Barragem Do Arade (Silves) to Sagres/Cape St Vincent

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The quietness of our overnight stop overlooking the baragem was a piercing sort of quiet, if you can say that. It was total quiet, the kind that makes the ringing in your ears, if you ever experience that, much more noticeable. Anyway, a peaceful night is what we like.

It rained heavily all the following morning, and we made tracks after lunch. To our great surprise, we could soon see that the road we’d driven on the previous day to get to our Park4night, was flooded, and I mean properly flooded with a turbulent river running where there was a tarmac road less than 24 hours ago.

As it happened, there was an alternative route out, albeit a somewhat precarious one. This involved returning up the steep road from water level to the top of the dam, then actually driving across the dam, which is where the fun continued in earnest.

It was a “normal” road, and it would take us to the other side of the flooded road, but it was only wide enough for a single vehicle, and had precipitous drops beneath it as we wound down its torturous route. Sophie wasn’t best pleased about this state of affairs and vowed, somewhat hastily I feel, that we’d never use a Park4night again. I had to explain that Park4night could hardly be blamed for weather and flooding. Anyway, we escaped unharmed, and only had to reverse very near the edge once, to allow an impatient local to get by.

The plan for the day was to head for Cape St Vincent, which marks the very far Western part of the Algarve, and in fact of continental Europe. En route we’d meander along the coast as best we could. First drive through was Portimao, and I should say that it was raining, some drivers were overly impatient, and we didn’t get to see any nice parts. As a result, the highlight of that part of the drive was the Intermarché, which actually had free fresh water and toilet emptying, the only place along the entire Algarve that provided these basic services for free, which are readily available in all of France and those parts of Spain we’ve visited.

We’d pretty much expected more of the same urban sprawl and overdeveloped waterfront from Lagos, but first we had to deal with some interesting routing by SatNav lady, where I had to choose between hitting a parked van’s wing-mirror, potentially removing a pedestrian’s head with my own wing-mirror, or stopping, and all on a very steep and wet road. Anyway, I chose to stop, and then after plenty of embarrassing wheel spinning in first gear, we finally found some traction and were soon bombing down an equally steep and narrow road to the seafront.

Unfortunately, Sophie noticed some ancient city walls, the old town, and a fort, so I then came under pressure to seek parking. As it happened, a suitable, but small, carpark appeared, and being off-season meant we had no problems finding a space. We wacked €1.20 into the meter, which gave us a couple of hours – much more than we needed, in my view, but I didn’t want to burst Sophie’s bubble.

Actually, the old town was interesting, but not earth-shattering, and perhaps too many multi-lingual menus with tourist pricing, and too many tacky souvenir shops. Anyway, everyone has a right to make a living. For me, the highlight was finding the cheapest diesel we’d seen in Portugal so far as we left the town.

Next drive through was Luz, and then we hot-footed it to Cape St Vincent, or the end of the world, as it historically was known, where we’d watched the sunset with our girls back in 2001 and enjoyed Portuguese doughnuts from a van. This time the wind was crazy, but I still got out for a photo. No doughnuts sadly.

I’d planned to stay there overnight, but the wind was ridiculous, and the adjacent cliffs enormous, so we headed for the relative safety of the large carpark near the fort at Sagres, about 7k away. There were plenty of motorhomes here, but loads of room and so we parked into the wind and settled down for the night. I have to say that we have never overnighted in such unforgiving winds, and I believe that force 8 or 9 was the order of the day.

*** Just to mention that our blogs tend to be a couple of weeks behind reality, as we’re always in catch-up mode ***

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