“Adius Algarve, Hola Espana !!”

Falesia Beach –  Albufiera – Estoi – Wildcamp 1 – Manta Rota – Wildcamp 2 – Vila Real Sao Antonio  (80 Miles)

The ‘quartermaster’ (Shazza) had conducted an audit of the galley provisions and declared that she could get another couple of meals out of what we had left in the Fridge and Freezer. Neither of us were in a hurry to leave this particular ‘Motorhome Park’ at Falesia just yet, so this was good news, as I knew deep down that had we have left to go and re-stock at Albufeira, we probably would have ended up not returning as ‘Parque de Palmeria‘ was conveniently located just five minutes away. So feeling heartened by both the good news about remaining here for another couple of days, and the fact that the weather had cheered up again, we decided to mount our trusty steeds once more and go do some exploring, this time though we would turn left out of the ‘Motorhome Park’ instead of right.

It was one of the shortest bike rides I have taken so far !! Just outside the entrance and onto the road and I tested my electric controller, I now always do this at the beginning of a bike ride since that fateful ride last year, the one where we had cycled from ‘Vila Real San Antonio‘, under ‘pedal power’, to Monte Gordo but discovered, on the return journey, that I had no ‘electric’ power !! Well it was a good job as once again, although all the controller lights were lit up, there was no power from the electric motor. To say I was a little irritated would be a slight under-statement, we had spent both time and money, back in the UK replacing the ‘controllers‘ on both our bicycles and we had only used the bicycles twice so far on this trip !! Back at ‘Big Momma’ I set about trying to see if I could find the problem and resolve it, you may recall my prowess in all things ‘technical‘ and ‘mechanical‘, in fact anything remotely connected to DIY !! It was a simple process of ‘elimination’, I think ? First, check the battery, okay so I already knew that this was working as the lights were all lit on the controller, indicating that power was getting through, however, checking this served a very important purpose, first, for any onlookers, there are always onlookers, some quite obvious standing staring with arms folded, others not so obvious, but the twitch of the net curtains gave them away, but none of these onlookers could see that the controller lights were lit so it would make it look as if I knew what I was doing, but more importantly, it gave me thinking time, where the hell do I look next !! It appeared obvious, well to me, that there must be a bad, or loose, connection to the motor so I did what all the experts do, I ‘twiddled’ with the power cable. It certainly appeared a little loose so perhaps I needed to investigate this a little closer, but to do that I needed to turn the bicycle upside down, this again served two purposes, first it meant that I had easier access to the bolt on the wheel, where the power cable connection fed into the motor, but more importantly, the onlookers would certainly be impressed and now be convinced that I knew what I was doing. I retrieved my tool box from my ‘shed’ in ‘Big Momma’ and by a stroke of sheer luck, the first spanner I tried was the correct size !! Now this was really going down well with the onlookers, I was certain I heard a murmur of approval, so just for good measure, and to look like a real mechanic, I sucked my teeth and scratched my head !! I un-tightened the bolt and ‘wiggled’ the power cable, at this point I observed that the part of the connection that went into the motor hub was rather wet, even I knew that water and electric are not good bed partners so I dried it off and sprayed in copious amounts of that magical ‘stuff’, namely ‘WD40‘. After ensuring everything was dry again, I re-tightened said bolt, turned the bicycle back to its more normal posture and pressed the power controller and…………………..yee hah !! It worked. Just to ensure that it wasn’t a ‘fluke’, I got on the bike and rode it around in front of my onlookers, who by this time were pretending to do other things around the outside of their vans, I went up and down the different power levels until I was satisfied I had resolved the issue then, just to ensure that water didn’t seep back in to the hub via this entry point again, I wrapped the whole connection in black waterproof insulation tape. Just for good measure I tried the controller again and was happy when it still worked, as for my onlookers, not one round of applause for providing them with this free entertainment !! However, we could now ‘confidently’ proceed on our belated bicycle exploration trip, or we could have done but Shazza was no longer interested and had already started baking a fruit cake, such was her confidence in me actually successfully fixing my bicycle !! Perhaps it was intended as a ‘consolation’ cake, however, I could afford a smile, not only had I managed to fix my own bike but I also got a cake into the bargain, which I wouldn’t have had if we had gone on the bike ride !!

Perhaps this delay was more than a little fortuitous for the sky once again became overcast and it threatened to rain. I re-secured the bicycles and placed the rain cover over them, this time making sure that the motor hubs and electrical connections were well covered. With the rest of the afternoon in front of us we sat down with a nice hot mug of coffee and large piece of still warm fruit cake and decided to plan a route down through Spain to get the ferry to Morocco. Our original plan was to cross from Tarifa, on the west coast of Spain, to Tangier Med. However, when we checked the ferry details we discovered that although the route from Algeciras, on the East Coast to Tangier Med, was a half hour longer crossing, it was cheaper than the Tarifa route, so we decided that our port of departure would now be Algeciras. There were still places though on the West coast of Spain that we wanted to visit before we departed this part of Spain, inspired by some places reported on in Steve and Lyssa’s blog (Adventures of Big Bird), but we also needed to check on places where we could fill our fresh water at the last possible moment before departing Spain as in Morocco we would only drink bottled water once the tank of Spanish water had been depleted. Even more importantly, we needed a route where we could find a LPG service station before we got to Algeciras so that we could fill our LPG cylinders (Gaslow) as we needed to ensure that we entered Morocco with full tanks, we had been told that it was not possible to fill our type of tanks with LPG over in Morocco. There was still such a lot to think about, which didn’t help with the anxieties that I already had about going to Morocco in the first place. Shazza tried to quell these anxieties by reminding me about how nervous I was last year about exploring Spain and Portugal for the first time, and I guess she was right, up until then I had never used an Aire or Wild Camped but now its second nature, and, as she was keen to remind me, it’s not as if we would be the only Motorhome over there, thousands make the same pilgrimage every year !! But one thing is for certain, we ‘were’ going to Morocco, how long we would stay or whether we would make a return visit at some point in the future is, at this moment in time, an unknown !!

So it was then, that on that afternoon we made our ‘tentative’ but still ‘flexible’ route plans, yes plans in that we had two possible routes to Algeciras. There would be two main factors that could potentially determine which one of those two routes we would eventually select, the time that we spent in Seville and on the West Coast, North of Cadiz, and of course the ‘Shazza’ factor !! But for now, we have a ‘few’ days left in which to still enjoy the Algarve…………………………

And so, after an extremely pleasant week at Felisia it was once again time to move on, although there was one small ‘glitch’ in our strategy of moving ‘East’, that was the fact that we were actually heading ‘West’ again !! However, only by six miles to Albufiera in order to do a major re-stock on provisions. Being pretty familiar with the place now, after already spending nearly a fortnight there when we had our ‘visitors’, we knew exactly where ‘LIDL’ and ‘ALDI’ were located, and that the ‘LIDL’ (right across the road from ALDI) had four dedicated Motorhome parking bays, large enough to accommodate ‘Big Momma’ quite comfortably, and both Supermarkets were conveniently located just a five-minute drive from the Motorhome Aire. We were not planning on staying long this time, one night or perhaps two, at the most, then we would continue our journey East, perhaps even visiting the odd ‘new’ place, to us at least, before crossing into Spain. We decided that if we awoke to rain then we would stay where we were, if we awoke to sunshine  then we would move on. There was one slight issue when I arrived at the Motorhome Aire and had settled onto our selected ‘pitch’, one of the garage door locks would not open, something had obviously ‘shifted’ in transit, and was preventing the lever from rotating. Fortunately, the garage space has two doors, one on either side of the van so I could gain access through the door on the opposite side, empty the garage space until I could climb in and remove the obstruction.

The rain had literally ‘hammered’ down on the roof of ‘Big Momma’ all night, but we awoke to brilliant and warm sunshine which meant that we would be moving on. We were in no hurry to depart, so Shazza utilised the on-site laundry facilities to wash the bed sheets whilst I took the opportunity to sort out the lock on the garage door and then use the lovely hot showers. We would be back to either Wildcamping over the next week or so, or at best back to using ‘basic’ Aires, so it would also be back to using our own ‘on-board’ facilities for a while.

Even the back roads are no problems for large Motorhomes

Even the back roads are no problems for large Motorhomes

Our next destination was the small town of ‘Estoi‘, only around 30 miles away, Shazza had it highlighted in Green on her map which meant that it had Motorhome services, not that we would need them as we would be leaving Albufiera ‘Full and Empty’ as appropriate. However, Estoi had also been worthy of a mention in the ‘Rough Guide’, a small inland town, so as this would be a ‘new’ location for us to visit, it may also be worthy of a night stop. ‘Snoopy’ eventually brought us to the ‘Aire’, it wasn’t ‘her’ fault that a by-pass had been constructed since the last mapping update  !! It wasn’t so much an ‘Aire’, more of a car park on some rough ground with a Motorhome Service point in one corner, I wouldn’t say that it was in the dead centre of the town but it was right opposite the town cemetery !! The Motorhome Service Point was located in such a way that we would not have been able to manoeuvre ‘Big Momma’ on to it, smaller vans would have had no problems though. However, we would have been able to have emptied the Chemical waste if needed and to have got access to the fresh water tap with the hose, emptying the grey would have been a little more difficult though.

A nice view of the cemetery !!

A nice view of the cemetery !!

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The  ‘Rough Guide’ was correct when it referred to Estoi as a ‘small town’, we had walked around it, slowly, and it had taken us under an hour ! We would have felt quite safe staying overnight here but it was barely past lunch and there was nothing else to see or do. We elected to move a little further on, back down to the Coast, we had been told about a couple of Wildcamping locations so decided to check them out. Our problem now was the weather, or rather, keeping a check on it, as we now had no WiFi to get daily updates. When we had last checked it at Albufiera, the forecast gave us two decent days before we would be hit by four days of continuous rainfall, some of which were ‘Thundery showers’. It wasn’t so much the rain that would concern me but the ground that I would be parked on !! We would then, according to the forecast, have another couple of dry days before being hit again with several days more rain. Now under normal circumstances I would not be too bothered, but we were now leaving behind our ‘All Service‘ Aires for either basic ones with no services, parking only, or just the ‘Essential‘ facilities. Continuous days of rain meant thick cloud and very little solar energy being produced, if any at all !!

We got to the location we had been told about but were greeted with barriers across the entrance ! What had once been a ‘Wildcamping’ location was now a ‘public car park’. Fortunately, as Shazza was guiding me back out onto the main road, a man on a bicycle stopped and spoke to her, not just any man, an English man, not just any English man, but and Englishman on a bike who just happened to be a Motorhomer and who told us of a place just a little further up the road where we could park. Amazing how these co-incidences happen, a few minutes later and he would not have had to stop whilst we manoeuvred and he would have already passed us on his bike. I guess we would have found the place ourselves as it was quite obvious as you approached, however, it was still quite a co-incidence. When we arrived at the parking place, on a piece of rough, but level, ground there were already several Motorhomes parked up, quite a few much longer and taller than ‘Big Momma’ and towing cars on trailers !! It was a small International community, several ‘Germans’, Dutch, French, British and a Norwegian made up this happy band of ‘Free Loaders‘ Wildcampers. It was still a lovely sunny and warm afternoon so after a quick ‘Cuppa’ we decided to take a look around the small fishing village that we were parked right on the edge of. There was a lovely promenade to walk along, on the opposite side of the road were traditional brightly painted Portuguese houses, blue and white, yellow and white and some just completely covered in highly decorative ‘ceramic’ tiles, it all added to the ambience of the place. By the large numbers of Cafe/Bar/Restaurants that were intermingled between the residences this was now a thriving summer tourist destination, although it was fairly quiet now that the summer tourists had departed, which is why I guess that they tolerate us ‘Motorhomers’ parking outside their village, it may not generate much income compared to the summer masses,  but buying bread from the local shop, coffees, beer or meals from the Cafe/Bars all adds to the ‘coffers’ I suppose. We acknowledged their hospitality and stopped for a drink at one of the Cafe/Bars and purchased some bread rolls from the small local shop.

A lovely promenade to walk along

A lovely promenade to walk along

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Seagull finding something in the shallows for its lunch !!

Seagull finding something in the shallows for its lunch !!

Now let's find somewhere to go and eat it before the others spot me !!

Now let’s find somewhere to go and eat it before the others spot me !!

Fishermans huts by the quayside

fisherman’s huts by the quayside

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Before I locked us in for the night I stood outside ‘Big Momma’ to just take in the serenity of it all, I do this most nights, it kind of just makes me reflect on how lucky we both are to be doing this. It was during this period of reflection that I saw someone, a man, come off the street that led into the village and onto the area where the Motorhomes were parked. At first I was cautious, wondering who this lone figure was, or more importantly, what he may have been up to. He saw me and headed in my direction and when he got close he said “Hola“, I replied “Good Evening“. The man ‘cocked’ his head side wards to view my number plate and then said “Ah ! British“. He introduced himself to me as ‘Dietrick‘ and then said “ick, my family name, not ich“. Dietrick, with a ‘k’, was a ‘solo’ Motorhomer, a very pleasant and well spoken individual who had also sold his house and his possessions and had taken to a life on the ‘open road’ last November. He was travelling in what looked like a pretty new Panel Van Motorhome Conversion and from the way he was dressed and his general demeanour I would say he was well-educated. He told me that he had been fortunate to retire at the age of ‘just 62’ and he was quite obviously enjoying his freedom to travel. We spent a good half an hour or so just chatting, total strangers, each from different countries of birth in an unfamiliar land, this is just one of the many wonderful things about this lifestyle, you meet so many different people but we each have one thing in common, our enjoyment of this nomadic lifestyle. And then like ships that pass in the night, we go our separate ways, perhaps we will see each other again in a week, a month or even in another few years and if we do we will greet each other as if we were ‘old friends’, but perhaps we may never meet again, you just never know !!

It was nice and peaceful on this small patch of rough ground and with the exception of the downpour we heard, beating on ‘Big Mommas’ roof during the night, we both slept soundly and again awoke to a beautiful blue sky and warm sunshine. If the ‘work of fiction’ was correct from when we last viewed it, this could be our last blue sky day for a while. This place would turn into a mud bath so we needed to find somewhere a little better and we knew just the place !

Manta Rota was one of those favourite locations from last year’s trip and fortunately it was ‘just down the road’. We knew that by now the small seaside village! or perhaps it was a town, would be basically closed, although it had a reasonable sized ‘Supermarcercado’ which was open all year as well as a handful of Cafe/Bars and Restaurants and a Newsagent that sold Newspapers from around Europe, even that popular ‘red top’ The SUN as well as the Daily Mail, if we should feel the need to catch up with all the doom and gloom from back home !! We anticipated that the ‘Aire’ itself would be pretty busy, this was a popular place with its Hardstanding pitches, Motorhome Services and WiFi for just €4.50 per day (£3.67), with EHU for those that wanted it at an additional cost of €2.50 (£2.04) for twelve hours (8am – 8pm). The fact that it also had its own Boardwalk direct to the golden sandy beach may also have had something to do with its popularity. ‘Snoopy’ was doing a sterling job of directing us today, not that she was actually needed, ‘Praia Manta Rota‘ is well signposted off the main ‘N125’ in both directions, however, what she, or we, can never account for are the ‘Devios‘ (Diversions), but it would help if they would advise of them before you actually got to the road that was closed !! On this occasion it was not a major issue as there is more than one route to the location. However, it did require Shazza to get out and guide me back so that I could turn ‘Big Momma’ around, not a problem out here as the roads, outside of major towns are generally fairly quiet. We were travelling slowly down the narrow main village road, I remembered when I had first come down this road last year that I thought it was going to be another one of those ‘brown trouser’ moments, this time around I had no such worries. Just before we got to the bottom of the road, where we would turn right towards the ‘Aire’, we saw someone stood on the pavement who stuck their leg out as we approached, it was Shazza who recognised ‘Dennis and Janine‘, the Couple from New Zealand who we had first met at ‘Porto Covo‘ and then again at ‘Silves‘. Well I do keep saying that this stretch of the Algarve is pretty small so if you are down here for any length of time you are bound to keep seeing people you have seen or met on other ‘Aires’ or Wildcamping locations. We soon found ourselves a suitable spot to park and believe it or not, it was exactly the same place we had parked last year. We didn’t need any EHU, well not for now at least, the sun was shining and the Solar Panels were doing their job very efficiently. We did not know how long we would remain here though, and if the ‘work of fiction’ was still forecasting bad weather for the next four days then we may well sit it out here and so may well end up requiring use of those EHU services at some point. But before doing anything else, and seeing that it was close to 11:30am, we enjoyed ‘Brunch’ and then set off the short distance along the thoughtfully provided wooden Boardwalk to the golden sandy beach. I was fascinated to see a ‘fleet’ of small fishing boats so close to the shoreline with their nets out, fishing for what I assumed were the plentiful supply of Portuguese sardines. We had seen these several times ourselves whilst stood on the beaches, the sardines that is and not the fishing boats, the fish swam almost at the surface and many times we have just stood and watched as sea birds would shape themselves like pointed darts and dive into the water, sometimes emerging with a reward for their efforts and sometimes not.

Look how close the fishing boat is to the beach !

Look how close the fishing boat is to the beach !

You can even see them working at the stern !

You can even see them working at the stern !

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Part view of the 'Aire' and Boardwalk to the beach

Part view of the ‘Aire’ and Boardwalk to the beach

The Boardwalk that leads to this wonderful beach !!

The Boardwalk that leads to this wonderful beach !!

'Big Momma' parked in the same place as last year !!

‘Big Momma’ parked in the same place as last year !!

The rain arrived, not quite at the time it was predicted, a lot like the British public transport system ‘running behind schedule’ you might say, however it did eventually arrive, but we had managed to get an hour’s walk in along this fantastic stretch of sandy beach before batonning down the hatches at around 4:30pm.

Although our ‘plan’ was to still head for Algeciras and the ferry to Morocco, there were a couple of things on our minds about that trip. We keep up to date with the News, we knew about the problems with ‘Islamic State’, the ‘Ebola‘ epidemic and the outbreak of ‘Legionnaires‘ disease just North of Lisbon, but what was at the forefront of our minds right now were ‘stories‘, and let’s put this into perspective, they were at this stage unconfirmed ‘stories‘, that the French Government had advised ‘its people‘ not to travel to Morocco due to the threat to Western Travellers from the ‘Muslim‘ community who supported the ‘IS’. However, the majority of the ‘French‘ Motorhomers do appear to have decreased in numbers from the Algarve (Should this be telling us something ?), the few that remain say that they had no intention of going to Morocco anyway !! So if any of my ‘French‘ readers could either confirm or deny this ‘story‘ I would be most grateful. I have of course checked our own Government Travel Website (FCO) but as anticipated, they will not advise ‘against‘ travel until a ‘British‘ subject is actually kidnapped or murdered and I would of course prefer, that if such advice were to be issued, that it wasn’t as a result of something that had happened to us !! The FCO have however, quoted a statement from the Moroccan Government who warn of an ‘Increased Threat‘ from Supporters/Sympathisers of the ‘IS’ within Morocco. So, the plan is this, we travel to Algeciras where the ‘normal‘ hoards of Motorhomers queue up in readiness to buy their tickets and board the ferry to Morocco. If, when we arrive, there are no ‘hoards of Motorhomers‘, then we do not buy a ticket and we will not be going to Morocco !! Now for me that would not be a major disaster, I hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, but for Shazza it would be a big disappointment.

Friday 14th November may not be a ‘red letter’ day in most people’s diary, however in mine it marked the end of our second ‘twenty-eight’ day budget period. At the risk of sounding like the ‘Chancellor of the Exchequer‘, we knew that in this second financial period, we would experience some higher expenditure in some areas, and lower expenditure in others. In this second period we also had ‘visitors’ from the UK so the budget allowance for ‘Personal Expenditure’ was going to take a hit, with ‘provisions‘ we had brought with us from the UK, now all but used up, we expected this month’s ‘Groceries’ expenditure to also have increased. However, on the plus side, we knew that our Diesel and LPG consumptions would certainly decrease so this would be an interesting comparison. In our first period we spent €711 (£579) and in this second period we spent €1,074 (£875), we are quite pleased as we are still under budget on all our ‘Allowances’. Shazza has done remarkably well on the ‘Grocery’ budget, bearing in mind that this also includes the cost of Wine and Beer, we always eat well and yet, after 56 days, she has underspent on her allocated budget by €293 (£239)! that’s a saving of almost £30 a week, making our average weekly grocery spend (including wine and beer) the equivalent of £50 a week !!

So, after that very pleasing review of our finances, what better way to celebrate than a walk on the beach, even if it was threatening to rain again…..

A very 'moody' sort of day, weather wise, but it made days like this great for walking barefoot along the almost empty beach!!

A very ‘moody’ sort of day, weather wise, but it made days like this great for walking barefoot along the almost empty beach!!

We stood watching this 'cockle' picker working steadily away.

We stood watching this ‘cockle’ picker working steadily away.

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Nearly missed one !!

Nearly missed one !!

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I think that's enough for the Fish Stew and Seafood Pasta for a day or two !!

I think that’s enough for the Fish Stew and Seafood Pasta for a day or two !

Gordon Bennett !! I don't believe he didn't leave me a few, best I fly off and see if I can find anyone eating 'fish and chips' !!

Gordon Bennett !! I don’t believe he didn’t leave me a few, best I fly off and see if I can find anyone eating ‘fish and chips’ !!

We had enjoyed our time at Manta Rota, the weather may not have been at its best but that hadn’t prevented us from enjoying several strolls along the beautiful near empty beach or even required us to utilise their EHU !! However, we felt the need to just get away from other Motorhomers for a while and have some seclusion before our love affair with Portugal and the ‘Algarve’ came to an end, for this year at least. Again we were in no hurry so we just pottered, it was whilst I was doing a bit of pottering outside the van that I came across another familiar face, It was ‘Eloy‘, our Spanish neighbour when we were at Alvor, we greeted each other like old friends, as you do and then had a good old catch-up in ‘Spanglish‘. We departed with the usual on-board facilities sorted and commenced our hunt for a decent overnight ‘Wild Camp’ !!

We checked out a place we knew of from last year, we hadn’t stayed there on that occasion but it would be ideal for us now. Unfortunately’ when we arrived we saw the signs that basically stated ‘No Autocaravans‘ !! I can only think that this is yet another place that has been ‘abused‘ by the flouting of the ‘No Camping’ rules. I understand now why people are reluctant to divulge these Wildcamping locations to ‘others’. We moved on, I remember having seen a location on ‘Google’ maps when I was scouring this coastline, it was worth a look. We travelled down a very uneven and potholed road, but nothing that ‘Big Momma’ couldn’t cope with, although I wouldn’t want to drive down it in the dark !! When we arrived, there were no signs prohibiting Motorhomes and there were no other Motorhomes parked up and the beach was quite literally on our doorstep, had I found our perfect Wildcamping location after all this time. The thought crossed my mind that we could not have been the first Motorhomers to have found this wonderful place, perhaps the Police do patrol out here and move ‘Wildcampers’ on but we decided to park up and take a chance.

It didn’t take long for us to realise that we were not the intrepid explorers we thought we were, cyclists and joggers suddenly appeared from a track through the pine forest that surrounded us, cars and vans arrived and went again in a steady flow throughout the day and early evening but still no sign of any other Motorhomes. At one point the local Police drove by, they didn’t stop, perhaps they will call back later and tell us to move on !! It had turned out to be a lovely warm and sunny day so we went for a walk along the very long sandy beach, letting the waves rush in and run over our bare feet, we just walked and walked, in the lyrics of that old ‘Chuck Berry’ song “with no particular place to go…..” When we dreamed about Fulltiming, with our ‘Rose tinted glasses on’ of course, we had images in our minds of doing exactly what we were doing right now, but now, in reality, there was one thing missing……..those ‘Rose tinted glasses’ !!

After returning from our long walk we enjoyed a nice ‘Cuppa’ and reflected on our trip so far. We both agreed that everything has its time and place, there are times when you want, or need, to be on Aires, not just for using the ‘Essential‘ services but also to socialise with your fellow Motorhomers to exchange and gather information. There is a time to be in major ‘urbanisations‘, either for sightseeing or re-stocking of provisions and then there is a time to just be on your own, like now. However, it has been our experience thus far that total seclusion is rare, you often find that although you think that you are going to be alone, generally, by early evening another Motorhome, if not more, arrives. Sometimes this is good, there is a certain re-assurance and general feeling of safety when other vans arrive, especially if you are not sure about the area or location you are parked in. We felt totally safe where we were this particular evening and as darkness fell on a moonless night we knew that, for tonight at least, we would be alone. I doubt that even locals who knew about this place would risk a broken axle so we once again battened down the hatches on ‘Big Momma’. We ate our evening meal, washed down with the mandatory glass of local ‘grape juice’, washed the pots and then settled down and watched a DVD. The police hadn’t returned to tell us to move on by the time we decided to retire for the night, Shazza reading whatever book it was she had on the go at the time, I am not a big reader so I just lay there listening to the sea as it pushed the waves up onto the beach, it was a very relaxing sound and I cannot remember at what point it was that I fell into a deep and sound sleep!

'Big Momma' hiding behind the dunes !

‘Big Momma’ hiding behind the dunes !

But we were not alone !!

But we were not alone !!

Then the local 'Gypsies' came and rounded up a few strays , that or they were horse rustling!!

Then the local ‘Gypsies’ came and rounded up a few strays , either that or they were horse rustling!!

Look ! Mine and it's all free !!

Look ! Mine and it’s all free !!

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Right You lot, it's not as cold as it looks, last one in Gets the fish suppers !!

Right You lot, it’s not as cold as it looks, last one in gets the fish suppers !!

You gotta be joking, right 300 Fish Suppers on their way, who wants Salt 'n' Vinegar ?

You gotta be joking, I’m not getting my feathers wet for anyone so, forty fish Suppers on their way, who wants Salt ‘n’ Vinegar ?

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They will advertise anywhere !!

They will advertise anywhere !!

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And what a way to end a perfect day, just watching the sun go down !!

And what a way to end a perfect day, just watching the sun go down !!

We awoke to the sound of the waves gently lapping up on to the beach and to a beautiful warm and sunny morning. We didn’t want to overstay our welcome as we would certainly want to re-visit this beautiful location at some point in the future, so it was time to head for our final destination, in Portugal, for this particular trip.

We had always intended to make our last stop in Portugal on the Aire at ‘Vila Real Sao Antonio’, the Aire is right on the quayside overlooking the Spanish town of ‘Ayamonte‘, there is a small foot passenger ferry no more than five minutes walk away that takes you straight across to this Spanish town for the princely sum of €1.75 (£1.02 per Adult). Now this is important, as in all of our travels last year, this was the only place that Shazza said that she could see herself living permanently. Not that we have any immediate plans of doing so but the question is, was this just the initial ‘wow’ factor of a new place ? So, ‘she who must be obeyed‘ wants to go and take another look, it would have been handy if their had been an ‘Aire’ over there, or at least the possibility of a ‘discreet’ place to park as ‘Shazza’ informed that this may involve more than one visit, their wasn’t, so we would have to make the trip(s) across from the Portuguese side of the river. Personally, if I had to choose between this side of the river, or the other, I would prefer ‘Vila Real’, it is more modern with all the conveniences you could want. It had a lovely long promenade along the river, just right for those evening or Sunday afternoon strolls, followed by a Coffee at one of the numerous Cafe/Bars, and it also had a reasonable sized Marina. Yes, I could just picture myself with a day boat to cruise the length of this quite extensive river, or go out into the estuary to do a spot of fishing.  Okay, so I haven’t fished for one day in my life, but that’s just a mere technicality, splitting hairs, I could always learn, you are never to old to learn something new, except that is for stuff like DIY !! This place also had a vibrancy about it, even in the winter, whereas ‘Ayamonte’, whilst it had its white-washed house Spanish charm, it just seemed to lack something for me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on !! Shazza will no doubt go with her ‘Rose tinted glasses’ on, I on the other hand will be leaving mine back in ‘Vila Real’ !!

We could see Spain across the water but it's not quite time to cross the divide just yet !!

We could see Spain across the water but it’s not quite time to cross the divide just yet !! Well not in ‘Big Momma’ for the time being.

'Big Momma' gets a front row seat overlooking the River !!

‘Big Momma’ gets a front row seat overlooking the River !!

Our ferry across the River

Our ferry across the River

Shazza at the Marina in 'Ayamonte'

Shazza at the Marina in ‘Ayamonte’

I didn't understand why Shazza would thing that I was being unreasonable at considering this as my 'day boat' ! After all I hadn't said how many 'days' I would be spending on it !!!!

I didn’t understand why Shazza would think that I was being unreasonable at considering this as my ‘day boat’ ! After all I hadn’t said how many ‘days’ I would be spending on it !!!!

I thought it a good idea to wear a 'High Vis' vest whilst testing out his raft, I just happened to mention that I thought a 'Life Jacket' may have been more appropriate !!

I thought it a good idea to wear a ‘High Vis’ vest whilst testing out his raft, I just happened to mention that I thought a ‘Life Jacket’ may have been more appropriate !!

The bridge that we would soon be crossing to take us over to Spain !!

The bridge that we would soon be crossing to take us over to Spain !!

And so, after almost nine weeks since we landed in Northern Spain, we have come to the end of the Portugal part of the trip and now get ready to start another phase in ‘Big Mommas Great Adventure’. We have never visited  Southern Spain before, the furthest South we had been was Valencia, so let the next set of adventures begin………………………..

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29 Responses to “Adius Algarve, Hola Espana !!”

  1. anteater says:

    Hi guys,

    I hadn’t been to Southern Spain before either but we had our summer holiday in the hills above Nerja, some 40 minute drive east of Malaga and it was so beautiful!
    I was wondering when you would mention the possible difficulties of going to Morocco…I wonder what you will do if you see just a few motorhomers buying their tickets???!!!! I guess then it will up to a gut feeling as to whether you both feel safe.
    You’ve certainly whetted my appetite for a trip to the Algarve in the future – we’ve never been to Portugal, the only country in all of Western and Central Europe that one of us hasn’t yet been. We’re having a day trip to Bruges this Wednesday and on 10th December, 4 nights in Prague which will be a first for both of us, and the furthest east we’ve been other than Cyprus.
    Looking forward to more great posts!
    anteater

    • To be completely honest, we only did a whistle stop tour of Spain many years ago in our former van, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. We stayed on Campsites so this tour will certainly be different 😉 As for Morocco, if there are only a handful of vans then we probably won’t go and save it for another day !! Portugal is really wonderful although we Havn’t seen all of it yet. Parts of the Algarve are very Commercial as you would expect from holiday resorts, however, away from the ‘major’ touristy areas is an absolute delight and in case I forgot to mention it, I love Vila Real Sao Antonio 😄 Enjoy Bruges & Prague 👌

  2. John Strange says:

    Hello both, lovely blog mate, thank you for sharing. Had to smile when I read that you were trying to fix the bike (sorry – did fix the bike). Oh, I could tell some tales about your DIY skills (NOT!!!) that would have a few of your readers smiling Eric.

    Funny how I look at your photos and realise just how many of the places you are visiting, we have either stayed at, or passed through over the years. They bring back such happy memories of family holidays, and not so happy memories of absolutely crap ‘Hire Cars’!

    Take care my friends. Stay safe.

    John and Yvonne

  3. Once again terrific photos. I hope you asked the fisherman and cockle picker permission to post the photos to your blog ???????? Ha!!!Ha!!!

    • I of course offered the usual ‘commission’ fees of a few ‘Squid’ but they insisted that I didn’t need to ‘Shell’ out anything, global notoriety appeared to be sufficient reward 😄😂😂

  4. Debs says:

    Another Brilliant blog with great photos…… I can recognise some of the places you visited last year…….. Enjoy southern Spain cant wait to hear all about it 🙂

    • Thanks Debs 😃 We should have left for Spain in the morning, but we are staying in Vila Real for a bit longer as we really love this place. May need a crow bar to get me out of here 😂😂😂

  5. Mick and Heike says:

    Hi,
    If you are going to Morocco buy as much Spanish drinking water as you can carry its twice as expensive in Morocco. When you are inland or in the south you will see wells beside the road , bucket and rope job , the water in them is perfectly drinkable. If there is no tyre bucket on the rope have a peek in any bushes around but dont forget to put it back.Have fun ,we will be over mid Jan.
    Mick & Heike

  6. Ste T says:

    Hola amigo! Buenvenido a Espania! We’re just along the coast from you at Torre Del Mar where the sun is cracking the flags and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. That’s for the poor people back home freezing their nuts off! 🙂 Be aware there is little opportunity for “wilding” though as the police locale will move people on, nicely though! There is GPL in Malaga and Seville. If you’ve got access to All the aires in Spain their maps are up to date.
    With regards to morocco, I’ve not long had an e-mail from “Desert Detours”, a company we went to Morocco with three years ago. They run regular tours to Morocco and reported that they have seen no problems from Islamist insurgents in the country at all. I realise they have a vested interest in getting people to go, but they are usually realistic about things there. When we went there were stories in the European media about riots and demos across the country. We did feel a little apprehensive but when we go there we saw nothing. Well actually that’s not true. We drove through one town that was demonstrating but we didn’t know it was a demo and joined in the procession! It was only at the end when the police diverted us back onto the main road we found out it wasn’t a parade for us! 4 motorhomes from the UK had demonstrated against the lack of food subsidies for the poor!
    Seriously, the people we met were very friendly and welcoming. They need the money at the end of the day. Go and see it for yourself. You’ve both got enough common sense to realise what’s going on around you.

    Hasta Luego!

    • Hola, Bon Dia my friends, glad you could make it, about time too 😉 thanks for the GPL Info, there are two locations a bit further South, one on the West Coast just inland from the Aire at Sanlucar and one on the East Coast just North of Algeciras. We will top up before we leave Portugal, that should see us okay but just needed one before crossing from Algeciras to Morocco. We will try not to get involved in any demonstrations whilst over there, no matter how worthy the cause 😂 may get to see you on the way back up, I know you have only just got here and don’t really want to think about it yet but when do you have to be back in UK ? Take care and have fun 😄😎

      • Ste T says:

        We start at Leek on the 26th of March. We are due to leave here any time after the 1st of Feb, that’s when we have to be off this pitch. We might go straight back because then we can have a bit more time to get the house ready to sell. But you know what it’s like! The sun is shining, an aire is free, there’s always another ferry tomorrow! 🙂

  7. Sandra says:

    oh wow, my envy level grows, i so want to do Morocco but my other half so does not. Its like waiting for the next episode of a drama series now – will they go or wont they. If you do Good luck, am sure it will be totally amazing

    • You have given me an idea, get down to Algeciras and you and Shazza can go to Morocco, we will wait over here for you, failing that, tell them we want 6 camels in return 😂😂😂

  8. Sandra says:

    haha, loving that idea. Homemade bread from Shazza and being swapped for a camel – what’s not to like, mapping out my route to Algerciras right now 😎

  9. Thomas Hope says:

    Another great read and looking forward to which route you take!
    And I love this sentence “Before I locked us in for the night I stood outside ‘Big Momma’ to just take in the serenity of it all, I do this most nights, it kind of just makes me reflect on how lucky we both are to be doing this.”
    Keep enjoying your dream 😃

  10. DebsK says:

    Just caught up with your blog, fab pictures as usual Eric and those empty beaches, what a delight. Great to hear you are both well and enjoying life. All well in the UK, bit cold and damp at the moment but that’s to be expected. Look forward to your next installment. xx

    • Hi Debs, wondered where you had been recently. We are dodging the rain here too 😕 Arrived just outside Seville today, likely to stay here for a few days to do sightseeing, in between the rainy days !! Glorious today and tomorrow but bad on Sunday, however this Aire is great. We have EHU, WiFi, Toilets, Showers & Laundry and a bus stop two minutes walk away that takes us straight into centre of city in twenty-minutes. Take care, regards to Paul

  11. carlaencor says:

    reading your blog with a big smile on my face the whole time….Portugal is the best…but you’ll also enjoy Spain (no comparisson in that really)…….we…back in chilly “holland”…and sick, I”ve been in hospital, and need an operation next week!! ……….I’d rather be in Portugal………….save travels!! (did you receive my email about the doorholder?)

    • I did receive you Email and mentioned it in my last reply to you, but thanks again, the photo is very useful when I start looking for one 😉 Sorry to hear you are not well, we trust the operation will go well, sometimes for these things it is best to be at home 😊 We are now at Seville 😎

      • carlaencorc says:

        oeps…sorry…have been feeling so bad…didn”t notice the reply……yes, so glad to be home with this problem I have at the moment….wednesday is my big day of operation….

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