Saturday, 28 February 2015


The road from Mertola to Pomarão is a rallying delight with potholes and 12km of 'dodgy road'. No wonder we have only just discovered this place on the full version Campercontact App I acquired last week.The last few kms or so are quality tarmac and a steep descent takes you down to the Guadiana river to meet the border with Spain

The big attraction here, and I think best kept secret, is the place is a Vanner's delight..

Its on the site of a former mining port where the ore from Mina de São Domingos was carried down the Guadiana and exported some 50 years ago now

The village has I'm told 25 permanent residents, two restaurant/cafes and lots of space to lose yourself for a week which is what we did

We soon became afternoon regulars at the cafe overlooking the river with WiFi and decided to hole up here for the duration, having found 'services' not listed on the App

We became Chums with Lynne & Russell who where also blown away by the tranquility of the place and we enjoyed their company immensely both at the cafe and in our respective vans for Soirees of 'heavy wine tasting'

We arrived with an empty fridge originally so spent a day at Castro Verde on a very nice and cheap campsite doing the whole washing for an amazing €2.50 a pop.
Having found our 'spot' taken on our return we relocated further down the river and chilled for a full week (when has that ever happened) and we waxed and thoroughly cleaned the van to while away the hours in between our new social engagements
I have to mention Ean at this stage. An older guy from the Isle of Man who's setting the pace with his dog Mawdy. I promised not to publish pictures of his van but its suffice to say its a 'jaw dropper' arrangement dating back to military use and is as long as an articulated lorry with the  addition of a  trailer.
The four of us took real pleasure in his daily company and he was a delight to meet

The mining rail track of some 14km went long ago as did some of the bridges so this direction was out of bounds for the bikes so off we went trekking 

Copper ore

Portuguese dogs in between constant barking bouts 

The huge dam at the border

The cafe is just down on the left. We left several hours later…..

Another day for a crazy long ride, this time to Sanlucar over in Spain

All was well with some heavy going up and down and following what were firstly levelish rail cuttings, then hardcore single trails which had us grunting just to reach the intended destination

The route back saw us following an irrigation canal that feeds farmland down on the Algarve

No expense spared here with stainless steel balustrades 
Over 40km today but felt like much more...

Thursday, 19 February 2015

South East Portugal

Late in the day we arrive at Castro Marim just over the border in Portugal
We are quite surprised to find the place rammed with motorhomes, unduly so as the overflow car park had just a little space left
Its been put to us that there are a substantial number of French vanners here that have sought not to go to Morocco this year, heeding the official advice of their Government. This could be the case but who knows….

This and the next night at Vila Real De San Antonio are uneventful so we move on to Manta Rota along the coast for a few days

From here we do a couple of rides, one back to the Spanish border and the other to Tavira and take in a  favourite beachside bar of ours at Fabrica

Market square at VRS Antonio

Sunshine and a Super Bock at Fabrica

Clam hunting we think….

The weather takes a British turn and goes cloudy and quite chilly so we head off for the hills and a great night wild camping overlooking a distant barragem near Odeleite. This then makes way for a welcome return to Alcoutim on the banks of the River Guadiana next day

Last time we were here it was in the mid 30 Degs but alas not today so we set off across the river to Spain and venture up the hillside to the castle atop the village of Sanlucar do Guadiana….the wrong way of course...

Several km later we find the track and are not surprised when we find it is closed and under renovation…hey ho!

This looked fun though, a zip wire between two countries. My spine, and Nina, were relieved to find it is a summer attraction only...

Nina is gone for 10 mins down the path to the village below and I find her blissfully enjoying herself in the 'get fit' park

Beat this for a 'Teddy Dog'

So, after spending quite a while waiting for a non existent return ferry crossing, we (re-enter) the river bar on the Spanish side in search of the 'ferryman'
We spend a very pleasant couple of hours, maybe longer, in the company of Phillipe, a semi resident South Afrikan/English guy who lives on his boat here and the well respected Luis our ferryman and ride home

Beers and lots of local 'must see' advice later we wave farewell to Luis…

The weather is set to improve now and we will head further northwards to Pomarao upstream via Mertola

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


We spend a couple of nights at Sanlucar on the coast and all is well with sunshine and a big ride down towards Rota

We decide to take in Seville and park up in the city on an Aire recommended to us by the guy owning the site in Sanlucar. Its on the waterfront and not sexy but will do for us as its apparently only a short stroll to the Maria Luisa Park

Young bird feeder

Genuine Seville oranges...

The park is vast with some stunning architecture and ponds

Always an eye for the birds….

Lunchtime sunshine at the incredible Plaza de España

A huge part of the city was redeveloped in 1929 for the World Fair and this is among its legacies

Reminds us a lot of Siena in Italy

Happy tourist in light clothing…..This came back to bight me later that evening as it was rather cold when the sun went down. Yes you were right Nina...

That Timotei moment….

Time to go Tapas hunting and we find a nice place recommended to us
Okay we got it all wrong here…
We were starving as we'd been walking around hours and made the mistake of ordering the meal to all come at the same time. How much more sensible it would have been to do what the Spanish do and spend hours walking the city of an evening grazing and drinking a little in a tapas bar as you pass them
Next time we do it right!

Wish I'd got the big camera for the evening as the architecture and scenery is stunning

Nina's particular fascination was for these fans

Oh dear another Tapas bar but we are stuffed...

Can easily manage a couple of Vhino Tintos though

We decide that we definitely need to revisit here soon probably on this trip as there's too much to see and do in a day
In a few months when its warmer and for a few days stay too