Friday, 28 March 2014

Santa Clara a Velha, Praia de Odeceixe & Monchique

En route inland next day to Messejana we find the road blocked by the police and fire crews. A small goods vehicle had left the road and hit a tree head on so we about-turned and took the detour via sat nav. Some days later we were saddened to see in the local newspaper some general photos of the crash and the news that the driver had been killed
Messejana was a one horse town with a superb aire attached to the local open air pool complex. We stayed the night on our lonesome having been bizarrely locked in at 8pm prompt
What an excellent facility at a remote village

We head for the local barragems and after a 10km remote drive through the rugged countryside we find a perfect spot at Santa Clara a Velha

Nothing here but beautiful hills and very remote farms and villages

This villa was 'Vende Se' and had been on the market probably for ages. Idyllic setting but could only really be a holiday residence as its way too remote

Plant thieves will be shot or something along those lines…..

Or burned in oil….

These guys have protection it seems

If only I could name them...

Next day we make a return visit to Praia de Odeceixe where we stayed last year at the water's edge for two superb nights.
Trouble was they were turning it in to a new car park!

The bar was closed but then I guess 'eorr eorr eorralways says that :(

The short story is:
We park up mid afternoon some way back from the beach but still OK
Watch 3 large hippie buses/lorries arrive, let loose several large dogs and coral themselves
Enjoy our dinner cooked by Chef Nina
Listen to retro music from way back when
Start listening to alternative 'pot' induced wailing and shouting from our neighbours
Drive in the dark to the other side of the river to the cliff tops where there are thankfully several 'duddies' like us in vans looking for a restful nights' kip
To be fair it was a remote spot and they were harmless enough….

Towels don't wash themselves so its off to Monchique and this excellent little site in the hills
Good hot showers, serviced pitches and a friendly welcome

A dirt track gets you here from the main road that sports several good restaurants

One of those restaurants and a 3 hour lunch mainly due to..

…these ladies, Margo and her lovely mum Claire
Two very nice Canadians we had the pleasure of spending the rest of the afternoon with. They later spotted us trekking up the road to Monchique and we met up for beers in the village
A much needed lift from them back to the van (as ever my back knows when to play up) and more coffee and good chat ensued
Now all we need to do is save up for a trip to Canada!

Monday, 24 March 2014


The beach location over the estuary to Milfontes was great for lunch but not for overnight as it was quite busy with passing restaurant bound traffic which made it a dust bowl so off we trundled

The coastline here is stunning with endless rugged bays and almost deserted footpaths

We end up at Cavaleiro parked next to the lighthouse and a bizarrely located football pitch

Thats us initially at the cliff tops but too much sea noise and me feeling jittery about what was a few metres in front of us made me move the van back to the calm of the lighthouse

'Precarious' is obviously not in a Stork's avian vocabulary 

The location was definitely 'back of the net'

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Vila Nova De Milfontes

Just down the coast south of Sines lies Vila Nova de Milfontes and a choice of campsites for us to do the laundry

We chose same as last year with Camping Milfontes which is quite informal and relaxed

At first glance these can be quite alarming, laying all over the site and resembling bolts having dropped off vans. Seeds really…..

A walk at lunch in to town and its a little less windswept than when when last we came

I take back what I said before about the cuisine being average here in Portugal. We've had a few lunches recently that have been simply excellent and this place has been the best

View from the restaurant terrace of where we'll stay in a few days

Says it all really….

A final mention here for these two characters
Ray & Anne were great company for the two nights we were on site, sitting around his makeshift brazier burning huge pine cones and whatever else the 'hunter gatherer' could forage
Lots of wine, smoke and mild silliness from the 'shoe burner' left us with big smiles on our departure

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Alqueva Barragem & Santo Andre

In sight of Monsaraz lies the enormous reservoir (barragem) called Barragem de Alqueva with its mighty dam being the largest in Western Europe

The largest sluice gates I've seen

Pretty google picture in full daylight….

I'm not sure why either…..but its art!

So is this….

This was poetry, a balmy dusk listening to the nearby 'frog chorus' and staring at the full moon

Next day we randomly visit a service area at Lousal, Grandola and go walkabout after some sun worshipping on the aire

Not the only ones..

Around the corner in a quite pretty village lies the remnants of the local Pyrite mine and a new visitor centre, sadly closed till the morrow

What other country would allow you to wander round a disused mine and peer down the mineshaft, great!
To be fair there was a rusty barrier around the shaft but the urchins back home would soon be over it and lost forever, food for thought when next you plan a trip!

It all went wrong after lights out as we, and another van, suffered the relentless nightmare that is 'the Portuguese Barking Dog syndrome'
Not barking really, more a random collection of high pitched squeals and barks designed to annoy everyone in the village who has ignored it all day
We decided we needed the rest and soon departed for a quiet spot at Grandola 20km away

Finally we make the leap to the coast at Santo Andre and a favourite spot of ours from last year

At the end of a track behind the dunes and the crashing sea we encamp for a few days of bliss

The local fishermen come down here for the evening and catch their 'gold' for the restaurants

We love this place, few folks and beautiful beaches