The last few weeks in Alvor have seen a mixed bag of weather. Our first weekend was hot with wall to wall sunshine but this deteriorated over the next week with wind & rain. The aire was virtually deserted as everybody left to find better weather or a more sheltered spot. It has been very humid too so everything in the van was feeling slightly damp – yuk.
Two huge explosions on an otherwise tranquil Saturday afternoon shook the van mightily. It turns out that an old rusting ship had been taken out to sea and sunk to create an interesting shipwreck for the local divers. We’ve been adopted by a lovely big dog on the aire at Alvor. He is a smashing, affectionate chap and we think he looks like a Herbert, Horace or Henry (everybody else calls him Toby). He very kindly includes us in his busy van guarding and ear-tickling schedule.
At the moment there is no electricity hook-up on the aire and the overcast weather has meant that the solar panel is not keeping our leisure batteries fully charged. It gets dark here at around 7.30pm and it’s really sudden. We’ve been trying to keep our electricity consumption to a minimum but there have been a few occasions when our lights have dimmed and gone off – thank goodness for our headlamps!
The lack of electricity coupled with grey days has made us think about where we want to “over-winter” and what we’ll need/want. We’ve found that Portugal is cheaper than Spain although perhaps not quite as warm and that the coastal area east of Faro will be more sheltered than where we are now during the winter months. John has bought me a new sewing machine (on special offer at Lidl) as a belated birthday present so I really will “need” an electricity hook-up over winter.
Researching likely spots to stay, we headed east of Faro to a campsite in the small fishing village of Cabanas de Tavira. Just 5k from the beautiful town of Tavira, on the edge of the Ria Formosa nature reserve and very near to a railway station we think it will make an ideal base to spend the winter months. One chap we met has been there for 5 years! Having electricity once again was fabulous as I tried out all the stitches on my new sewing machine! I just need to find some fabric shops in the Algarve now.
Moving on from Cabanas we visited Pedras d’el Rei near Santa Luzia on a recommendation from another couple of motorhomers. One of the great things about this lifestyle is meeting so many like-minded people and everybody is so friendly and helpful. Turning off the main road we had to negotiate a narrow winding road through a purpose-built village resort before parking up on a huge car-park overlooking the dunes and marshes. We headed for the little tourist train which took us over the dunes to Barril Beach.
Barril was once home to around 80 tuna fishermen and their families for part of the year. When the tuna migration changed course and fishing was no longer viable the fleet laid their anchors to rest in what’s now known as the Cemetery of Anchors. I was expecting them to be at sea so was quite surprised to find them on land! The cottages have been converted into a small resort with cafes, restaurants and beach facilities. Barril Beach itself is absolutely stunning and apparently one of the best in Portugal.