Showing posts with label porto covo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label porto covo. Show all posts

Monday, 9 April 2018

A sunny Porto Covo

Monday 9 April 2018 - Day 36

We’re still in Porto Covo.  It was a rough night - very strong winds and torrential rain.  When I popped out first thing to buy some bread, the sandy football pitch we were parked on had several large puddles.  I popped into the local cafe to try and buy some rolls but he directed me to the little shop around the corner.  So instead I bought some cakes (for later on) and a quick espresso, stood at the bar; I think that qualified me to purchase some rolls as some freshly baked ones appeared and were offered!  I watched an older guy come in and have his breakfast - a small sweet bun and a bottle of Sagres lager!  
It was fairly cool when we stepped out for a walk around the village, but by the time we’d explored the streets and the small fishing harbour, the sky was clearing and the rest of the day’s been unbroken sunshine. The fishing harbour looked a little sad. It looks unused now but it wasn’t hard to imagine the hustle, bustle and banter of the fishermen as they landed their catch or mended their nets. I have no idea how they entered or left however, as the tidal swell and large breaking waves were literally just outside the small breakwater; I really couldn’t see how a small boat could survive that.

Our walk took us south along a well-signposted coastal path, past several small coves and inlets, many frothing with the bacterial foam that’s constantly being washed ashore, looking like the top of a very frothy coffee. We stopped off at a couple of the beaches to cool our feet and just chill out, before reaching the much larger beach of Ilha do Pessegueiro (Peach Tree Island). The name applies to the mainland beach, another beautiful duned stretch of sand sitting below a small sixteenth-century fort and a restaurant. There’s an island a few hundred metres offshore, with the matching ruins of another fort.  We stopped off at the restaurant for lunch, the only customers on a quiet Monday afternoon. The old lady who served us spoke no English and our Portuguese isn’t much better, but luckily they had an English menu.  We shared two mains of codfish croquettes and fried calamari (large strips of squid rather than the rings normally served), both came with salad, but one with chips and one with rice.  It was delicious but Cathy took the mickey out of me for eating the half and half (chips and rice) combo that I’m always disparaging!   We followed a different marked footpath back to Porto Cove, slightly inland and passing grass verges and fields bursting with a diverse variety of plant-life.  This makes Portugal so much different to Spain, where chemicals seem to have killed off much of the local flora.

Back at the van, we sat in the sunshine with a brew, until the cooling wind drove us inside, although the sun is still shining brightly.  We’re moving on tomorrow, inland for a few days. The weather forecast’s a bit changeable but hopefully we’ll find some interesting and quiet places to explore and stay over.

Nice little houses, but they've never quite finished off

The huge waves breaking just outside the harbour

Frothy bacterial foam

Sunday, 8 April 2018

A windy Porto Covo

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 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!