Thursday, 26 November 2015

Quarteria, Altura, Mazagon, Maracanas and El Rocio - Free Camping from Spain into Portugal

Driving into Spain from Portugal was like going into another country. Mama told me it was.  We stopped overnight in an aire at Quarteria which Mama didn't like because she felt like she was in a compound and daddy did because it was flat.  The next day we drove along the coast and found car parks full of vans parked right next to each other who looked like they spent all winter parked there in a car park.  Daddy said he didn't want to park next to them (even though it was flat) and we drove onto Altura and shunned the car park full of the snowbirds and found a space in another car park overlooking an amazing beach.  Mama fell asleep as she said I'd kept her awake all night and Daddy and I went poking a jelly fish.

Beach at Altura
We departed Portugal with the van stuffed with cake and bread and memories of Grandpappy.  We drove round hellish Huelva which was a smelly place black with coal and pumping gas into the National Park.  Stopped for lunch in Mazagon and moved on because of the smell of gas.  Find a wonderful place to stop in a car park by the parador at Mazagon overlooking an empty beach.

Parador de Mazagon

Sitting on the fence
The next day we drove to Maracanas which was right at the end of a road in the Donana National Park.  It was a very strange place but we parked right next to the sea and right on a cycle path.
Our overnight stop in Maracanas
The town was very thin and long overlooking the very long beach.
Another long beach
And it had an enormous empty promenade overlooked by expensive villas.
Whats it all about?

Not another Sunset
My best day was the next day when we all went cycling together.  Mama went on her bike, Daddy on his and me on mine.
View from our cycle path
I went really really fast and I cycled a whole 4 kilometers.
Me going fast
It was one of my best days and we had a terrible lunch to finish it off.  Frozen fried fish.  Baff.  I ate them all.  Mama screwed her face up and daddy worried about food poisoning.  Nobody died.
And now we are in the wild west.  A town called El Rocio.  Funny old place.  Hard to ride my bike because it's all sand.
Sand like snow

And there's marsh land with strange birds and wild horses.
What's this all about?

And churches and empty houses where the brotherhoods come on horse back at the weekend and parade round the town and let off bangers and play flamenco and visit bars on horses.  Think we might stick around for the show.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What is Portugal Like? (Mama's thoughts and outrageous generalisations on Portugal)

Where are all the children?  In Spain the playgrounds are full of children in the evening or at lunchtimes.  Or they are out shouting their heads off and roaming the streets at midnight.  In Portugal, not a muff.  Many young people emigrated for work.

Roads are falling apart and many new motorways don't join up with any others.  Signposting is frequently missing or pointing in the other direction.  The toll system is varied and complicated.

People don't smile.  They are really friendly but don't believe in outbursts of emotion. 

Seems to have a fabulous climate.  Rain but not all day.  Hot,clear and sunny with wonderful light.

Puxar on a door means pull.

The language although reasonably simple to read is terribly difficult to understand when spoken.

The coffee is the best and the cheapest in Europe. (Bold statement Mama).

Rice is served with potatoes and the servings in restaurants are huge and cheap.  Lovely fish.

Food in shops is about the same price as in Spain but it is cheaper in cafes and fuel more expensive in Portugal.

The bread and pastries are fabulous.  They use butter.

They serve thick slices of toast buttered on both sides.

Strong communist presence.

Feels more like Goa than Europe.

Some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe.  Very green.  Nobody about.  Development is tiny in comparison to Spain and very low rise.

Fabulous beaches with no one about.

Some villages have people still wearing costumes.  People collecting water with a mule and a cart in Europe in 2015.

Lots of wifi.  Much of it free.

Beautiful wool products.

Apart from Lisboa and Porto even the major towns are really quite provincial.

We love Portugal.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The next most beautiful beach in the world and a lighthouse

We found another beautiful place to free camp at Praia Cordonoama.  It was full of surfers when we turned up but by sunset, they had all left.  It was a beautiful place.  And hot.  I took my clothes off and leapt.

 We also climbed a mountain.  We nearly killed ourselves on the way down because it was very steep.  At night it was so very dark.  We could not see our noses but the sky was filled with lots and lots and lots of stars.  Some of them falling.
The next day we drove to the light house at Cabo de San Vicente.

And I kissed Daddy on the nose.

The most beautiful beach in the world

 Praia Amado on the Costa Vicentina.  The most beautiful beach in the world.
 We parked right overlooking the  beach with a few German surfers
 and walked for miles over the cliffs.
 We saw squadrons of red dragonflies.
And sea eagles and sky larks scrapping.
And the sun coming up.
And muslim settlements.
and miles.  We could see for miles.
And sunsets.
And sand dunes.
And stupid dogs.
Small feet.
and splashing.
 And bloody freezing cold drag racing.