Sunday, 7 April 2013

Monsaraz to Altura, Algarve

We stayed for Easter Weekend at Montseraz and the sun shone bright and warm for a day. This picturesque fortified village overlooks Europe's biggest reservoir and Spain is just over the other side. Bull fights take place in this ancient arena, but they do kill the bulls.

Driving south we went through mile after mile of olive groves and cork oak trees. It was a wine making monk, Dom Perigon, who in the 17th century revived the use of cork as an odourless, tasteless seal for wine. Portugal produces over over 30 million corks per day. After 20 years the cork trees can produce its first harvest of bark and then be stripped of their bark every 10 years. The numbers painted on their trunks are the years that the tree was last harvested.
Then we passed through Serpa, which is just 22 miles from the Spanish border. This town like many around here has been fought over from the Moors and the Spanish and still there remains this beautiful arched aqueduct.

We stayed a night at a lovely location by a reservoir at Minas S.D. which has a car park, but they don't seem to mind campers staying here. However the town is very poor as it used to be a thriving copper mining town, until the mid 60's. In its heyday it was one of the biggest producers of copper and the company was owned by the British. Though unfortunately the British managers didn't treat their workers very fairly, low wages and poor housing, a story that is sadly repeated at many places around the world. At its height of operation there was a population of 6000 and today that has reduced to around 800.

Then we went to Alcoutim, which is on the Guadiana River across from Sanlucar in Spain. You can usually cross the river for a Euro, but not today.

The river rose over 3 metres in just a few hours and while we were having lunch in The Riverside restaurant we saw several boats going backwards down the river, dragging their anchors, with nobody onboard.
This life sized statue quickly ended up under water. The reason was that it has rained so much that the dams has to be opened to let some of the water out of the reservoirs before they overflowed. Why they didn't do it gradually, I'm not sure. Thankfully we were parked up the hill away from the river for the night.

Then it was off to The Hunting Lodge, a private Aire that had been recommended to us. Here we could get some washing done, recharge everything and also wifi was available. Again we parked on top of a blustery hill and the rain eased off long enough for us to go a walk through some flower meadows in full bloom.

Eventually we arrived at the beach on the Algarve, but had a quick trip over the bridge into Spain to exchange a gas bottle. Altura was our chosen spot on an international car park/waste land taken over by large campers here for around 3 months of the year.
Both very happy to be by the sea again.


  1. Are they surfer size waves I spy ?

  2. My new boat would play well in them !!!!!