Sunday, 19 June 2022

Portugal to Calais EuroTunnel.

Finally after 8 weeks of sunshine in Portugal we were on our way home. We allowed 6 nights for the journey from Ria Formosa in the Algarve, to the tunnel. 

For those who like figures, 

The total journey was 3380 miles, door to door.

Fuel cost £502

Tolls in France, Spain and Portugal, 190 Euros.

Tunnel only £150 , as we used our Tesco coupons!

Campsite fees 1106.70 Euros. 

Bargain of the holiday was Ria Formosa Camping. As we arrived before 1st June and stayed for a month, we got the special rate of 365 Euros all in. Camping Turiscampo was a Yelloh Village site which we booked and paid for in advance. All the campsites en route we just turned up for and booked in at will, they varied in price from 15 Euros ( Alentejo Portugal) to 29 Euros ( Only Camp Tours)

The only site we could have made a saving with using ACSI, was Larouletta in France, we would have saved the princely sum of 1 euro if I had bought the ACSI card and book. Travelling home was very easy as all the sites were open. Going down at the beginning of April we used Camping & Caravanning Winter Sun sites as we knew they were open. Most of the other sites we used were already known to us or we picked them up on Camper Contact ( well worth 5.99 Euros a year) We could probably have saved a bit of money if we had used Aires, but we prefer sites and we don't wild camp.

All in all, including spending money and food, the holiday cost £61.14 a day, that included fuel and travelling costs. Not bad overall we thought for 64 nights away.

Leaving Ria Formosa we travelled back up through Portugal to Alentejo near Evoramonte. Again we passed a quiet night and bought a pizza from the site shop for dinner. Delivered hot to the van by the site owner, not bad for 7.50 Euros. Washed down with a bottle of local wine. The camp site was slightly busier than on the way down and the pool was open. This site is beautifully kept the owner lives on the premises. Nice hot clean sanitary facilities and an outdoor pool. Our last night in Portugal very warm.



The next morning we headed over into Spain and after a long drive made it to Salamanca. Our first choice stop over was closed, so we made a slight detour to Hotel Regio where we had stayed before.



Hotel Regio has a campsite attached, large toilet block and campers get a discount in the restaurant. It was a great stop this time as the weather was beautiful and all the facilities were open. A nice outside bar and a swimming pool which we didn't use. The meal in the restaurant was good too. Next time we go we will stop for two nights and take a trip into Salamanca the bus stop is at the hotel.




Slightly long grass and dodgy electrics, but clean and well worth a stop and reasonable at 23.10 Euros a night.


 


We had a very nice meal in the restaurant here.

The following morning found us doing another long drive to France. Just over the border and back to Larouletta. This time the weird trees had leaves on them so seemed lass spooky.


Two months makes a world of difference to a tree!!!



Our second French site was at Tours. Another mammoth drive but easy on the motorway with little traffic. Lucky for us it was a Sunday so no lorries.

Only Camp in Tours is just off the main road and avoiding the "No Entry" signs over the bridge we managed to find it. Clean, friendly and convenient. Tours is walking distance but the site is by the River Loire so lots to see. We wandered into the village but all the restaurants were closed as it was a Sunday. We finally manged to find a pizza place and had a very entertaining meal surrounded by all the locals all for 10 Euros.






The camp site is on Pilgrims route to Compostela. Lots of cyclists so looks like it could get busy in season. Opens from February so a handy stop.

We were on the final route to the tunnel one more sleep at our usual stopping place Les Erables at Escalles. The sun was shining in the distance over the white cliffs of Dover. England only 22 miles away.

 Another great meal at the restaurant  Les Falaise in the village and then finally home!

What would we do differently? We will definitely go back to Portugal next year at the same time. April to the  beginning of June. I think we would buy a flexi ticket for the tunnel next time and not worry about booking sites as most places are quiet in April/May. The weather is certainly better at this time and most of the attractions are open but less crowded. We may make a couple of two night stops on the way home so Den gets a break from driving. Can't wait till next year. Just a van to clean now. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Review Camping Ria Formosa. Portugal.

 Our second site of this season takes us to Camping Ria Formosa near Tavira almost at the Spanish border. We had been before in January/February and thought we would like to try it more in season.



Ria Formosa is situated almost in Tavira in the village of  Conceicao and Cabanas de Tavira. The site is right by the train station and an easy one stop into Tavira main town. Infact, the train very conveniently, goes all the way along the Algarve and in the opposite direction to Spain, so it is perfect for motor homers who want to use public transport.





 Loads of bike paths nearby and you can even cycle into Tavira across the salt flats which we did. 




We think this site has the best of two worlds, traditionally Portuguese in Conceicao and a bit more touristy in Cabanas. Cabanas in actually an old fishing village and has lots of bars, cafes and a beautiful beach accessed by water taxi at 1.50 Euros return. Cabanas is a bustling resort but not yet ruined by too much tourism!

The beach is beautiful fine sand, with loads of umbrella for shade.


Not too busy in May!



There is also another local beach called appropriately "Poor Man's Beach", because at low tide you can actually wade across to the beach avoiding the charge of a water taxi. We road our bikes across the salt flats to reach it. Good going for me!!


Cabanas itself is a great place to relax and is full of old fisherman's cottages that still retain their charm and have actual fishermen living in them.

There are a few tourist shops but also local shops for meat and fish. This is a local community garden filled with mannequins, fun but a bit spooky I thought.




We couldn't really make out what it was about but the dummies were really well done!

The campsite is very well laid out. We opted for a double pitch for not much extra. We actually got a bargain winter rate for a month which cost 365 Euros all in, so we had a double bonus. Pitches are all on gravel and the site staff are very fussy about keeping within the pitch markings, which was fine for us. The shower blocks and loos are beautifully clean and well kept with loads of hot water. There is a site supermarket, but also two more good local supermarkets in walking distance. A huge Lidl is at Tavira next door to the train station. We did the journey a few times and with a "wrinkly discount" ( you have to ask!) the fare was 1.50 Euros return.

Tavira is well worth a day or more to look around. There is an old town and you can take boat trips along the river or to Tavira Island, the beach resort. We had a fabulous meal of grilled sardines in a typical Portuguese back street restaurant.



There is also a well priced restaurant which does a daily menu but there are loads of places to eat. We managed a main meal and wine for around 20 euros. At the local Expat bar "The Barrel", a main meal, dessert, coffee and wine is 10 Euros. Wine came in at 1 Euro a glass. All in all, a cheap place to eat out.


The weather this year was really hot temperatures in the high 20's most days, certainly we will return next year at the same time.

We spent our days in the sun and with walking, biking, eating and drinking, 4 weeks has flown by really fast. There is a lovely swimming pool on site with lots of loungers great for cooling off in.


We did a trip up the train track to Monte Gordo ( two stops) If you like Blackpool you will love Monte Gordo a tourist hot spot. Massive hotels backing onto the beach. Not our cup of tea but worth a day out!







The best bit of beach at Monte Gorda was the fisherman's end, but not as authentic as Cabanas.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our holiday this year. Staying put has its advantages and we have certainly found out loads more about this area of Portugal. We will be back.


Saturday, 7 May 2022

Review Turistcampo Lagos Portugal.

 This year we have decided that we want to stay put in two camp sites for our Spring trip to Portugal.  Turistcampo, between Lagos and Luz in Portugal. A Yelloh Village resort. Booked online for 22 nights.








Turiscampo is a  large holiday resort well placed for touring the Algave. Probably one of the best kept sites we have been on. Scrupulously clean with staff constantly on duty throughout the campsite. Even the pitches get pruned and swept between customers. Toilet blocks rival a good hotel with plenty of hot water and a whole host of loos, complete bathrooms and showers. The resort is open all year round so caters for all weathers. There is a large heated indoor and outdoor swimming complex. An indoor and outdoor gym, kiddies play area and club and a great restaurant and supermarket on site. There are also a whole variation of huts on site some with their own hot tubs. Handy I guess for visitors. Our neighbours had their family visiting and collected them from Faro airport about an hours drive.

The restaurant on site has a snack bar as well as a proper restaurant and does well priced meals. We ate out quite a few times. It does get quite busy but we always managed to find a table. During the weekends there was usually some kind of entertainment. All the staff were really friendly and helpful and mostly spoke English.



The site is tiered with pitches of various sizes. We went for the "deluxe" so we had our own water and drainage. Pitches are well marked with plenty of shade.

A bus stop outside the site takes you along the coast in both directions. Pria de Luz is the nearest beach, it took us about 35 minutes, an easy walk going down to the beach, harder on the way back as it's uphill, good exercise though. Luz is a great small village, quite touristy with a lovely sandy beach at one end and loads of restaurants and bars. A large expat community!




One of the attractions of the area is walking the coastal path. Known as the "Fishermans Walk" it extends for most of the Algarve coast. Very popular with German and Dutch walkers it can be very challenging in sections, though relatively easy to follow and well marked.



The section nearest to us was Lagos to Burgau. We kind of managed to walk the majority of this section over a couple of days. Beautiful views across the sea. We almost made Burgau but gave up on a very steep final decent to the beach. At the other end a very stiff climb ruled out the top of the Roche Niga! All my fault!!




We watched as a few "bright young things" made the top. We know our limitations and descended back to the bar instead. Worth the effort though to nearly make the top!

Amazing how quickly three weeks flew by. We were just getting into the holiday spirit when it was time to leave. Certainly worth the long journey. We had a couple of damp windy days but lots of sunshine as well. A good time of the year to come in May/June the promise of summer sun and hardly any biting insects YET!

Our next stay, up the coast for an hour and a half for a month at Camping Ria Formosa ,Cabanas de Taveria and more sun we hope.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Postponed Winter Sun. Now Spring in Portugal.

Well, we are finally off for our first bit of camping fun since October 2020. Following our third cancellation, we WILL be off on through the tunnel and onwards to Portugal. We have had a few little    ( or major hiccups, like the rest of the world) in the last 12 months including a major relocation from the suburbs of town to the rural back woods near Glastonbury. A major move but at least we did something useful during lock down.

 Krystal has been washed, packed, loaded and ready to go!! Let's hope we have completed the relevant paperwork properly. 

 After an interesting drive through the picturesque Somerset villages, a quick sprint around Salisbury, and a dash around the M25, we were finally on the road to Folkestone and the tunnel. 

 Note to self: look for a better route! This was the first time we had attempted the tunnel from our new home. Our usual comatose rumble along the M4 to London from Bristol had changed. We were slightly more alert.

 In actual fact the journey was pretty uneventful, except for the long drive past the 35 miles of poor lorries and their drivers making for Dover. The tunnel was the usual slick operation we expect. No check of what we had in the fridge....just as well. No check of our jab certificates, which were all in order. A quiet casual conversation of where we were going and that was it. Tunnel, then France. We did use Den's Irish passport so I wasn't stamped out of the UK as we were together. We could stay forever!! 
 
Escalles, Les Erables our first stop was just as it always was. A warm welcome from Sabine and we were soon set up for our first night. A nice meal in the local restaurant Les Falaise just 75 Euros ( and well worth it)  our first Kir and Pastis, we were finally on holiday.






After a leisurely start we set off for the second big drive. A 6 hour stint mainly down the motorway to our second stop at  Camping Futuriste near Poitiers. A spot we have used many times before and really handy for the motorway. We arrived in time for a proper evening meal and a relaxing evening overlooking the valley. The campsite was pretty empty, to be expected at this time of the year.




Nice little swimming pool on this site although we didn't try it. Great views across the valley though. Future scope well worth a visit, we have been twice and loved it. It does take a whole day to get around and an evening if you want to go to the laser show. 


We had encountered a lot of  heavy rain on the way and the next day gave us much of the same. Heading for  Camping Larouletta on the French Spanish border at Urrugne, South of Bordeaux.

A long days drive and we made it. The rain had actually stopped and we were soon settling down beneath the spooky trees. 


It looks like a scene from a horror movie but actually a really nice well maintained site. We keep promising to go back in the summer when the trees are in leaf. We wandered up to the supermarket up the road and treated ourselves to our first French drink at a local bar.

Next stop Spain. It was still unsettled weather but seemed slightly more promising as we steeled ourselves for the drive across the Spanish Sierras. The last time we came this way there had been snow. Luckily no snow on show for this trip. Another hike down the motorway and we were approaching Salamanca and our first Spanish stop Camping Olimpia. We spied this camp site the last time we were this way and thought we would try it out. Lovely welcome, we were on our own but the campsite owner was happy to cook us a meal in the restaurant. Exceptionally good food and service, including wine a modest 35 Euros. We were well pleased. A great stop over and next door to a service station.





All by ourselves!

When planning this trip we had decided to give ourselves an extra days travelling to get there. This was a good move as it it so easy to under estimate the journey, especially if the weather is not so good. As we left Olimpia the Spanish sun came out. Next stop Portugal.

Camping Alentejo in Portugal our final destination before Turistcampo near Lagos. This campsite was near Everomonte a new place for us. Very tidy site with lovely loos, showers and swimming pool all for 15 Euros a bargain we thought. No restaurant, but we had a very nice pizza cooked for us on site and delivered to our van. A very well kept site with lots of shady trees which was great as the sun had come out.


Last leg of the journey the final run to our first long stay site. Turistcampo, big and busy for Easter. Well worth the extra days travelling as we had an easy run to the coast and got to the site in plenty of time to settle in. Now where's the bar??

Sunday, 8 August 2021

First Freedom Trip July 2021

 Finally made our first "Freedom Trip" since the return from Greece in October last year. Guess we were really lucky to actually have made two long trips during a Covid year! Since coming back apart from the regulatory hikes in the neighbourhood during lock down, we have actually moved house. Our main criteria for house selection was "room on the drive  for Krystal" Happily that has been achieved so we are fit to go! Sadly decorating and sorting out our new bungalow has curtailed our trips this year. Hopefully, next year normal service will be resumed.

We had planned a trip to Leeds to the Vantage factory for our second habitation check. Not much work to be done fortunately. We were looking forward to our first trip this year.

We spent the morning wandering along the Leeds canal admiring the art work. Krystal meanwhile was being prodded and poked at the Vantage factory.







There has been a lot of work done in Leeds to improve the area. There were loads of nice looking flats and apartments. We were so lucky with the weather! If we were looking for an urban environment this part of Leeds would have been worth a look. Loads going on to watch! 

Following our habitation check and a clean bill of health for Krystal, we had booked Moor View Caravan Park near Bardsey, just outside Leeds. A tidy site which was very handily placed. We had an uneventful peaceful first night. 




We even managed to spot a couple of Red Kites soaring above us putting on an energetic ariel display.

Next morning we were off for our second jaunt to Cheshire and Shays Farm. Another old site to revisit. We were spending a couple of nights here and combining it with a visit to Den's brother and his wife at Tarporley.

Shays Farm is a tidy farm site with it's own small fishing lake and camp site. Handy for Chester and surrounding area, with a lovely kiddies play area.

A very enjoyable 2 nights. All the facilities were open and The Shrewsbury Arms just 10 mins up the track serving great food.


We spent a lovely day in Chester and enjoyed a stroll around the city walls. All in all, a successful trip.

A week later we managed another two nights away. Three Castles a Tranqil Park, adults only site in Monmouthshire. A comfortable small site in great walking country. We were going to stay another night but rain stopped play! Individual showers and loos reserved in advance. Skenfrith Castle is just up the lane and for those with a BIG wallet The Bell at Skenfrith by the river, a Michelin restaurant is nearby. Remember to take provisions as this site is really in the middle of nowhere. Slight road noise but I guess we noticed it more as we have got used to the silence of the countryside ( tractors and animals excluded.)