We left Fuseta and also drove away from Tom and Jo. Elaine and I continued our tour of Portugal and our travel partners went off to meet up with friends that live in the area. It felt quite strange driving the 45 miles on our own instead of being in our little convoy. After doing a Lidl shop we arrived at a car park just outside the Faro old town walls and we were quite pleased to see that there were not a lot of other motorhomes there. We knew already that we would be parking beside a railway line and that we would be right under the flight path of planes going in or out of Faro airport. It was probably for this reason that it was not a popular choice of resting places and an English couple we had seen in Lidl told us that the only other camperstop was full which is why they were to be our neighbours for the night. The first plane came over on its way in to the airport and Elaine jumped up and watched it all the way down to the runway. As each plane flew over us Elaine gave it just as much attention as she had that first plane and then she asked me to go on the internet to help her identify some of the aircraft. Now I knew why Elaine had been so keen to chose this noisy stopping place. She told me that it had brought back memories of time spent plane watching from the roof of the Queens Building at Heathrow airport. The trains that passed us were just two or three carriage diesel trains and as they were slowing down to go into the local station then they were not a problem as far as noise is concerned and of no interest to Elaine so she didn’t collect any of the identification numbers
I did manage to drag Elaine away from her plane spotting so we walked across the car park and entered through the walls of the old city. There was quite a chilly breeze blowing so it was nice to enter the sheltered narrow streets.
We went through a very ornamental town gate and walked along the square beside the harbour full of colourful boats of all different sizes. Despite the lower than expected temperature we saw three tables with men at each playing cards whilst others stood and watched.
It was odd that they chose to play outdoors and I was pleased that my camera allowed me to take this candid picture from the other side of the street without them knowing about my interest in their activity.
We enjoyed our visit to Faro but we were both saddened to see lots of magnificent buildings left empty and in a derelict state.
This large stone face was on one of these abandoned buildings and a faded notice said that it had once been some sort of palace. Again we were seeing signs that the economy of the country was not in a good state although so far we were seeing far fewer beggars here in Portugal than we have got used to seeing in Spain. Maybe Portugal has a much better care structure for its citizens.
The planes stopped flying over about 10 o/c that evening and we had a peaceful nights sleep. We did receive some messages from Tom and Jo so they obviously hadn’t forgotten about us whilst with their friends.
14th and 15th February…….Albufiera
Thirty one miles further along the coast is the lovely resort of Albufiera so we left early and headed towards a camperstop there just on the outskirts of the town. We were probably not surprised to see that this large site was completely full and they told us that the other vans parked outside were in a queue to get one of the precious places. Must try to remember that I like the citizens of England’s Gallic neighbour and not to glare every time I see yet another French motorhome. We drove on and stopped at the large campsite and almost immediately bumped into a couple that we had met earlier on in Portugal. We got ourselves set up but the weather wasn’t brilliant so we decided that we would make our way into Albufiera the next day.
We walked along nice footpath that took us through an exercise park and 20 minutes after setting off we were right by the first shops and restaurants of this busy resort. Here there were no signs of a struggling economy and the streets were busy with lots of holiday makers.
When we got down to the square we spotted a sign pointing towards a viewpoint so we climbed the many steps and from there got a magnificent view of the glorious beach that was stretching out below us. We carried on along the narrow street with white painted houses on either side and every so often there were gaps and from these viewpoints we could see further along the coast.
We came across the fishing harbour and a large marina and either side of the marina the housing estates were painted randomly in pretty pastel colours and made a very pretty backdrop for this exclusive looking area. We walked back into town and then took the two escalators up to the vantage point from there we could see Quarteria where Tom and Jo were.
This is, probably, the first place in Portugal that we have come across so far that I could think of having as a summer holiday destination and was impressed with everything we saw. We had our lunch in a very busy restaurant and my choice of sardines were magnificent even though we are told that this is not the season to get the best of this type of fish. The waiter had apologised to us because there were no seats under the canopy outside because it was so busy so we had to eat inside. The lovely blue sky suddenly went over very dark and a sharp rain shower started and the people eating outside were soon wishing that they were inside as well. By the time we had finished our meals the rain had stopped, the clouds had gone and it was hard to see any evidence that it had rained.
On the way back we went in some of the shops to look at the cork handbags, hats and belts but we didn’t buy anything, probably wrongly, thinking that it would stain easily. When we got back to the van we found that we had received a picture of T and J and their friends in a restaurant. The message with the picture said we had to listen to the local English speaking radio station at 4.30 that afternoon. Precisely at that time the presenter said he wanted to send a greeting to Elaine and Jack Rouse and he then surmised that with a name like that then we had to be German. He continued by extending the greeting and naming the four that he had seen in the restaurant that previous night when they were enjoying lots of sherbets.
As we got ready to move on the next day the gentleman came out from the van newly parked directly opposite us. It was Ginge and by absolute chance he had parked in the empty space just over the road to us earlier on. We met Ginge and Bobby last year during our stay at El Campello and again when we met by chance at the gate of a campsite a few weeks ago. Bobby was in the shower and we were ready to leave so we didn’t get to see her but, who knows, we may well bump into them again.
16th, 17th, 18th February………..Silves
Silves is a pretty town away from the coast and this is where we would meet up with Tom and Jo. As rounded a bend, we came across a large lay-by with a magnificent view of the town of Silves so I pulled in so I could take this picture. We got to the busy Aires first and I managed to take the last two places available and Tom and Jo pulled up shortly after our arrival.
All the way we had seen lots of storks but for some reason , like the French, had stopped their migration here instead of continuing on to Africa. These magnificent birds are everywhere and it is quite a sight to see them riding the thermals above the town or sitting on their huge nests or wading in the river.
The four of us walked into town but decided to leave the visit to the Moorish styled castle until the following day. We checked out a restaurant we had heard about from someone we had met in Spain and that was going to be the treat after the castle visit. The supermarket just along the road from the Aire is called Continente and whilst we were shopping I asked the others where we were. Well I thought it was funny when I said we are in continent. Elaine cooked a great chicken dish for all of us and we had an enjoyable evening.
As we walked into town the next day we saw lots of Police and the local infants school had brought all their pupils out and they were sitting, waiting for something by the roundabout. So we waited too. The police stopped all the traffic from driving down this large main road and then we saw the reason why.
Evidence that we were about to see a cycle race going through the town as lots of support cars and press motorbikes preceded the mass of bikes that would soon to pass us. It was lovely because each time a police motorbike or a team car would go pass the school children gave them a cheer. The internet on our phones told us that it was the “Volta ao Algarve”cycle race was and the 163.6 kilometer, first day stage was taking the riders from Lagos to Albufiera passing us on the way. We also learnt that the race had attracted 4 of the top ten ranked riders and Joaquim Rodriguez, the world number two was among the riders. We saw one breakaway rider, easily 13 minutes before we saw the huge pack riders followed by the many support vehicles.
After that great start to the day we visited the castle and got some great views from the ramparts.
I wore a t-shirt I had bought in Albufeira and made sure Tom was always on my right hand side. The meal in the restaurant was amazing. We had a three course meal, a carafe of red wine, a carafe of white wine with great friendly service and the bill came to 30 euros for all four of us (about £24).
We took a slow walk back to the campsite and I took more pictures of things we saw on the way. Just before entering the campsite this beautiful butterfly landed on a dandelion right in front of us.
It had a wingspan of about 7 cms and I think it is a Rhopalocera but if anyone knows better then please let me know.
We were going to move on today ( the 18th) but we have enjoyed Silves so much that we decided on one more night stay here.