Tuesday, 7 January 2014

On the Algarve - Alvor

We finally dragged ourselves away from Ourique intending to go to Camping Canelas in Armacao de Pera. We had visited a few weeks previously and liked the site, but on our return it just didn't look as nice and most of the pitches in the area we wanted were already taken. Deliberations in the car park led us to turn ourselves around and head on to Camping Alvor instead, following the recommendation of a Dutch couple we had met at Evoramonte and Dave's meticulous research.

Gorgeous sandy beach at Portimao
Alvor is a much bigger site than any we have previously used in Portugal. There are cute wooden sculptures of vehicles on most of the junctions - a train, an aeroplane, a tractor - and the pitches are a good size. Those of you following my reading will be pleased to know that there's a book exchange in Reception, and perhaps even more pleased that I've swapped for Doctor Zhivago and Middlesex, both of which should slow me down a bit! We have set up Bailey in the Quiet Area but the whole site is remarkably silent, especially after dark, but except for the dogs barking in the town nearby. (What is it with barking dogs in Spain and Portugal?!) We can hear the sea at high tide though - first time I thought it sounded like strong wind and was worried about the awning again. Opening the blind revealed absolutely no wind at all so we eventually worked out what we could hear!

The first couple of days in Alvor were heavily overcast and rainy so that was quite a disappointment. However Sunday was bright and sunny so we set off, parking just above the beach and walked along the sand to Portimao marina. The town of Portimao is meant to be ropey but the marina is pleasant and the beaches are fantastic - wide stretches of flat sand with striking orange and yellow sandstone cliffs. Facebook friends will already know that we ate our first ice creams of the trip whilst sitting on the beach and then paddled in the sea on the way back to the car! We nearly didn't leave enough time to get back before the tide came in though. We had to wait our moments to run around a few jutting rock edges between the waves.
spooky 'eyes' mural on a wall in Lagos
Tuesday saw us driving to Lagos, a pretty little seaside down which is just a tad more upmarket than Alvor. There are several hippy arty shops and more of a German influence especially the Padaria do Wini which is a tiny German Bakery hidden away among the side streets. We discovered it through a FreeMap in Alvor which was fortuitous as we probably would never have stumbled across it by accident. There's a delicious range of German cakes and desserts including proper cheesecakes. Well worth a visit (or two!). I was also pleased to discover Livros da Ria Formosa, a multilingual bookstore with both new and second-hand books, mostly in Portuguese but with English, German and Dutch titles too. I only bought two books and one was published by Forgotten Books which is a project of which I was previously unaware. I'm going to check out their website properly soon but it looks to have thousands of books that I have not yet read! Plus I got myself a gorgeous handknitted woollen poncho that is blue and white and very cosy. So at the time of writing, it is half-past nine at night and I'm sitting out in the awning, snug in my poncho, and happily typing away!

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