Tuesday 18th & Wednesday 19th July
So, once again our summer holiday adventure was about to begin. I say once again because over the last 15 years every summer has been an adventure!
This year for the first time we had decided to have a treat and rather than drive through France we caught the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, a 24 hour crossing with a cabin.
We decided to leave home with plenty of time to spare and headed for Portsmouth late morning, planning to have a nice lunch somewhere before boarding. We chose a nice sizzler pub near to Portsmouth with ample parking for the motorhome. Unfortunately whilst eating our lunch we received a text to say that our crossing was delayed due to technical problems.
Luckily it was a lovely, if very breezy day, so we spent time along the front in Portsmouth walking and having a game of crazy golf.
Following the delay we boarded at 6.30pm and at last we were on our way. We travelled on Pont Aven. All was good with the ship, we played bingo and enjoyed the entertainment, as well as the bar! The cabin was very nice, plenty of room for the three of us with a decent size bathroom and comfortable bunks.
The following day we had a nice lie in and a very relaxed morning. After lunch we headed for the cinema. Again, no complaints, film was very good and cinema comfortable.
The only frustration was that because of the delay obviously we docked later too, this meant that we didn’t get off the ship until 10.15pm, our campsite was 40 minutes away so we imagined it would be closed. We were lucky though, they had been aware of the ferry delay and stayed open late. We even managed a drink in the bar!
Our campsite for the night was Caravanning & Camping Oyambre near to St vincente de la Barquera.
Thursday 20th July
We had a lazy start to the day, getting up and going for breakfast at the campsite restaurant, lovely.
Later on we planned to meet with our friends and their children who were sailing to Bilbao, we were set to meet in Toledo. So, by 11am we were on the road and on our journey in the direction of Toledo. We had a fairly relaxed journey there, journey time was around 6 hours but we stopped and did a food shop on the way too.
We arrived at our next campsite, El Greco at 5.15pm. An absolutely beautiful campsite with a stunning view of Toledo from the pool. The campsite was almost empty, we plugged in to the electric and went to the pool. Our friends had hit a bit of traffic so were a few hours behind us, unfortunately not quite early enough arriving to be able to have a dip in the pool, but not to worry, we found the bar. The bar is also lovely, over looking Toledo. The restaurant looked very good, if a little pricey. However most tables were reserved so we imagine pricey but good. We chose to have a bbq with the shopping we had done earlier on in the day. With our friends arriving late our bbq was rather late, and as we hadn’t had a catch up for ages bed time was also rather late!
Friday 21st July
Despite the late night we were up bright and early to take a taxi ride in to Toledo and then catch the train in to Madrid. The journey was only 28 minutes, train was lovely and running on time.
In Madrid we decided to take a trip on the two routes of open top tourist buses. This is a hop on/hop off system, headphones are provided to give you information about the sights you will see.
At the time of our visit the bus was 21 euros per adult and 10 euros per child. With a family ticket also available. Definitely the easiest way to see Madrid, and also probably the coolest, it was very hot in the city!
One of our first stops was to Chocolateria San Gines, famous for hot chocolate and churros. I can honestly say that I have never tasted hot chocolate like it. It was so thick that I could only manage half a cup. The churros dipped in were heavenly (and highly calorific)! A good start to the day, and a big thumbs up from the kids!
The day ended with us almost missing our return train. We literally had to run, not jog, in 37 degree heat to the train station. I have never been so hot! However, it was worth it as we were back on the campsite in time to cool off with a swim in the pool and a relax in the bar.
Saturday 22nd July
After briefly seeing Toledo on our way to the train station on Friday we decided that we had to visit. It looked stunning. We took a taxi there, nearby where we were dropped off we spotted a tourist train for 5 euros 50 per person, (less for under 7’s). The train was brilliant, it took us on a 40 minute tour of Toledo, lots to see and very informative if you listened to the headphones that were supplied.
There were lots of Tapas restaurants to choose from, and our original plan was to eat Tapas before heading back to the campsite and leaving for Cordoba. However it was not to be. We were too early, the restaurants weren’t open until later than we needed to leave so we grabbed a snack and went back to the campsite. Cordoba was the next destination. Around a three hour journey, so not too far.
We arrived at our next campsite, El Brilliante, a really friendly greeting from the two men in Reception awaited us. Our pitches were perfect, in the shade, right near to the pool. Which was good as it was very hot! Although not as hot as the previous summer when the men in Reception told us that during the summer the temperature had risen to 48 degrees! While we were there the temperature was around 40 degrees. The pool there was lovely and practically empty, it felt like our own private pool.
In the evening we decided to go for Tapas at a restaurant almost opposite the campsite. We quickly realised that our ignorance of the Spanish language and inability to read a Spanish menu may hamper us this summer. There was no English translation on the menu and the waiter spoke only a tiny bit of English. The result was that we ended up with a lovely meal, if a bit heavy on the potatoes! Croquettes, patatas brava, kebab (deep fried rolled pork in breadcrumbs, not what we expected it to be).
Sunday 23rd July
As we had been up and out the previous few mornings the kids insisted on a lazy morning and a lie in. We enjoyed it too, but thank goodness for the air conditioning in our motorhome. I wouldn’t holiday during the summer in this part of Spain without air con!
We had a nice relaxed early lunch before the pool opened at 1pm, cheese and biscuits, yum! The afternoon was spent in and around the pool.
We decided to cycle in to Cordoba for the evening, a very manageable, flat cycle ride from the campsite.
But boy was it hot! We passed by an outdoor temperature sign on a shop which told us that it was 37 degrees, that was at 9pm.
Cordoba is simply stunning. The streets are narrow and cobbled, it’s a must see destination. We cycled past the Metzquita, which is now a cathedral but was once a mosque. We cycled along and on to the bridge from which we photographed the Metzquita. Stopping for a drink at the Gran Bar on our way back to the campsite while the kids got drenched in the fountains.
Going back to the campsite at 11pm the same temperature gauge told us that it was 33 degrees. Conclusion the South of Spain is hot! Will definitely visit Cordoba again in the future, it is something special.
Monday 24th July
You could tell that holiday mode had kicked in. Another lazy morning ensued. Then the kids went for a swim whilst we prepared a lunch of fajitas.
After lunch and a quick stock up from the local Aldi, a couple of minutes cycle ride away (we sent the men whilst we ‘looked after’ the kids, who at 12, 13 and 14 didn’t need much looking after). We were then on our way to Seville.
Our intention was to stay at a camperstop right in the heart of Seville. However when we arrived we although there was plenty of space for us the man on the gate informed us that there was no electricity until the following day as they were having problems with it. Our opinion was that with the temperature being 43 degrees we needed electricity to run our air conditioning units otherwise we would be in for a very uncomfortable night’s sleep.
Not to worry, we always find somewhere! We found a lovely campsite on the outskirts of Seville with a bus every 90 minutes in to Seville.
So, we headed in on the bus, finding the 43 degree heat rather warm to say the least. We had a look around the palace, the mosque/cathedral, and then headed to the old town where we enjoyed wandering around. We also liked the Jewish Quarter. Apart from that to be honest we found Seville a bit too vast. I think that it would be good to explore in the Spring or Autumn when temperatures are more suited to us people from cooler climes sight seeing.
The kids weren’t particularly interested in the architecture so we agreed that they could choose what food we would eat in the evening. The kids decided that they wanted Italian, so out came the handy Trip Advisor reviews. We found a lovely little restaurant called Osteria L’Oca Giuliva. The food was wonderful and the price very reasonable.
We caught the 10.45pm bus back to the campsite and then sat out and enjoyed a few drinks while enjoying the very slightly cooler night, it was still 30 degrees at 1am!
Our intention was to see the rest of what Seville had to offer the following day but the kids were keen to get to the coast where it may be a bit cooler and also they were rather fed up with cities. We had packed a lot of sight seeing into the holiday so far and they were keen to get to a beach. So, although we had only scratched the surface of Seville we decided to hit the road again and visit again another time.
Tuesday 25th July
We got up and headed for Portugal. The drive was nice and easy and in under two hours we arrived at Camping Formosa, a campsite near to Tavira, Portugal.
We decided a lazy afternoon was in order. We spent the afternoon at the pool, apart from a quick cycle in to Tavira, adults only, leaving the kids at the pool. We found a nice bar on the front and enjoyed a glass of wine before heading back to the pool and to cook a BBQ in the evening.
Wednesday 26th July
A lazy morning at the pool, and an early morning run for me. Lovely, although it was to be my only run of the whole holiday as it was just too hot. I came to the conclusion that I am definitely a run in England kind of lady!
In the afternoon we decided to try the beach. There is a boat that you can catch from Tavira across to the beach for a euro each. The beach is lovely with a nice beach bar and shallow sea.
Thursday 27th July
The boys decided to go off for a round of golf so the rest of us had a relaxing morning by the pool.
They played golf at Bennamar Golf Club, cycling distance from the campsite, adults were 50 Euros, Juniors 25 Euros. A buggy 25 Euros. They had a great time.
Afterwards we enjoyed a litre of sangria by the pool for just 5 Euros.
We decided to go in to Tavira for a meal during the evening which was 10 Euros for a 7 seater taxi.
There are plenty of choices of restaurant in Tavira but many were already booked so we did find it tricky to find somewhere. Next time we would book as many of the restaurants that were fully booked looked amazing.
Friday 28th July
Time to move on again. This time the destination is Albufeira.
The campsite that we decided on was called Camping Albufeira, a lovely site with a good pool, bar area and restaurant. It also benefitted from a bus just outside that went to Albufeira.
We spent the afternoon in relaxed fashion at the campsite pool and then enjoyed a BBQ in the evening.
Saturday 29th July
Two of the children really wanted to go to a waterpark, the other really didn’t so our group split in two. The dads and two of the kids got up early and headed by bus to Aqualand. While the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the pool.
We anticipated the water-park to be really busy as it was the weekend but it was very quiet, the reason being that it was change over day for a lot of holiday makers. So in the end it was the perfect day to go. Plus tickets were 2 for 1 at 54 euros.
We planned to visit Albufeira during the evening once everyone was back together again. There was a bus there from just outside the campsite which was very handy.
We had been told that Albufeira was beautiful, but to be honest it wasn’t our cup of tea. It was very busy with lots of cheesy shops. Undeterred we headed for Old Town Albufeira, which sounded more like our sort of place. However when we got there it wasn’t, it was crowded, lots of bars with happy hours, too many other Brits and not the traditional feel we were looking for. My reason for saying this isn’t to put you off visiting, just to advise you. If you want a lively resort with a party feel and lots of bars and shops then visit Albufeira.
We headed away from the Old Town and towards the beach. The beach was very quiet as it was during the evening, a nice beach.
We had booked our evening meal at a restaurant in the Old Town, and it was this restaurant that made our journey in to Albufeira worthwhile! Shalom 2 was the name of it. My husband and son ordered ribs- as much as you can eat was advertised. They had plenty, and say that they were the best ribs that they had ever had. I can also vouch for the salmon marinated in garlic and herbs and the oreo cheesecake!
Sunday 30th July
After a lazy morning we decided that we were ready to move on.
We went to Gale beach and after a slightly hairy time trying to turn around after we followed a sign for the beach and found ourselves in a queue heading down to the beach on a rather narrow road with cars parked at either side. Our turning around most definitely could not be described as a three point turn!
Gale beach is recommended, a lovely setting.
We stayed on the beach until late afternoon and then headed for Camping Lisboa Bungalows near to Lisbon. The campsite is quite expensive and not the most luxurious but it is very close to the city centre. We arrived there at 7.30pm, the kids dashed out of the vans and straight to the swimming pool which was lovely. Quite a novelty for them as unusually for a campsite the pool was extremely deep and therefore very good for diving. There was a diving board and the deep end of the pool was 3.5m deep. For little ones or weaker swimmers there was also a kids pool.
Our only real fault was that the toilet block wasn’t the best. It was clean enough but there were no loo seats and the showers didn’t stay consistently hot, they were hot and cold.
A site worth visiting because of it’s close proximity to Lisbon.
Monday 31st July
We caught an Uber in to Lisbon at 8.30am at a bargain cost of 8 euros!
We were very impressed with Lisbon it is a beautiful city. We started off with a walk up to the old part of Lisbon, Almafa, there you will find a view point and a castle. It’s well worth a visit, although it is uphill! There are trams going up to but we decided to walk as they were all busy/full.
We had to try an egg custard as it is the signature dish in Lisbon, very nice too.
On our return journey we caught the elevator down to Boix, (I think), the kids thought that this bit was fun!
As we had the children with us we went fidget spinner shopping and to McDonald’s before leaving and heading back to site for a cool down in the pool.
We would definitely go back to Lisbon some day.
The next port of call was to be the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro. We were on the road and heading there by 3pm. We checked in to Camping Orbitur Vageuira at 7pm. The pool was closed so the kids headed for the Wifi area! The Wifi was really good so we had happy kids! What would they do without wifi?
Tuesday 1st August
We woke up to realise just how beautiful the campsite was. I love trees and this site had hundreds of them. The children wanted a relaxed morning so they went for a swim and relaxed in the sun. We had to do a bit of food shopping and found a lovely Intermarche ten minutes away from the campsite.
We decided to spend late afternoon/evening in Aveiro, we found motorhome parking right in the town and enjoyed a stroll around. It wasn’t quite Venice but it was pleasant enough.
Wednesday 2nd August
Back to Spain.
The plan was to head for Santiago de Compostela but the weather forecast there was cool, cloudy and raining, so we decided that was no longer an option. We had a look at the map and re routed to a site near to Salamanca in a place called Villamoyer.
The campsite that we found was lovely, very small and very friendly with a nice pool area, (pool was cold though), and a bar area with snacks and cheap (but nice) wine. A great find.