Sunday 29th December – Odemira – Vila Nova de Milfontes – Porto Covo (46 miles)
The worst night yet ! Both the ‘French’ Motorhome and the ‘Spanish Bus’ must have known what we hadn’t ! That Saturday night was Disco night ! The ‘Tolerated Parking Area’ that we had chosen to stay the night was also the one used by the party goers to park their vehicles. We could hear the sound of drunken merriment as they departed, although they were not the source of our sleepless night, they had given us no bother. No, we were kept awake by the ‘thump, thump, thump’ of Disco music right up until 04:00am !! We were unable to see where the noise was coming from but our ears told us that it was pretty close, too damn close !! Shazza was up several times during the early hours which is why we knew that it was still going on until 4am. I must have finally fallen asleep around 2am but was up again at 05:30, the gauge showed that the external temperature was -2degrees(c) and inside 5.2degrees(c) so after a quick cigarette I made a hasty retreat and snuggled back up, under the nice warm duvet, I did consider putting my cold feet on Shazza but didn’t think she would see the funny side of it !!
We awoke again at 08:30am, still tired but keen to move on, so whilst the heater had time to defrost the windscreen I took my coffee and drank it by the river watching the steam rise off the water as it was being warmed by the morning sunshine. It wasn’t cold, there was no reason to even wear a fleece and the clear blue sky and warmth of the early rays of sun told me that we were in for a nice day. We had been told that a little further North, on the Coast was a lovely seaside town of ‘Vila Nova de Milfontes‘, it was only 16 miles away so we could be there for a late breakfast !!
There was no ‘Aire’ or ‘Services’ at our destination but we were not in need of any so we just required a decent and discreet place to park if we intended staying overnight. The drive was superb, we climbed up hills, the roads twisted and turned their way up and of course down again ! There was only one obstacle to overcome on part of the twisty road, a family of ‘Romany’ travellers, the parents and most of the children rode on top of their bundled possessions on the horse-drawn cart whilst one of the older children, a boy of about 9 years old, rode bareback on a horse by the side of the cart.
With no ‘Aire’ co-ordinates to programme into ‘Snoopy’ we just had to input the name of the town. We did not want to be in the centre, which is where ‘Snoopy’ would have taken us, so once we entered the outskirts we just followed the signs for ‘Praia’ (Beach) as there is always parking at the beaches. We realised that we were heading out-of-town, on the other side, however we needed some fresh bread rolls for ‘Brunch’ and so found ourselves a convenient bit of wasteland, parked ‘Big Momma’ and walked back into the town where we had seen that most of the shops were ‘open’ for business. Having ‘Bagged our baguette’ we returned to the van and then re-located nearer the beach and just down from the lovely ‘viewing area’. I doubt if we had have been able to have parked here in the summer, but for now, there were lots of places to park, in proper parking bays opposite and overlooking a beautiful estuary but it was ‘prohibited for overnight parking’ so we will need to find an alternate parking place if we elected to stay here.
We walked up to the large viewing area and ‘crikey’ what a view of the Atlantic breakers !! If I thought that I had seen big ‘breakers’ on the South Coast then I was very much mistaken, those were mere ‘infants’ compared to these ‘whoppers’ !!
Initially, we had worn our fleeces as it was pretty blustery on the Coast, even with the sun shining !! However, we had forgotten to take ‘Dave’ so we returned to ‘Big Momma’ ate our ‘Brunch’ and then decided to do a return walk with ‘Dave’, this time though, no fleeces, it was much too warm for those !
It was a nice enough place but with no real overnight parking area. So, whilst ‘Milfontes’ was nice it was not ‘the place’ so ‘we’ decided to move on to ‘Porto Covo’ which again, we had been told was a lovely town with the added bonus that it had a new ‘Aire’ that provided a ‘Motorhome Service Point’, could this be our New Year halt ? Whether it was the lack of sleep from the previous night, or just what appeared to be two days of just constant skipping from one place to another, I don’t know, but I was getting tired. All I needed was to find a place we could hold up and relax for a night or two. Over the last 10 weeks we had been used to just travelling a few miles each day, yesterday was a long one at just short of ninety miles and today was now looking to be another longish one, or perhaps it was that both of us knew that the clock was rapidly counting down to the end of this our ‘first’ adventure and neither of us wanted to be getting back on that boat and returning to the UK, we had a taste for this fulltiming stuff, especially over here in Portugal which we have enjoyed so much, yet with places that still are awaiting for us to discover, but they will have to wait for another time.
Looking at the map, it looked a fairly short drive along small Coastal roads to ‘Porto Covo’. However, ‘Snoopy’ wasn’t going to take us along what appeared to be an obvious route, she was taking us back onto the N120, then along the IC4 beyond where we wanted to be, then dropping us back in from the top end ? It appeared to be the long way around but we have ignored ‘Snoopy’ before and to our cost ! So, as ‘Snoopy’ is pre-programmed with ‘Big Momma’s’ vital statistics we had to assume that the ‘obvious’ route would not be on suitable roads so we had to trust her. I will probably never know whether we could have made it but I do know that by following ‘Snoopy’s’ guidance we saw loads of potential ‘Wilding’ locations right along the coastline, great ‘pull off’ areas and steps away from sandy stretches of beach, we may even end up returning to any one of these if ‘Porto Covo’ does not live up to our expectations ! ‘Snoopy’ delivered us to the new ‘Aire’, the old one was ‘Parking Only’ but this one had ‘full’ services (Fresh Water, Grey & Chem Waste). It was in town so not far to walk to shops, cafés and restaurants, however, the surface was dried mud, you could see the ruts made from when it gets wet ! The ‘Aire’ was surrounded by buildings, not exactly the most scenic and so we decided to use the facilities but then go and seek out the old ‘Aire’, the ‘Parking Only’ one, as we would have no need for any services now that we had ‘Filled and Emptied’ as appropriate.
The old ‘Aire’ was a mere two-minute drive from the new one but quite literally just on the outskirts of the town and with a sea view !! This would have been perfect, in all our travels so far we had never come across anywhere that did not have any spaces, that was until now !! I can understand why, when I said on the outskirts I should have said ‘footsteps’ as the town was no more than a minute’s walk away yet the sea was about the same distance. This was obviously the place to be, but not for us on this occasion. There were two options, return to the less salubrious new ‘Aire’, which did have spaces, or drive back out-of-town the way we arrived and park up at any number of the ‘Wilding’ spots we had seen ? We elected for the latter but as Lady Luck would have it, just as we left the town we came across a vehicle park. Part of it was roped off and had a height barrier at the entrance/exit, but there was an adjoining area with no height barrier that just happened to already have three other Motorhomes already parked up, right at the bottom end with the most stunning uninterrupted sea views. There was still enough room for at least two other Motorhomes, or I should correct that and now say that their was only one more space as we parked ‘Big Momma’ facing seaward. Is this that word ‘Fate’ again, we were not meant to park in town, why should we ? Here we are just a five-minute walk back into town, a two-minute walk to the ‘Praia Grande’, a lovely sandy beach and right in front of where we are parked, looking out from our windscreen, are the most amazing Atlantic Breakers, stunning, absolutely stunning (How many times have I used that word ‘stunning’ at places we have been to ?).
I was able to get out my sun chair and place it conveniently out of sight of the road in front of the van where I could just enjoy the afternoon sunshine and watch the breakers roll in. There was no sign of the occupants of the two ‘Portuguese’ registered vans parked on one side of us. We could see that our other neighbours, in a ‘German’ registered van, were sat in their Motorhome but we never actually saw them get out of it all the time we were there !! Now I thought that the shorts, tee-shirt and flip-flops had seen the last bit of daylight for this year, but I was pleased to have been proven wrong as it was warm enough to put them on again. With a nice cold beer and my cigarettes I was nicely set up for an hour or two of ‘chillaxing’. Once the sun began to drop it was time to move back inside and change back into my jeans and a sleeved shirt, my goodness, someone had flicked the switch to ‘cold’ pretty damn quick !!
Apart from some late evening arrivals it was a quietish night, the dogs started barking at 10:00pm but I think we have just got accustomed to them now. The pre-dominant sound was that of the breakers on the rocks and cliff face just fifty metres away, but that was a soothing rhythmic sound, it was also a warm evening so no need to have any heating on. We drank our coffee in bed and then closed our eyes and fell asleep ………………..