21st March 2019 to 27th March 2019
As I write this post retrospectively I still remember the moment that we decided to start heading home. It is an important trip milestone, one that looms over the whole time you are away. I don’t mean to sound negative, because it is not, but it is a shift in mindset and instead of bumbling around and along the coast with a carefree holiday type of attitude our minds shift to becoming slightly more time constrained where journey planning takes more of a forefront. With a month still to go though, we did not need to panic too much, leaving us plenty of time to visit a variety of places on the way home.
Therefore on our first day north, we only got as far as Ameixial, a small village in the mountains just inside the Algarve region before you cross over to the Alentejo. Ameixial is known for it’s walks in the surrounding hillsides and not to be put off by the heat which very recently has had a definite Portuguese spring feel to it (i.e. think the best of the UK summer!) we set off to complete a sign posted circular walk with Rita.
Walking within the north Algarve mountains is enjoyable at this time of year. I cannot imagine what it would be like though in the summer heat. The walking trail outside Ameixial village.
Crossing over to the Alentejo was something I had been looking forward to as this region is also on our list for potential land opportunities. Wanting to spend some time in the towns nearest to the Algarve to help us obtain a feel of the place meant that we visited both Almodovar and Castro Verde. We cannot deny that the Alentejo is completely different to the Algarve as it seems to have a back in time feel where traditions are held on to contrasting greatly with the faster pasted tourist places of the Algarve.
Almodovar had quite a slow pace to it. We liked the painted scenes on the buildings of times gone before
We had been recommended a municipal campsite in Castro Verde and for a change we chose to spend a couple of nights there, maybe the luxury of the rental house has spoiled us as the last campsite that we have stayed on whilst touring was probably in Porto back in spring 2017.
Casa do Alentejo restaurant was an excellent place to while away a few hours. The food was traditional Alentejo, of course!
The weather was really fantastic during our time in Castro Verde and upon enquiring with the waitress at our lunch spot, Casa do Alentejo, we learnt that the south Alentejo on average is a couple degrees hotter in the summer and a couple of degrees colder in the winter than the neighbouring Algarve. Before lunch we had enjoyed a stroll around the town and it’s main church, we had a little shock though when we peered over a wall to look at what the excavation site had uncovered, we were not expecting to see a part unearthed skeleton…….
The excavationists must have downed tools to go out to lunch leaving this leg bone still in the ground……
We ended up staying three nights in all at Castro Verde and on our final day we stayed on the campsite enjoying the sunshine with our English motorhoming neighbours Steve and Suzanna, another couple similar to our age. We have met so many more younger motorhomers on this trip than any other. Is it because that we in fact are now getting older….????
Our final stop in the Alentejo region was at Viana do Alentejo, another countryside hub town with a castle and historic centre. Again the town was really pleasant and the local people that I met were friendly but it did seem that there was not too much going on at the time of day that we walked around. One thing I will remember though is that I popped into a small bar and ordered a 500ml Super Bock and was charged 1.80 euros which is refreshingly cheap even by Portugal’s standards.
The castle at the heart of Viana do Alentejo.
With our time now finished in the Alentejo we moved across into the Lisbon region. We were heading north west as we wanted to visit the coast line between Lisbon and Porto to see some of the places that we missed back in 2017. For no other reason than that there was a free aire complete with services we stayed the night at a town called Abrigada which lies about 40km north of Lisbon. It was here that I met local Norbert who, when he clapped his eyes on Rita, insisted that he showed me his dog which was a breed that had a blue tongue. It was all a little strange really, as his dog was in his house around the corner, so following him with a certain amount of trepidation he duly fetched his dog out of the garage to show off her blue tongue. He then proceeded to show me around his house which was coincidentally ‘for sale’. After making all the pleasantries possible I eventually left, but still with him in tow!!! He then showed me his local bar where I bought him a beer and then peculiarly enough he wanted to introduce me to the local fire men at the nearby fire station. I was not aware that most fire stations have a public bar in them to help raise funds for the volunteer firemen so he then bought me a beer back. At this point I think I could see where this was heading so I left on good terms and went back to the van with an odd story to tell Sharon…………….
Norbert’s dog that has a blue tongue. Upon research the dog must be some sort of Chow Chow.
Moving the subject from mild madness back to motorhoming, at Abrigada the aire had a donation box aimed at the motorhomers staying there. This is the first time I have seen this and we think it is a great idea. I imagine many people leave some change and why not, especially as the aire is provided free.