Four days without a
First stop was Monchique in the hills above Lagos. Written up quite highly in the guides, but in fact the town
itself was hardly worth the trip.
we were to discover - only a few miles from the coastal strip and this part of
Portugal is quite undeveloped for tourism which of course is great and very
romantic, fantastic scenery, etc, but also means that there aren’t any hotels,
restaurants, etc. Caldas
de Monchique is more worth a visit that Monchique itself – or it will be if
its ever finished. Caldas is a spa
with some fine old buildings which have been quite tastefully restored and
turned into small hotels. Actually
they’re all one hotel. In fact
Caldas is a hotel. It’s a kind of
mini Port Mierion which has run out of money before completing all of the things
which would justify the prices that the hotel(s) and restaurant charge.
The end result of this is that there aren’t enough visitors to provide
the cash to finish the facilities which would attract more visitors – oh and
there’s nowhere near enough parking even when it’s half empty.
Still worth a look though, but stay across the road in the old hotel.
of the next day was spent searching for vinyl flooring.
Not something which there’s a lot of in a country that produces huge
quantities of excellent ceramic tiles. But
we’d lost the wooden block flooring in the forward heads somewhere in Biscay
when the grey water holding tank evacuated itself over the floor.
ended up for the night in Tavira (vinyl with a slightly unpleasant parquet
pattern in the car), quite a pretty Portuguese costal town with mainly
Portuguese tourists. Got absolutely
ripped off in a waterfront restaurant, mainly because we’d left it far, far
too late to eat after one too many drinks on hotel roof terrace bar – where we
could have eaten quite decent food if we (I?) hadn’t had a pressing need to
get out and sample the local ambience.
to Villa Real de San Antonio on the Spanish border. Lovely town, but marina
& hotel both full. Crossed over
to Ayamonte on the Spanish side of the river.
Less lovely town, but marina also full.
We found a new hotel at Alto, built into the hill on several levels with
fantastic views, a view and we were told a special evening with dinner and live
local music. What we weren’t told
was that the special evening was in a dinghy meeting room in the basement and
had been laid on because the hotel restaurant, bar and gardens were closed to
residents because they were all turned in use for a major local wedding.
the time we discovered all of this we were of course committed.
The “special dinner” was in fact a by-product of the wedding
breakfast and the live local music appeared to be a Portuguese man with an
electric piano playing lift music. The
food, ambience, etc didn’t improve with time, but the music truly did.
As the guests drifted away and the night wore on the improvisation began
to creep in to the playing. It
turned out that Fernando was a Canadian publisher who took three months of every
year just to play. Once he
discovered that there were other jazz fans in the audience (in fact by now we
were just about the only audience) he really went to work.
Fernando’s a fantastic jazz pianist and turned what would otherwise
have been a pretty dire evening into a night to remember.
made our way back to Lagos via a couple few other possible moorings, the
last being Portimao - Big, expensive and half empty marina miles from the
old town, which is nice and the new resort town, which isn’t.
We did however bump into another British couple, Ian & Jenny on board
Moidart a Moody 376. We would
meet up with them again back in Lagos.