FRIDAY 10-5-24

We had a good night's sleep last night, though I think it's the first time we've slept all the way through with both roof vents fully open. Usually in hot weather one of them will get closed during the night when it feels cool enough.

It's been a nothing day really because we did some hand washing first thing before I decided belatedly to set about washing the floor carpet and mats. I intended to leave it until we were parked on some tarmac rather than sand and grit, but in a light bulb moment I realised I could wash them on the shaded area of grass next to the toilet block.

After they dried they and the floor were subjected to a good hoovering from the hand held Dyson. The suction ranges from asthmatic weak up to Stormy Daniels strength. I prefer a Stormy Daniels, which probably explains why the battery pack doesn't last too long.

It's been another hot one and it's still 28 degrees indoors. I did deploy the ShadyDays Mk 1 which certainly helped as the sun moved around to beat down on the side of the vehicle.

We agreed it was just too hot to venture in to town to see if any horses had arrived, perhaps we'd pop down later in the evening when it's a bit cooler.

This evening's dining experience was a barbie which finished off the small pack of chicken drumsticks we bought and a couple of delicious Waitrose Gourmet sausages.

After eating it was nice to just sit outside in the shade and relax, but we knew that if we wanted to take another look down the village it had to be tonight, and I'm so glad we made the effort  because we saw the village in a whole new way. It had come alive with shops open and bars and restaurants busy. I have no idea if it is all part of the build up to the festival or a normal evening or start of the weekend because we've never been down in the evening before.

Once we got back we had a long cold drink and then dismantling everything and preparing for leaving in the morning. The more we can get done no, the less we have to do tomorrow.

We move on heading west. Our next planned stop will be Sunlucar de Baramedena, but it will be the weekend and there's every chance available spaces could be filled with Spaniards popping awa for the weekend, if so we'll move on to Tarifa.  To get anywhere we have to travel north to pick up a decent road skirting just south of Seville, but we're not stopping there.

It's been a long day and my darling Chef has already gone to bed, so I'd best get this done so that I can join her.



We had a disturbed night last night. There are a large group of youths staying on the campsite in tents. They noisily took over the poolside area a couple of days ago and last night at about 21:45 loud music started coming from an area of the campsite. I was only wearing my dressing gown and flip-flops having just had a shower when I set off in search of the perpetrators. It was the same mob again, so I had a Victor Meldrew moment with them before a smaller, younger version of that Romish Ranganathan bloke off the telly told me they had permission from the owner to play music until 23:30. There was nothing I could do about it, but I did ask them to keep the volume down a bit as everybody else on the campsite will soon be going to bed.

To be fair the loud music, did indeed stop at 23:30 although it took a while for them to disperse.

When the alarm clock went off this morning at 07:45 we could have done with a bit of a lie in but our tour bus was due to pick us, and our new next door neighbours, up from outside Reception. We were off for a tour through the Donana National Park just down the road.

The tour started off by taking us around the town, before entering the park. WE touched lucky very quickly and spotted a Lynx close by. The guide said these are only seen on the tours about once a week. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it and so have taken the liberty of lifting a picture of one from the internet.

The tour was interesting enough though we never got to see wilderbeast, elephants or tigers. I did suggest to The Chef that when we next get near water we should point excitedly and shout "Crocodile!", confident that would get the group's attention.

 It seems they've had a lot of rain in the area this year which explains why there's water in the lake at the town and a lot of wetland areas. We passed through a few ecosystems before arriving at the Visitors Centre, where refreshments could be taken and with toilets available. We'd bought loads of water with us and so didn't need anything, and I bet those who did buy coffees etc wished they hadn't done so when they found out the toilets were all locked up due to a fault.

I was expecting us to do a circular tour of some sort, but that was as far as we went, we spent the rest of the time backtracking to the village.

It was a nice enough morning's ride out and we got to see quite a few different birds including numerous colonies of flamingo's.

When we got back I went straight in to Reception to ask if we were going to have to suffer more noise again tonight. The young lady said the group were off the campsite until, I think, tomorrow. A lot of campers left this morning which is hardly surprising. I do hope they all complained on their way out.

This afternoon was spent by the pool, and once again I went in for a dip. A dip being getting in and pretty much walking around down the shallow end. Lying on the sun-lounger down there I thought how  nice it felt to be relaxed. After three weeks on the road we needed a proper break with full facilities.

Fortunately today we've had a fair bit of high cloud which has worked wonders for keeping the temperature down to something like a comfortable level.

Tomorrow will be our last full day here. We've some chores to do late in the day so that the cleaning etc is fresh for when we leave Saturday morning. Because of the grit and sandy bits that tread in despite our best efforts we've made good use of our Dyson hand held vacuum cleaner, though being a Dyson it cost me two-hundred pounds about five years ago and hasn't had a lot of use all things considered. Despite that the battery pack decided to give up and a new pack cost about fifty-seven pounds which is pretty good for Dyson. The problem with using it is that it gives you either 100% suction or nothing. When it can't be brilliant it just stops working with no warning whatsoever.

It's early evening, and I've had a problem again getting connected to the internet, so much so that I'm forced to use the campsite's open connection. In the meantime I am amused, not amused, quite annoyed actually, by our new neighbour, an Italian, who has spent the whole afternoon and thus far, the evening, with his roof-mounted air conditioning unit on whilst keeping a fairly large roof vent wide open. What chance has the unit got of cooling down the interior if it's also having to air-condition the whole area. He's problem a peasant grape picker who's hired a vehicle to come on holiday with, and when he gets back home he's going to complain to the hire company that his air-con didn't work properly. It reminds me of the times we have done a car boot sale to get rid of 'stuff'. I'm always amused by the East Europeans who pick up bits and pieces and ask what they are, and even after explaining it to them it goes over their heads, but because it's got a plug on it, it must be Hi-Tech and therefore worth buying and sending to the folks back home.

We've heard that some of the horses arrive tomorrow for the fiesta or whatever they call it, so we'll be keeping an eye on that with the hope of taking some pictures.

Tomorrow I must also remember to go online and give the campsite an updated Google review. The first was when asked for one when we arrived, but after last night, potential new campers need to know what can happen to them.


Well we managed to have our first barbecue of the trip yesterday. Nothing fancy, just a piece of chicken and a burger accompanied by some chips and salad. It was ample for us as we're not eating big meals on this trip.

It was hot inside the vehicle in the evening, topping thirty-one degrees.  The only thing which refreshed us was a lovely long shower not long before bedtime, but long enough afterwards for the local flying populace to have a late evening meal off me.

This morning we made a bit of an effort to get up at a reasonable time as The Chef wanted to take a few pictures around town, and we wanted to get it done before the sun was high in the sky.

Now I have said in the past that there is a code of conduct between campers regarding other people's property, well there is an exception to this - toiletries. The Chef has lost numerous items in the bathrooms over the years and I have now fallen victim. This morning after preparing for my shower  I opened my toilet bag to discover I had no shower gel. It was the only item I took to the showers last night, so I obviously left it behind in my cubicle. I did check the cubicles but it was not to be found. I wouldn't dream of running off with somebody else's toilet items, I have my own, and besides, folk will return to try and find them once they realise what they've done. So this morning it was an all-over wash with 'Head & Shoulders'.

On the way in to town we popped in to the office of the company doing the tours. They had a few vacancies on the English-speaking tour tomorrow leaving at 08:00. Unfortunately we didn't bring any cash or cards out with us and so had to bear in mind we'd need to book up through the campsite's Reception desk as soon as we got back.

Soon afterwards we entered the village/town, or whatever they call it on its edge where the church is located. It sits next to a lake, which is normally dry, but these days it has some water in it due to there having been a lot of rain in the area recently.

There was still lots of activity regarding the forthcoming fiesta, with large, long marquees being erected everywhere. I'm guessing that many of them will be used as temporary stabling for all the horses which will be here.

The odd thing about this town is that nearly every property has its roller shutters down, and everywhere, other than the fiesta activity is quiet. Why, I don't know. Maybe they are weekend/holiday properties. With the design of the buildings, the sandy streets and few people around I felt like Gary Cooper in the film 'High Noon'.

After taking numerous pictures and a look inside the church we made our way. Fortunately there were spaces still available on tomorrow's tour and so The Chef booked two tickets at thirty-two Euros each.

The next thing on the 'to-do' list was to make our way up to the pool area and take our lunch with us. As we were relying on part-baked bread it was decided that The Chef would stay, bake the bread, and prepare lunch while I ambled up to the pool area to bag a couple of loungers. I hadn't realised it didn't open until 12:00, but fortunately I only had ten minutes to wait, I was the only person there at opening time, beating everyone including the Germans.

After some little while my darling Chef appeared with the goodies. After tucking in I decided to pop back 'home' to move items around which I was in the process of charging, including my toothbrush which died on me this morning. Whilst there I popped my swimming trunks on under my swimming shorts, of which I have two pairs. Why do you have two pairs of swimming shorts? I hear you ask. Well, if it's warm enough I'll wear a pair when I'm driving.

Now I don't know about the cab layout of other Ford Transit cabs, but ours being left hand drive, and a motorhome, has the handbrake  lever between my driving seat and the cab door frame, so its nicely out the way, unless of course I get sloppy and instead of alighting from the vehicle properly, I just turn in my seat and slide out. This unfortunately causes the handbrake lever to slide up the left leg of my shorts, and before my feet have hit the ground..................RIP! The Chef used to repair them but now that I have a replacement 'decent' pair I sew them up myself, not pretty, but it does the job.

So back up to the pool area I went, and before long I had removed my shorts and was strutting my stuff towards the shallow end of the pool. There was a cold water shower to stand under before I went in, but I just used it to wash and sand off my flip-flops. That was enough for me thank you very much.

The water felt pretty cool to me, but once I was slowly in, and up to my neck I was lovely, and I was in there for quite a while, then it was back to my lounger for  bit more reading. I've almost finished 'Jet Man', the story Of Frank Whittle's invention of the jet engine and the struggle he had to get it recognised and funded.

Soon I was needing to return home to unveil and erect my ShadyDay Mk1. Within no time I felt a little like poor Frank.

I thought it would be quite useful to have the option of increasing the shaded are under the wind-out awning on this trip as we're here a bit closer to their mid-summer. Having looked at what was available online I settled for a product on Amazon shipped from America. I can't remember the price but I think it was about one-hundred & fifty pounds. Delivery time was about one month. So I waited, and waited and waited. By the time I needed it they hadn't even shipped it and so I cancelled the order and looked for a Plan B.

What I came up with as a quick fix was a 'tarpaulin' of mesh material. I chose one ten feet by six feet, ten feet being the length of the runner along the front edge of the wind-out awning. That done I spoke to a small business fairly locally who we'd used before and they offered to put me a cotton strip along the top of the sheet, which was what I'd liked about the American version, and sew on a piece of 'runner' which slips along the channel on the awning thus attaching the two together. I did tell her the diameter of the runner - 6mm, she made a note of it.

Having had to chase them a bit I finally picked it up only days before we left. So today was the first day it had seen the light of day. Oh how thrilled I was to discover that instead of the 6mm runner I needed they've sewn on an 8mm strip, so there's no way they can be joined together. So basically I've been dragging round a piece of crap. The only thing I've come up with is to use three (because that's all I've got) strong clips to attach the shade to the awning. I'll have to look in the Chinese shops further down the road to see if I can buy some more, or something similar. The trouble is, even if I contact the company when we get home and they put matters right free of charge, the need will have passed. We've managed without one up until now, and I doubt we'll ever need one again in the limited time we have left of our motorhoming lifestyle.

Oh well, at least tomorrow we get a morning out being bounced around in the back of a truck. I think I'll take a backpack as we'll need to carry quite a bit with us including water, insect repellent and sunscreen.

This evening The Chef is creating jacket potato with a ham salad. I may just have a drop of my Spanish red wine with it.

TUESDAY 7-5-24

It was a lovely peaceful night and we both woke feeling rested. There wasn't time for hanging around because there were chores to do, and I wanted to get the bedding and other bits washed before I had my shower, because me being me, I'd have come out of the laundry area soaked.

The bedding was overdue a wash but we've been nowhere suitable to do it. We used to carry a spare full set of bedding but this was bulky and weighty, so now we just carry the one supported by a double sleeping bag liner which we can use to sleep in if it gets really hot or to be a substitute top and bottom sheet it we don't get the bedding washed and dried on the same day.

With the washing done, it was in to the shower. In fact I had two showers. Whilst towelling off in the shower area my elbow hit the shower 'on' tap and I got another squirting, thankfully it missed the towel, but I was back to square one.

With all the washing on the airer it all looked a bit cramped, and as other campers had used trees to create a washing line, then so did we, only the first attempt was a bit out as I had pulled the washing line too tight and it was too high to reach, so after breakfast the necessary adjustment was made.

Next it was a walk in to the village to refresh our memories, and for me to try and buy half a dozen cans of Coke. Bottles are better value but we don't have room n the fridge to accommodate one. It was good to be back, and there was lots of activity as the community prepared for the major festival  La Romeria de El Rocio Lots of spare land is being given over to parking areas and it looks as if close to the campsite  there is land with a small toilet block on and three permanent dump stations side by side.

The village supermarket wasn't huge but it packs an awful lot in, and although we should be able to support ourselves food and drinks wise while we're here it's always handy to know what shops sell should you need something.

I took a few photographs but it was starting to get a bit warm and so we made our way back - then it was chores time, mainly the housework, but I needed to strip out the contents of the rear garage storage area and have a sort out.

Given the temperatures we are now experiencing we feel it's safe to change to the summer duvet. The night's are still a bit cool but we can control that by the amount of ventilation we have at night.

Tonight we're going to have a barbecue, the first since we landed. It won't be too challenging as neither of us are particularly hungry.

Tomorrow morning we're going back in to the village for another look round before returning and possibly relaxing by the pool under the shade of a tree. Before going down there I shall introduce the world to my ShadyDay Mk1.

MONDAY 6-5-24

We had internet problems yesterday evening as the Mi-Fi looked to be playing up. I decided to press the 'reset' button on it in the hope that it would be an electrical equivalent of a visit to Dignitas. It didn't die, but instead survived to mock me as I tried to get the damned thing connected again. In the end I was forced to put a new SIM card in a spare Mi-Fi and that's what we're using at the moment.

Yesterday evening I used my three Euro broom with a squeegee on the back to clean the vehicle's windscreen. We must be doing something wrong. Other motorhomes drive around looking pristine, ours just becomes a bug collector and the whole front gets covered in them. They had become so dried on, that the windscreen wiper blades were glued to the windscreen. I'd bought the brush from a shop back at the beginning of the trip. Of my many jobs to do before we set off from home was to replace the old windscreen cleaner, but I never got round to it. However this three Euro marvel has since been superseded by the Aldi Mark 2 version, made of plastic with a dustpan and brush thrown in, which also needed replacing because I hit the dustpan with the handbrush rather hard to dislodge something in it and ended up splitting it. This Mark 2 cost the princely sum of six Euros fifty.

As I no longer wanted to be dragging two around with me I left the Mark 1 brush leaning up against the dump station wall in the hope nobody would steal it and respect that it is there for any fellow camper to use.

It was a nice peaceful night at Faro Campervan Park and we were up before eight and getting ready to hit the road.

We were hoping to get away at 09:00 and would have done so except that the 'Reception' if you can call it that didn't open until 09:30. Never mind, it wasn't too much of a hold up and not too long after leaving we arrived at the local Aldi store so that The Chef could have a top up, especially of bottled water, and a couple of bits for a barbie.

The satnav told us that the journey to El Rocio would take about an hour and a half, which wasn't too bad. It wasn't too long before we crossed in to Spain. I felt a lot happier just doing that. Portugal for us wasn't a resounding success to say the least, but travelling around as we did, we did get to 'see Portugal'. I would never go back again, but I can certainly see the attraction of the Algarve, but it would have to be flying out, hiring a car and staying in a hotel, not the way we tried to do it.

The road surface for the whole journey was very bad in places, I did feel sorry for our tyres and shock absorbers.

At almost bang on mid-day we arrived here at Camping La Aldea (N37.141789° W6.491592°). We've stayed here before and enjoyed it. We're booked in for five nights. This will give us a chance to unwind, get lots of chores done, visit the village down the road, which is like something out of a John Wayne movie, and probably go on a local excursion in to the nature reserve.

I made an early start on some hand washing to take the pressure off tomorrow when we'll be tackling the bedding.

I already feel more relaxed. We can sit out in the sunshine or sit by the pool and in the mornings at least, enjoy a lovely long hot shower. When we've been parked up here and there in Portugal I don't fully relax as I've always subconsciously got an ear out for what may be going on outside.

The Chef tells me that we can expect twenty-nine degrees in the coming days which is too hot for me, but then I don't have to do anything in that heat if I don't want to, well except for tomorrow when I've got lots to do.

Casting an eye over the local elections back home, I think if I was Rishi Sunak I'd be very worried about all of the results but particularly the one for Mayor of London. What those voters told him was that they hated the Tory's more than they hate rampant knife crime and his Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which has caused chaos.

Never mind, whoever wins the next election, be it the party of the fat cats, or the party of the union barons, we're all screwed, just as we are after every election.

Having realised that as we crossed in to Spain this morning we lost an hour because Portugal is on the very civilised GMT along with us Brits, whereas the Spanish are ont za German unt ze Fwench time meaning we will be eating later tonight.


SUNDAY 5-5-24

Well, that was a very peaceful night's sleep. The only sounds I heard were the sound of activity around nearby motorhomes between half one and half two, which, having checked the times of the tides this morning would have been high tide just down the road and time to walk down to the sea with toilet cassette in hand to share their bottyfruit with the sea.

The cunning plan this morning was to scrub up and then make our way about a mile inland to Alvor's campsite - oddly enough called Camping Alvor (N37.13506°3 W8.590562°).

When we arrived the entrance was congested with vehicle parked up trying to get booked in. I suppose because it was a Sunday there was just one lass on the Reception desk doing both the booking in and the booking out. Eventually The Chef appeared to inform me that we should head for the area where the young lady told her most of the five vacant pitches were located. We went through the barrier and then began looking. OMG what a shithole, it almost made the first campsite we went to look smart. Just like that one, there were no marked pitches, just a free for all and not a level piece of ground on the whole site. Campers were shoehorned in to small spaces, and each time we thought there was a space it was in fact an access space for campers shoehorned in to spaces behind it.

Having toured the campsite I announced that we were moving on, anywhere. We then realised just how low the bar is set for campsites in Portugal, and the crazy thing is the more you spend, the less you get for your money. The best parking places are now turning out to be the freebies, so it's perfectly understandable why folk would want to use them. Worst of all are the campsites which look more like refugee camps, and nothing is ever going to improve the situation as long as campers keep coming and staying and giving the owners their money.

So we opted for Falesia, about twenty miles down the road. There we would have the choice of a campsite or a camperstop pretty much next door (N37.090387° W8.160328°). Ignoring the state of the non-toll roads we approached the town to be confronted by a detour sign, and no matter what we did the satnav was intent on sending us back to the closed road, I think that was after it sent us down a road so narrow I had to back out after fifty yards with The Chef seeing me back safely on to the main road. So that was that. Next on the list was Faro.

Eventually we came across our destination - Faro Campervan Park (N37.029797° W7.970432°). It's not much, but it's a good honest parking area on level ground, which is something in itself, for just twelve Euros a night including electricity but showers are extra.

It doesn't seem possible that only yesterday morning we left Obidos heading for the Algarve, and now we're aching to get the hell out of Portugal and in to Spain. The Portuguese people a helpful and friendly, and thankfully multilingual, but their campsites are dire.

The sad truth is that there are now just too many motorhomes chasing too few campsites. This lifestyle blossomed during the pandemic when those who had the funds were buying one realising that they could still have a holiday without sitting on an aeroplane next to skanky people and would have some control over their exposure to them at their destination, given the size of most campsite pitches. So motorhome manufacturers have been enjoying record sales, but when campers start to realise they can't get parked at their destination as often as they would like then I think the bubble will burst and sales will plunge.

When we left home we thought we'd need roughly a month in Portugal followed by a month in Spain, but given that we landed three long weeks ago today and are aching to leave we'll be ahead of schedule. For this reason we're heading for El Rocio, a place we've been to before and enjoyed visiting. The Chef phoned them today and luckily they have vacancies. They wanted us to book online, but she had to tell them that right now we have no internet connection, but that didn't seem to be a problem.

So tomorrow we'll get clear of here asap stopping off at the supermarket on the way out. So hopefully we'll arrive at El Rocio about lunchtime. Once there we'll be staying at least five nights so that we can get our chores done and relax.

We've been on the road for three weeks with just one night on a campsite only because we needed a tank of water, and three nights on a lovely camperstop next to the river Douro which had electricity included. Other than that we've been totally independent, so I think we've done very well, but it takes its toll and we need to get a lot of washing and housework done as well as properly relaxing rather than living on our wits.

PS: Only days ago I mentioned about our grey water outlet being really good and when opened going  'Gush', well a couple of days later it went 'SNAP' as half the handle on the gate valve broke off. I do carry a spare, but rather than endure the grief of replacing it I'll try and keep it lubricated and open it with a pair of pliers until we get home.

So that's us done with Portugal, three weeks of grief with the only highlight being Porto and the pleasant camperstop with electricity next to the river Douro. Still we came to 'see Portugal' and that's what we've done. The roads are pretty awful unless you pay to use the toll roads, and the food, just as in Spain is pretty basic going back to the populations peasant lifestyle. Food fit for a grape picker I suppose you could say, although Rick Stein would disagree I'm sure as he'll eat absolutely anything. They say that after a nuclear war the only life that would survive would be cockroaches, but I think that should be amended to cockroaches and Rick Stein, because he won't go hungry, in fact he'll probably come up with a tasty way to eat the cockroaches. As for their campsites...the less said the better. If it hadn't been for our nice walk along the beach yesterday we could well have been the first tourists to visit the Algarve and have never seen a beach.

Camping with the Rough's on the rough


A nice wide path to park on while The Chef goes shopping.


I slept well last night. I think it was because we'd finally ticked the box for Lisbon. It was now out of the way, and I don't think we're planning to go to any other cities on this trip. My darling Rosina didn't sleep as well, but at least today has been a restful one for her.

We had the joy of a nice hot shower this morning. The dump station was just across from us so replenishing and dumping before we left would be easy.

Some of the locations I propose in the Travelscript are lifted from TV programmes like 'Place in the Sun' and 'New Life in the Sun'. Whilst chatting to our nice Brit neighbours from Oxford this morning she asked if I knew about the chap featured in 'New Life in the Sun' who opened a bar here. I told her it was watching those shows that made me add Obidos to the list. If the penny had dropped with me we could have paid him a visit and bought a drink or lunch there to support him. Annoyingly his place was just a short distance from our parking area. So if ever you're this way pop in to the 'Prohibition Bar' in Obidos.

Once we were ready for the road we drove the short distance to the local 'Pingo Doce' supermarket. A chain similar in quality (and price) to Waitrose back home. There was nowhere to park and so I parked up on a very wide path and stayed with the vehicle. Thankfully nobody got excited about what I'd done as I wasn't parked dangerously or in anybody's way.

Then we were on the road heading for the Algarve with a travelling time of three and a half hours or so. To make sure the satnav didn't take us on the toll roads passing close to Lisbon (I'd seen how busy they were yesterday), I punched in two way points for my preferred route taking the A13  and A2. It was a lovely ride as the roads were really quiet for most of the journey. We stopped for lunch about one o'clock sharing the HGV parking area at a truckstop with just one HGV.

The last five or six miles of the journey was a bit taxing as the road was quite narrow in places with a wall either side, but we coped as did all the other campers who are parked here at the beachside in Alvors (N37.124804° W8.595076°). It's a Camperstop, but in reality it's a rough bit of ground with a dump station which has had the water turned off. So that means all the motorhomers on this patch of land are paying nothing and have nowhere to dump their toilet waste etc. I shudder to think where it's all going, but the locals only have themselves to blame. All they have to do is fill in the craters, divide the land up in to clearly defined pitches, turn on the water at the dump station and then charge all campers ten Euros a night. As it stands campers here are contributing nothing to the local economy and are making a 'mess' somewhere.

Among the campers is a large twin-axle Swift motorhome which I'm sure was on the ferry with us coming over to Spain. Now they, having spent a fortune on their motorhome are now camping on the cheap, and being allowed to do so. The locals have every right to be annoyed and it gives all of us a bad name.

So why are we here? Well, given the time of day we arrived and it being a weekend we felt it may be difficult getting a pitch on the local campsite, and if we did succeed we'd probably be bombarded with 'family' entertainment until who knows what hour. So the cunning plan is to stay here with the roughs on the rough for the night and then all being well move on to the campsite tomorrow for a couple of nights. We desperately need to get some washing and housework done, so tomorrow will be chores day followed by a day of playing tourist or just relaxing.

The Chef, whilst reading the internet news tells me that today is 'Star Wars Day', which may help explain why a number of students were wearing long hooded cloaks etc as we walked past the Lisbon university campus yesterday. Apparently it comes from 'May the fourth be with you' - get it? Stupid sods.

Having enjoyed a nice long walk along the beach we are now back home and I'm looking forward to The Chef's culinary delight. After which we may well sit outside for a while, unless we get mugged first.

FRIDAY 3-5-24

I was quite tired yesterday evening and turned in early leaving The Chef to read her book in peace.

We'd set the alarm clock to make sure we were up in good time to catch the 09:15 bus in to Lisbon. Neither of us were particularly looking forward to the day out as we don't like cities, but you can't come to Portugal without visiting Lisbon, so off we grudgingly trotted.

When we were nearly at the bus stop The Chef asked me if I'd turned the boiler off, and I wasn't sure. It's one of those jobs that we just do without thinking. But had I/we? After The Chef had interrogated the ticket machine and produced two tickets there was fifteen minutes left before the bus was due. So off I went. I ask you, a man of my age legging it like a Peckham shoplifter all the way back to the vehicle. Needless to say, when I got back it had indeed been turned off but at least now we could rest easy.

The journey in to Lisbon was straightforward enough as most of it was on the toll road. We had just one other stop on the way. The timetable states the journey takes an hour, but in truth it was an hour and twenty minutes, but I was happy enough, as somebody else was doing the driving.

We arrived at what must be a fairly new bus station, but the big problem with it was the total lack of signage. We asked a couple of staff in which direction was the Alfama, the historical area, they pointed downhill and off we went. It was a wide, busy avenue and it was hot. We'd walked far enough to be fed up and then popped in to a hotel where the Receptionist put us right with the bus number we needed to complete our journey. It was still pretty much a straight line, but a very long one. When we reached the end of the bus route we climbed off close to the area we wanted.

So a bit about Lisbon:

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and the second-oldest European capital city (after Athens), predating other modern European capitals by centuries. Established by pre-Celtic tribes and later Phoenicians, Julius Caeser made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding the term to the name Olissipo. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, most notably the Visigoths. Later it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147 Afonso Henriques conquered the city and in 1255 it became Portugal’s capital, replacing Coimbra. It has since been the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country.

About 2.9 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which extends beyond the city's administrative area, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the Iberian Penninsula, after Madrid and Barcelona as well as the 11th-most populous area in the European Union. It represents approximately 27.7% of the country's population. It is also the political centre of the country, as its seat of government, national Assembly, Supreme Court, Armed Forces and residence of the head of state. It is also the centre of Portuguese diplomacy, with ambassadors from 86 countries residing in the city.

Lisbon is recognised as an alpha-level global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, fashion, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, and tourism. Lisbon is amongst two Portuguese cities to be recognised as a global city, and it is also home to three companies in the Global 2000. Lisbon is one of the major economic centres in Europe, with a growing financial sector, with PSI-20 being part of Euronext, the largest centre for debt and funds listings in the world. The Lisbon region has a higher GDP PPP per capita than any other region in Portugal. Its GDP amounts to US$110.3 billion and thus $39,434 per capita. The city occupies the 40th place of highest gross earnings in the world and, with almost 21,000 millionaires, is the 11th European city by number of millionaires and the 14th by number of billionaires. Most of the headquarters of multinational corporations in Portugal are located in the Lisbon area.

Fortunately it was there that we spotted a Tourist Information booth and managed to acquire a free map which was an absolute boon. Why they couldn't have such a booth back at the bus station I've no idea. The free map was far more informative than the map in the 'Eyewitness Portugal' guide book which had cost me money.

The area was heaving with tourists, and the streets busy with Tuk-Tuck's giving idle tourist a guided tour.

Now I appreciate that Lisbon is a huge place. It holds twenty-eight percent of the Portuguese population, and we were only going to see a small part of it, the popular part for tourists by all accounts, but we were both utterly underwhelmed. There were a few of the old trams running about ferrying hoards of sheep around for a tour. There were a number of modern trams running around, but oddly they seemed to share the same road space is other vehicles, so you get trams stuck in a queue behind a line of cars which surely negates the point of them.

It was hot and we'd taken our jackets off back in Obidos so now  we had to drag them around with us. There is normally a cool breeze in these parts, but if the breeze isn't breezy, then it's hot.

We were going to have lunch at the Time Out food hall which took some finding. When we went in it was like bedlam. The food hall at Porto was fun, this was awful. In the end we came out and popped in to a restaurant not far away where we got to sit down in peace and quiet and enjoy a pizza each.

By then we agreed we'd had enough. We'd ticked the box, we'd seen Lisbon - time to go home. Thanks to the free map we worked out which metro station we needed to find and which line would take us all the way back to the bus station. Thankfully it all went pretty well and we arrived back at the bus station to discover that the 'roadway' above it was in fact the Metro line, so when we got off we went downstairs to the road. That was so annoying, we could have caught the Metro right down to where we wanted to go, but due to the total lack of signage, we had to do it all the hard way.

So that was Lisbon, our Lisbon, our-would-never-ever-bother-going-back-again Lisbon, and sadly the pictures today will reflect that.

As we've already had a main meal we'll just be have something light this evening, maybe I'll have some noodles with a Chinese sauce mixed in with them.

Tomorrow we head south to the Algarve, Alvor to be precise, a journey of about three and a half hours. I did contact the campsite there yesterday to see about booking two or three nights but was told it's on a first come first served basis. So instead of dashing about to get there we'll probably spend tomorrow night on a Camperstop, or large public car park close to the beach, and then look to go on to the campsite Sunday, which should give the campsite and its Portuguese peasant weekend guests, the time to get their Zumba's and band music out of their system before we arrive.

We changed pitches yesterday because the foliage was rubbing against the back of the vehicle.


Things have a funny way of working out. Last night we were to be leaving today heading for Sintra, from where we would catch a train in to Lisbon fourteen miles to the east. It was to be a quite  involved process matching somewhere to park overnight and also reach the train station.

Whilst lying in bed this morning as The Chef was enjoying her shower and hair wash I realised that we had seen a train running along a single track while we were briefly up on the ramparts yesterday. So I just had to get up and have a Google session. After one thing lead to another I established that there was an express coach service running to Lisbon and stopping right here in Obidos.

Some discussion was had about whether we should try and do Lisbon today or do our homework today and make the trip tomorrow. The latter being the final decision.

I'd spotted the bus stop on Google and also found a timetable, so we wandered down and checked it out as well as watching the 10:15 come in. By the time it arrived we'd already been in conversation with a couple of experienced tourists who showed us how to check the timetable and by tickets. Not only that but I found myself helping out a young chap of unknown origin through the marvel of Google Translate. In no time I was answering his questions with the help of the electronic timetable and ticket machine, not only the bus times tomorrow, but the times back and the ticket prices. So that was that. We're all travellers and should help each other out whenever we can (well unless they're French or German).

Then it was in to the bakers for a couple of cakes and bread rolls before heading home.

So today has been a nothing day. We did some reading and went out for a walk this afternoon, managing to dodge the scattered showers.

We got chatting to a Brit couple from Norfolk who arrived here this afternoon. They're only the second Brit motorhomers we've spoken to since we arrived, in fact we're only now starting to see UK motorhomes in any number, and interestingly we saw our first car and caravan today since we arrived on these shores. I assume touring Portugal with such a combination, given many of the roads here is not recommended.

So this evening will be watching a DVD, though not a long film as we're getting a bit low on battery power what with our making short journeys and there being little sun for the solar panel.

I shall set the alarm clock tonight to ensure we're up in time to comfortably catch the 10:15 to Lisbon which should arrive an hour later.


I thought I should start a new 'chapter' as the last one must have grown pretty long.

Yesterday evening we watch a bit more of 'The Thick of It' before turning in. I was expecting the car park to be full again when we awoke this morning, but it was almost empty, so either it fills up later in the day or yesterday's market was a big draw.

This morning we conserved our water because we couldn't dump the grey as we were parked in a public car park with no dump facilities. This hastened our departure heading for Obidos. It was only a few  miles away, hardly long enough to recharge the vehicle's batteries.

Our original thinking was that we'd go to the Camperstop nearest the town which was free to park at all day, but cost six Euros to stop overnight, then tomorrow we'd move on to the second one some way out of town which had electricity so The Chef could use her hair dryer. She has since said that's she's not fussed she can let it dry as we're driving along, she just doesn't want to walk around with it still wet. So that was handy, we only needed to stop off at one location.

In a short time we arrived here at Obidos (N39.356211° W9.156570°) and we were lucky enough to get a space.

Given that there were still a number of showers about we decided to sit and have a read before heading down the road.

I decided to take a backpack so that I could carry the waterproofs, umbrella and assorted bits and pieces, which freed The Chef up from the burden of carrying her handbag, which, when travelling is large enough to stuff her iPad in for taking photographs.

We soon arrived at the entrance to the fortress to find that it was all for free. Once in it reminded us very much of Le Mont san Michel in France, their equivalent of St Micheals Mount in Cornwall, because once in it was full of narrow streets, restaurants shops and Yanks.

So a bit about Obidos:

The city was taken from the Moors during the reign of the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, in 1148. Tradition states that one knight, Goncalo Mendes da Maia, was responsible for the successful storming of the Moorish castle. The retaking of Óbidos was the final stage in the conquest of the Estremadura Province region, after the settlements of Santarém, Lisbon and Torres Veddras. Following the control of the region, the settlement received its first foral (charter) in 1195, during the reign of King Sancho I. In 1210, King Afonso II gave the title of this village to Queen Urraca. Since then, Óbidos has often been patronized by the Queens of Portugal, giving rise to its informal title as Vila das Rainhas (English: town of the Queens); several royal consorts enriched the village with donations from the Middle Ages until the 16th century.

The castle and walls of Óbidos were remodelled during the reign of King Dinis The limestone and marble structure was strengthened and elaborated, while the keep was created in the 14th century, by King Fernando. By the time of the first remodelling project, the settlement had also grown beyond the gates of the castle.

The Church of Santa Maria in Óbidos was the setting for the wedding of King Afonso V to his cousin, Princess Isabella of Coimbra, on 15 August 1441, when they were both still children aged 9 and 10, respectively. Administrative reforms conducted by King Manuel I at Óbidos in 1513, included the institution of a formal charter and major requalification of the urban area.

The 1755 earthquake caused damage to the village walls, a few churches, and many buildings, and resulted in the loss of architecture of Arab and Medieval inspiration. Similarly, the Peninsular Wars were fought in the vicinity of Óbidos, including the Battle of Roliça. More recently, the village was a centre of government and meeting place for those involved in the 1974 Carnation Revolution, linking it to the armed forces movement revolt.

It was a pleasant wander around and The Chef excelled herself by climbing up on to the ramparts though we didn't stay up there as she really doesn't like doing heights.

We decided that we'd treat ourselves to lunch and came across a nice little restaurant in one of the side streets. I had grilled chicken with pineapple which I chose to have served with rice and salad with NO olive oil smothered on it, whilst The Chef  enjoyed grilled sardines served with boiled potatoes and broccoli. She loves fish and broccoli, so she was a happy girl. We had to wait a while for our food and so I ordered a carafe of wine to take my mind off it. The meal was very nice and came to about thirty-two Euros which we were happy to pay, after all we've been camping on the cheap in car parks etc and so we could certainly justify splashing out a bit.

Soon it was time to make our way home. We'd seen all we wanted to see and there seemed to be no point in wandering around aimlessly.

Back home I had a little siesta because I wasn't in the mood to concentrate on my book it wasn't too long before The Chef joined me. Getting old isn't all bad.

Tomorrow we'll be enjoying a lovely hot shower before dumping and taking on a tank of fresh water then heading to Sintra, a distance of about sixty miles. The cunning plan is not only to take a look at Sintra but also to catch a train from there in to Lisbon, before heading south to the Algarve.