We arrived unannounced at Motorhome Friends (AKA Pedro’s) hoping that there would be room for us. (GPS 37.15673º -8.20955º) Pedro is a large, loud but very friendly Portuguese fellow with a Dutch wife and two small boys. During the summer he works as a boat skipper taking tourists on trips to see the cliffs and caves along the coast and in winter they open their garden and house to motorhomers escaping the northern weather. Most visitors are Dutch with a handful of Brits on the 20 pitches scattered on a hillside looking out over countryside. A glance at the map will show that the site is right beside a motorway slip road, an unlikely setting for a quiet break. Despite the road, it is very quiet and although you can hear traffic when outside I would say it is little noisier than the country road that runs close to our home in rural Suffolk.
Pedro’s size and loud voice is more than matched by his personality. Every Monday afternoon there is a Boules match and Pedro goes round the site blowing his referees whistle and dragging everyone out of their afternoon torpor to join in. No-one is allowed to escape and even those physically unable to play are cajoled into watching. Lots are taken, teams and captains randomly chosen and whether you have played before or not doesn’t matter one bit. It is a hilarious afternoon with the runners up being presented with prizes of Kit-Kat’s and the winning team getting mugs.
Saturday is BBQ day with a choice of fish or meat followed by an array of puddings all washed down with copious amounts of wine. When the eating if finished Pedro’s own version of Bingo takes place. I don’t think I’ve ever played Bingo and would normally run a mile if asked but I don’t remember laughing so much for ages. To say the whole afternoon was hilarious would be an understatement.
As it was Easter we stayed on-site until after the holiday, when we hoped things would quieten down. Although we had been on the Algarve for almost two weeks we had only had a quick glimpse of the sea so felt we needed at least one night by a beach.
Praia de Faro, set on a sandbank with a large free car park, has sea and sandy beach on one side and the lagoon on the other plus the attraction of aircraft landing and taking off from Faro airport. What more could one want?
Shocked again at how much everywhere was built-up since our last visit we crossed the narrow causeway and found a group of other motorhomes already parked overlooking the sea. (GPS 37.00802º -7.99501º) There was not a cloud in the sky as we walked on the beach and I even dipped a toe or two into the chilly Atlantic. We slept to the sound of waves crashing onto the beach.
Leaving Faro we took a short drive east along the very bumpy N125 to the last town in Portugal before crossing into Spain. Vila Real de Santo Antonio is beside the Rio Guadiana which marks the boundary between the two countries. Old quay side buildings have been removed and the area turned into a rough and ready aire (GPS 37.19890º -7.41482º) for around 100 motorhomes. Those lucky enough to get a spot on the front row have a lovely view up the river and across to the Spanish town of Ayamonte. The entrance is through automatic barriers where you take a ticket and then pay €4.50 per night at a nearby machine before leaving. The machine issues a ticket that opens the barrier to let you out. Waste disposal and water fill are included in the price.