2nd January 2019
We have now been in Portugal for one calendar month and have only travelled a few 100Kms at best and visiting very few new places. We entered the country in the Alentejo, a region we have explored several times before, however despite this our first stop was at historic walled hilltop town Monsaraz, a place we have not been to. Monsaraz sits high on a hillside and is known for having some amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the Barragem de Alquera (reservoir/lake). So it was to our disappointment that on the day we arrived the place was covered with a duvet of fog!
Walking along the walls of Monsaraz where we had to use our imagination about the views
Inside the town walls there was a really well put together set of sculptures that represented the Nativity.
Due to the lack of visibility we decided to drive around the near by area a little, discovering two megalithic stone structures and a sunken village. The first stone structure, Cromeleque de Xerez, was a complete circle, like a mini Stone Henge but the place lacked it’s special aura once we had found out that the stone circle was moved from it’s original location due to the flooding of the reservoir. The second stone, still in it’s intended place on the Telheiro to Outeiro road, was a phallic type stone that stood by itself and apparently had a number of carvings around it’s diametre, maybe it was the fog but we struggled to see them!
Sharon adds scale to the tall stone. This stone is called Menhir de Bulhoa and was placed here in the Neolithic period, circa 4500 BC.
Following these stone age wonders, we did a drive by of recently rebuilt and relocated Luz, a village that was flooded around the late 1990s, to make way for the reservoir. We found this story intriguing and we were slightly put out when we found the museum closed for the day, especially as it was only 2 euro per person to enter. Our place for the night turned out to be Estrela, a very small village on the foot of the Barragem de Alquera, which proved a perfect setting to our relatively busy day of sight seeing
Parked up lake side at Estrella, Barragem de Alquera
On the next day we drove to a place called Pomerao, a location that has caught my eye now on Camper Contact for a few years. It is located next to the river Guardiana and was once a prosperous and busy mining port. With the mining days now gone, it seems Pomerao is surviving by gentle and discrete tourism, in the forms of motorhomers during the winter and a smattering of overseas second home residents.
We met a stampede of sheep enroute to Pomerao
Using the old mining dock, Pomerao is a popular stop for motorhomes (mid left of photo)
These places described above conclude the new places visited as once we had left the Alentejo after Pomerao we went to Alcoutim, Sao Bras, Cabanas de Tavira, Altura, Vila Real, Pereiro and then finally Manta Rota, places we have been to before and some more than once.
The highlights therefore of this series of repeat visits has been meeting a couple called Nick and Emma in Alcoutim and then combining to meet with them again in Pereiro for a barbeque. Emma and Nick were travelling around in a converted ‘film location’ hire mini bus which was certainly different from all the white plastic fantastics (i.e. the type of motorhome we own!). We had many things in common, including a love of Portugal, our ages and dare I say it red wine……………….I will leave that there!?!
Emma and Nick’s ‘digibus’ and our white swan neck in the distance parked up at Pereiro. “Cheers guys, we hope you continue to enjoy your travels, see you on the road”
In between Alcoutim and Pereiro we completed stays at Sao Bras, Cabanas and Vila Real de St. Antonio. Sao Bras was a milestone visit as we were taking Rita back to the vets that originally completed all her health checks and sterilisation after she had been found and was under the care of Marie (www.2ndhand4footers.com). We had made an appointment earlier in the week and we were relieved when we were greeted by a really friendly and gentle receptionist and vet called Carlos. In summary for all you ‘Rita’ followers, she is well and the vet even described her as being ‘muscular’, which I have interpreted as a positive as she has put on a little weight over the last few months and visually she appears to be bigger and stronger, she is now 13.8 kgs compared to 12.2 kgs when we had her.
Vet Torrejao near Loule provided an excellent service, contact details above
Vila Real seemed to be quite seasonal hosting a small arts market and Christmas street lights
A while ago now we had arranged to meet up with my friends Kevin and Gio, who spend a lot of time at their at their villa in Spain, in Portugal. We had decided upon Tavira as the location, but also a campsite as they were driving across and would be staying in a tent. We were quite shocked then when we were turned away from the Tavira campsite as we had a dog, so quickly we formed plan B which was Cabanas de Tavira, a small fishing village 4 kms east of Tavira. We had a great few days combining sightseeing, including walking to Tavira, driving to Olhao and St Luzia, with eating out and in. It is so brilliant to be able to meet up with friends and family once we are on the road and yet again, similar to earlier in the year when my parents visited Faro, with a little creativity and flexibility from both sides, it can be possible.
As Kev was the official photographer for our mini holiday I have very few in my possession of them together and this one is blurry! Kev and Gio in Cabanas. Note: we have learnt that you have to be very careful if you choose to serve Cappuccino or pizza to an Italian!!!!!
We spent two nights at Altura where we passed an enjoyable evening with Jacqui and Richard, who were also our age. What is happening to the winter motorhome scene?
That takes us to Praia da Manta Rota where we have been since the 18th of December. If you would have said to us on our first trip in 2016 that we would be spending several weeks at Manta Rota we would have been chilled to the bone. In fact we did stay here early on in our travels spending only a few nights as we were taken back by how many motorhomes are here: 100 of them lined up head to foot using all of the nine metres allocated to each one. Back then we were more determined to find the off the beaten track places and wanted to experience the freedom and the ‘dream’ of motohoming. Now, three years in, we have softened and can see the advantages of staying at places like this as it is safe, an authorised municipal fee paying motorhome stop over and has all the amenities on the door step and of course is right beside one of the best beaches in the East Algarve (in our opinion of course). Upon reflection about this view point change, it could be that we are morphing away from travelling around the Algarve into something more like living here temporarily.
Due to it’s orientation, Manta Rota gets amazing sun rises and sets.
So over the years we have been staying longer and longer at this location and currently as I write this we have been here a total of sixteen days, a stay that has included Christmas and New Year. It has been a chance for us to relax, enjoying long walks with Rita on the beach and bike riding on the ‘blue’ route that runs parallel to the coast line. We also have tied up with Mick and Sheila (our old managers back at Normans Bay) who live near by and they even kindly chauffeured us in their Volkswagen camper over to Ayamonte (Spain) for the day to complete some last minute Christmas shopping. So that brings us to 2019, now that all the seasonal festivities are over, which hopefully will be an exciting year for us where who knows what is around the corner……….Happy New Year everyone, we wish you all health and happiness.
Our nod towards camper Christmas decorations was this bin bag.
Whilst on the topic of rubbish, a group of motorhomers did a beach clean and collected all this which I was really impressed with
Sharon walking on the beach on Christmas day, Manta Rota
Rita also loves the beach here and most mornings we walk to the old fort at nearby Cacela Velha