Some of the best village ramparts in France
Not a great deal to report for the last two days! You are probably wondering why I am writing a blog post in that case but we are parked in a paid for aire with power to spare (thanks to electric hook up) and some spare time. The next few days may be short of both those resources.
We left Sagres on Monday morning and headed back to Lagos via some quite minor roads, dropping down to the seaside at the pretty little seaside village of Salerma where we parked in the beach car park for coffee and a walk on the sands. Actually our first proper experience of a beach on the Algarve since at Sagres we were high up on the cliffs. Salerma was lovely – proper sand, lovely blue sea with nice waves and some great cliffs. The village itself was quite small and tucked into a narrow valley running inland from the beach. The big hotel was closed for the winter but the smaller businesses all seemed to be open and busy.
After coffee and beach stroll we followed the little road along the coast for a few more miles before turning inland at Praia de Lus just a few miles from Lagos. The other day on our outward journey we had bypassed the centre of Lagos but this time I made a point of driving into the town and following the promenade along the river frontage to the huge motorhome aire on the edge of town. This is a large space and there must have been at least a hundred motorhomes there and there was still plenty of space. There was some traffic noise from the main road but we chose a place on the far side and it did not bother us too much. There is a charge of €3 per night to park here and there is a service point for water (€2) and waste disposal (free) although one service point for all those vans means that there is often a queue! We empited waste but did not take on water as we had plenty left and expect to use a paid for aire the next night with water included.
We had lunch and Eileen had some laptop work to do as the sun was shining brightly and Bertie’s batteries were in fine fettle. Once all that was out of the way we wandered in to town for a look around. The sun was getting low as we left Bertie and so we limited ourselves to walking down the promenade to the footbridge across to the marina and back through there to the car park. Total distance about 2 miles. The marina was very large and very full of very big boats as well as being the base for all kinds of tourist boat trips which still run even at this time of year. Had we had more time I would have liked to explore these opportunities. Next time!
One of the delights of Lagos is the stork population. We had not noticed these elegant birds before but they are here in significant numbers. We saw six or seven nests just on our walk. In some cases they have taken over old chimneys but they also made nests on the top of streetlights and in one case they were nesting on a platform on top of a tall upright that seemed to have been built for them as part of a supermarket development.
Tuesday was a longish drive back the way we had come. However mindful how long that would take us I did plan in stops for coffee and lunch. The first stop was in the car park of an empty factory in Portimao which I picked out of Park4Night becuase it was about the right distance and it mentioned that the storks had taken over the factory chimneys etc and indeed there were even more storks here than in Lagos. Otherwise the car park was unexciting but served for a coffee break. The next stop on the edge of Albufeira was even less exciting – I had been hoping for a woody picnic site but what I actually found was an area of woodland that was earmarked for development but that had not been started yet. Ok for lunch stop but not much else!
We needed an overnight stop with services a short distance from Carlos Rita’s Body Shop as we have an appointment at 9am on Wendnesday morning. The nearest aire was the Canto de Sol on the edge of Olhao and that looked perfect but since it only took 9 vans I was rather worried that it might be full. After all there were 100+ vans in Lagos and Castro Marim and Sagres were both very busy indeed and everyone had told me that the Algarve was full of mohos at this time of the year. This worry meant I had two other aires lined up but they were further away and the wrong side of our destination and I was keen to turn up in good time. In the event there was no problem at Canto de Sol – we were welcomed by Chantal who offered us a choice of three pitches and explained where everything was. The cost is €5 per night with electricity charged as used. There is even free wifi which is actually quite good as there are so few of us here to use it. The space is a bit cramped and the location is nothing special. Perfect for us for one night but I can’t see the attraction for the other vans here who are clearly long stayers.
By far the largest single nationality that we have seen anywhere in Portugal is the French. I guess that over 50% of the vans at Sagres and at Lagos where French. There are Germans, British, Dutch and Scandinavians here too but they are far out numbered by the French. However we have seen little provision for the French. All official signs that have other languages (ie information boards, plaques etc ) are usually in Portuguese and English. Sometimes in German and or French too. Several bars and restaurants in Lagos had English menus outside and several shops we have seen have English slogans etc and are clearly British run for British visitors and residents. At the Pingo Doce super market in Lagos this morning I used the self checkout and was offered a choice of English or Portuguese voice prompts. This is clearly an area catering to a British market first and foremost. I guess that whilst there are a majority of French motorhomes here the overall majority of tourists here need English. All the Portuguese people I have needed to speak to in shops and petrol stations etc have spoken good English – far more so than we found in Spain.
Tomorrow we go and have our damaged door hinge fixed. I do not think this will take long. Pedro gave the impression that he has little spare capacity and if he thought it was a big job he would not have agreed to do it. Getting there by 9am will be tough as most mornings we are barely up and about at 9am. Tomorrow we have to be up, breakfasted and have serviced Bertie ready to leave by 08:45 at the latest.