05.02.2017 - 09.02.2017
Having noticed for ourselves the number of motorhomes about, we phoned Pedro who confirmed he was packed as well and having to put vans in an overflow area. We consequently booked a week with him over Mardi Gras so we were certain of somewhere to stay and he and his wife certainly make everyone feel welcome.
We were moving from the isolated cowboy aire to a town called Quarteira on the coast and stopped at a gypsy market at Loule, we had been there a couple of times before and if you read last year's Algarve blog, we had an awful time remembering where we had been. This has spurred me on to take our list of stops and put a photo to each one, should keep me out of mischief for a while with 400 or so stops. I also had the thought of putting together a list of things that have gone wrong or we have had to fix with the van, Jacqui already keeps an account so we know what we spend so it seemed a natural extension of that.
Quarteira we haven't been to and turns out has a great looking beach and an Irish bar or two to watch the first 6 nations game. We had parked at an aire on the local market place run by the sensible local council who with 100 spaces, 70 of them full now, only charge €3 per night so a handy income. I watched the England France game and got that same old sinking feeling that our bubbled had burst after only a year, but we won, ugly it might have been and we aren't the only team that do that. Wales next and more people to meet, see later.
We moved onto to Alvor, for 2 reasons, to meet up with Clive and Wendy who we met near Cadiz and Alvor is a really great seaside town with loads of bars and restaurants. We tried the beach first but the parking was all slushy and although others had parked up and tried to avoid the puddles, we drove up to the campsite and parked on the same pitch as last year. We can't understand why people won't fork a whole €13 to stay on a nice site including electric, showers, the works or go down the soggy beach?
Clive and Wendy live in France and do loads and they have had a house built so we intend to visit and pick their brains. We chatted for ages that afternoon, fueled by red wine and Wendy cooked some fish that none of us knew the name of, even Jacqui was getting into the really good Spanish reds we are buying for next to nothing. Next day we met for lunch and tried the chicken piri piri, it was very nice I might have to try a few out to compare. Luckily Jacqui had my other favourite, Sardines and only managed half so i got to have a pack up for the next day. The restaurant was by the harbour, a bit like Mudford but Alvor must have 20 places to eat around that area, a good place to visit if anyone is near abouts.
We also met a Welsh couple who had a bad experience with some rude England fans whilst watching the previous weekend's games in a bar. They were really friendly so we told them we would head back the next weekend to watch the Wales England game with them, a brave move I think for the Cardiff game.
We left on our separate ways the next day, they going east and us west; we just wanted another look at the western Algarve as it's entirely different to the east and central parts. I don't know why the west is not such a tourist spot but it has some brilliant small beaches and a rugged rural landscape with small villages that still have communal laundry places still in use. It one of the coastlines that people compare to Cornwall but it's sandstone again, but the same winding footpaths down to secluded coves.
We found a small aire run by a French couple that was really friendly and we could ride our bikes to another village. We had sold the old bikes on the last campsite and it was now time to try mine out against Jacqui's e-bike, the hill out of the site looked steep enough. I sorted the height of seat and handle bars and checked the brakes and we set off trying to get used to a different type of gear selector as we went along. Everything seemed like hard work and it wasn't just one hill! The chain even jumped off on the way back so I was a put out.
I doubt the bike had much of a PDI so I set about adjusting the gear stops and was still getting crunching noises from the gears, then I found the back wheel wasn't even straight, no wonder it was hard work!
The village we rode to was tiny but sweet and the Lidl car park was full of the weirdest campervans; we had seen more vans in the Algarve than in Spain but here in the west they were prolific! We had been told that people came out here to live all year round in what ever they could put together, we even saw a caravan shell mounted a flat bed truck, not pretty.
We planned to mouch about a bit for a few days before heading back east.
And, dear reader, it started RAINING that night.