Sunday 8 April 2018 - Day 35
Nido’s parked up at a new aire in the coastal village of Porto Covo. It’s been blowing a hooley and raining most of the afternoon, so it’s been read, snooze, cook dinner, eat dinner, wash up, brew. It’s filling chilly as the wind’s finding it’s way through every nook and cranny in the van. It looks like we’re stuck with this type of weather for a few days.
We enjoyed our takeaway pizza last night - Cathy had saved a slice which she enjoyed for lunch - I scoffed all of mine in a oner! We woke quite early and after a quick breakfast of muesli and tea we were on the road. We had a long chat last night as we weren’t really feeling comfortable with the trip. Part of this was the culmination of being stuck in the van together for five weeks (the weather’s not been great so we’ve mainly been sitting, cooking and eating inside) but we also agreed we’d been trying to follow guide and aire books too closely. Towns and cities really aren’t our thing - beaches, countryside, lakes, rivers and hills are. So we’ve decided to instead aim in a general direction, with a rough area in which to stop for the night, but then follow our noses and see where it takes us. We’re both feeling a lot happier about this.
As it happens, we’ve ended up staying where we planned to aim for this morning. On the way we pulled off a couple of times to follow signposts. The first was Praia de Odeceixe - this took us down a bomb-crater road (ie a normal Portuguese B road) to a parking area above the cliffs and small beach. It wasn’t as dramatic as yesterday’s stop, so we didn’t linger. Onwards up the N120, which is a lovely road, through pine, eucalyptus and cork forests and small hamlets and green fields. The next stop was Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small coastal village which we guess is full of Lisboetas in the summer - lots of posh shops and big villas - again not for us.
I’d plugged in a couple of aires in Porto Covo, from my 2015 Camperstops book. But on arrival we found both closed, replaced by a new aire that was on the village football ground; the goalposts, dugouts and changing rooms are still in place! I only hope an alternative ground has been provided for the locals. It’s clearly very new as you can only check in between 0900-1200 and 1500-1800; outside of those hours the entrance is locked. We paid for two nights (€3 per night) which included servicing but no electric. We parked up near one of the old football pitch corners, with a view (admittedly between the buildings) of the sea. Brewed up and lunched, we took advantage of the sunshine to take a walk along the northern coastal path, onto a couple of headlands (waves crashing) and down to a small beach (called Big Beach!) with an expensive restaurant at the bottom of the cliff path. Back on the top the first of the heavy, windy squalls came in from the sea and we sheltered behind a tall sign. We hadn’t yet explored the village but with a couple of nights here, there’s time to look around tomorrow (weather permitting!). Porto Covo clearly had grand plans. This former fishing village has some lovely villas and holiday lets, all radiating off a small central square with a few shops, bars and restaurants, but the financial crash must have hit them hard, as these relatively new builds are small islands in a sea of rough ground, tall grasses and wild flowers. Some building work is ongoing but I wonder if they’ll ever achieve their vision for the place - such a shame.
We managed about an hour sat outside the van before the cool wind and more rain drove us inside, which is where we’ve been since. It’s allowed us some contemplation time - in Cathy’s case this was on the bed asleep! Our first love has always been France. It’s where we took our first dip in the motorhoming world outside of the UK and we fell for the coast, countryside, variety of landscape, food and wine. France is such an easy place to travel in a campervan - nearly every town and village has an aire. It’s normally in the middle of the action, mostly well-maintained and quite often free. Margaret from lovemotorhoming.com wrote a timely and very eloquent post on a similar subject only today, which reflects much of how we feel about France. In comparison, southern Spanish aires seem to be built on landfill on the edges of an industrial estate. Portugal’s a little better, but again they’re mostly a bit tatty and a long walk from anywhere. So we’re looking forward to getting back to France but really want to give Spain and Portugal a fair chance; we’re particularly looking forward to the north of both countries as I’ve read so many good things about the areas. I think we’ll like them. Please bear in mind I’m not ‘dissing’ Spain and Portugal - it’s horses for courses. But we know what we like and want from this trip and these are my observation based on our likes and dislikes.
Anyway, the van’s being battered side-on by the strong, gusty onshore winds, so back to being rocked to sleep tonight. No photos today - you’re probably bored of seeing cliffs and wild seas!