Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Winter Sun 2020 Camping La Bella Vista. Spain

We had finally made it to Camping Bella Vista just outside Manliva near Estepona. A shock to the system driving in to be confronted with all the high rise development along the Costa Del Sol. The campsite was very easy to find as it was actually on the A7 just before the seaside marina of Puerta de la Duquesa. Bella Vista is a difficult site to get on as it is relatively small and there are a lot of people who are on permanent pitches. 

Our pitch was a good size mainly on gravel with water and drainage. There was also a TV point but not much use to us as we did not bring a cable. The campsite is well sited with access to the beach and local shops and restaurants a short stroll away. It is also "doggy heaven" we guessed around 80% of people on site had brought their beloved pooches with them! Handy for the beach then ( dogs are not allowed ) as if that would stop them! The restaurant was also a doggy wonderland, where happy furry friends could meet, share the seating, their dog hairs, woofs and generally enjoy the atmosphere. To be fair the dogs did not cause us any issues, there were just so many of them!! 

The choice of pitches was interesting, the dark side ( under the trees ) mucho mossies 
( by the river ) or the gentle hum of the motorway! We got the road noise, but there was morning sun. 

The toilet facilities should have been fabulous but this was spoiled by the total lack of maintenance. Shower heads missing, blocked drains, rusty fittings, just lack of love. However the water in the toilet block was always hot! This lack of care was echoed throughout the site and it was a shame. Dish washing also all outside with very variable hot water and of course blocked wastes. The bar and restaurant was OK though lacked any real atmosphere, we didn't try the food but had a few drinks.

There was a swimming pool but again it needed tidying and cleaning more frequently. Good position though and a sun trap.

The beach was lovely, coarse sand and nice walks.

The marina was a thriving area with lots of interesting bars and cafes.

Judging by the cars, a few X or Y rated celebrities in residence on the Costa del Sol.

We caught the bus to La Linea and had a great day exploring Gibraltar. We went up to the top in a cable car, said hello to the monkeys, walked along the main street taking in the shops. We spent an enjoyable hour wandering around the very expensive boats in the marina.

We were really lucky it was a clear beautiful day with good visibility.

Top of the rock! It was a beautiful day and amazingly quiet.

A few evil looking monkeys around! We stayed far away from them. Despite the notices people were feeding them.

A very expensive marina on Gibraltar judging by the boats and the prices in the restaurants.

Houseboats in the marina at La Ligna. An interesting holiday idea. Looked fun! I think if we came back this way again a stay at the marina in La Ligna would be a very good option. An easy walk into Gibraltar. 

We walked around the Botanical Gardens and had a great meal in an Italian restaurant aptly called Mama Mia.

Botanical Gardens. A shady oasis on a hot day just watch out for the "processional caterpillars". We didn't actually see any here, though warning notices were up. Beware furry friends!

This part of the coast has been a nice place to spend some time but is terribly commercialised! The positive part of the visit has been the weather and we really enjoyed the day at the rock. If we come this way again we would not come back to Bella Vista, vastly over rated and over priced! However, part of the experience of travelling. Next on the agenda two short stops before Costa Valencia and Kiko Park.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Winter Sun 2020. Camping Rio Formosa Portugal.

A short drive on the motorway and we were soon at Rio Formosa near Cabanas de Tavira on the coast. A great little site which we had used last year. The site was much  as we remembered and was in the process of it's winter tidy up. Clean and very well maintained. We were soon settled in on our two pitches, hard standing on gravel so handy in bad weather!

Four large water bottles to keep our mat down and we were set up. Nice pitch sideways on so we could meet the morning sun!

Not much had changed from the previous year although it looked like they were extending the site. The restaurant opened following a winter break on our second day. 

We were pleased to find out that the wobbly bridge to Tavira had been fixed! Hurray! we were able to cycle all the way via the Grand Plaza, which we went to visit. Loads of furniture shops a typical mall, nothing special but handy.

The wonky bridge, no longer wonky.

Down at Cabanas de Tavira nothing was really different although the weekends were lovely so the boat to the beach was running. Lots of the extra summer restaurants were having a spruce up before opening for summer visitors.

We had a great two weeks here. Extending our stay by 5 nights. We were very lucky that our pitches were still free so we didn't have to move.

We spent a couple of days exploring Tavira and had some great lunches. Tavira was very busy with lots of visitors and the little train was running.

Lunch out a very reasonable meal.

Across the river to Tavira.

My friend the rusty soldier. I felt sorry for him standing still, pretending to be a statue.

These were real statues outside the train station on both sides of the road.

Rio campsite is great for transport links so we had a couple of days out. Using our wrinkly discount on the train only around 4 euros for both of us!

Santa Antonia on the Spanish border was an interesting day out. You could see Spain across the water 1.90 E for the ferry.

An imposing station for a small place.

The marina was crammed.

We had lunch at a lovely restaurant called Henry's the owners had just set it up and were very friendly.

Another day out by train and we went to Faro. The station was near to the airport. We had a good wander around the shops and the old town. The cathedral was well worth the visit with fabulous views from the bell tower.

Stork watch! I wondered if they were troubled by the bells.

The stunning interior of the cathedral.

The view from the bell tower.

Move before those bells chime!!

Two weeks at Rio Formosa have flown by and time to move on. Certainly a great place to while away a winter.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Winter Sun 2020. Camping Turisticampo Lagos

Our first winter sun site Camping Turisticampo at Lagos. Well strictly speaking it was at the small village of Espiche just down the road from the seaside town of Praia Du Luz. A beautiful campsite in the Yellow Village group. Quite luxurious with indoor and outdoor pools, heated! A gym, a very nice restaurant with friendly bar ( complete with log fire ) and a reasonable supermarket on site. 

The indoor pool was heated  to 29C with a jacuzzi. There was also a large unheated outdoor pool.

The pitches were of a reasonable size for Portugal and more than enough for us.

We were soon settled in and found the site so handy. There was a bus stop outside the campsite and it was so easy to travel by public transport. The walk into Praia Du Luz was a bit of a hike, but good exercise, we could do it in about 35 minutes. Not the best place for bikes because it was very hilly.

Praia Du Luz was an ex pat haven with mostly English to be heard in all the bars and restaurants. We tried most of them. Everyone was very friendly.

A beautiful beach with lovely sand. I would imagine in the summer it would be very crowded but it was just away from the big tourist areas.

There was a lovely little church practically on the beach. We went to Mass which was in English and well attended.

From the campsite we caught the bus into Lagos and spent a great day having a wander around the shops. We went to the slave market and looked around the church of Igreja Da St Antonio. Not a very spiritual experience, I found the wood carvings rather grotesque. Still it was worth a look around. We did the tourist town trail.


Slave market.

Even the end of the rainbow. No pot of gold though!

The marina was great for people watching.

Another entertaining day out by bus was to Sagres. Here we went around the Fortaleza Fort. The most South-Westerly point in Portugal. Another very satisfying day out.

A fantastic walk out onto the headland where the Atlantic meets the Med. Well set out. We enjoyed the chamber of sounds which magnified the sounds of the sea

This part of Potugal is well worth a visit and we enjoyed our short stay here. Certainly a longer visit on the cards for next year we hope. Some of our favourite pics.

And this made us smile!

Time to move on back to Rio Formosa next. I wonder what changes we will find there?