Only a few kilometres from Spain we cross the border into northern Portugal easily the most remote part of mainland Portugal, if not western Europe. Instantly we notice a difference with the roads here they are the worst we have encountered. We left the smooth Spanish tarmac for rough, potholed, sometimes pavement less, dirt tracks, so now we are bumping and bouncing along the road.
We tend to stay away from toll roads but sometimes it has been impossible and trying to pay for them isn’t easy. Payment is either online which proves tricky as I’ve barely got to grips with the French language let alone Portuguese or find a Ctt post office which is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Eventually, we buy a €30 prepaid card and hope we don’t get a fine.
In places it’s as if time has stood still with women still washing their laundry at the communal wash house, ancient stone houses and clusters of small villages that seem unaffected by the speed and complexities of modern life, still serving their rich traditional dishes that feed the bellies of hard-working locals. Yet you do get the feeling that as a country it is struggling, for all the lovely places we pass there are quite a few that resemble mere shanty towns.
As we travel further down there are mountains and deep rivers which have cut their way through creating spectacular gorges. Whilst fires have damaged vast forest areas the smell from the newly planted pine trees is amazing, it gives a Christmassy feel in the height of summer.
Right through to the Algarve we find coves with golden, sandy beaches, many virtually
deserted it’s stunning.
As we move further into the Algarve the wind from the Atlantic coast gets stronger and the scenery along the coastline has a more touristy feel, concrete buildings, beer and golf courses seem to be the thing here. In parts, it feels more like little Britain which is a shame for this idyllic country.
We have passed through and stopped at some lovely, interesting places. Not sure if its somewhere I would travel to again but if you ever visit try the North of the country that’s where I think you get the real feel of Portuguese life.
I hope you enjoy reading what we got up to in Portugal in my next blog.