It’s raining again. Time to update the blog then. We’ve had a bit of a hotch potch of a week with a mixture of city life in Coimbra, beach life in Nazaré, village life in Óbidos, coastal life in Vila Nova de Milfontes and now van life in Alvor on the Algarve.
So first up then was a bit of city life in Coimbra. And I mean a bit………..just a little bit. We were feeling a little bit tired of sightseeing and couldn’t really drum up too much enthusiasm for a full on expedition. That’s one of the drawbacks of fulltime travel. Burnout!
After a quick scoot up through the botanical gardens (most of which were closed off due to storm damage) to the university and a coffee and a mooch round the alleys and narrow streets of the old town we were done.
We were in need of a change. Nazaré fitted the bill perfectly.
Ever since seeing several Youtube videos of the big wave surfing at Nazaré we knew it was somewhere we wanted to see for ourselves someday. With our very own eyes!
Well, that someday had finally arrived. We got parked up at a tolerated parking spot in the town by late afternoon with just enough time to hoof it up to the point to have a look see before it got dark. The last couple of surfers were heading back in but it really didn’t matter as it was great to see where it all happens.
It’s a euro to go into the fort where you can get out onto the roof and watch the waves from on high.
It was fab and well worth seeing even without the surfers. Now we just need to go back when there is some big surf.
So after beach life came village life at Óbidos. And what a perfectly charming compact little gem of a town it is too.
Completely enclosed by medieval walls it was just a pleasure to explore.
We didn’t feel it had sold itself out to tourism too much either. Just a couple of streets with the usual gift and craft shops, restaurants and cafés.
You don’t want to walk the walls if you are the least bit shaky about heights. No handrail and a sheer drop of over ten metres in parts.
Wall walk or not we think Óbidos is definitely worth a visit. Get there early and you’ll practically have the place to yourselves at this time of year.
So then came coastal life at Vila Nova de Milfontes in the Alentejo region.
For those of you that know your geography you’ll have sussed out that we have missed out a big chunk of Portugal. Namely Lisbon and around. We debated about doing Lisbon. We really did. But after the fabulous time and weather we’d had in Porto, followed by our burn out in Coimbra, we decided Lisbon can wait for another time. I expect it will still be there next year, or the year after. Or whenever we find ourselves back in Portugal. Anyway, a bit of coastal walking was on the agenda.
We walked a couple of sections of the coastal path south of Vila Nova de Milfontes over a couple of days. It forms part of the Rota Vincentina long distance footpath (a 340 kilometre walk from Santiago do Cacém in the Alentejo to Cabo de São Vicente in the Algarve).
Ah, I love it. It’s just beautiful. Steep rocky cliffs, sandy coves, pines, a carpet of green amongst the orange sandy soil and that smell. This is the fifth time we have come to this region of Portugal and I always remember the smell. I can’t really describe it. Kind of a sherbety smell. I think it’s the rock roses that grow here. Whatever, I absolutely love it. It doesn’t have quite the same effect on Tim. Probably because he is fed up with hearing ‘ah that smell, I just love it’ over and over and over again.
After a couple of days of walking we headed down to our old haunt of Aljezur but we didn’t stop as we’ll be back there at the end of next week on our next Helpx. We continued on down to the aire at Lagos for a bit of a reminisce. The fair on the aire put paid to that though. I have lost count of the amount of times we have turned up to an aire to find either the circus or the fair have got there first. No reminiscing was to be had then as it was getting late and we needed to find somewhere for the night.
Not wanting to go over old ground we plumped for the aire at Alvor as we hadn’t been to the aire or Alvor before. It’s fair to say that the reviews were mixed about the aire and we can now see why. It’s basically a piece of land waiting for development and being used as an aire in the meantime. It is in a great location though just behind a long sandy beach with some nice cliff walks towards Portimão. But it’s grim when it’s wet as the surface turns into an orange sludge.
Of course it was dry when we arrived but it rained overnight. If you have a dog it would be a nightmare. I minced across it all this morning on my way to the beach trying not to get covered in the claggy orange stuff. One night was enough and we have decamped to a car park behind the beach a kilometre of so further east. We run the risk of a visit and a fine by the policía but that’s preferable to dirty shoes!
Ok, we’re all up to date now. Tomorrow we have a date with Tim and Jan who we have never met before. They started to follow the blog after meeting our friends Sam and Chris when they were working at a campsite in Scotland. Even though we have never met them we seem to have quite a lot in common.
Of course, you can never be too careful when meeting people via the internet so we are meeting up at a campsite.
Safety in numbers.
Stranger danger and all that.
For all we know they could be serial killers!
No doubt we’ll find out tomorrow.