29th November 2018 – 9th December 2018
We left Lagos after 7 amazing weeks. Meeting up with old friends, making new ones and it was hard to say goodbye. Being on the road, it is lovely to stay in one place for a period of time. The Campsite is the best we have ever stayed in, in all our time of travelling to date. I got to go to yoga, we joined the gym, started our fitness regime, which was hindered by the Saturday Supper Club, but so worth it. Chloe was chauffeured to the beach every day and I could have stayed longer. We had our final supper at the amazing Pizza restaurant in Espiche, with Keith, Jane, Paul & Stephen. A group photo taken by the Christmas tree in the village, by a poor Portuguese boy that we bombarded and made memories to treasure. We are heading home this year for Christmas to spend time with our precious family and it coincides with a family holiday in January to celebrate David’s sister 50th Birthday. Before we set off for the long drive North, we felt that we should venture further across the Algarve to visit some places that we had been recommended. However, the weather was amazing and we only went 20 minutes up the road and parked right on the beach in Alvor and didn’t move for the next 4 days. What was brilliant, we had a visit from Keith, Jane & their dog Beurre (that dog can run !) and then Paul, Stephen and their dog Archie came the next day to see us. It was brilliant for Paul, as Alvor has a wooden boardwalk that runs the length of the beach, so Paul can drive his little mobility scooter all the way along. Archie was in his element, running into the sea, a wave took him out but he just shrugged it off and he carried on running. Alvor is a beautiful place to visit, a scattering of restaurants looking over the estuary and a beach running as far as the eye can see the other side. We also found a lovely little cafe which we first stopped off for coffee. The Portuguese lady that ran it reminded me of my Nan in mannerisms. The place was spotless and she spoke very good English, asking where we came from and when we told her, she got so excited saying she loved M&S, shopping in London, the best shops she said. You could tell this cafe was her life. She knew all the people that passed, chatting to all nationalities. We think she must of been in her mid 70’s and I so admired her, her happiness just radiated. We were leaving the next day but she was advertising a mouth watering breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans etc and I said to David, lets pop down in the morning and have a breakfast before we leave. We walked in, she said 2 white coffees, now that’s what I call customer service. Her breakfast hit the spot aswell, delicious. With full bellies we left for Vilamoura. We have visited Vilamoura before and found a spot again near the beach, as the weather has been glorious (sorry!). We celebrated David’s birthday on the 2nd December with lunch looking over the marina in Vilamoura and a bit of sunbathing in the afternoon. What could be better. We meandered further along the coast to Santa Luzia, a small fishing town famous for Octopus. We decided to catch the bus into Tavira, read the timetable and arrived in plenty of time. Did the bus turn up, of course not. The reason had nothing to do with the poor service, it was a Friday and we were reading the Saturday timetable ! We had arranged to meet Keith and Jane for lunch. Luckily they came to us and sampled the famous Octopus for the first time. The next day we thought we would try again to reach Tavira. We read the timetable correctly, got the right day and sat and waited for the bus again. Guess what, it didn’t turn up. Out came the bikes and we cycled in. We found the Municipal Market, filled with the freshest fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. It was packed with people, families out with their children, sitting having coffee and cakes, buying their groceries. As David and I walk around, we are filled with sadness that we no longer have this in the UK. Demand for cheaper, more convenient food has killed the markets at home, it is such a shame. We loaded up our panions on the bikes with fruit and vegetables and headed into the centre of Tavira. It is such a beautiful traditional town, we have never visited before and found it to be one of the best preserved towns in the Algarve. Cobbled streets, little bridges over the river, a traditional bandstand and a square edged with cafes. We meandered around the shops, had coffee, had lunch before a slow cycle back to the van. Just a short walk from Santa Luzia, there is a little old train that will take you across the marshes to a little island and the most heavenly beach we have ever seen. We had staked it our before and it said no dogs were allowed on lots of signs and so Chloe was left behind. We decided to walk over to the island and low and behold there were people with their dogs. I am not sure if people just ignore the signs out of season, but I was really gutted as the beach was as near to perfect as you could get. In the dunes there is a cemetery of anchors which were bizarre scene, we sat for a while taking in the beauty of it all and caught the train back (we could have walked quicker). The next day we decided to head off to spend our last day on the beach before heading North into Spain.