Friday 26 June 2015

Raposeira Beaches and into Albufeira

Portugal, 3rd – 6th January 2015

Shame we left the bodyboard at home!
The view from the van
The next day when we woke up Matt went out for a short walk along the beach and took some photographs, and then later on both of us went out for a bit of a longer walk.  There were some pretty big waves and not many obstructions in the water so the beach was popular with surfers.  Matt went in the water for a dip after lunch for the first time and played in the surf (although he was one of the few people crazy enough to go in without a wetsuit in January!).  It was quite a relaxed spot but we needed to stock up on food supplies and there was
a spot in the Camperstop book that Matt wanted to try so we headed back south to Vila do Bispo where there was a Lidl to stock up on food en route.

We drove to a spot in the Camperstop book that showed to have an undeveloped beach at Raposeira where campers were okay to park, but when we arrived at the GPS co-ordinates, they lead us to a bit of road outside a completely different beach that wasn't really a suitable place to park.  However, just to the side of the beach, there were a few campers parked around on a bit of a hill surrounded by shrubland so we joined them parking behind a British Frankia we’d seen at Praia Bordeira.

Praia de Ingrina
The next day we went for another walk by the beach, which we discovered to be called Praia de Ingrina (whereas the beach we were aiming for was called Praia do Barranco), and then set off in the van exploring a track over the cliff tops that gradually deteriorated from a dirt track to a path only accessible by 4x4s and the brave, so we pulled over and got out and walked over the hill instead. When we reached the summit we could see down into a valley with another beach in it that looked like the one in the photograph that we were originally hoping to visit, so we decided we would explore the roads a bit until we found it.
View from the summit
Our spot at Praia Do Barranco
We made our way back down the road away from our spot and took another turning onto a road that was only a few kilometres long but took ages to reach the end as it was a rough track and we could only go at about 10 mph or so.  Thankfully when we got to the end it turned out that we had used the correct road and found ourselves at the beach we had spotted when walking (named Praia do Barranco), so we hadn’t travelled all that time for nothing.  However here we had our first vehicle issue, as Matt drove over a patch that was a little sandier than he was expecting and we got one of our front wheels stuck.  We had to dig the wheel out and used a combination of discarded old carpet, cardboard, time, luck and sheer perseverance to force our way out.  Just about the time I was about to have a nervous breakdown and have a tantrum on the beach, the wheel managed to make it out of the sand, much to the applause of a nearby family who must have been enjoying the show significantly more than I had!  We got settled into a spot with more stable ground, and stayed at the beach for the next 24 hours or so.
Praia do Barranco - great freecamping spot
We liked our spot at Praia do Barranco, but our LPG was running out and we didn’t want to run out at an inconvenient time like when we were in the middle of cooking a meal or in a middle of a cold night when we needed heating, so after staying a night we went back to the main road and travelled towards Albufeira until we found a fuel station that sold LPG.  By the time we spotted one we were in one of the built-up areas of the Algarve, so we decided to stay on an Aire for the night.  We opted for one with WiFi so we could update our families, so we found one in the Camperstop book that was on the outskirts of Albufeira in the town of Galé.  This was the most advanced Aire we have stayed
A great Aire at Galé
on so far and seemed more like a motorhome only campsite than an Aire, as it had several wifi points throughout the site so internet coverage was good, and in the middle of the site was an area with a pool and sun loungers and a gazebo-type area with beanbags.  We didn’t see anyone using the area whilst we were there (probably due to the time of year the pool would be too cold to use), but it looked like it would be a great place to be during the summer.  When we visited it was €4.50 a night including water and wifi, €2 extra for electric hook-up, however it was a fairly new Aire and the site was almost full the first time we visited (and completely full when we tried again later), so I can imagine that these prices would probably go up in the future.

Aire at Albufeira
It was a nice site but we wanted to visit Albufeira from a more central point whilst we were in the area, so in the morning we got up and ready and made our way to Albufeira itself.  The Aire here was €8 all in, including water, electric hook-up and Wi-Fi (although the Wi-Fi point was only available from reception and it was quite a large site so reception was poor, so if you’re looking specifically for Wi-Fi you’ll probably need a booster aerial – we had to walk to reception to get signal).

Albufeira itself was quite a nice town/city, although very touristy with lots of restaurants and bars (although most were closed over winter – I can imagine the place would be very busy during summer).  We walked through Albufeira Old Town and found the seafront, and walked along the upper streets.  We went onto the glass walkway on a structure protruding above the beach and found a small wooden walkway that protruded out over the cliffs, where there was a group of eight cats that were lounging in the sunshine.  When we got back to the Aire we tried the satellite dish again and put Euro News on then a German comedy cartoon channel, followed by some of Skyfall in German.

And now, signing off with some more pictures:

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