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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Off to the Algarve
21 December 2018 @ 09:31

We were off to the Algarve, approx 5.5 hours drive from Porto!

As my biggest client had begun their Christmas holidays close of business on Wednesday 20th December, instead of moving at the weekend, I wouldn't have work to do on the 21st, so that's when we'd go.

The week previosly I'd informed the landord of the yellow house who wasn't too happy to lose a months rental.  However, with no contract in place, whilst I don't like to let anyone down, our happiness was more important.

Once again we packed-up the car on a beautiful dry sunny day.  This time we had a couple of extra boxes as we'd purchased a battery charger & the halogen heater!  Fully laden, we headed-up the lane, but where the earth ended at cobbles & the track became steep, the wheels skidded with no purchase.  Rob revved & after a few tries, the car found enough grip to continue, but we pulled over on the flat to check the tyres were OK.  They were.

However, when we set-off again, there was a horrid grinding noise from the front right of the car.  It was a worrying intermittent sound, but we'd no idea what was causing it & it wouldn't necessarily repeat if a mechanic took the car for a test-drive.

THe Honda was a worry, being nearly 15 years old with 175k miles on the clock & we were in no-doubt that it would eventually break down at some point.  When we decided to travel, we considered selling it & buying another.  We looked at left-hand drive vehicles & in particular camper vans, but although a romantic idea, not ideal with two dogs & a parrot!  The deciding factor was funds, why change a car that was actually very reliable & use-up savings that we may well need for other necessities?  We were just keeping some money on one side for a car & would look at what was available wherever we happened to be should we ever desparately need a replacement vehicle.

Fortunately, by the time we hit the motorway the scraping had stopped so we relaxed into the journey.  Portuguese motorways are in excellent condition & not busy (likely due to the tolls which the locals don't want to, or cannot afford, to pay) so it was a pleasant, if slightly boring drive.  We'd looked at other routes, but they'd take longer & we anticipated an evening arrival as it was.

I was delighted that it was warmer on each of our rest stops as we travelled further South!  Bliss smiley

Each time we drive through the Alentejo, the journey always seems a really long one & it was also dropping dark by then - it was the 21st December & the shortest day.  The wide open spaces were certainly the best part of the route to see the fantastic sunset to our right in the distance.

Following Google from the link in the Air B&B app, we approached Santa Barbara de Nexe past a brightly lit shopping mall & we really hoped that wasn't in view from our house!  I'd kept our host up-to-date as we were an hour later than anticipated & Joao was waiting when we arrived with a welcome pack of cheese, biscuits & wine!  I'd mentioned how cold we'd been in the North & he'd placed radiators in the lounge & bedroom, but the overall temperature inside & out was warmer than we'd experienced the previous few weeks anyway.

Once he'd settled us in to a lovely rustic single-story house, a short distance off the road up a cobbled track, we returned to the small supermarket in Santa Barbara de Nexe 10 minutes down the road to buy something for tea.  After living in rural areas of Spain & Portugal for a number of weeks, it was actually a surprise that the assistant spoke English straight-away!

It was too dark to see the surrounding area (so no shopping mall - yeaaay), but we felt a sense of olive groves.  Having visited the Algarve on holiday many times before, we felt welcome & immediately at home.

We awoke to a glorious Algarve day with clear blue skies & sun. Having had a long journey the previous day & bought supplies the previous evening, we styed-put at the house to unpack, settle & enjoy our surroundings.  We walked the dogs down the fields at the back & sat on the terrace enjoying the sun.

The following morning, we headed into nearby Loule for the town's well-know market. However, just a couple of days before Christmas, the gypsy market was a disappointment with just a few stalls. The produce market was buzzing & we bought fresh fruit, veg & cheese before heading off the the supermarket for food enough for Christmas & beyond.

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