Barragem do Alqueva to Monsaraz, via Estrela

On those occasions when we do have neighbours, we’re generally the last to leave. This was no exception. Before long, after leaving our spot for the night, we’d pulled in at a little parking area on the outskirts of tiny Estrela, set on the waterside.

There were already a couple of vans there and it seemed a very pleasant place to stop for a bit. We did a quick recce outside for a few photos, but the weather was on and off rain, so we sat in the dry and took in the view.

Sophie fancied a bit of baking, so who was I to deter her. As the afternoon wore on, she suggested that we might stop the night. This made perfect sense, because if we were to leave now it would be solely in search of a spot for the night anyway.

After one almighty downpour the sky cleared and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and get some air. So we took a walk through the small village and down to the reservoir/lake.

We arrived back, only just avoiding the next downpour, and then settled down for the night. We planned to head off first thing in the morning, even before coffee, as we soon get itchy feet when touring, but the only restaurant in town was 200 metres up the road and was particularly well-reviewed on TripAdvisor, so we decided on an early lunch.

The quality of service, size of portions, and decor, all scored highly in our opinion. A couple, Grace and Rui, run the restaurant, with Grace, who speaks superb English, front of house and Rui doing the cooking. We had excellent starters of chorizo & black pudding, and garlic prawns. For mains, Sophie‘s pork medallions entirely filled the large frying pan that was brought to the table, and my leg of pork was enormous. As always, we shared both. The house red was excellent.

Unusually for us, we had no room for dessert, and so after coffee we were off, and back on the road. First stop was the town of Luz, which caught our attention because it was only built in 2003, to replace the original Luz that was deliberately flooded to make way for the reservoir. Even the cemetery was relocated.

After using the town’s helpful motorhome facilities we thought we’d check out Mourao, with its castle. The combination of a damp afternoon, and safety barriers keeping us away from the castle entrance, meant that we didn’t really get to take a look inside, and were soon off again.

We’ve been aiming for the well known hilltop town of Monsaraz, and this was now next on the list. There is apparently great motorhome parking up there with great views, but with no shortage of waterside overnight parking we opted for the more spacious latter.

My guidebook tells me that the Alqueva Reservoir/Albufeira is one of the largest in Western Europe, and in our short time driving along its shores, it is undoubtedly, in all our years of motorhoming, the best area we have found for unrestricted wild-camping, with so many beautiful spots. I’m not sure if there are any restrictions in the high season, but Park4Night reviews don’t seem to suggest this.

So tonight we find ourselves a few km from Monsaraz down by the reservoir, with three motorhomes and a landrover with a pop-up roof, and loads of room. We’ve had a few unsettled days, weather-wise, but it looks like that’s going to improve from tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

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