I was very reluctant to move today. The past week with my kitchen unpacked from its traveling crates had been relaxing and enjoyable. Long lie ins, with no need to get up, pack and move on were simply blissful. The toilet blocks were excellent and there was even a (very hot) shower with unmetered control. There were no children in evidence and the site was quiet. With the mostly empty beach so easy to access, it was a great site for Nell too.
However, the main road was busy with HGV traffic and road noise began early in the morning. That plus the unpleasant and pervading odour spurred Mr Snail on and he desired a change.
With bad weather incoming, the driver wanted to be away early. We took off before breakfast, planning to stop later at a service station on the motorway. The SatNav lady could not resist playing with us on the way to the motorway but we found it in the end.
Previously on our travels we have remarked on the complete absence of traffic police in Portugal. Today I may report with confidence that they do exist and are out in force. So far we have met with two speeding operations with several cars at the side of the road in advance of a service station. When we stopped for breakfast we were able to observe the traffic cars escorting unfortunate drivers to meet their police colleagues waiting in the car park. I had counted five cars by the roadside and there was another in the services plus the two in different livery waiting to book the infringers. At the next service point there were four police cars parked on the hard shoulder. It is entirely possible that we have seen every traffic cop in Portugal today!
After an excellent coffee and a rather less excellent apple turnover (Portugal lacks the delight that is The Bramley) we were on our way again quickly. Why? This was when it was divulged that we still had quite a long way to go. How long? Over a hundred miles.
The motorway was busier than we have been used to but as we were going past Lisboa it was hardly surprising and really the traffic nowhere near as heavy as you might expect when navigating about a capital city and no sooner had we reached the city limits than we were off again onto empty roads again and heading towards the Algarve.
The cloud that had gathered on Monday persisted but the entire drive was dry. Our destination was a wilding spot at a reservoir dam. An on-site restaurant held the promise of dining out. We knew that the site is well known and that it can be busy but we thought that late December would not be a problem.
I don’t know what I was expecting… Ladybower, perhaps. Whatever I was expecting the place did not deliver. It was a bit grim in fact, the reservoir almost empty, a large number of motorhomes parked up and many looking as though there for the duration… The restaurant did look nice, with oranges growing on the terrace and a view over the water but sadly and very firmly closed until Thursday.
We left without stopping for breakfast on Wednesday morning, not in the least bit sorry to bid farewell to RVs flying national flags and motorhomes bedecked with fairy lights and all with camping gear bestrewn about the place.
Horrible, just horrible and not even any good walking to compensate as it was all marked with hunting warnings.
Lidl was our first port of call, we bought a few supplies and a very unhealthy breakfast of doughnuts, which we consumed before turning towards the motorway.
A fairly monotonous drive ensued, received only by occasional speculation regarding cork farming.
Just as the scenery was returned to slightly picturesque from dead boring, we landed in the Algarve. Immediately we were surrounded by hoardings… Designer Outlet, McDonald’s, IKEA, Burger King… and with a sinking heart, I said “I think I am going to hate Algarve.”
The above was written on the road in my note-taking app. My relationship with the Algarve has actually improved a little since then, but more of that later.