After a couple of great days, we wild camped next to the beach with a group of kite surfers in all sorts of vehicles from standard vans to 4×4 demountables. Sadly the weather turned nasty so no one went out to play, and when we ventured out for a walk we got absolutely drenched. The following day we decided to head off and try and avoid the weather. We got to Seville and the plan was to explore the city and camp there overnight. The weather defeated us though, heavy rain and a bracing wind, so we got drenched again, and cold, so decided to give up! So wet in fact, our super gizmo (GPS, Phone, Internet eMail, WiFi scanner etc) got wet and packed up leaving us in the lurch! As the following day was Sunday, as usual in off-season Spain, everything would be closed, so we decided to cut our losses and chase the sun to Portugal! This is a shame, as what we saw of Seville was lovely and probably the best city we’ve seen in Spain! Lovely buildings, squares surrounded by orange trees, and just a clean and well kept city. Worth a revisit if we get the chance.
As it was, we drove though heavy rain and strong winds ending up just over the border in Monte Gordo on the Algarve where (as Portugal is very camper friendly) there was a choice of overnight parking places. First impressions of Portugal are very positive! This little town is clean, has a lovely beach, and they appear to care about it and how it looks. They’ve got all Christmas lights on the prom with gentle pan-pipes Christmas tunes playing!
The following morning it was sunny so we went for a 10 mile run. Half way round though it chucked it down and drenched us, but immediately after the sun came back out and we dried quickly – probably due to the speed we were running! We then moved down the coast a few miles to another busy wild camping spot – Alagoa – right next to the beach and sand dunes. From here we went to Faro with plans to stay there the night. However, Faro was okay but not stunning enough to keep us there so we headed off.
Now considering we’ve been in Portugal for a fair few days, we only just twigged that they are on GMT time – not European time – so we had been an hour out. Shows how little importance we now apply to time – or how old we’re getting by going to bed really early! We decided to head to a real campsite for a couple of days to allow us to fully recharge the van; do washing; and have electricity to allow us to have a hair cut. For the first time, I actually cut Mels hair (!!) which actually, and surprisingly, turned out rather well! We found a lovely site near Lagos with a short walk to the coast to a nearby small town (Praia da Luz), and bike ride into Lagos.
Lagos really impressed us. We spent ages walking around the old traditional town, and also along the lovely large sandy beach. After our picnic we cycled around and found some lovely coves hidden into the cliffs – absolutely superb – and the sun was kind to us as well!
The forecast for the next day was poor, so we headed to Sagres – the most South-Westerly point of Europe with a view to camp on the beach and chill. On arriving we went for a 5 mile run along the cliff tops and down to the superb and stunning hidden beaches. What was surprising wasn’t the fact neither of us tried to push the other over the cliff, but that the sun was baking and it turned out to be the best day by far! This meant the run, especially up the cliff steps, was a bit of a killer! Sagres is pretty much unspoilt and the coastline and surrounding areas are breathtaking.
From here we headed north up the Atlantic coast along a twisty road through a national park (Do So Alentejano e Costa Vicentina). Lovely scenery all the way along as well as a challenging and fun drive for Mel! We headed to Aljezur which is a typical old/new Portuguese town with a small castle at the top of the hill. We had planned to stay there but ventured a few miles towards the coast where we found a few other people had parked up for the night (next to a “No Camping” sign). After joining them we ventured for a walk which was absolutely amazing and the most picturesque walk we’ve had in ages. Along the sandy estuary to a flat golden beach surrounded by cliffs with the Atlantic putting on a show of some impressive waves. The cliffs were split with some rocks on the beach with some spectacular formations which looked like prehistoric wheel tracks. We enjoyed playing on them as much as we dare not knowing if the tide was on the way in or not!
At the end of week 3, Portugal has been welcoming, wild-camping friendly, and much more picturesque than we expected and hoped. It is probably how we expected Spain to be which disappointingly wasn’t the case.