Well we’ve fallen into a very lazy routine here in Manta Rota haven’t we! It’s easy done, especially now Spring has arrived and the skies are constantly blue. The Mimosa is in full bloom, the trees are covered in yellow pom-poms. The almond groves are thick with blossom and the orange and lemon trees are weighted with fruit. This is my favourite time of year in the Algarve. It’s quite simply beautiful. Throughout the little town of Manta Rota, Jasmine is flowering in huge clumps along the walls and fences and it smells heavenly.
Since my last post, we’ve been out and about quite a few times, showing our ‘new to Motorhoming’ friends the sights. Mainly visiting the various, lively Saturday markets, jumping on the very convenient train from Cacela. We had a fab little road trip with the vans too, driving all the way down to Ferragudo just to visit my Hairdresser, a Brazilian lady called Denise. I’m very choosy about my hair!! She is brilliant. We went on to Armacao de Pera afterwards to meet up with more friends and get Mark his Bollywood curry fix! A bit dismayed to find you can no longer park in Ferragudo by the river, not even during the day. Ok, so a new Aire has opened in Parchal but that’s quite a distance from town. A great shame when you want to go and spend almost €100 with a business that appreciates your custom. Anyway, we fell lucky as it was a quiet day so we did manage to park over several car bays on a side street. Wrong I know but necessary on this occasion. Five hours later and my roots are sorted. Phew! My crowning glory no longer looks like a Stork’s best!! Mark has eaten his own body weight in Pastel de Nata whilst waiting around and Janine and Graeme are a bit squiffy after having spent the whole afternoon in a Tapas Bar!! Off we go then to meet Nic and Stuart. Armacao is absolutely fantastic for sundowners on the beach. One of my favourite spots. Would be rude not to oblige, especially with a posh new hairdo!! We took our seats at Pedros Beach Bar and watched the show as the big red ball sank into the sea and the skies turned to fire. Amazing. The sangria was pretty damn good too. The curry didn’t disappoint. Best ever. The evening turned a bit silly towards the end, as it was always going to with this lot once we’d all had a few! It was great fun though. Met new friends. Angie and Paul. Headache tomorrow is pretty inevitable.
Next day was the Saturday street market. Always a winner. Bought lots of fresh fish for the freezer and a ton of fruit,veg and olives. The Rose wine here is 80 cents a litre and is very drinkable. Stocked up on that too. We ate Bifanas, (Portuguese hot pork sandwiches), and drank red wine. It’s a market tradition!! Good for hangovers apparently. In the evening we dined at O Casarao, a typical local restaurant. Piri Piri chicken to die for. Great quality and good food. Highly recommended.
After a beach walk and breakfast we headed back up the Algarve to Manta as our Bakewell buddies Brian and Vera were due to arrive over the Border from Spain. My new beach wigwam, constructed from bamboo etc., was almost complete and was going to be ‘road tested’ at our beach soiree. We lit a bonfire, carted all the gear through the dunes and started the party. The music played and the wine flowed. Again. My poor liver! We had a fabulous time and afterwards, staggered back in the pitch black, giggling like children. slightly worse for drink! It was another great evening. Life is good.
The weather has been incredible here for weeks now. Sunny, warm days and bright, clear nights. Very consistent. Most afternoons have been spent at the beach. The sea is still quite cool so no way Im braving it without my wetsuit, never mind how northern I am!! We’ve had some gorgeous walks around the countryside and cycle rides up to the old town of Cacela Velha.
The orange cake and that stupendous view. Don’t know which I like the most to be honest! There’s a Tapas Bar up there called Casa Azul. The vista from their upstairs terrace is breathtaking. Well worth a visit. Reasonable prices. Super spot for lunch.
I dragged the gang off to another Fado Night at A Proa Restaurant. It’s traditional Portuguese music, kind of a cross between folk and opera, usually ending in a raucous sing song. It was brilliant! Very entertaining. Excellent food too. I ate chargrilled cuttlefish. Delicious.
We squeezed in another cheeky night away in Santa Luzia, Octopus Town. This time we actually managed to eat some Octopus, roasted traditionally. Not what you would expect. It’s very tender, not at all chewy. Tried the Leitao aswell, another Portuguese favourite. Suckling Pig, spit roasted. Salivating just remembering that! Sorry little piggy but you were sooooo tasty! Took Janine and Graeme over to see the anchor graveyard at Barril Beach. They loved it. Sunset over the Ria Formosa certainly takes a bit of beating. The late night bike ride back to the van at Pedras del Rei from the restaurant with no lights was, erm, interesting!! How we didn’t all end up in the river I’ll never know.
And so, finally our last day at Manta Rota has arrived. My little fairy-lit seashell garden has been dismantled and all my bits of artwork either packed up or given away to friends. We had our last supper at Mar’s and said our goodbyes to Marian, Avi, Johnny and all the lovely locals who have befriended up over the last 3 years. I shall be incredibly sorry to leave our Winter home and all our friends here. Still, Espagna is calling! Time to get my castanets out of hibernation! Tapas and Flamenco and the ‘Sherry Triangle’, Sanlucar, Jerez and Cadiz are next on the list. Wild and wonderful, old Andalusia. We have a month of new adventures to be enjoyed before we need to start wending our way back to UK.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed our stories from Portugal folks. For those of you back in England, I know you’ve had a rough ride with the weather. I did try to send you some sunshine, honestly. Spring is just around the corner, hang on in there. Do join us next episode. I’ll pour you a Vino Tinto!!
Much love to you all my lovelies. Take care of you and yours ❤️🍷💃☀️Adious Portugal. Until next time
Love reading your blogs, just need a better camper van and a pal to go with xx