UK in January we would probably have stayed longer in some places than we have and therefore our fuel usage would have been considerably less ! I still estimate that on current fuel prices our budget is about right. Our LPG (GPL) budget is €46 per month (£40) and we have spent €25 (£22) in five weeks so currently we are +£28. This is a bit of ‘swings and roundabouts’ though, if you stay on Campsites or Aires that have Electric Hook Ups (EHU) then whilst you will save on LPG usage you will spend on the cost of the site and/or the Electricity. You can however stay on these facilities but not have the EHU ! Our Shopping budget is €92 per week (£80), however this is not just food but also wine, beer and other consumables such as cleaning materials, chemical toilet fluid and ‘Baygon’ Mozzie killer etc !! Also bear in mind the ‘supplies’ we brought with us, but so far in five weeks we have spent €264 (£229) which is £46 per week so currently we are +£171. Laundry we allowed a budget of €11.50 per week (£10) and in five weeks we have spent €4.00(£3.00). However,  in reality we did not anticipate needing to do laundry every week but allowed the extra budget to cater for additional washes for Bedding & Towels. Shazza has also done several hand washes so this has saved the budget, so we are currently +£47. We set a total budget of €92.00 (£80) for Road/Bridge/tunnel Tolls and have not spent any of this budget so currently we are +£80. Finally, we set ourselves a budget of €17.00 per day (£15) for ‘Personal Expenses’, spending money if you like, to cover things like public transport costs, coffee’s or snacks, entrance fees to places of interest, meals out etc. Over the last 35 days we have spent €168 (£146) so we are currently +£379. Our philosophy for our particular ‘Fulltiming’ lifestyle was that we did not want to live frugally but knew that we were not on just a short holiday so could not expect to live as if we were. I believe that you will see from our blog posts to date that we are having a wonderful time, we are not scrimping or scraping and we are having one heck of a good time on a lot less than we have budgeted for.

Worth noting just as a reminder, the above costs and budgets are the ‘On The Road Costs’, there are other costs such as; Annual Return Channel Crossings, Motorhome Insurance, Vehicle Road Fund Licence and the cost of Annual Vehicle Service and the MOT and of course any additional un-scheduled maintenance or repairs. Additionally, if you wish to travel to Morroco, Greece or other similar places, there may be additional costs for Ferries.

I hope that this information will be of some practical use, of course, as well as variations in everyone’s individual finances there are also variations in the vehicles that people choose to travel in, so both fuel and LPG consumptions may vary but this is something that only you as individuals can calculate and cater for.

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8 Responses to Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part Thirteen

  1. nicaf says:

    Excellent post Eric. The cost section is particularly useful – it gives me confidence my numbers are doable! We will keep an eye on Skype to see when you are on line so Cathy can have a chat too. We spoke to Steve and Lys and they too are having a great time, and are also positive on their budget, although they have had some technical issues with BB.

    • Glad you found it useful, we think that if we were staying down here and not having to come back we would have stayed a little longer at some places, therefore our fuel usage would have been spread out further and reduced the monthly cost even more. We have only used two campsites (6 nights in total) at a cost of €96, but now having seen and used the Aires we probably do not need to use them so that would have decreased our expenditure even more !! There have been periods of several continuous days when we havn’t actually spent anything !! Today we went to the butchers in the local Supermarket and bought 2 lovely thick cut Pork Chops for a total cost of €2 !! It is cheap here !!

      I am following Steve & Lyssa’s blog as well, pity about the ‘technical’ problems but it doesn’t appear to have spoilt their enjoyment.

      Got WiFi at the moment, not sure but think we also will have it at our next scheduled stop, complete with Toilets, Showers and Washing Machines and this is an Aire !!

      Take care, speak soon !

  2. coolasluck says:

    Nice one on the costings eric we try to keep our food etc bills to under 200 quid a month at home so nice to see your comparisons.Looks nice and sunny there mate, next year, i suspect we will be there too.Found out today that a chap who retired 4 months ago ,after 52 years in the job,died yesterday very sad and bought it home to me again.
    Anyhow good to see your having fun.Stay safe.

    • Bet you were glad to see that we are not on a diet of Fray Bentos Pies and Pricerite tinned potatoes :0) and in Portugal you get fresh milk and not just the UHT stuff :0)

      You will enjoy it over here, lots of places to Wildcamp and loads of free Aires with full services

  3. Ste T says:

    Very interesting Eric. The figures are roughly what we work from when we are long term touring so it’s nice to have them “confirmed” and not just us thinking we were being realistic. Ste T

    • I cannot take all the credit for this ! Over the last couple of years there have been 3-4 different people (Fulltimers) who kindly provided me with their own costs spreadsheets. Although they each travelled slightly differently and certainly had different lifestyle requirements, I painstakingly did a costs analysis and then managed to work out an average cost. I compared this with my ‘estimates’ and found that I was pretty damn close, within a few pounds !!

      I think that for this short trip we will probably have over estimated but the proof of the pudding as they say ?? There will be a difference in how we do it next year as we intend to travel from France to Morroco ! We have been told today that you can get a return ferry crossing to Morroco for around €200 so we will need to factor that into our 2014/15 budget. We will probably initially use a bit more Diesel getting from France to Spain. I don’t know whether we will pay any extra insurance premium for Morroco, will need to check these things out.

      I don’t know how long Portugal will stay as un-cluttered as it is at the moment. Lots of people dash to Spain for the Winter. I have met different Nationalities who live in Spain but come to Portugal in their Motorhomes because they say it is very much cheaper than Spain !! I cannot comment as I have not yet done extended touring in Spain ?

      I am already not wanting to come back in January, I love this freedom to just go where we want, to stay as long or as little as we want. We do not shop on a weekly basis like we did at home, we just buy in bits as we need them, fresh fruit is sold by traders on the Aires, we bought a whole bag of Oranges today for just €2 !! And when I say bag I do not mean a net like in the UK supermarkets but a carrier bag full !! There are local markets in every village/town selling everything, Fruit & Veg, Fish, Meats, Cheeses, Bread, Spices !! This is just an incredible lifestyle, but don’t tell anyone or they will all want to do it :0)

  4. Paul says:

    Great blog, as ever. You may have to be back for January, but at least that gives you a couple more months and Christmas in a Motor home will be interesting, any decorations on board ?!

    • Thanks Paul. I know the weather in UK is now deteriorating but when the sun drops here it gets cold, it’s all relative really I suppose. No windows to de-ice in a morning though !

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