The last couple of days travelling through Spain were grey, pouring with rain and very windy.
Monday found us camping at Merida underneath the eucalyptus trees. The town was founded in 25BC & has some ancient ruins dotted around including a Roman bridge over the Rio Guadiana. Given the history, we were hoping that the “Centro de Conservacion y Explotacion” would perhaps make an interesting visit, thinking it maybe an excavation and conservation centre – we were certainly not expecting it to be the Council depot! Ho hum, it made for a nice walk even if we did get wet & blown inside out 🙂
Tuesday was Sybil’s 2nd birthday and the day we hit the coast – at last! With only 150Km to go to Alvor, we can almost see Portugal. We bought some olives & oranges from a local farmer at the services to celebrate! We took Sybil to the beach in the afternoon & she had an absolute ball. I’m not sure she had ever seen sand and sea before & it wasn’t long until she was romping around like a good ‘un. We played ball until she was puffed out and then had a walk through town on the way back to the van. There are rows and rows of holiday apartment blocks here but it’s more or less deserted which gives the town a bit of an odd feel. We fell asleep to the stereo surround sound of frogs (or toads) making their mating calls into the night – nice.
Wednesday saw us setting off in with blue skies and no sign of frogs. There are miles and miles and miles of strawberries grown under massive poly-tunnels in this area – perhaps we’ve found the home of the big, tasteless strawberry. We stopped off & filled up at the last petrol station before Portugal where diesel was the cheapest we’ve seen at 1.28€ per litre. It was raining again by the time we arrived in Alvor but that didn’t dampen our spirits & the town looked a lot livelier than the past few years with far more tourists. We headed towards the wild-camping area to find it’s been made into an official camping-car aire with water & electricity – all for an amazing 4€ a day – what a bargain! It really is lovely with the estuary promenade & cafes just 200m away and the sand dunes and beach behind us. One of the chaps camping here has been here for 7 months! There’s even a fruit & veg man who calls in his van on an evening & a bakery delivery every morning! All we need now is some sunshine.
It’s Sunday today & our 7th wedding anniversary. We came to our apartment yesterday but sadly Sybil’s not allowed in so John has very nobly agreed to sleep in the van with her whilst I have the luxury of spending the night in (sand-free) crisp, white linen – luxury! We both had a long deep bath as soon as we got here – blissful! Our legs are aching from all the beach walking we’re doing with Sybil, she absolutely loves the beach but she’s still a bit unsure about the sea! A giddy Skype session to family back home last night was a real treat – I hope the curry didn’t get too cold. We’re off out tonight to an Italian restaurant called Al-Dente & we’ll be raising a glass or 3 of something sparkly, courtesy of Lidl!