Tincas on Tour...........again!!!

Discussion in 'Spain' started by Tincataylor, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    This winter we have opted to return to Spain and Portugal until late February, and we have decided to start off with spending Christmas and New Year at the Turiscampo site near Espiche, Lagos; but first we have to get there.

    The packing of the van went like clockwork due to Mrs Tinca's meticulous planning and by 10:00 we were on the road to Portsmouth for an appointment with the Pont Aven to whisk us away to Santander. The journey to the port was uneventful until we finally boarded the ferry (an hour and a half late due to bad weather) when things were definitely a little different to last year. I thought Brittany Ferries may have changed the name of the ship to the Marie Celeste as we felt like we were the only people on board. Our last outward journey in 2014 was also from Portsmouth, but then it was on the Cap Finisterre to Bilbao, and the boat was rammed with lorries and camper vans heading south. The Pont Aven by comparison was very empty and by 10:00 in the evening we were one of about three couples listening to the cabaret act and trying to make them feel like they weren't wasting their time. Perhaps it was just as well they didn't ask us to join in the chorus. The crossing was a little lumpy in the channel but once we turned the corner into the Bay of Biscay it settled down to a steady swell. In addition we got an upgrade on our cabin as the one we were allocated was well forward on the starboard side where it was considered it would be too uncomfortable given the rough sea conditions, so we got a 4 berth outside cabin amidships which was much better.

    On arrival in Santander it was already 22:00 local time so rather than drive on into the night we headed for the marina where we found it was a perfect place to spend the night for free so we could start bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning. We were on the road by 10:00 and heading along the north coast on our way to Santiago de Compostela which was where we would turn south and drive down through Portugal to the Algarve. This was our first time on the north coast and we found it very scenic driving past the snow covered Picos de Europa mountains and the Eucalyptus plantations with the coast visible for a lot of the time on our right hand side. We never like to spend a whole day driving so we opted for a free camper stop in the town of Gijon which was right on the beach and a short walk into the town where we were able to buy a few odds and ends. The camper stop is next to the port entrance, so there was some noise up until midnight from lorries entering and leaving, but all in all it was perfectly OK for us.

    Thing's they don't tell you in the manual #8
    When purchasing any Michelin road map make sure you purchase a roll of Sellotape on a dispenser at the same time as the map will fall apart just by looking at it.

    Next day it was Mrs Tinca's turn to drive and she got the longer stretch to Santiago de Compostela so I could sit back and enjoy the scenery. We stopped at a small roasdide cafe at mid morning for a break and were served 3 cups of delicious coffee (Costa and Starbuck's take note) and home made tapas and crisps for under 4 Euro's, superb value. We made really good time on the road and we were camped up at the As Cancelas camp site and walking into town by late afternoon. We did the usual meander through the old town and completed a tour of the cathedral just as they were starting evening mass. A few glasses of the excellent local Galician wines and tapas later and it was time to hop on the bus back to the camp site where we slept very well indeed after what had been a long day. After another great nights sleep we drove the relativly short distance to a camperstop on the beach at Sanxenxo where we will chill out to the sound of the waves lapping the shore twenty metres from our van, before heading south to Porto in the morning.
     
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  2. Roxie

    Roxie Funster

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    Thank you for chronicling your latest trip. Looking forward to hearing how you get on.
     
  3. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    The journey down to the ACSI Vila Cha camp site, which is about 20 kilometres north of Porto, was pretty much uneventful and we have opted to use the toll roads while in Portugal as we find the minor roads a bit tedious as they are bumpy to say the least and many of them are cobbled!! By the time we set up camp it was too late to go into Porto so we had a few drinks in the local bar and then hit the sack ready for a fairly early start in the morning. Overnight it rained heavily and we never sleep that well in the van due to the noise when its raining so we were not quite as refreshed in the morning as we would have liked. The camp site is a 5 euro taxi ride to the metro station which takes you straight into the centre of Porto. We were unable to make head or tail of the ticket machine at the station and opted to play the “dumb tourist” card which worked a treat as there were no ticket barriers at the main station to prevent our exit. We had high hopes of Porto, as we know several people who have visited, but we found it to be rather run down with lots of derelict buildings along the banks of the Douro River. Having said that we enjoyed the tour around the Taylors wine lodge (no surprise there!!), the custard tarts and the boat trip along the river. However we have decided to shorten our stay here to just the two nights and head out on the road again tomorrow towards Lisbon. We plan on breaking to journey with another camper stop somewhere along the coast and there are two that look OK on line so we will find out when we get there.

    The journey south was really a matter of covering the kilometres as easily as possible on the motorway and about 260Km's has brought us to a camper stop by the beach in the little town of Foz do Arelho (N39 deg 25min 42 sec W9 deg 13min 10sec). This has toilets and a waste dump and good internet for 3 euros a night which can't be bad. In fact the more we use Camperstops http://www.campercontact.com/en/ the more we like them, and it is certainly a lot cheaper than staying on “proper” camp sites all the time. There is the usual mix of French, Dutch etc. here but one of the French couples is travelling towing a trailer with a rather special motorbike on board. It is an old Russian made bike and sidecar and it looks a bit like a BMW with a flat engine layout. It has a shaft drive to the rear wheel and the wheel on the sidecar as well as a reverse gear. This is probably old news to real bike enthusiasts but it is the first time I've seen one. We got the bikes off the back and had a wizz around the town and along the beach for a beer – nice …. It is a lovely evening here and noticably warmer (and drier) than Porto, the sun is just beginning to set and I'm watching the local anglers in front of me trying (unsuccessfully) to catch a fish for supper.

    Tomorrow we will travel the relatively short distance to Lisbon where we will have another city to explore for the first time, and this time we will try and remember to upload a few photo's

    The Tincas
     
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  4. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    It was a relatively short drive of about 98kms to Lisboa (pronounced Leeshboa apparently) and once Mrs Tinca had skilfully negotiated the city roads we found ourselves at the Lisboa Camping site which is pretty much the only place to stay when visiting the city. Its a bit pricey at 22 Euros a night (with ACSI discount) by our standards, and the facilities are getting a bit tired, but we really wanted to see the city and there is a cheap bus to the city centre about 200 mtrs from the camp site gate.
    We liked Porto but we love Lisboa. There is a fascinating mix of old and modern buildings and there are the usual winding back streets to get lost in while exploring the old quarter. The local trams look like biscuit tins and must be quite old as they are wood panelled and remind me of old British Rail rolling stock. They may be old but they must have been built to last as the streets are all cobbled in the Portuguese style and are a long way from smooth, and do their best to shake your fillings out if a velocity in excess of walking speed is attempted. We opted to take the No28E tram which rattles in a figure of eight around a lot of the tourist “must see's”. Ten minutes into our journey it braked suddenly accompanied by a loud screeching sound followed by a bang as we hit a car sideways on that had decided to cross the tram tracks we were on. This brought the whole traffic system to a halt and there was much continental shouting, horn blowing and arm waving as they tried to sort it out. A bad day for the drivers of the tram and the car but free entertainment for us given that nobody was hurt in the slightest and bent bumpers can be easily repaired.
    We mooched around the often steep streets stopping for regular liquid refreshment as required. The local pastry shops really deserve a mention with a bewildering array of cakes and sweet things as well as the famous much publicised Portuguese custard tarts all of which are delicious. There are lots of small cafe bars off the main streets that have no tourists in and serve simple food at very good prices and we would recommend them in favour of the typical tourist restaurants on the main thoroughfares where the food is advertised in the normal laminated displays. Lisboa has a really good vibe about it and it has a more affluent feel than Porto, however the locals tell us that the rivalry between the two cities is stronger than that between Portugal and Spain.
    The next morning we are on the bus into town again but this time we jumped off at Belem to explore. The local Pasteis de Belem cake shop is a must visit providing you are not on a diet. The botanical gardens have seen better days and we did not visit the monastery so cannot comment but it looked impressive from the exterior. The Berardo Museum of modern art was a very impressive building which is more than we could say for the “art” on display. I was reminded of the story of the Kings New Clothes where it took an innocent child to expose the fraudulent royal tailors.
    We then carried on into the city to have another go at riding the #28 tram and although it was a great way to see the city it took absolutely ages to get round and we were glad to get off. However we would rate a tram ride in the city as a “must do” when visiting Lisboa.

    We roll again tomorrow and will do one or two wild camps before arriving at our Christmas location at Turiscampo at Lagos.

    The Tincas
     
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  5. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Just found this thread, Many thanks, looking forward to further instalments. :xgrin:
     
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  6. Judge Mental

    Judge Mental Funster Deceased RIP

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    Yeah its great:)
     
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  7. scousebird

    scousebird Funster

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    Sounds like you're enjoying yourselves. Don't eat too many pastries :xwink:
     
  8. Anthea M

    Anthea M Funster

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    Very interesting read. Enjoying it and especially as it's so grey and dull here ( although mild!)
     
  9. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    We did an overnight stop in the little coastal town of Porto Corvo where there is a large camper stop (N37deg 51mins 9.7secs W8deg 47mins 14.4seconds) within easy walking distance of several restaurants / bars and it has basic waste disposal facilities. There were over 30 vans there the night we stayed and not one of them was from the UK; is everybody staying home this winter? It is typical wild Atlantic coast with the waves crashing in but there are also a couple of sheltered sandy beaches. The town is very clean and the locals were putting the finishing touches to their Christmas lights as well as the open air nativity display. We stocked up with fresh food and vegetables at the market where all the produce was locally produced and very well priced. The weather is now much warmer than it was in Porto and T shirt, shorts and sandals are very much the daily clothing requirement.

    Things They Don't Put in the Manual #9

    A sure-fire cure for the hiccoughs is to drive away from your pitch and forget that the front wheels are still on the ramps.

    We drove on for a couple of hours in the morning and then decided to stop for lunch at a coastal car park at Carvahal (?) and on the road in there was a large paddock on our left containing Ostrich, Oxen, Zebra, large antelope of several species and Barbary Sheep among others. Naturally we stopped to get some photos which was difficult because of the perimeter fence. Undeterred, I put my hands and arms through the mesh of the fence to get a better shot when BAM; a bolt of electricity shot through me leaving a long angry welt on my right arm. “Be careful” said Mrs Tinca, “I think the fence is electrified”...........I readily agreed as my heart rate had increased by 50% and my eyesight improved immediately so I could see for miles!!!!!

    We continued on to Lagos with a short detour to the nearby BP garage to top up the gas tank with LPG. At the camp site they had the pitch we requested already reserved for us and it felt rather like coming home to familiar surroundings and we are looking forward to spending the Christmas holiday period here. Time for the bar …..... Cheers!!

    The Tincas
     
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  10. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    Well its December 21st, the winter solstice, and its been wall to wall sunshine all day and that's not set to change for at least another three days. We paid a return visit to Praia de Luz today and the long walk there was repaid by the same pristine little seaside resort with a gorgeous beach, low rise architecture and a relaxed off season atmosphere. Lunch was a simple salad washed down with a couple of glasses while we became acquainted again with doing very little in the sun. The warmth may not be very “Christmassy” but it is difficult not to fall under its spell and feel our batteries recharging from the drive down through Portugal. Having said that my personal battery, along with my mobile, was more than recharged by the previously mentioned electric fence incident.

    We have already met several people people on site that were here in February, when we were last here, as well as some new faces that we are getting to know for the first time. The sparrows are still working the pitches in the mornings and they are kept company by the lovely Azure Winged Magpies that impressed us so much on our last visit. We feed them every day and it is only a matter of time before flight becomes an impossibility due to their fat little tummies.

    Today is Christmas Eve and its 09:30 in the morning and its a clear blue cloudless sky and the day is warming up nicely. Yesterday we were able to cycle into Praia da Luz and it was warm enough to sunbathe on the beach for a while and listen to the waves crashing on the beach and watch the locals trying to fish for their suppers. The plan today is to take a walk this morning to a “pub” called the Rainbow in Espiche to introduce ourselves to the Swiss landlady who is, by all accounts, a little bit eccentric. We will then mosey on back to the camp bar at midday where we have all agreed to have a few drinkies before moving on to the Grapevine restaurant in Espiche in the evening for tapas and wine. Having re-read the last sentence when I say the camp bar I am, of course referring to the bar on the camp site and not a bar for effeminate men, although we do wish them all a very Merry Christmas.

    Where we are camped we are surrounded by Dutch campers. We know this because there are large nets of oranges hung up on every available tree, although we have never actually seen anyone eat one. We have come to the conclusion that they hang them up to ward off evil spirits.

    We will probably not make another post for a few days during the festivities, so it just remains for us the wish all the Funsters, friends and family at home and abroad a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to talking to you again in the New Year.

    The Tincas
     
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  11. Roxie

    Roxie Funster

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    Thinking of you both - and wishing we were there with you.

    Have a good one (hic....)!

    The Roxies xx
     
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  12. Ambilkate

    Ambilkate Funster Life Member

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    Merry Christmas xxx
     
  13. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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    Thanks for posting . Veryinterestin as I love Portugal.
    P.s Motorbike /side car is probably a Ural. Always surprised me how many of them you come across in Spain & Portugal ? First one I ever saw was in Lanzarote !
     
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  14. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    Christmas Eve at the Grapevine restaurant was brilliant and Leo the owner really put on a good show with excellent food and carol singing providing a real home from home atmosphere, backed up with great company from the other Brit's on the camp site. A nice couple from Jersey asked us around for a glass of Bolly and then we were also been invited around to our Dutch neighbours for drinks and nibbles and really enjoyed their company, but I could not pluck up the courage to ask about the nets of oranges.

    Christmas at the camp site has been an excellent affair with great company and more than a few snifters. The weather has turned cloudy and cooler for a few days but nothing like as bad as the rain and floods back home. Mrs Tinca really does like a proper home cooked dinner on Christmas day so one of my annual challenges is to produce something edible from our rather compact kitchen in the van. I was not able to source sprouts, and could not be bothered to make Yorkshire puddings, but other than that a full roast with most of the trimmings was served with a bottle of fizz and it went down very well indeed.

    There have been more than a few evenings in the camp bar with travellers tales being told over a drink or three. Some of the stories we have been told have had tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks, but one couple in particular won the prize for the best story by a mile. They are what I will describe as a stout, staid no nonsense couple from Yorkshire in their mid sixties. They had been on holiday in Miami and were concerned about returning their hire car in good time to catch their flight, having had a bad experience previously and nearly missing their plane. So they decided to spend their last night in a hotel close to the car hire return. However all the hotels close by would only rent them a room for a maximum of two hours, and I'm sure those of you reading this will work out that these “hotels” catered for a rather different clientele than the Yorkshire couple. The husband was as undeterred as he was innocent and managed to negotiate an overnight stay which probably impressed the receptionist regarding his stamina for a man of his age. The rest of the story was told by his wife in a glorious Yorkshire accent which I hope I can do justice to.

    “We got t' room and put light on and it were a glitter ball.” I said t' hubby “Eh this is a rum do, and why have they got mirrors round t' walls and 'ont ceiling.” “That's nowt”, said hubby “Thissen bed's full of water and its wobbling all over t' place.

    Apparently they got little sleep due to the regular turnover of the guests and what they described to us as “A load of banging” (?) going on all through the night. You had to be there to appreciate the full humour of the above but we were in stitches.

    The camp site put on a really good meal for Boxing Day evening with a local duo on percussion / vocals and guitar who made a surprisingly good job of Pink Floyd and Dire Straights classics along with some cheesy Shadows instrumentals. By this time we were all feeling rather merry and the evening was slightly let down by the bulk of guests retiring back to their vans the moment they had finished eating. Needless to say our happy band of travellers stayed up for a bit of a boogie and a few more drinkies to the point where we were all a bit vague in the head the next morning.

    The weather has now taken a turn a turn for the worse, and although it is still warm enough so that we do not need the heating in the evenings, we are really missing the sunshine we have been used to up to now. It poured with rain last night and its still spitting as I write. Its no better over in Spain so we will follow our plan and sit tight here until the New Year and then head east.

    The Tincas
     
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  15. Badknee

    Badknee Funster

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    Thanks for the blog, loving your tales especially the electric fence and the Yorkshire couple.:xThumb::xrofl:
     
  16. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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    Thanks for the update .
    :xsurprised: Not raining here ? Just checked & only shows sun/cloud up to 6th Jan.?
    Struggling even to remember f it has rained since I returned in mid September ?
    Probably why it's called " City of the Sun " / "Fortress of the Sun " :xlaugh:
     
  17. jumartoo

    jumartoo Funster

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    Rained in Totana overnight Sunday 1st November when other areas had floods. Nothing much since then!
     
  18. Tincataylor

    Tincataylor Funster

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    Its now January 2nd and all the festivities are over for another year. The owners of this campsite really have done us proud during the holiday period with excellent food and entertainment backed up by the friendly staff who really work hard to make sure we are all having a good time. We made the decision to spend Christmas here when we last visited in February 2015 and we certainly have not regretted it. By the time we leave we will have been here for about 17 days which is the longest we have ever stayed in one place, and although there have been a few quiet days, the time has passed quite quickly. Of course the real stars are the other European campers who we have met and swapped stories with. There are far too many to mention individually, and many of them we met here last year along with new ones who have helped to make our stay so enjoyable. However we have been unable to locate a single other Funster so come on people and give Portugal a go, you will not be disappointed.

    As always there are random observations that we make that have no real relevance other than they provide us with entertainment. On the pitch opposite ours are an elderly couple from a country that I will not identify other to say that they have tulips, windmills and its very flat. Nearly every day they perform a ritual similar to what you see in old films about the British Raj where every morning they raise the union flag accompanied by a bugler. However in this case it is the raising and populating of their washing line. First he emerges with his step ladder (he never got on with his real ladder) and puts the line up on “their” trees, however he insists on tying it as far up the tree as he can reach. Not only that but the line is stretched so tight I swear I can see the tree trunks bending under the tension. Now his wife is a woman who makes up in width what she lacks in height, and she emerges from the van awning with at least three large plastic buckets of washing, that I assume she has done by hand, and she stares up at the line that she has no chance of reaching with the look of a woman who wants to take a hacksaw to her husbands step ladder. Some of the garments that they then proceed to hang out are not really influenced by high fashion, in fact you could hold a boy scout jamboree in a pair of her knickers. In addition her bra is similar to a siege engine I saw in a medieval film once that was used to hurl large rocks at a castle wall.

    We are still waiting for our 2016 ACSI card to be delivered. It was posted on to us from the UK on the 17th December so we feel it should have arrived by now. As soon as it does I think we will roll on towards Spain as it appears to be a bit warmer in the Marbella area than it is here at the moment. We will also drop by the El Rocio site and take a horse ride into the Donana National Park if they are in operation. We also need to get some photos uploaded and we will do this once we have overcome a few technical problems with the ever lovely Windows 10.

    The Tincas
     
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  19. scousebird

    scousebird Funster

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    Looking forward to seeing some photos
     
  20. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Almost certainly, I would think. My mate had one until he moved house a few weeks ago. Downsized so no room for it, so he sold it. Just has a modern BMW solo now. I think the UK Ural Riders Association is also pretty much defunct now as well.

    I had some photos that showed the sidecar shaft drive, but they seem to have done a disappearing act.
     
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