RV Roadtrip – Spain to Portugal
With our quest to get to Portugal nearly within reach we pointed the Hymer towards Isla Cristina, our last stop in Spain before crossing the border. After rushing across Spain we decided it would be worthwhile to spend 2 nights at this campsite right on the ocean. (Well the ocean was just across the road technically.)
The camping at Isla Cristina was quite crowded with people from colder climates settling in for the winter season. The pitches and roads were quite sandy and we were a little concerned about getting stuck but after some recon on the few available spots we settled in without any problems.
Next on the agenda, check out the beach. After all, that’s what we came here for! I have a running commentary with my friend Tory about finding ‘the place’. Wherever we travel, in the back of my mind I’m looking for a spot that has it all; cheap beer, good wine, surf, climbing, mellow vibe, easy provisioning, good weather. The place would have all of the above or at least a good portion with the remainder in close proximity. Vietnam during good weather certainly fits that criteria. Lots of sleepy villages in Europe I’m sure fit it as well. Now Isla Cristina ranks pretty high on the list as well.
We missed a golden opportunity to SUP here. I’m sure at the time I had a very good excuse to not break out the boards. On our first walk down the beach there was a whole crew out enjoying the waves. We might have thought the water was too cold? Not sure. Guess I’m getting soft in my old age!
The actual town of Isla Cristina was about a kilometer from the camping. We were a little surprised to find it a rather run down affair. One would think the tourist potential and dollars would have spruced the place up a bit. Regardless, there were several large markets with everything you could need at very affordable Spanish prices. We bought really good Spanish Tempranillo for around 2 Euro a bottle for example.
After the respite at Isla Cristina we were ready to cross into Portugal. We were about to discover one of the really cool features on the Portuguese toll roads. After crossing the border you stop, roll up to the machine, slide your credit card and the machine takes a picture of your license plate. From then on the cameras record your tolls and you never stop to pay an agent or machine. So much more efficient than the French and Spanish systems!
If you’ve been following our RV trip so far, you will have noted our distinct lack of camping chairs. (Or maybe you didn’t notice? We did as we had to stay in the camping car rather than sitting outside enjoying the wonderful weather.) We kept chasing the ever vanishing camp chairs at various Decathlon stores as we moved south, always a day late it seemed. We did find some very sturdy fishing chairs but they were stupidly expensive and not really what we wanted.
With very little optimism, we located a Decathlon store in Faro, Portugal. It was off our path but really our only hope before we ended up in Lagos at our mega resort destination. I was not psyched on this little detour. But good chauffeur that I am, we left the wonderful motorway for the narrow and rather industrial streets of Faro.
After searching countless Decathlon stores as we began this adventure, hopes were not exactly high but we were now determined to buy something, even if it was an overpriced fishing chair. Here we had an extremely good turn of fortune as there were not only camping chairs, there were actually 3 different options to choose from!
In a move that still agitates the OCD in me, Shani chose a chair that in no way shape or form matches my chair. Voting for ergonomics over style, we now have two mismatched camping chairs like some sort of hillbillies that piece together their porch chairs from whatever tossed aside items they might come across. Embarrassing.
Having finally nabbed our white whale, mismatched as they may be, we were ready to land at Turiscampo, a mega resort just outside of Lagos. This place was pretty epic with large pitches and great amenities it is definitely a place you could settle into for the winter season.
A short walk to the south gets you into the small, picturesque village of Luz, right on the ocean. The views here are pretty stunning and we found a cafe with epic views and had some fries and drinks. Luz has a small Spar grocery store that had an inordinate amount of British goods, one can assume catering to the seasonal crowd. (The place we had drinks was also a British pub)
Having finally made it to Portugal, it was really a shame to not spend more time exploring and heading across the coast. That wasn’t in the cards this go around but we’ll be back for more exploring another time. The little bit of coast we did see was pretty amazing, the people were friendly and the prices for everything were really affordable. It’s quite possible ‘the place’ is somewhere in Portugal, time will tell!
And just like that it was time to turn around and head back into Spain, hit up Gibraltar, the French Riviera, Venice and then down into Croatia for a few months to relax and unwind and reset our Schengen visa time. Stay tuned as the motor home road trip motors north again seeing the sites and living the dream!
Thought we’d leave you with a few more photos of this stunning town in Portugal: