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Onward to Portugal, Disaster then home

Don Madge

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This is episode 2 of our winter trip to Spain/Portugal.



Onward to Portugal, Disaster then home.


We left Conil de la Frontera on the 19th February and went via Seville to Mazagon and stayed two nights on the Parador car park. The toilets on the adjacent picnic area were locked and the water had been turned off. We checked out El Rocio and it’s still possible to free park overnight in the area immediately past the lagoon.


Over night parking is also available at the Mazagon yacht club and around the harbour area.


We entered Portugal and put our clocks back one hour as Portugal is on GMT.


We checked a few of our old free parking areas and free parked for 11 nights mainly on the western Algarve..



Water is still available from the tap in the dustbin area at the east end of the sea front. Parking is also allowed on the eastern end of the sea front.


Pedras del Rei.

The place was overwhelmed with motorhomes and one caravan (Dutch)



Parking tolerated on the car park next to the camp site. We checked the camp site and it was full.



Follow signs for Zona Ribeirinha to sea front parking.


Boca do Rio

Parking tolerated on this lonely beach, usually a dozen or so motorhomes here. Walk to next village (30 min) for supermarkets and toilets. On this visit there were about 26 units and the place was very crowded. Many Brit full timers were parked here and were prepared to stay until moved on by the GNR. Unlike the old days generators were in use a lot of the time.



Parking tolerated in many places in the town and in the Fort car park. The town parking areas were very crowded and there were between 35 to 40 units on the fort parking area.


Praia de Amada.

Another area where free parking seems to be tolerated. On previous visits we have been the only ones parked there but this time there were about a dozen units parking well back from the beach.


If the trend of free parking continues at the rate it’s going at present I can see the Algarve becoming another “No Go” area free parking like the west coast of Morocco.

We like a few of our friends will not be over wintering on the Algarve again it’s just too crowded.


The sites we checked Fuzeta and Olhao were very crowded and at Olhao only small pitches in the shade were available.


We arranged to meet up at Serpa with some old friends but on the way from the Algarve disaster struck, we heard a horrible noise that turned out to be a wheel bearing rumbling for want of a better word. We limped into the camp site at Serpa and at 1730hrs on Sunday we contacted the RAC, we told them our tale of woe and they promised a recovery truck would be in attendance between 9 and 10 am on Monday morning. It arrived at 0950 and we could not believe our luck when we found out the driver was fluent in English.


The driver arranged for us to take the van to a local garage that was within walking distance of the site, another bit of good luck. The garage checked the bearing and confirmed it needed replacing, they ordered a new bearing and we were told to bring the van back to the garage at 9 am on the Tuesday morning. The job was completed and we had the van back by 1700 hrs on Tuesday all fit and raring to go. The speed and convenience were worth double the cost to us.


Serpa is a very old town and is well worth a visit, the municipal camp site is very basic but clean and at €7 per night a very good bargain. There’s also free wifi and use of the internet at the town information centre.


We started to head home on Thursday 8th March going via :-



A very old town where we had our lunch break and the boss took herself round the old town to have a look see and take some photo’s.



Merida Camping (€16.80 per night) is signed off the Autovia A5 at km 333 A basic site with clean facilities. Large outfits might have problems trying to get on to the pitches also there could be problems in the wet.



Camping Cubillas signed at km 102 on the Autovia A62. The site at €20.06 is very expensive for what it offers, a very basic site but conveniently placed on the route to Spain or Portugal


There is about a 100 mile stretch of the A66 Autovia between Merida and Plasencia with only two refuelling/parking spots on the Autovia and they are close to Plasencia at Km 495 north bound/ Km 494 south bound and at Km 489 north bound/Km 488 south bound. This leaves a stretch of Autovia of about 85 miles with no stopping places on the road. There are petrol stations signed off the road some in small villages that could be a problem to large outfits or those towing trailers. We have come across the lack of fuel/rest stops on many of the new Autovia’s being opened in Spain at present.


There is a very good picnic area/night stop on the Autovia A66 at Km 427 north bound follow the picnic sign. South bound it’s km 427 signed Banos de Montenayor, a large area with very good views.


St Jean de Luz.

We usually have a day off here and stay at Camping Bord de Mer (open 1March to 31 October) €19 per night. If the weather is kind it’s a very pleasant stroll into St Jean for a leisurely lunch before wandering back again. We have been very lucky at this site with wall to wall sunshine. Site is not suitable for large outfits (over 8 metres).


St Maure.

After a days drive (315 miles) in brilliant sunshine we are staying the night on the aire at St Maure which is about 25 miles south of Tours on the N10. We refuelled at the Champion supermarket which is about 15 miles south of St Maure for €0.99 per litre that’s an increase of €0.02 since mid January. Diesel prices have ranged from €1.13 per litre on the Autoroute to about €1.08 at filling stations on the main N roads.


There is a very good aire on the N10 (both sides) between junction 16 & 17 south of Bordeaux. There is a height barrier set at 3.3 metres to keep the trucks out. It’s a very large aire with plenty of space for over night stops.


We noticed that most of the aires/parking areas on the N10 between Bayonne and Poitiers were very crowded with trucks and some were even gridlocked. At times there was almost a continuous line of trucks on the N10 where for long stretches trucks over 12 tons are not allowed to overtake.


Boulogne Port.

We had a night stop on the quay side at Boulogne after a 336 mile drive from St Maure mainly on the peage (€52.50) it was a bit slow through Rouen but other than that a very pleasant drive in the sun shine.


We had a panic in the morning just after first light, we thought somebody was trying to break into the van but it turned out to be a couple of sea gulls practising their dance routine on our van roof.


We have decided in future to do the trip from the channel port to St Jean de Luz in three days instead of two. I found it a bit tiring at times with the heavy volume of trucks on the roads. It will also mean we can use the N roads instead of the peage.


We had a ferry booked with Sea France for 1930 hrs so we can spend the day in Boulogne before getting the evening ferry and then hopefully driving home to East Yorkshire a trip of 275 miles. Hopefully in future we can go back to using North Sea ferries from Hull to Zeebrugge. The drive down and back to Dover is putting years on me.


We caught an earlier ferry than planned from Calais and arrived home just before mid night.


Diesel in Spain was about €0.90 per litre and in Portugal about €1.01 per litre. In France it varied from Euro1.14 to Euro 0.99 per litre

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Sorry to hear about your wheel bearing and sorry to say you may be back just in time for the snow!

Impressed with the service you got for your wheel bearing tho'. I've just switched to Comfort and RAC breakdown, so kind of you to test it for me >:-) >:-) thanks for that - (lol)




ps agree wholeheartedly with your comments on the Dover run!

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Roy - 2007-03-15 2:38 PM

Welcome home Don.   Sorry to hear about the wheel bearing, but it could have been worse?   Hope to see you both at Peterborough.


Roy,Thanks, we won't be at Peterborough, we are off to China on the 1st April and only get back a couple of days before the show. We hope to do the rest of the shows though.Don
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God Don, do you and your wife ever stop sorry about your trouble nice to see you got it all sorted out although it is a worry when away.


Still glad you are back safe and sound getting ready for the next one .


China & the Motorhome ?.

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  • 8 months later...



Boca do Rio N 37 04'05.35 W 8 48'42.73

Signed off the N 125 at the traffic lights at Budens (Ecomarche for cheap fuel at junction) then tarmac road to beach. Good for long term parking very popular spot in winter. Can get very windy at times. Toilets available next village (west) Selema a 15 minute bike ride. Bread is available from a caravan that is parked in Selema square opposite the toilets.


PRAIA DE AMADA. N 37 10'08.69 W 8 54'03.55

Signed off N268 just before entering Carrapateira going north. Not usually marked on maps. Water & shops in Carrapateira village.






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