Over the last few days we have continued with our beach explorations. Its much less busy up on this coast than on the Algarve, and that cannot be due to the weather – both here and the Algarve have had some really bad storms over the last couple of days. Every morning we have storms with torrential rain, then after lunch its blue skies and sunshine. Still really warm though as per the sign outside the chemist yesterday.
After Aljezur we headed to Arrifana beach a few miles back down the coast. Not so much a beach, more one of the most awesome views we have seen. From the top of the cliff a little road wound down to a tiny harbour with little white cottages all clinging to the side of an incredibly steep cliff. The village had probably less than 100 houses, but had at least 7 or 8 bars and cafes. Really impressive views over the cliffs and beautiful beaches with hardly a soul on them.
From there we headed along the coast to Monte Clerico beach. The road – if you want to call it so, was mostly a sand track. It seemed to go on for miles to nowhere, down a steep hill and we came across the village. What you see in the photos is it – not much there but what there was could not have been improved on, a handful of houses and beach bungalows, a ford over the river and of course the statutory gorgeous beach. Pretty much miles from anywhere, it was one of the top places we have visited so far.
For lunch we pulled in at Odeceixe several miles up the coast. Another town that time forgot, a couple of shops, more bars then you could count and very little going on except elderly Portuguese gentlemen sitting on benches whiling the day away. According to the tourist blurb its one best surfing destinations in Europe – we didn’t see a single surfer – typical. This may have been due to out inability to get to the actual beach as campervans were not allowed, the best we could do was park on the top of the cliffs and peer over the edges.
Overnighted at a Campervan stop on the beach at Carvalhal beach. Several vans parked up but the most peaceful little beach stop. No traffic during the night – then around midnight the teeming rain storms were back – it sounded like a flock of seagulls tap dancing on the roof. By the morning half the beach had disappeared as the river had cut a wedge straight through the middle. This didn’t deter our neighbour, a Portuguese lad in his twenties who was out first thing with a spear off to catch breakfast in 10 ft waves on the rocks for him and his girlfriend and small baby, we stuck to weetabix, seemed safer than allowing Iain to have a spear in deep water.
Up and away in the morning to continue the explorations, came inland via Odemira then took the scenic route up the coast. Would have been scenic if it wasn’t covered in low cloud and fog. We didn’t see more than 3 cars in 40 minutes, possibly due to the worst road surfaces we have come across and the poorest visibility (my choice of route not the Sat Navs so I take the blame for that one). We pulled into Odemira town, looked at the weather, looked at each other, shook our heads and carried on. Whilst we are sure its a lovely place it didn’t look good enough to get soaked for.
By lunchtime we had arrived at Porto Covo an absolute gem of a village a few miles below Sines, and hey presto the sunshine had arrived with us. The towns / houses seem very different to the Algarve up here, very small and square white houses. There was a traffic free street through the middle of the village which lead straight down to the sea. The campsite was right in the middle of the village. Iain went in to check prices – we could have the March (cheap) rate if we stayed 2 nights – if we only stayed 1 night we paid the July (highest rate)? So as it was March we don’t really get that at all. Less than 50 yards outside the campsite was an aire with water and it was free. So yes we stayed there and so did another 15 or so vans – whilst the campsite remained empty.
OK a holiday highlight – a surfer girl in a hippy bus gave us the peace sign yesterday – and yes we both gave the sign back, we are so the ‘oldest dudes ‘around here :), I just must get Iain some beads and flares and we will be getting invited to all the surf parties!
Back to reality and this morning – yes it rained, and rained and then it went mad and chucked it down. A fairly drab drive inland to be honest. We stopped off at Ourique for a wander round the town and to pick up some shopping, got fed up getting wet and left. From there it was a spit and a jump to the Quinta campsite we are staying on for the weekend. A few miles down from the town, its a lovely site owned by Dutch couple, it has big pitches, big showers, and big loads of hot water for showers :). Yet again the sun appeared just after lunch so we headed out for a walk and some bird spotting, Great Spotted Woodpecker landed right outside the van when we got back.
The forecast continues for sunshine and showers for at least a week, so we plan to do a fair few miles over the next week taking in the sights in the South. We will have the weekend here and catch up with a few bits of housework then its back on the road and clock up some proper mileage.