Needing some fresh air we drove until we found a stop over near Zambujeira do Mer. We stayed in the area for over a week, breathing the smell of eucalyptus, pine and sea. There were hikers everywhere along the Pilgrim route which heads North towards Santiago de Compestela in Spain or down to Faro. Neither of us felt the urge to be a sheep and follow the gourd. Instead we had many gentle strolls watching hikers with unfeasibly large backpacks, some with sticks, some without hoiking themselves up and down some quite treacherous paths. Large signs warning of sensitive rocks made sure we kept our feet firmly on the path.
We stayed at Carvahal beach for 3 nights and saw the most unexpected of things and made new friends. Firstly on a walk we veered off the coast path to find Ostrichs, Llamas, Zebras, Bison and Deer all in the same enclosure, in what appeared to be a mini zoo.
Every morning we were there, one particular Stag would appear at the crest of the hill and call out to me (and only me obviously). As I am fluent in chicken, dog and cat, I thought I’d try my hand at Deer. Sure enough Vinnie (as I had now named him after the Costa Vincenta) responded and we soon had a good conversation going. I decided to get closer and take a few piccies, which did not come out as well as I expected. This was mainly due to a huge spider crawling out of the sleeve of my hoody as I was trying to take the photos. I think the whole of Portugal heard me scream! I’m just glad no-one could see me frantically pull my clothes off checking for more spiders – I’m hoping the spider was more frightened than me because I didn’t see it again!
On our last night at Carvahal beach, while Sharon was cooking up a storm in Gurty, a face poked round the corner. A guy asked if he could take a picture of my bike, because he loves Kona’s and knows the people in Canada who design them. What’s a girl to say, but of course. As you all know I love my bike, she makes me very happy.
Simon explained he was Canadian, recently had a cancer scare and so decided to give up the rat race and go on cycling adventures. He was cycling from Lisbon to Lagos over a week to meet up with some friends and gave me his card, which had ‘laughalot_fun – bike mechanic’ on it. Never one to miss an opportunity I got him to give a quick service to my bike, whilst initiating him in the ways of Bristle. I told him about Gurty and why she was so called, but I think things got lost in translation when I later looked on his Insta account to find his version of events:
So Kona is my brand. When I am not riding my custom Naked, I’m riding a Kona. The engineers at Kona are true innovators and the management and staff keep it real by provide some of the best bikes in the industry. And best, they back their bikes and keep you riding.
The fantacism of Kona owners never ceases to amaze me. Enter Rachel on a remote Portuguese beach and her cinder cone, Gert Lush (Bristolian for rather nice). Seeing the Kona, I introduced my self, handed Rachel my card and was greeted with “your a bike mechanic?” She told me about her first Kona (stolen), how much she loved Gert Lush and the joys her Kona had given her. I gave Gert a complimentary tune, Rachel some advice (replace that chain asap) and was on my wonderful way. Thanks Kona. You rock!
Funniest thing is, I do remember a phase when I was about 10 or 11 of telling everyone my name was Rachel and wouldn’t answer to anything else. Funny how things come back around!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
We came back with:
- Measuring jug
- An elephant throw
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.
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!)
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.
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:
- Boco de Rio
- 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.