Ode de sexy – a town of two halves

Is it Bert or Ernie?

Time for a few days on a campsite for our usual ablutions and top-ups. There was a site cat we affectionately named ‘Big Balls’ who worked the campsite looking for unsuspecting humans. He soon sussed out the only thing on offer from us was spicy veg and quickly moved onto the next bunch of suckers! – Spice up your veg, every boy every girl, Spice up your veg, wooo hoooo

Lidled up our cupboards and off we went, down the coast to the next beach and town of two halfs – Odeceixe. 3km inland was a small town and further down Praia de Oxeciexe.

Exploring the town, we found it a bit strange as the local Indian restaurant workers seemed to have a day off and kept popping up from alley ways and lanes asking if they could take photos of us, if we had any children and how old were we? Fortunately for them we made it clear, we were definitely not looking to get married and no we didn’t want any more children. Still the town was charming.

We then followed the surfers – which seems a bit of a theme, to the beach for a couple of days. Biggest trauma we had, was me leaving my trainers outside Gurty, and then driving off forgetting what I’d done. The next morning, we re-traced our steps and some lovely person had left my trainers on top of a fence in the car park – phew I love my trainers!

In the Algarve darling.

The winds were picking up from the Atlantic, so we thought we’d go South side. On the way we thought it might be time for another Workaway experience. We connected with Andi who lived on Frog farm. He didn’t have any work for us, but said we were welcome to stay on his land – result! Work is overrated anyway.

He sent me a Google maps location and we headed towards Budens. At the designated roundabout we turned off and headed into the hills. This was Gurty’s first experience of true off-roading, when we discovered the tarmac finished 50m outstide the village and it was now a rough stone / sand track. Not to be deterred we headed up boneshaker alley, with Google maps having a headfit cos we weren’t on no road. Luckily I’d changed the icon on Sally satnav to a 4×4 tonka truck, so on screen it all looked okay!

Our first instruction was look for the English guy at the top of the hill and turn left – simples. We found said English guy, who directed us right and therein followed an hour of back and forth, up and down tracks. Luckily each of the people we passed and asked for help were English. Unluckily they didn’t know who we were talking about.

Finally a guy on a Trials bike stopped and said ‘You don’t want to stay at Andi’s, he’s a right idiot’ or words to that effect. Our new friend Dave, instead took us to a lovely space up by a lake not far from his bus, where we stopped for a couple of days to reassess the situation, and work out how we got back onto a road. He had 3 lovely dogs and looked after us, sorting out some bits and pieces.

We spent the days watching the shepherd herd his goats, the farmer fill his water tank and fish jumping out of the lake – we reckon there was a Nessie in there.

We gave up on the noWorkaway and at the same time ran out of gas – time to go to the big smoke for a top up. Lagos here we come.

Laid back in Lagos

Come on without
come on within
You ain’t seen nothing like the Mighty Quim!

This was the first time filling up LPG autogas, but with the help of a friendly Portuguese girl we managed to give Gurty with all she needed, we even worked out the correct regulator – bit scary but between the three of us we worked it out. Next stop Lidl and then beach!

Looking for a good park up on the edge of Lagos town, we stopped at Mia Praia and the aptly named Bar Quim. Not sure what the Portuguese translation is, but it made us giggle – not that it takes much.

We explored the beach, but not too far to the left – as that was the nudist beach and still being used, good going since it was the beginning of November. I got on my trusty bike and went for an explore along the cycle paths into Lagos. This bought back fond memories of a previous holiday with the fam. Lagos old town is gorgeous and well worth a visit.

Footbridge by the marinaBig boat
Lagos Marina
Big boat coming
Part of Castle walls
The Mayor’s gaff
Better than the fountains in Wessun
November sunshine

A tale of three beaches

Image result for egrets
Boco de Rio – Twitcher’s heaven
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Borraca – hippie Armageddon
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Fishing village Salema – just called Salem cos black cats every where you looked

We first headed to Boco de Rio a windswept beach where we practised our hill climbing and bird watching skills. We had the most amazing views from Gurty of so many birds, most we didn’t have a clue what their official titles were so we made our own names up:

  • Egrets – I have a few, but then again…
  • Waggy tail orange beak oojamiflip
  • Fuck me that’s a bloody big eagle type thingy
  • Heron disguised as a peacock (hiding in reeds)
  • Lesser spotted twitcher – big camera lens and socks with crocs!

Next we thought we’d be a bit more adventurous and look for the so called hippy beach – Barranco. Well it was certainly an education. First we got lost on the track and turned off onto what turned out to be the coastal footpath. Luckily we stopped to re-assess the situation, because we saw a Swiss guy trying to push his car back the other way with the rear wheel hanging off. Next path took us 3 km down boneshaker alley to the beach.

Arriving there it was a bit like walking into a 60’s acid party – hippies to the left, lost-its to the right and not sure quite what was going on in the middle. We stayed one night being lulled to sleep by the Belgian parked up next door, who had a ginormous boom box with extra lights blasting out Bees Gees and Europop at full blast. When awaking the next morning to rain, we discovered two complete lost-its asleep under the van with a shopping trolley of possessions and their clothes drying on it. Time for a sharp exit towards sanity and definitely no pics of the carnage.

Definitely a road here somewhere??
Full moon mayhem at Barranco
watch out watch out
there’s a lost-it about

Back on a road, we headed 2km east and found Sun-drenched Salema and a parkup with toilets and a running tap such luxuries – whoop whoop. What a difference 2km can make.

Just hanging around

Cool for cats

Landing at Selema was wonderful. A beautiful town frequented by many expats, exercising their dogs on the beach and lunching by the harbour. We stopped for a fish and prawn lunch – mmm meat, and were soon surrounded by the town cats, who fled when the cafe owner produced a water pistol. The cats are fearless and the most well fed feral cats I have ever seen, they are everywhere around the town particularly when when fishing boats come in.

We went off for a couple of days to Espiche to catch up with some friends who were running the local flea market. We made a list of important items:

  • Fishing rod
  • Funnel
  • Bikini
  • Vegetables

We came back with:

  • Measuring jug
  • Socks
  • An elephant throw
  • Vegetables

So all in all a successful mission!

We quickly got into the routine of walking 2/3 time a day along the beach, up / down the steps, until the tide ate up the steps and we were left wave-watching. One of my new favourite pastimes alongside: breathing, smelling, smiling and farting. Who knew vegetables could be so lively and the extra impetus helps get one up the hills.

Portimaio pampering

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After a 3 or 4 days we were perusing the local events calendar we found a ‘Happy Hour’ spa session for 10 euros at a 5* hotel in the upmarket seaside resort of Portimao. Giving each other a bit of a sniff over, we agreed a wash would be amazing, a thorough slough, even better, so off we headed. We parked up in the middle of town, much to the amusement of the local police who gave us a friendly wave, whilst watching my driving abilities in tight spaces i.e. I didn’t scratch their car whilst driving into the designated space, (well one and half spaces then!)

Spa Happy hour

Once steam cleaned and gleaming we headed out for an ‘All you can Eat’ buffet at a local Portuguese restaurant, its hard work relaxing you know. Back to Gurty and back to Selema for a well earned rest.

Bimbling around

Gurty in her natural environment

In the last couple of weeks, we have become experts in doing nothing. Feeling at home around the Budens area we have been meandering back and forth between our favourite places:

  • Salema
  • Boco de Rio
  • Lagos
  • Cabanas Velhas

Our twitching abilities have reached new heights and Gurty is the perfect hide. We have amazing times watching all our feathered friends, only to watch them all disappear the moment the lens louts turn up stomping through the grass in their bright red hoodies and luminous crocs. Twitchers go and the birds all come back to continue our show – magic.

We decided Gurty needed a battery top up run and thought we’d head to somewhere new, Praia de Luz. A massive 11 km up the coast we dipsy-doodled. We’ve been to Luz about 7 years ago with the fam and had very fond memories. Last time we stayed in a posh house with a posh price, this time we parked up on the lane almost directly outside and enjoyed the same views for free. Though admittedly the facilities were a bit further away!

Next stop Lagos for food top up and to look for some bits for Gurty.

Things I’ve learnt in Portugal (so far)

Whose the best on the block then?
  • Be sure you understand how to use the Tumble driers at the local InterMarche or your slippers may come out smaller than when they went in. Accidentally programmed it for 80 mins – I think everything was a size smaller when it came out – apart from the queue of people waiting to use it – oops
  • Make sure when you air your bed that you have removed all items underneath it before going to bed. Sleeping on a head torch is not the way forward for happy knees.
  • Beware of sequins, they look so sparkly and pretty, but in secret they are skin slashers. I upcycled an old bag and shortened the strap which had sequins on it. Wore it for one day until Shar screeched – WTF look at your neck. Looked like I’d had an argument with myself. I was not allowed out in public without a scarf on until it healed!
  • Shower gel is not moisturiser, but it can be effective as a facial chemical peel. Bought what I thought was moisturiser and was liberally applying it until my face got drier and redder. Shar told me the error of my ways and after 3 days of face peeling and remoisturising with good old faithful Nivea, I now have a new face – 10 years younger!
  • I think the moral is – I need to slow down even more!!
Minding our own business and this lot showed up in our garden!

Back and forth

Dinotasric

After the Christmas house-sit, it was time to return to the UK for catch up with family and friends and to get the latest on the ever expanding dinosaur situation. A whirlwind tour was undertaken whilst Gurty was left in capable hands at Faro Campervan Park. It was fab to catch up with everyone and have a boogie for Rocky’s 50th. What a great gang we are!

As Storm Ciara rolled in it was time to escape back to the wheels of Gurty and leave everyone to it – you’re welcome -:)

Portugal was shining when I got back and spent a couple of days at the Camper Park. I went for an explore on my bike, and was astounded by the wilderness and beauty just at the end of the road, despite being in the middle of Faro.

With trusty map in hand, I followed the directions – straight across at the roundabout. So I gamely attacked the single track in front of me and headed off. An hour later I have gone round and round and up and down many bumpy dusty tracks, always coming out at the same spot and no beach in sight. I decide to go back to the top of the hill and follow the road, only to realise this is where I should have been in the first place. Never did have a sense of direction!

I passed Salt mountains and marshes, smelt the stinking rich at the luxury Golf course (which was trying to disguise itself as a bird sanctuary – I think I only muttered ‘Wankers!’ once! I could now see the beach, but it was taped off for a local event. Finally after talking my way through the tape via a very lovely steward, I cycled across the boardwalk as lithe athletes ran out of the sea discarding their swimsuits and jumping on bikes – a triathlon how marvellous.

Welcome to Spain or is it Euskadi?

For the first time we took the Toll roads to get us passed the big cities of Biarritz (France) and San Sebastian (Spain). It was a challenge using the toll booths as I had to almost climb out of the window to reach the payment point whilst trying to work out where / how to do if contactless style / cash, then get back in and move off before the barrier comes back down. Some you paid on the main toll, others when you were on the slipway to the next road.

We were practising all the key Spanish phrases we thought we’d need – No hablo espaƱol, when actually we needed to say – Ez dakit euskaraz because the main language is Euskara. As you can see no similarities!!

We stopped and picked a point on the coast and using trusty SearchforSites aimed for a campsite in Matrika. Looks simple on the map, but there was a fairly quick introduction to the vagaries of their roads – up down round and round, hairpins here there and everywhere. Narrow roads that even made Shar squeak a couple of times, but we made it to the campsite in 2nd gear and in one piece.

It was time for a clean out of French sand, cheese, wine etc and everyone had a wash. Time for a rest before more exploration