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Monday, 1 March 2010

And we're changing our ways, taking different roads

Reluctantly we left the comforts of the fantastic campsite at Praia de Luz and set off to explore Portugal beyond the popular Algarve coast. North of the Algarve is the Alentejo, a largely rural agricultural area of Portugal, between the coastal strip and the Tejo river; this is one of the poorest areas of Europe. We were keen to learn more about this area and see what it has to offer the visitor over the next week or so.

We have found that most of the roads in southern Europe are fairly quiet, even the motorways; we haven't seen anything resembling Spaghetti Junction for ten months and Cordoba was our last experience of a traffic jam; even there, if Spanish road signs had taken us around the city, rather than leaving us to drive by compass to find the campsite, we would have had a jam-free day. We don't really know how we will adjust to the hustle of UK roads when we return. The roads to Vila Nova De Milfontes were typically quiet, with no pressure to drive at anyone's pace but our own.

Walking on the cliffs of the Atlantic coast we were among a wealth of flowers; pink thrift and rock roses are flowering and delicate sand crocuses are scattered. The landscape is green and verdant after all the rain and seeing these flowers in England, you would think it was May. Immediately inland from the coastal dunes and cliffs the fields are cultivated; the photograph shows a field of chamomile, with the ubiquitous Bermuda Buttercups in front of two highly desirable, to romantics like us, cottages. The smell of chamomile with a hint of salty sea spray; you felt relaxed and full of energy all at the same time.

The showery weather makes it feel like a warm April in England and can make it difficult to get clothes dried some days and so our standards have been slipping even further. We are currently in competition to see who can wear a pair of socks the longest number of days between washes, before the socks get up and walk away by themselves.

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