Trip Start Nov 27, 2009
147Trip End Ongoing
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Pedras D'el Rei didn't sound like much in the Rough Guide, 'a holiday village' wouldn't normally draw us in, but Carol had mentioned that she had seen tons of motorhomes parked up when she was last there so we decided to take a look. It was getting dark as we turned off the main road and followed the signpost onto a snaky little track that was indeed heading in the direction of the sea...as we drove along, we pointed out possible stops amongst the trees that we might have to take advantage of if we were unable to find the promised motorhome mecca (we quickly rejected these stops as we turned the corner and saw that the fields had recently flooded!).
Entering the holiday village was a bit like entering a Butlins, but with posher villas instead of chalets, and as we wound our way past the restaurant/bar and the shop, Alex suddenly yelled that she could see motorhomes and we swerved into a gravelly, potholed car park. It didn't look like much, but then it was dark, and we were greeted by at least ten other motorhomes and campers so it felt like a good place to be. Within moments of parking up, we were hailed by Andy, soon to become our neighbour for three days, who commented that with an LDV Convoy we couldn't possibly be anything other than British!
That night was New Year's Eve, and boy can the Portuguese party! A houseparty with kickin' Portuguese dance toons was getting lively in one of the villas somewhere fairly close by, but instead of gatecrashing it, we were so exhausted that we climbed into bed at 10pm and fell straight asleep! Apart from being woken at midnight by the obligatory fireworks, we slept right through and woke to a magnificent, sunny 2010!
You'll see from the photos that we spent the morning on the beach.
The good weather was not to last unfortunately. Days of mostly cloud and occasional rain followed, though the temperatures remained very mild, and we had several nights of thunder and buffeting winds that would have terrified me if we'd still been at Carol's on the exposed ridge! During this very on/off weather, we explored a bit of the local area. We walked to the lovely historic town of Tavira 4km away along the coast, and found out quite quickly that the Portuguese don't really walk anywhere - the lack of pavements heading into towns and the fact that other walkers all said Bom Dia with English or German accents was very telling!
On a very wet Sunday we cadged a lift with another new neighbour, David, to the big market at Moncarapacho a few miles inland - a huge affair with stalls selling pirate DVDS, lots of Lacoste and Adidas (probably knock offs), and an extraordinary amount of slippers and flat caps! Piracy laws are obviously more relaxed in Portugal, and we could easily have picked up a dodgy copy of Avatar if we hadn't been bothered about the no-doubt awful sound and picture quality and the occasional cinema-goer standing up in front of the camera to go to the toilet!
At the market, we finally got our hands on some 'farturas' (obviously pronounced forever more by us as "fart-your-arse"). One euro for a GIANT piece of donut, covered in sugar and cinnamon. Bloody lovely!
After four great nights at Pedras D'el Rei (our first bit of proper wild camping), we headed off to the town of Loule to meet up with our next hosts. We hear they need some decorating done, and they have promised us our own room; a real room with real walls and an ensuite - luxury!