Half Our Winter Gone

Since Sadie last updated the blog nearly 6 weeks ago, I think we've probably put on a stone each as we have just ate and drank our way further south... though we have certainly improved our cooking skills which is great as sometimes it can be hard to think of creative meals to cook in a van. 

However I am going to keep this blog fairly short, firstly as we haven't actually done that much in that time, and secondly I don't want to just bore you all with the food we have been cooking as most of it is standard to others and I have put alot of photos on Facebook already! 

The first two weeks were spent as Sadie mentioned in and around the Oliveira Do Hospital area, at our little park up with those annoying church bells... and apart from one night away which incorporated a shopping trip to Viseu and a large supermarket to get some unusual ingredients, we stayed there till the 12th December.

Weatherwise it hadn't been great in Central Portugal (we even had snow one day!) and with it now being short days with a low sun, we decided to move further south again for more sun and less rain, but not planning to go along the Algarve this time. 
After a couple of stops along the way back to Penamacor to see Noelia & Lief and the kids, we then plotted a rough route further south and also avoiding any high risk municipalities. Thankfully the further south you get, then the less riskier areas there are to be fair.

One lovely place we stayed at was next to a resevoir (one of 3 actually) which was near Igrejinha and already the weather improved enough to get Donald out and get a few nice photos and videos, link to video at bottom. 

We also stopped at a couple of other reservoirs, you seem to get peace and quiet at them apart from the wildlife and the occasional stray cat or dog family too, which we obviously fed aswell.
The first one was called Alqueva and then we went to one called Ervidel straight after.
It was nice to spend a couple of nights at these places, we were buying our shopping weekly and once parked up, we didn't need to move until we needed to refill water or empty etc.

Christmas was fast approaching, so we went shopping on the 23rd in a place called Beja which had the best choice of supermarkets in the area so we could get some nice treats for ourselves. 
Then after a quick overnight stop nearby, we planned to head into the Guadiana Natural Park and to a small village called Mertola.

There was a little car park next to the river in the centre of the village, which had lovely views and we stayed 2 nights there. 
On Christmas Day we went for a walk in the afternoon and found the only bar open and went in for a few beers as heard what sounded like a party going on! It was about 5 or 6 locals including the barman who were making the most of the glorious day out on the terrace, with music, singing and dancing going on even after we left to go cook our Christmas Dinner around 3pm.
We treated ourselves to Prawn Cocktail followed by Turkey Roti with trimmings all washed down with a lot of booze and chocolate! 

We moved on Boxing Day as we needed to find services, and spent the night at a site near Pereiro, which we didn't really like as we were just parked up on a bit of wasteland and there was around 20+ vans about, so we looked for our next destination for the following day.

I'd seen a little site about 15 minutes away just outside a village called Odeleite and was near the Spanish border and also about 20 minutes away from the Algarve coastal town of Vila Real de Santo António which borders Spain with Ayamonte. 
So near enough to get to a supermarket/laundry when needed, along with cheaper Diesel & LPG across the bridge, but also remote enough to potentially spend New Year there, along with the 4 day travel restrictions over that period.

So we decided to go for one night and see how it was, it was only 5 euro per night (plus 3 if wanted EHU), but as the weather had improved as we got further south, we probably wouldn't need it apart from the odd bad day.
It had all services we needed, along with a shower room and washing machine if needed. Oh and it had an onsite bar which was open a few hours a day for 1 euro a beer.
It had amazing views, there was about 6-7 vans there that night and was ideal, so the next day we went out for a weeks shopping then came back and booked in with the owner Balthazar for a week. 

Over the few days before New Year, we hardly left the van for various reasons, apart from to have a social drink around sunset with a few others staying here. There was a Dutch couple, an English couple and another English man who are all friendly and was nice to speak to them and tell some tales, as the past month was pretty isolated for us both.

We can see both sunrise and sunset from the bedroom windows, there is little or no noise around and so glad we picked this place. 
New Year got a bit messy, we had afternoon drinks, video calls, then a fire here with the others and then more video calls with our amazing friends who have had a tough week.
Then on the 1st it was a case of getting back on it and shaking the hangover off, and I think we managed to drink for about 17 hours, ending with another video call that went on most the night...

So the last few day or so has been recovery time, we were due to leave on Monday and go shopping, but as we have enjoyed our time here, we just booked in for another week!

Oh and as the title of this blog says, that's 13 weeks since we left France to come here, but we're now not sure we are going to stay the 2nd half of this winter period in Portugal.
The Portuguese Government have just changed the laws regarding wild camping and clamping down on people who park outwith official campsites/aires, which takes away a lot of the fun and tranquility of it.. 

Will update more later when we have a plan...

Take care x


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