This is the start of our 6 week break at the end of 2011. The plan is 3 weeks in the Algarve, and 3 weeks in Andalucia.
Abs was already in Brighton visiting friends. So, on Monday evening at 6pm I left Truro. I drove to Portsmouth via the A303 I stopped and wild camped in a nice housing estate close to Hilsea train station. In the morning I picked up Abs from Hilsea train station and we made our way to the ferry terminal. We have no problems boarding the boat. No interrogations by people who can barely speak English, like last time. Onboard we find our cabin, settle in and have a coffee.
The ferry crossing to Santander was smooth, much smoother than last time. At Santander we are greeted by good weather. We jump in the van and head south. We get as far as Salamanca, and decide to stop for the night. We stop at Camping Regio, a campsite we had used before. In the morning we get back on the road and drive all of the way to Cabanas de Tavira in the Algarve, getting there for about 7pm. We are met with lovely warm weather, quite a bit warmer than Salamanca. We enjoy the warm weather of the Eastern Algarve. Cycling from the nice campsite in Cabanas to Tavira on several days. I buy a new SIM card for mobile internet via the Optimus network. After a few days we head west to Praia da Rocha, near Portimao. We stop at the large shopping centre in Guia on the way. We also stop at another shopping centre that has the black cat shop that we love. We got some Christmas presents, and some place mats for ourselves. We also stopped at an Iceland store that had recently opened and stored up on some treats from home. At Praia da Rocha we stay at the massive Aire by the Marina. It costs €2 now, rather than €1 as it did in April. There are less people here now.
During the night we experience a massive thunder storm, certainly the biggest I have seen outside of the tropics. We suffer no bad leaks in the van. The next day we cycle to Portimao. The weather is very windy on this side of the Algarve.
The next day we head further west. We stop at the Aqua Portimao shopping centre where we find a Primark (the only one in Portugal) and get a few things. I think Abby is actually addicted to Primark (and shopping, and shopping centres). We continue to Boca Do Rio, one of our favourite places to stay in the Algarve. A deserted fishing village where the coast is quickly falling into the sea. Last time we visited there were 20+ motorhomes here. Today there are 5. Good for us as we choose a nice spot right next to the sea (but not too close, as the land is slowly falling away here). We cycle up the very steep hill to a old fort. Next day we stock up at the supermarket and head towards Praia do Armado, another favourite beach. This one is on the west coast, and there is some surf. We have a bike ride at lunchtime, lunch by the beach, and I have a surf before sunset.
The waves are strong in Portugal, and I am not fit enough at the moment. The next day we repeat the same: bike ride, lunch at the beach and surfing.