Now how does the old saying go….? When you’re on a good thing… stick to it!…. or in our case… “When you’ve found the perfect place, stay there!!”
The landscape appears arid and scattered with bushes, cacti & few trees, many small towns appear “rough & ready’ & in need of TLC. The effect of the economic state of the country is reflected here. Buildings that were being built at the time of the GFC lie incomplete and a reminder of the dire situation faced by many. This was also evident in Spain – in Portugal it appears worse.
We have never met a Portuguese person or even heard their language . Portugal was planned as a stepping stone – to travel up to Northern Spain and then onto France. However, on our second day in Portugal we stumbled across the beautiful seaside town / village of Armacao de Pera, in the Algarve. Our piece of paradise is discovered! Our rustic “aussie style” camping site is an easy one KM walk / cycle to the beach front and has a large pool. The area is only about ten percent full and costs 7.50 per night!! The old charm of the fishing village is still visible here with lots of boats pulling in their catch each day in front of you. There is no jetty or marina, they run the boats up on the smooth white sand then a tractor comes and drags them above the high-water mark where they set-about offloading the fish and cleaning/fixing their nets for the next day.
The beaches are long, white and soft on the feet! Little cafe/restaurants set up business right on the sand close to the sea! We have learnt to order coffee with milk and toasted sandwiches, cake specialty & of course beer and wine in Portuguese. This is achievable but it is difficult to understand & sounds Russian/Dutch/German to us!! All of which we cant comprehend either! Our favorite cafe barista is teaching us basic Portuguese with limited success!? But with a smile.
Recently the main road in town along the beach was paved aesthetically and all traffic redirected/removed from it. This has resulted in a lovely holiday feel and peaceful ambiance. Great for all ages to walk or cycle along the paving & admiring the many beautiful beaches and friendly cafes / shops.
Today we saw young children enjoying their swim, must be Portuguese & used to it!
An icecream man walks the beach with a small esky over one shoulder & ringing a bell along the waters edge.
Our campsite is quiet & has a rustic charm which we like. I am shaking off the odd bullant and mosquito or two as I write this1…. almost perfect here! Talking of perfect, check out Mark’s dive into the pool yesterday!! 10/10 – gold medal for sure!? Having discovered such a “perfect paradise” we have stayed a week!
Our experience so far with the Portuguese is a positive one. On one ride along the beach-front a friendly man from here asked about our bikes, he would like one but cant afford it with no job. He is a plumber but unemployment is very high. Many apartment blocks, even with sea-views, are empty – and many neglected. Inland, with less of the tourist dollar, the situation is multiplied.
The coastal terrain is relatively flat & we have cycled to nearby towns.
Our visit to the “Worlds Largest Sand Sculptures” was interesting. It is held each year in Pera, a few kms from the beach, and has a different theme each year. “Music” was chosen this year & it was spectacular and huge. Freddy Mercury, Pavarotti, Justin Beiber & even ACDC were represented. Bev loved the Swan Lake and Carmen Miranda sculptures. Musical theatre & movies also there! Ghandi also makes an impressive appearance (not sure what the music connection was ??). Lots more photos – click here. http://aussiebruce.com/home/sand-sculptures-pera-portugal-may-2014/
We also had to treat ourselves to the local specialty – a large, flat, crisp “donut”. Also bought a fig & almond cake in the shape of a fish.
We saw crate of small snails for sale but … no we couldn’t come at those…. particularly as they looked like the ones we used to step on & squash in winter in Melbourne!
Eating out is very cheap & you feel like giving back to the locals. Had to include these photos of dinner last night, overlooking the blue Atlantic Ocean.
There was a small, interesting car show yesterday on the beach-front. The photos are here. http://aussiebruce.com/home/car-show-armacao-de-pera-portugal-june-2014/ There was one particular car that took our fancy. With Morgan now being a BMW sales person for Doncaster BMW in Melbourne, we thought we should share this BMW model… Notice the door handle on the front, the whole front is the door, you peal it to the right and step in!! Who knows, this feature might even make a comeback!!?