Zagan the motorhome’s settled in for Christmas, parked on the haphazard sand-mud aire on the outskirts of Alvor, on the western edge of Portugal’s sun-hugged Algarve (N37.124914, W8.594254). It’s €4.50 a night stay here, plus €2.50 if you want the wanton decadence of electrical hook-up! The aire’s a short walk from the town, its small but active fishing port, a rather spiffing beach and about 1000 bars and restaurants. We’re settled in alongside Jules and Phil for a few days, are booked in for an evening meal at a restaurant outside town on Christmas day and, I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the world. This will be our 3rd Xmas on the road, the first being beneath pines on a campsite north of Lisbon (much beers drunk), and the second on an aire with a smokin’ Mount Etna in the background (much wines drunk). Both were wonderful, while both were made a little sad by the distance between us and our families.
Weirdly, for a man with no job and not much to do with the 40 hours freed up as a result, I’m in a hurry! We’re off out on a Chicken Piri Piri hunt, and I’ve only got 50 minutes to write this post, and have already used half of that sorting through photos. I’d better get a move on. Thinking about it, I’m wasting time just writing this stuff about not having much time, argghhhhh!!!
We nipped across the south of Portugal in a day to get here, squeezing through villages and bouncing along some of the country’s neglected roads in an effort to avoid the tolls. I read some while ago roads down here are a wee bit unsafe due to the partially sober tourists arriving at the airport to pick up a LHD car and drive it badly on the wrong side of the road. Not much evidence of that at the moment, although one local fella pulling out of a junction to my left and using the hard shoulder/mud as a sliproad did put the monkeys up me. That incident, which was punctuated with a bit of horn blowing and arm-waving, reminded me we’re in Portugal now. Akin with Italy, my feeling is the laws of the road are seen more as guidelines, and I need to adjust my driving as a result. All good practice for Morocco!
The aire here in Alvor’s been set up to accommodate a steady flood of motorhomes of all shapes and sizes. It has a good reputation, until the wind blows or the rain falls, then the sandstorm/mudbath conditions from the unsealed surface seem to generate some rather irate reviews. Bully for us, it’s dry and no rain’s forecast. No pitches are marked out, you just bagsie your space, and deploy whatever equipment you have at your disposal to expand and delimit your temporary domain.
The air flows with languages. German, French and English dominate, although everyone seems to be having a good go at speaking everyone else’s tongue. The atmosphere is jovial, and folk’s pet pooches wander about making friends or making trouble. There are motorhomes here ranging in spec from ‘Rock Star’ through to ‘Made It’ all the way down to us. I’d guess this muddy area of land is playing host to a few million quid’s worth of wandering wagon, and we’re paying almost nothing to stay. It’s win-win though, since the town gains an additional income from folks staying here for weeks or months, and those folks need feeding, hair cutting, clothing and, from time to time, being watered with the odd drink.
The town feels a mix of tourist and traditional. We’ve had an amble about the cobbled streets, lined with white-washed houses, restaurants, shops, banks, bars, churches, car hire shops and estate agents. Weathered, bent locals sit quietly clutching bags on benches while tourists peer at menus printed in 4 languages. Outside the town a small port sits at the end of an estuary which leads out to the Atlantic. Wetlands, protected by elevated board walks play host to un-identified bods (as my Dad calls them, birds to you and me). Further out towards the sea fishermen stand chatting alongside poles lodged into the enormous rocks which protect the estuary entrance. We ran past the lot this morning.
Right, 5 minutes left, best get some photos uploaded and then we’re off! Paul and Sylvia, if you’re reading this, sorry we’ve not been over for a chat, somehow, incredibly, we’ve been busy for a once. We’ll come over and bother you in the next day or two if you’ll have us.