A Travellerspoint blog

Day 6 with Leo: Fairytale Forest

Started the day by stopping along the river for a few shots of the big Columbus structure then stopped a few times before we got ourselves orientated to find our next destination, Sintra! We were originally only expecting a crazy well but we got to a giant Palace with huge gardens and secret tunnels! We split up to find our own way around and it was like we were kids in a magical forest. Lagoons connected to pools, abandoned wells and eventually the Well of Initiation...apparently reflective of Dante's Inferno. Inside the Mansion was the museum where we learnt about the architect who started designing theatres which reflected the creative design of the grounds. We had to tear ourselves away so we could make enough time to find make the long stretch to Porto. The drivers opted for the main highway as it was much shorter than the alternative which bit us in the arse as the toll ended up being 40euros....arggggg. Big vans are not ideal on toll roads. We finally found our hostel in the dark, poorly marked streets of Porto and crashed in our cushy clean beds.

Posted by Kev n' Ariel 22:32 Comments (0)

Day 5 with Leo: Lookin at you Lisbon


And towards the big city we went! Might have set off some alarms as we panicked trying to decide which toll we should go through...finally made it across to the park where our expensive campsite was. Once showered and sandwiches packed we caught the bus and got into the city early afternoon. We needed a caffeine boost then a beer boost and we were ready. We got up to the castle grounds which were not cheap so we wandered the walls and found some great views. As we walked down we found plenty of cool public art amongst some ruins and more biiiiig churches. As the weather deteriorated, we popped into some bars for beer and olives until it was dinner time. Kev had found a funky restaurant online which was just outside the city centre and we trekked over. Sadly it was closed the day we were there so we followed our noses to a Nepalese restaurant?! We befriended the waiter inside and then a German student and later a Portuguese couple. The couple were going to a music jam sesh and invited us and with the rain pouring we all squeezed into their car and popped out at the Bus Bar. It was a local Fado jam sesh...apparently the way the locals defied the old dictatorship, and we had a great time! Kev and I squeezed in and got to use a few percussion instruments but eventually we were ready to check out the “Pink Street” for dancing. We ended up farther away than anticipated but befriended some Belgians and ate arm-length pizzas and sangria in the streets until we found the clubs. We ditched our group for a admission free club and got some dancing in until we called it a night. We probably tortured our taxi driver as we belted Adele all the way back.


Posted by Kev n' Ariel 06:15 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Day 4 with Leo: A Range of Emotions


Woke up early to parked right along the coastline for brekky. Was a gorgeous view, and once full with eggs and beans we went down the windy stairs to the beach and found some cabins clinging onto the cliffs. 20160118_075830.jpg20160118_080011.jpg20160118_082445.jpg

We then started to drive inland. Windy, winding roads took us through such diverse landscape...eucalyptus forests with foggy valleys (stopped for a breather which ended up being next to a cemetery...very creepy place), then through cork tree farms into flat farmlands with cute sheep, goats and cows. We finally got to our destination of UNESCO walled city of Evora. We walked around admiring old Roman ruins, churches and Renaissance buildings (with our handy i site map).

We were keen to get just outside of town for sunset where a famous group of rocks were found only a few decades earlier... 2,000yrs older than stonehenge were the Menhirs of Almendres. They had been propped up again once discovered and a few ruins still survive and were highlighted by chalk...archeologists believe they were used for a type of astronomical clock.

We left before any pagan rituals could start and were headed towards a park and hopefully another free camp site. This was foiled by Leo. It all started because Chelsea is a little short. She was driving and stopping at a toll she could not reach the change box so she had to open the door. However when she sat back down and tried closing the door...it wouldn't...we laughed and told her to clear the door but that wasn't the problem...slamming only sounded like metal on metal....what was happening?!?!?! We pulled over once past the toll and Kev in the passenger seat got out to inspect the situtation...then his door would not close!!!! The only thing that made sense was some sort of security lock had been triggered!? What to do?!?! Evenings in Portugal meant EVERYTHING would be closed...and no working phones meant we had to find a pay phone to call a mechanic (thankfully we were fully covered for this). But surely, we thought, this was an easy-ish fix? We were determined to find wifi and see if we could google this. With hands and bags holding the doors closed and a few locals pointing the way we made it to the holy golden gates of McDonalds. A saviour for those seeking decent wifi. Our prayers were answered and with a screw driver and some lock tweeks we fixed it! Stupid that the Wicked Van company had no warnings about this...We were tired and ready to make camp so any campsite nearby was ok with us. Unfortunately off season also means many campsites are closed...we finally found a creepy looking one filled with permanent camping homes with garage sale trinkits and only inhabited by the owner...an old Portuguese man whom Kevin tried talking too while he cursed and charged us way too much for the dirt pitch and toilet pits. Was quiet until the dogs in the valley behind the chain-link fence started to howl and was our coldest night so we buggered out of there asap once morning came.

Posted by Kev n' Ariel 01:02 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Day 3 with Leo: Coastal Exploration


Packed up, we drove along the Algarve coast, thru industrial Lagoa and stoped in sleepy Lagos. We lunched along the sandy but windy beach and explored all the trinket stores (main stores never open on a Sunday).

Back on the road we made it all the way to Sagres (Ariel's parents had stayed here over Christmas circa 1980's). We checked out a few epic peninsulas, one of which is mainland Europe’s most South-Westernly point! Such rugged coasts...it reminded us of the coastline of Oregon.

We kept driving to find a beach that was more secluded and therefore able to camp ourselves for the night and not be too...auspicious. We got enough stares driving through some tiny towns to start a riot....Portugal is pretty conservative and the primarily retired population of these small towns probably have never seen such a ridiculous vehicle in their lives. We followed our wireless maps down a few long bumpy roads towards the water and our first beach view was too exposed with the wind but our second had a pine forest just before that was cozy and quiet. We had one guy drive by on a quad while we were setting up but he didn't even bother to stop and chat so we were safe again! We attempted a small fire but a small rainfall quenched our dreams of a cozy outdoor hang out.
(yes, that is a massive chocolate santa that we bought for about 3euros)

Posted by Kev n' Ariel 00:27 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)


Ft. Friends, Follies and Fun!

Ft. Kiwi Renee and Aussie Chelsea (befriended at Hostel Elf in Prague)

Twas a trip that would encompass Portugal and Spain, 14 days and 1 wicked camper van.
It started with a dizzying bang of confusion. Firstly, the girls planes were delayed so they had a bit of a confusing time trying to track down the guy with the van keys in Malaga. Once on the road they breezed thru to Seville but then got so lost they parked themselves literally infront of a bar on a pedestrian street. Chelsea found us at the hostel and in her haste finding us in the dark winding streets forgot where she parked the car...I was left with the bags as her and Kev finally found it and we were finally all reunited. Next was the harrowing task of finding food and getting out of the city...yet again everything was shutting down and only Dominos was available so we relented and chowed down while we decided where we could park our beast for free...we ended up a few km's outside the city in the back alley of a light industrial complex...slightly seedy but no one bothered us as we educated ourselves with setting up the rooftop tent and new kitchen.

Day 1 with Leo:
We were able to find free parking (couple euros to the “parking monitors”) across the river thanks to i site info and walked into the city to explore the massive palace of Alcazar. Another feat of Moorish architecture, mosaics and gardening and taken over by christian kings it was a beauty to explore. We got more than half off our tickets with our students cards too! (best idea to bring them). After a few hours of wandering we were all ready to get on the road, and off we went....back to Portugal!

Of course we had to stop first at a Lido to stock up on food and cheap booze...which would become almost a daily ritual (and to use the free facilities). We crossed the border as the sun set over the green hills and small rivers and stopped in a small town of white houses to find a cheap camp site. It was stuffed with retiree's and their camper vans, mostly from Britain and France. We successfully utilized our little kitchen and feasted on pasta and wine. We caught up on our adventures and found that we could all comfortably hang out in the roof tent when the temperature dropped.

Day 2 with Leo:
Tidied up and drove back to Faro! We got to top up on some more items at the massive Cosco-esque store of Jumbo and the cheap outdoor store of Decathalon. We then popped by Algarve Central Hostel and said hello to a few old faces...so surprised to see us back again! But we left quickly after as we were keen to check out some beach tunnels at Benagil. Only an hour or so down the coast we got to the steep cliffs of Benagil and quickly found the tide was too far in and you could not in fact walk to the famous cave. We enjoyed the wild surf anyways and drove to the next beach where we found the PEFECT campsite literally along the cliffs. Only a few other campers were around but we otherwise undisturbed as the area seemed a summer hang out...off season has many perks. We were graced with a beautiful sunset and set up all 3 gopros to document our set-up and dinner prep. There were also a few giant sink holes we found, apparently created by rain water.

Posted by Kev n' Ariel 04:21 Comments (0)

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