Travels continue in Southern Portugal Jun 2016

Travels continue in Southern Portugal Jun 2016

 

Thursday 19th May

A quiet day today. We’re just waiting for Des and Chris to return. They return around 7 pm and it’s hectic whilst we catch up on our news. Then they discover the blackbird that’s nested in their hot water heater flue. We’d heard the ruckus from the chicks but left the nest undisturbed but of course Chris and Des will want hot water so a nest in the flue is going to prove problematic. They are going to have to move the nest. All the animals are so happy to see Chris and Des, even the ‘loner’ Eddy who’s been giving us the runaround for the last 5 weeks.

Friday 20th May

We get up having heard a commotion outside; it seems Chris and Des are trying to relocate the blackbird nest. The question is will the parents still minister to their fledglings’ needs and how long before Eddy and Izzy discover the nest.

We clean up and pack and say our farewells. It’s a painful drive – over 5 hours back to Olhão and the traffic in Seville is very heavy. We’re a bit shocked; this is the first traffic we’ve had to deal with in 8 months. We stop near Olhão at Fuzeta to see the beach.

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It’s so warm here and there are loads of people on the beach. Finally we head back to Paula and Marc’s. They have been really busy since we left but there is so much work to be done in the orchards and vegetable plots. It seems Peter, the ‘interesting’ workawayer who objected so strongly to his photo being in our blog, has left. He was due to stay 7 months but it seems none of the work was to his liking. Despite being fully booked Marc and Paula find us a bed in one of their spare rooms.

 

Saturday 21st May

We drive to Faro to return our hire car. Then we go into town. We planned to do some sightseeing but we end up chatting to a Brit guy in a bar, Keri and then a hiker stops at the bar and joins the group. He’s John from Knoxville and has been walking the Camino de Portugese. It’s a pleasant afternoon and very interesting. John tells us about the various pilgrimages in Europe, gives us the guidebook so we can follow the route through Portugal and then northern Spain.

P1100143 P1100142 P1100140 P1100037 P1100038 P1100041 P1100042 P1100043 P1100046 P1100045 P1100049 P1100050 P1100052 P1100051 P1100053 P1100057Keri is doing an urban forestry masters and he tells us about his studies. Finally, after spending all afternoon in a bar we finally get the bus back to Olhão. We can’t help ourselves and return to our favourite Indian restaurant before finally heading home.

 

Sunday 22nd May

Our last day in Olhão and we’re all going fishing. So we’re up early and by 10am we’re getting on our fishing boat. There’s Marc and Paula, Innis, Paula’s mum and us. We spend the next 3-4 hours fishing.

P1100065 P1100064 P1100071 P1100068 P1100073 P1100076 P1100075 P1100078 P1100079 P1100081 P1100082Daz is top fisherman and catches 7 fish including a seabass which are hard to hook. I catch 2, Paula 1 and Marc 1. But of course it’s not a competition (really!). Back at the house, Paula’s mum prepares the fish and Marc barbecues them.

P1100088 P1100090 P1100091Tomorrow we will be back on the bike. The last time we rode it fully loaded was on the 29th of March, time has certainly flown. Let’s hope the next few days aren’t too hard.

 

Monday 23rd May – Quelfres to Portimao

 

Distance 91.91 km

Max Speed 60 kmph

Average Speed 16.4 kmph

Total Distance 3550.82 km

 

Today it’s Innis’ 9th birthday so when we get downstairs for breakfast the table is laid out beautifully, ready for everyone to have breakfast and sing ‘Happy Birthday’.

P1100092 P1100094 P1100096 P1100099 P1100101 P1100102 P1100103After brekkie we say our farewells and head off. We haven’t ridden the bike laden for about 7 weeks and we end up zigzagging down the gravel track as Daz keeps oversteering. This isn’t the best road surface to reaquaint ourselves with the joys of tandem riding but we escape unscathed and soon Daz has regained his ‘mojo’ and we’re flying. We get to Faro in really good time and stop for a drink.

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Faro sits on the Río Formosa lagoon and is the capital of the region. It was settled as early as the 4th century BC and has seen many names and contollers including the Moors for over 500 years. It is surrounded on 3 sides by a nature park and many migratory birds can be seen throughout the year.

 

After coffee we decide to try and avoid the N125 (because of the horror stories we’ve heard; fast, heavy traffic and lots of road works). So instead we end up on a cycle path that soon degenerates into a rough gravel surface. We can cycle these surfaces fairly confidently but it massively reduces our speed over the ground and takes so much effort for even short distances. Fortunately we decide to bail early and we’re soon back on the N125. Unfortunately it’s true, it’s a terrible road to cycle; many drivers give us barely any room and at one point I turn my head left and there’s a coach practically in my face. It’s also a route lacking in scenery although we see a lot of potteries and nurseries (for plants). But at least our progress picks up significantly but it’s bloody hot and we’re starting to fade. We stop again in Ferreiras for lunch (and what a revolting lunch it is) and then push on. We’re both suffering from the heat but I want to push on, worried that if we stop we’ll never get going again. Finally we cycle over the bridge to Portimao, stop at a WiFi bar and find accommodation.

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P1100111 P1100112We find ourselves in a huge apartment with a double bedroom, sitting room with a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking the river.

P1100125 P1100126 It’s been a tough day and when we realise we’ve done 91km, we understand why we’re so pooped.

After a little lie down we head to the promenade at Praia da Rocha (Rock beach). Here the well groomed beach stretches for miles with beautiful rock outcrops and sea carved arches in the rock.

P1100113 P1100114 P1100115 u P1100118 P1100119 P1100120 P1100121 P1100122 P1100124 It’s gorgeous but the place is packed with Brits and ‘Happy hours’ everywhere and all the tacky seaside shops you’d typically find in Great Yarmouth or Bognor. After a stroll and dinner, we head home, and fall asleep almost instantly.

 

Tuesday 24th May – Portimao to Sagres

 

Distance 74.66 km

Max Speed 48.2 kmph

Average Speed 15.2 kmph

Total Distance 3625.48 km

 

We pack up and head to the river front in Portimao for breakfast. It’s disappointing but we sit at a cafe only to discover the waiter clearly failed charm school.

P1100128 P1100129 P1100130 P1100131The day is overcast, the complete opposite of yesterday. Portimao along with Faro, are the 2 largest cities on the Algarve. It is historically known for its fishing and ship building industries. Having had breakfast we head out of Portimao and it starts to rain, just the occasional raindrop but it’s still rain, but at least it’s cooler. We’re again on the N125 and suddenly I notice the field on our left is like ‘a stork field’. Storks are really common around the Algarve and we have seen their nests on church towers or tall chimney stacks or radio masts. We have watched them standing in their nests guarding their young, and clattering their long beaks when their partner comes in to land. But in this small meadow around the edge there are about 13 trees and in each is a stork’s nest.

P1100132 P1100133 P1100134 P1100135 P1100136 P1100137 They are like something out of prehistoric times and always make us think of pterodactyls.

We continue on our way and arrive in Lagos, making really good time. We stop to look round and I manage another cheap waxing session, only €38. Bargain.

P1100139 P1100140 P1100141 P1100142 P1100143 Lagos has quite a bohemian feel to it with quite a few ‘hippy’ types about selling craft goods or performing or busking. We have lunch and watch the world go by then head off. But our excellent progress is soon hampered by a strong head wind and a hilly terrain. We make it to Vila da Bolas and I want Lidl’s and something to eat and drink. We’ve seen this Lidl’s advertised for miles so we can’t believe when we find it, it’s a building site. They are completely renovating the old store. I’m so gutted I could cry but I’m too pooped to attempt finding another supermarket. Instead we push on but the head wind has veered around and now we’re hurtling along the last 8 km and before we know it we’re in Sagres. After a quick shopping trip to the Mercadona and a feeding frenzy we head to Cape of St Vincent, the most south westerly point in Europe. This cape is the southwesternmost point in Portugal. It forms the southwestern end of the E9 European Coastal Path, which runs for 5,000 km (3,100 mi) to Narva-Jõesuu in Estonia. It’s a lovely six kilometer ride from the village of Sagres, and the cape is a landmark for ships traveling to or from the Mediterranean.

P1100146 P1100147 P1100148 P1100149 P1100150 P1100151 P1100152 P1100153 P1100154 P1100155 P1100156 P1100157 P1100158 P1100161 P1100163 P1100164 P1100166 P1100167The cliffs rise nearly vertically from the Atlantic to a height of 75 meters. The cape is a site of exuberant marine life and a high concentration of birds nesting on the cliffs, such as the rare Bonelli’s eagle, peregrine falcons, kites, rock thrushes, rock pigeons, storks and herons. We have a walk around the lighthouse and fortress then head back to Sagres. On the way we stop at a carpark on the cliffs and watch all the surfers, this place being a surfing mecca.

We finish the day at a beach bar, watching the waves roll in to shore and the sun setting.

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Wednesday 25th May – Sagres to Casas Novas de Palmeira (workaway)

 

Distance 71.1 km

Max Speed 54.3 kmph

Average Speed 15.1 kmph

Total Distance 3697.15 km

 

Once again we have slept like the dead but we’re both still shattered. But after breakfast in the hotel we head off back to Vila da Bolas. Our first stop is in Carrapateira. We’ve done really well, 21km in about 1 hour 20. And the route has been extremely pleasant, a quiet, undulating country road with fields of wild flowers and the smell of pine trees.

P1100169 P1100170 P1100172After coffee we head off to Aljezur but there’s some tough hills before we make this town. We’ve made really good progress but after a fish soup lunch I just need to lie on a bench and nap.

P1100173 P1100175So that’s what I do. After my pensioners we head off. The first 10km are fairly painless but then it’s off the main roads onto tracks. We can see the hills all around us and we know this is going to be tough. And it is. Rough gravelly descents followed by steep uphills.

P1100176 P1100179 P1100181 P1100182 P1100183We’ve resorted to granny ring but we’re still struggling. Finally we cross over the bridge and there’s only 2.8km to go, but it’s up one massive hill of 10%. Yup we pushed the entire 2.8km and that nearly killed us!!!!

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Finally we arrive. Our hosts are Esta and Nils but there are also holiday guests here (there’s cottages and caravans here for holiday lets) and some friends of Nils (Gregor, Nadine and their 2 children) staying and then Nils’ brother, Arne and his daughter Paulie are here from Frankfurt for a long weekend. Esta and Nils are German but have lived in Portugal for 13 years and everyone else is German, so everyone is speaking in German.

Nils shows us our home for the next 3 weeks. It’s a caravan with an outside shower and a dry toilet. But it’s in the most beautiful position looking out over the valley.

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We’re soon showered and settled in and after dinner it’s time for an early night. Tomorrow they’ll give us the grand tour and tell us what jobs they want us to do.

 

Thursday 26th May

 

Today Nils shows us round the farm. They have nine hectares. At present he’s just finishing a holiday cottage that he’s been building for the last year. He has 2 caravans that he rents out and 2 cottages and a camping ground. During the tour Nils points out some of the jobs earmarked for us. We need to strim the campsite and the area around their manmade lake. We also need to help move 2 eucalyptus tree trunks he has cut down

P1100197 P1100198 P1100199 and tidy up the branches and bark. We also need to dig out the water pipe from the well that was covered in a recent earthslide. We soon get to work and get a lot of the strimming done round the lake but there’s still plenty more to do.

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Friday 27th, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th

More raking and strimming until we’ve finished the area around the lake and then it’s on to the campsite.

P1100210 P1100211 P1100219 P1100220 P1100221Daz also goes down into the valley to rake up on the terraces where Nils has been strimming. We also take in all the horse fencing around the campsite. On Saturday evening everyone is off to a restaurant, we are invited but decide to have a quiet night after a late night of poker and wine yesterday. It’s rained a bit over the last two days so we hope Sunday will be nicer.

Sunday we sleep late and have a lie in and by the time we walk up to the house breakfast is finishing so we help ourselves to bread, cheese and coffee. Our hosts are off to the beach for a few hours with the kids so we tag along. We are soon larking about in the sea. nils is a big surfer and has lots of boards, boogie boards and skimming boards.

P1100232 P1100233 P1100234 P1100235 P1100236 Hels and I are abysmal at the skimming boards but have fun in the surf on the boogie boards. Fortunately it’s not too cold. Later back at the house their huge brick woodfired pizza oven is lit and we all enjoy wood fired pizzas… scrummy. Daz and I get stuck in using all the dough balls (cold pizza for lunch tomorrow methinks!) and then the kids decide they need to help too!

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Monday 30th May to Friday 3rd May

More strimming of the campsite, and Daz starts some prep work on the teepee ready to get it erected as there’s a booking in about a week’s time. Leftover pizza for lunch, these are the ones that Daz and I made in the pizza oven last night. Good practice for when we have one!! For dinner we have a Swedish dish called “flying Jacob”!! Google it, it’s different!!

Tuesday – more strimming, raking, this place is huge and there’s still more to do. We help Nils put up the teepee. One rickety ladder and a lot of pulling, swaying and voila…a new tent is born!!

P1100271 P1100272 P1100273 P1100274 P1100275 P1100276 P1100277 P1100278 P1100279 P1100280 P1100281 P1100282 P1100283 P1100284 P1100285 P1100286 P1100287 P1100288 P1100289Then it’s down to the new house. We need to get gravel laid around 3 sides of the house. First we lay a membrane and top it off with gravel round the new house. This involves numerous barrows and me filling them then Daz wheeling them around the side of the house, over 2 makeshift wooden ramps and into place to then be raked level!

P1100290 P1100291 P1100292 P1100293 P1100294 P1100298 P1100299 P1100300 P1100301 P1100302We also do some household chores as Esta has gone to Lisbon and wants the animals fed and watered and the house cleaned. They have 4 horses, 3 pot belly pigs, numerous chickens and 2 white ducks, 3 dogs and a cat. A full day again.

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Wednesday we lay more gravel around the new house. It’s very hot and it’s really hard work filling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with gravel. Daz then pushes the barrow, empties it and then rakes out the gravel piles. It’s Gina’s (she returned last night, but she’s a volunteer and has been here for months) birthday today.

P1100305 P1100306 P1100307 P1100308 P1100309 P1100310They all go down to the lake to celebrate jumping in off the jetty, in what is described by the Germans as an “ass bomben”!! – I sleep, too knackered to join in.

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Thursday

Today we’re up for 7 am. We go with Nils and Jörn to the beach near Aljezur and attempt surfing. Daz gets it pretty quickly and is soon standing whilst it’s not until the end of the session that I actually manage to stand.

P1100347 P1100348 P1100349 P1100350 P1100351 P1100352We’ve been messing around in the surf for about an hour and a half and we’re pooped so we head for the Cafe whilst Nils and Jörn carry on surfing.

But soon we’re back at the farm and back at work for lunchtime. We finish gravelling the patios and then it’s back to strimming and raking.

P1100201 P1100270 P1100354 P1100355 P1100356 P1100357 P1100358 P1100359 P1100360 P1100361Daz does the strimming this time whilst I rake up the cuttings, not sure which is harder!! At dinner, Gregor has cooked some lovely goats cheese honey and nut parcels and a fab pumpkin risotto, a lovely meal!

P1100204 P1100205 P1100206 P1100212 P1100225It’s fab that he was a headchef at a top hotel in Berlin and now has his own culinary company. It means for once no cooking for us. However he is a messy cook and we seem to be the resident washer-uppers. The last thing we want to be doing after all these tough working days.

 

Friday

This morning the alarm goes off at 6.45am. We’re all supposed to be going surfing. Thank God it’s cancelled; it’s not surfing conditions this morning. Today we have a truly ‘shit’ chore (you’ll see what I did there later!). We are going to do the manure manoeuvre that we have been told about and know will be hard work.

P1100363 P1100364 P1100365 P1100369 P1100371 P1100372 P1100373 P1100375 Basically we have to fill the back of the combi van with horse manure and then drive it across the land and then down to a lower terrace (this involves a detour to a turning circle as the slopes are too steep). We then empty the van and repeat this process including a return trip up the steep gravelly slope and the turning circle again until we have a big pile on the lower terrace. But that’s not all, we then have to fill a wheelbarrow each and take it down a steep gravelly narrow track to an even lower terrace where we dump it on the cultivated garden… did I mention that we need to do this 16 times and that going up a steep hill with an empty ‘barrow is harder than coming down with a full one?? But not to worry as there are a further 2 terraces at an even lower than low level that only need 40 and 30 barrows each (respectively of course!!). Well today we manage to get 16 barrow loads down to the first terrace so that Nils can rotorvate it ready for planting on Monday after he has been to the gardeners market. We also left a further 3 van loads of muck in a heap ready for someone (us!?) to move after the weekend to the lower terraces! Something to look forward to??????? I think not!

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