Heading south…. wonderful scenery!

3 great days meandering south down the west coast of Portugal. Temperatures 28 -30 degrees☺ 

Firstly a visit to Monserrate Palace near Sintra. Wow! Created by an Englishman in the 1750s who employed the Head gardener from Kew, and laid out massive English style gardens on the steep hillside. House was in the arabic style and has recently been restored.

 

We decided to bypass Lisbon and Sintra on this trip, and so headed south before visiting a super bird reserve at  Lago Pequena, then driving through the beautiful scenery of the Parque natural da Arrabida, where we camped in the ecopark near Setubal.   8 euros with full if simple facilities and electric hook up, and facing the sea.

Day 2 we headed for the south-west coast of Portugal. En route we saw the great sight of storks nesting on pylons! 

Remote, undeveloped and with the best scenery… we loved it. Our first objective was a local seafood restaurant… restaurant Azenha do Mar –  getting our priorities right! It was in the middle of nowhere at a tiny port. We arrived at 12.00 and just got a table. It reminded me of our favourite places in France. Great home cooking and packed with locals and artisans. We chose the local speciality… rice with crab and king prawns. The crabs were brought in from the fishing boat while we were there! Beer was 1 euro!  Fantastic meal for the total sum of £12 per person.

Then we explored the stunning coast with great cliff top walks,  before watching the sunset at Cabo Sardao and spending the night at the excellent camping Villa Park Zambiyeira.

Zambijeira was a lovely coastal village with a stunning beach.

Day 3 we continued exploring coastal spots and walking wherever possible. Migrating birds were frequently passing overhead, the highlight of which was great views of a booted eagle.

Our 2 favourite spots were Odeceixe, and Bordeira beach near Carrapateira.

Finally we arrived at the very southwestern tip of Portugal and continental europe. We free camped on the headland at Sagres, and watched the sun set into the sea. Then a chance find of Mums restaurant in Sagres…. a small cosy place catering for vegans, vegetarians and Pescatorians. Best meal of the trip so far. A great sleep then up to watch the sunrise, because this headland faces east towards the Mediterranean as well! Fab!

Portugal’s Venice, Romans and the edge of Europe!

Sunday night we had arrived at our camping spot in Vila Nova in the dark! Monday we awoke to find we were nearly on the beach! The Atlantic coast here is spectacular. In Vila Nova nearly all the seaside houses are candy striped… very jolly!

We spent the day exploring Alveiro, known as the Venice of Portugal, and walking in the Reserva de San Jacinto on a neighbouring false island that you reach by ferry.


We also discovered Ovos moles de Alveiro… fake soft eggs made with a yellow patisserie filling. Rather yummy!

We then drove south to spend the night on the carpark of Portugal’s most intact roman town. It was in a lovely spot, seemingly miles from anywhere, and it felt as though ghostly roman soldiers might march past at any moment.

Visiting Conimbriga this morning was a revelation. Excavation is ongoing, but it was very extensive, with layouts for baths, shops houses and a huge forum. Many mosaic floors were in very good repair. Admission was just €4.50! Chris (alias Indiana Jones) was rather sad that there wasn’t much left of the tavern!


We then drove south to the lagoon at Foz do Arelho for a picnic lunch, followed by a quick shopping trip at E Leclerc… where you can do your laundry in the carpark!

 Then a visit to Obidos, a hilltop fotified town with walls intact. Not sure what happened to EU regulations, but there were no handrails and sheer drops, so I didn’t venture far up there. The  town was charming, and it’s most remarkable feature was the 600 year old, 3km aqueduct running to it.

Finally another drive south to Cabo San Roca… the most western point of continental Europe, where we parked up for the night and enjoyed the sunset.

Finally, I have tried to create a map showing our route so far for anyone interested in such things! Ignore the last line driving into the sea!☺

Fabulous Douro Valley

My blogs have caught up with my facebook posts! I will still post in both places as I have friends who only use one of them. It would be lovely to have some more followers for the blog. Then you get notified when we make a new blog post 😀

Yesterday was super…it just all came together. Lamego is the home of a chapel built high on a hill, in the mid 1700’s. A huge ornate stairway was built, ascending from the town below, with tile panels on every landing. The church is Santuário da nossa Senhora dos Romedios do Lamego. Pilgrims ascend the 684 stairs on their knees! Thanks to a sneaky back entrance to our campsite, we were already high up, so we descended!😀

We then explored the old town centre and the cathedral before driving to Regua. 

We parked easily in the super new camper spaces by the river. 3 € per night including electricity! Then a lovely lunch in Sus Douro in a beautifully converted goods shed before our train trip. 

And what a trip! The track hugged the riverbank as it wound up the Douro valley passed steep terraces of vines and olives owned by all the major port wine houses. It was a special trip using a vintage steam train pulling historic carriages. Free glasses of port were handed out,  and a costumed folk band moved through the carriages. Everyone was singing, clapping and even dancing. We felt as though we had gatecrashed a huge party! At the 2 stops an artisan market was set up with all manner of local produce to try, and the stations were decorated with tile panels which were over 100 years old. What a trip!

Portugal at last!

We drove into Portugal and immediately noticed the change in architecture and cultivation. Weird! Came to the amazingly pretty town of Ponte de Lima which claims to be the oldest town in Portugal. It has a roman bridge. . well part of it is original… and delightful buildings. Campervans park free by the river and we had a lovely, very inexpensive meal in the local taberna.

Our favourite thing is the sculpture of roman soldiers next to Boris.

On the opposite river bank is a roman general on his white horse.

In 135AD a roman general arrived here… his men thought the river was a legendary river Lethe, and if they crossed it they would lose their memory. The general rode across first and called every soldier by name to prove he had kept his memory! The soldiers are on this side…the white blob is the general on his horse!! This town is so lovely it plays classical music through it’s lamposts! Sad to leave!

Bom tempo para patos!

We can officially confirm that the forest fires are out…. you can stop raining now for a while..  please!!

Thankfully good waterproofs mean the rain doesnt stop us getting out and seeing the sights. And Boris is very cosy😊. The next day we drove to  Viana de Castelo on the coast. There are the remains of a large 500bc celtic village there which sadly was closed!! Also an amazing 1920s neobyzantine basilica (!) high on the hill, a beautiful 16th century old town centre and a restored hospital ship, the Gil Eannes, which was used to support the massive Newfoundland fishing fleets, and was really fascinating. 

Then on to Porto. They have great free parking for campers on the riverbank opposite the city. Just a 2km walk along a lovely riverside boardwalk to the bridge across the river Douro. And back of course. Stunning on a balmy summer day. Fairly stunning in the pouring rain..  and more forecast Friday. We are here until Saturday… please can we gave a dry day then!

We did have great tapas in Jameo’s … including elvers…. a first for both of us.

October 2017 Bimble..  hoping the site will work this time!

Hello!

Last time I tried to write a blog it would not work properly. I am hoping it will work for this trip. Let’s see! (It has taken me a while to sort this out so in the meantime I have been doing facebook posts as a diary. The first few blogs will be a copy of my facebook posts! )

Hooray! Finally we are on a proper Bimble in Boris. We have enjoyed an excellent, smooth 24 hour crossing from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. We are now encamped in the beautiful Picos de Europa mountains in Galicia. 

It is all the more sweet because we have had a very worrying week. I would like to sing the praises of the NHS! A week ago I found a new lump in the breast where I had cancer. I phoned my Gp who saw me the next day and did a fast track referral to Bournemouth hospital. I was seen 6 days later by 2 doctors. Tests done and results given in 3 hours. And, thankfully, it was just a blocked duct. Needless to say we were extremely happy and grateful.

So after delaying our departure, we were able to rebook our ferry and set sail on Friday evening.

The food on board was lovely, and nice warm weather on arrival.😊 

We ❤ Brittany ferries! 

Happy New Year… Bimbling resolutions…

Anne paddling in the sea in Dorset on New Year's Day
Anne paddling in the sea in Dorset on New Year’s Day
New year 2015 16 paella
Some lovely Spanish warmth at our New Year’s Eve party with friends… well I had to include a food picture!

After a rather grey and damp December, and a brief cold snap we find ourselves in mid-January and wondering when we could do our first Bimble of the year.
Boris is having his MOT and Service as I am writing this, so fingers are firmly crossed (which makes typing tricky) that he will be back tonight fully fit and raring to go.
We have the capability to camp in cold weather. The Webasto diesel heater is brilliant, and the electric blanket on the bed is even better. Chris has discovered that by using the inverter we can even use the electric blanket to prewarm the bed when we are not on electric hookup, so long as the batteries are well charged up. It has a negligible effect on the charge.
We had drained down and cleaned all the tanks in November, and we always bring all the linen and soft furnishings indoors in case of damp, but it has not been a problem so far.
So, we are now thinking of restocking the food cupboard, fitting up the bed and trying a short Bimble next week.

We will also review all our memberships and guides. Our top 3 were:

Britstops – we found the Britstops guide really useful last year. It costs just £25 and provided us with lots of free, and very welcoming stopovers in the UK, so we will renew our membership because it seems only fair to recompense the creators for all their hard work. http://www.Britstops.com

All the Aires – this series of books are great if you are travelling in Europe and help keep costs down dramatically. www.all-the-aires.com 

Camping and Caravanning Club – we have recouped our membership fees by using their discount on cross channel ferries, and making use of the certificated sites. The discounts on club sites also mean we can have one night with lovely showers and washing machines for a very reasonable rate, in the midst of all our free and budget nights. http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk 

So…what are our Bimbling resolutions….
1. To do at least one Bimble – however short – in every month of 2016!
2. To visit at least 3 new countries or off shore locations this year!
3. To work out how this blog can be better organised to provide a list of resources for readers!
Happy New Year everyone x