An Algarve Christmas in a Motorhome, Alvor

Christmas morning swim
Ready for a Christmas morning swim

Zagan the motorhome has moved about an hour east from his Algarve Christmas location in Alvor. He’s now having a few nights a little way inland, at the lovely Camping Algarve in Moncarapacho (N37.07294,W7.80064).

Camping Algarve Moncarapacho
Camping Algarve

We mainly spent our time in Alvor relaxing, running, eating and drinking (to make up for the running). Add to that long pooch walks on the beach and I really don’t know where those five days went. Treating ourselves to several meals out, which included Chicken Piri Piri and a slap up curry, we also joined a group of mixed nationalities, albeit mainly English, for a Christmas Eve party and dinner on Christmas day.

Algarve Christmas Eve
Post party Christmas Eve
Running in Alvor
Out for a run on the breakwater
Alvor Portugal
Found the local webcam!

On Christmas day I nipped out for a quick run as I was feeling guilty. My hungover run on Christmas eve morning hadn’t gone well, but the others had all clocked up some miles. So I steered clear of the wine on offer and managed a 6 kilometre run around the boardwalk that covered the nearby marshlands. Before I’d finished my breakfast, Phil was at our door dressed in his wetsuit. Time for a Christmas morning dip in the Atlantic. Let’s just say it was refreshing.

Christmas morning swim
Ready for a Christmas morning swim
Christmas Day Swim
The sea was a tad feisty, I almost lost my bikini bottoms

After showers and the second half of my breakfast, it was present time. Jay and I don’t bother with presents, if we see anything we want we just buy it. But Jules had bought Phil a few gifts and wrapped up one for herself from him – all of which were edible or drinkable so no need to worry about having space in the van. She has also kindly bought Jay, Charlie and I presents too. Charlie expertly sniffed out his gift from the basket of presents, unwrapped it and spent the rest of the day eating it and snoozing in his bed in the sun.

Dog Christmas Present
Charlie sniffs out his Christmas present – a hide hotdog (which is now eaten!)
Algarve Christmas Lunch
Christmas Lunch
Christmas Day Sunset
Christmas Day Sunset
Tired Christmas Dog
Christmas Day was too much for Santa’s Little Helper who crashed out

In the evening a convoy of cars took us to a restaurant a few kilometres away. Here we were fed until we were ready to burst. Sadly Jay didn’t get the meal he’d ordered. One of the party decided he didn’t want turkey, so grabbed Jay’s dinner before it got to him. Still Jay had the last laugh, he really enjoyed the turkey, liver and all. After much shouting, singing, xenophobia and a bit of a food fight (not us) we were quite glad when it was time to pay the bill and head home. The whole experience certainly made for an interesting evening.

Christmas Party

Christmas Party
Local moonshine – strong stuff!

By Boxing Day morning we were ready to go, more than ready really. While everyone made us feel very welcome in Alvor, we just didn’t feel right there. It’s hard to explain it, but I guess while we’re financially free, we’re not yet in the retired mind-set. We’re not ready to put down roots for several months in one place, like many of the other people there. With Jay still undecided about continuing to tour as we currently do, seeing this side of our lifestyle didn’t help. It brought back memories of stumbling upon a similar community just up the road in Silves five years ago. Have we just worked like mad to become financially free only to live an English life in a sunny car park somewhere?

Portuguese tiles
I love the tiled houses in Portugal
Dog on roof
Walking around here we are barked at from every direction, even from the rooftops
Portugal Toll Road
We’ll wait and see what class we are when they take the money off our credit card!

So, with a bulging laundry bag we headed slightly inland, spoiling ourselves with an easy drive on the toll road. Camping Algarve with its marked pitches, olive trees and spotless shower block feels like a different world to us. Run by a French family it’s only €9.60 a night (without electricity) and we plan to stop here for a few days and chill out. As most of the other vans are French I was very surprised when Jeannine stopped me on my way to the washing machine telling me she reads our blog. She also keeps a blog of her travels and has recently been touring South Africa with her husband Dominique. It’s in French, but looks fascinating so while we are here we’ll hammer the wifi with Google Translate.

Where will we be for New Year? We have no idea, and that feels great.

Ju x


  1. Where you will be … Doesn’t matter, you’ll be fine and we like surprises! All the best!

  2. Seasons greetings and a very Happy New Year to you all. I have just been looking at last years pix (ours) having Tapas at San Sebastián and wishing we was on the road again. We have a new fridge to source so it will be a while yet.

    Glad to know you are chilling out, it does give you time to think and we loved our weekend stops as it didn’t feel like getting off a merrygoround and feel yourself still.moving.

    Take each day as it comes and we send our hugs and love as support.

    All the best

    Ali and Nick Castle

  3. “Have we just worked like mad to become financially free only to live an English life in a sunny car park somewhere?” Haha that’s classic. Or in a posh field with bundles of new pals all farting and shitting at the same time !!!
    (Sorry for the explicits.)
    Kind of daft in a way and we call it “dreaming” and “escaping”. Ho hum.
    Keep larfin’,
    Happy New Year
    PS Go west, cross the pond.

  4. You’re not alone in your feelings – we spent quite a while trundling along the Algarve and stopped for over a week in Lagos. Lagos was the first time in our trip away so far that I felt really unsettled and ‘not quite right’. I had the nagging feeling of ‘are we were just killing time’ in a carpark sitting out the winter rather than experiencing something meaningful. Maybe I’ll be ready for that sometime in the future but not now! To be fair the weather then didn’t help as it rained for nearly a week but even so a change was needed. After I gave myself permission to tell myself that what I was experiencing was ‘normal’ and ‘ok’ we made a decision to change tack again and do something different for a while. We have been volunteering for three weeks now and the change has done us the world of good. We now feel energised and excited again about what will be next on our travels rather than it being the ‘same old’, ‘same old’. You continue to be an inspiration to us and we wouldn’t be doing what we are today without your blog. 1000 thanks :)

    • Thanks guys, it’s always a good feeling to know we’re not alone. We’ve long pondered the volunteering approach – can you give us a bit of feedback on how you tracked down the opportunity, was it via a specific website? Any other tips gratefully received. Cheers, Jay

  5. Hi Julie and Jason, we are currently volunteering through but there are others like and workaway. Last year I also picked up a book called ‘Gap Years for Grown Ups’ in a charity shop which has tons of info for ideas of things to get inolved with all around the world. I also downloaded Garry Greenwoods book ‘A retirees guide to life after work’ when it was free and it gave me the idea of helpxing. It depends what you want to do. We weren’t sure it would be for us but we have enjoyed all our experiences so far. As long as you go into it with an open mind! Hope this helps cheers Jane

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