Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MAY already and heading north.

                                               (There are a couple of links for you to click on)

After leaving Armacoa de Pera we headed east for the PSP campsite at Tavira where we planned to join up with friends already on site, just for two weeks but as well as our old friends we made new ones and got so comfortable we stayed for 42 days (hey we got a discount) by which time friends old and new had moved on mainly heading back for the UK. Experience has taught us that towards the end of March the northern europeans leave the Algarve in droves heading homewards and hoping they do not hit snow and rain on their journey. Other than for three days of torrential rain Tavira was sunshine almost every day and the town itself though not huge has enough to keep us occupied.

As a group we had a number of meals out in various restaurants and one night in the local Cinema they had a live broadcast of the Swan Lake Ballet which was attended by most of the group and one lesson learned was to take a torch with you as at the end you had to find your way out in the dark, mobile phones came out of pockets to act as torches.

Well it is Portugal and the unexpected is quite often the norm.

Camera Obscura
Kit and I visited the local Camera Obscura which is in an old water tower and considering that the lens being used was 100yrs old the quality was really very good whilst the young Japanese lady who speaks excellent english was very knowlegable about the surrounding area.

Eventually we tore ourselves away from our comfort zone and headed north to Castro Verde about 100kms to the north where we wanted to have another trip to the local Museum display of Roman votive oil lamps as well as visit the 12th century church which is famous for its blue tiles in the interior celebrating the battle of Ourique when the Christian army beat that of five Moorish Kings.

Bald headed Eagle no it's a bald headed Blackbird

We set off for Beja seven days later a town famous for its small sweet cake originally made by the Nuns of the local Convent to earn some money and where each day a bald headed Blackbird entertained us. Four days later we were back on the road heading for Evora a European Heritage site, the old town being surrounded by a defensive wall, staying there for five days. It is just short of 2kms from the campsite to the Town but it seems to be a lot further nowadays we suspect it must be Skye kms or perhaps more to the point it now seems to be a long walk there and back especially when carrying groceries. The site was very busy mainly with folks heading south but we were also there on a Portugese holiday weekend and for the first time saw the swimming pool in use with bathers and others just lying around the pool soaking up the sun.

From Evora still heading north we headed for Evoramonte about 40kms, as we wanted to visit the Castle there which has had a chequered life being in the hands of the Moors, back into the hands of the Portuguese after a siege, demolished by and earthquake along with it's town in the 1560's,rebuilt and infamous for one of it's Lord's who murdered his wife, spent some time in penance, went off to North Africa in a war against the Moors and came back a hero. The murder was quietly ignored.

Ah the good old days.

Our visit to the Castle clashed with a Mountain bike race which made parking in the village a little awkward but successful, so after coffee and pastel de nata we left the Campervan and headed 1km up the side of a very steep hill and after a couple of stops for oxygen and shade found ourselves plodding up a track and through one of the Castle wall arches. Fortunately there is a very nice Restaurant at the top of track so once more it was in for coffee. We sat on the terrace awed by the vista before us absolutely amazing and well worth the effort and strain on the cardovascular system to get there.

About an hour after our arrival the first of the cyclists arrived as the Castle was a staging point in the race, water was being handed out to each competitor, how these guys could do cross country in the 80/90F heat is beyond me.

The campsite we are on is one of the better sites that we have used, run by a Dutchman who is making a great job of expanding it and the facilities make a joke of sites in the UK. We are paying less than £7.00 per night, including WiFi where in the UK it costs £12/14 for a pitch, someplace place to dump your toilet box, electric and water. Here you have showers, toilets, swimming pool, large pitches, electric, WiFi and even toilet paper is supplied. The facilities are the equal of the Caravan and Caravan and Camping Clubs except you are not on bowling green grass and you do not have to face in a certain direction or be exactly 6 inches from the pitch marker peg. Seeing as how I am now on a rant I'll just mention that not so long ago on one of the above Club sites we had to pay £36.00 for one night on a flooded pitch because we were not members, unfortunately there was nowhere else near to the Village we had to be at.

Rant over and so is this Blog for now, 85F outside, glorious sunshine and as far as we are concerned all is well with the world, so we hope it is for you.

Cheers, Kit n Jack.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Even 60 F. feels cold.

Christmas Day saw us out for a meal with friends at a
Restaurant near to the Military Campsite which was our temporary home. A short walk of about 5 minutes saw most of the group sitting at a long table with a family of 5 from Finland. Just 10 minutes later we were joined by the rest of our group who had been trapped by a torrential rain burst which in seconds had seen water up to the top edge of the Restaurant door step, just proved that being on time has got to be good. Another table had another 18 folks seated, some from boats in the Marina, 3 Americans and 2 Portuguese quite an eclectic mix for Christmas dinner
The Restaurant is run by a Ukrainian family who now live in Lagos and they were to prove that they could produce a memorable 9 course meal for about 30 people very efficiently and worth the €25. each that it cost, including wine, soft drinks and in the last hour bottles of spirit all at no extra charge. A very merry crowd left the Restaurant in a very ' Christmasy' mood.
Despite what the Politicians in Portugal say things are still very fragile and Lagos had almost no Christmas decorations on display and very few holidaymakers on the streets, we have also noticed a lot of smaller businesses have closed down.

.Christmas Tree made from green empty beer bottles

The 31st of December was on us before we knew it and once more found us at the same restaurant and looking forward to another multi course meal and we were not disappointed. Bringing in the New Year was a novel experience for us because our Ukranian hosts brought it in at 10pm Portuguese time, an hour later we celebrated Italian New Year at 11pm, then finally Portugueses/UK New Year at 12 midnight. We broke off from the meal to make our way down to the Promonade where we had a superb view of the Fireworks display payed for in the main by small busines's. Back to the restaurant to finish our wine and dining before making our way back to the Campsite.

                                   Now that's what I call an ice cream

Once the Festivities were over all was back to normal for us, you know what we mean, Sangia, Wine, skinny diping, sunbathing in the nude all those things that Caravanners and Motorhomers do when retired !! Dream on, this winter in Portugal we have seen the tail end of the storms that hit the UK and though everybody was complaining about the cold, (it got down under 60F !!), the rain, that's that warm stuff you dont get in the UK and I seemed to be the one of the few who were upbeat, have not needed wellies yet. Having said all that the storms had waves climbing the 100/150ft cliffs at nearby Sagres in fantastic displays of wave power .

Finally getting clear of the Portuguese Banking system we were ready to start moving on though to be fair we moved 3 km to another campsite to meet up with some more friendswho arrived at the start of the year and enjoyed their company whilst at the same time were able to visit some of our ex neighbours in Espiche.

February already and we have left the Lagos area and are now at Armacoa da Pera as we will gradually make our way towards Spain and planning where to head for over the next few months. She who must be obeyed decided we needed a broom to sweep out the awning, though I think she was hoping for the Harry Potter effect and we found one in one of the local Chinese shops and yes Kit still cannot get it to fly. Having said that on the way back to the campsite we had a superb Hamburger with egg each in a local Tapas Bar, we are not Big Mac fans but this rivalled it without all the splathering sauces that MacDonald's put on theirs.

The Beach at Armacoa and below a view from the Promenade

                                           Fruit and veg delivery to the Market
Now and again we are asked how we pass the time, we both read quite a bit, keep our minds active with stuff like Codeword and Wordsearch, spend plenty of time chatting with other folks, visit Museums, Castles, Churches and of course Cities and Towns we have not beenn to previously. Neither of us are big on sitting out in the sun all day but plenty folks do so.

Kit's crosstitch, work in progress and on right Gregg catching up with the ironing

This vehicle caused much amusement

Cheers for now Jack n Kit.