We arrived in Albufeira on 3rd December 2017 – Flights were booked for the 19th for our return home but we were both ‘ready and waiting’ so we checked out prices for a few days earlier, cleaned and carried out necessary jobs on Money Penny, and departed for Bristol on 12th December. We were to return by the 5th February 2018 for a month of necessary work both ashore and afloat.
Bikes are a handy addition when you arrive in a marina that is slightly out of the town centre, and we didn’t put these on-board before our departure from the UK. Throughout Brittany we had not found this a problem because a number of marinas that provide these for hire or free, however, Spain and Portugal are not equipped in the same way. We had spent time surfing the internet and both purchased folding bikes. How would we get these out to the boat? A road trip!! We decided, that after our UK break ,we would drive back to Albufeira complete with bikes and anything else we had ‘forgotten’ when we departed Milford Haven! This also gave us the opportunity to carry antifoul that would have cost 195 EUROS for a 3ltr can in Portugal!
We enjoyed Christmas and New Year with family and friends but all too soon the time to head back was upon us. Car loaded, complete with fully laden top box, we left Worcester (having spent a night with Judith’s brother) and headed down to the overnight ferry, spent the night in a cabin on-board and then drove from Le Harve to Les Arcs in the French Alpes (536 miles) for a week of snow and skiing. The conditions were amazing and we ended up staying form 11 days.
From Les Arcs we drove to Chambery and spent the night with some friends who live in a beautiful house just outside Chambery in a village called Bourdeau, overlooking the Lake that those of you who have flown into Chambery on a clear day, will know well.
From Bourdeau we travelled south via the Millau Viaduct to a quick overnight stop in Beziers. The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the gorge valley of the Tarn River in the Massif Central Mountains. It is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343 m above its base. From day one of our plan to drive back to the boat it was Alistair’s intention to drive across the Millau. Unfortunately the weather was not the best but….we did it!
We then followed the coast road, with a stop for lunch in Collioure (a beautiful French village which we intend visiting again on Money Penny), across the boarder, towards Barcelona. An overnight stop in Barcelona with a quick evening tour of the City ‘A la Alistair’! We would be returning to Barcelona on Money Penny later in the year.
Facebook is ideal for keeping in touch with friends that you don’t always have contact with from one month to the next We had noticed that Julia & Roger, friends from Pembrokeshire, were travelling in their Camper Van and were along our route in Peniscola (be careful how you pronounce that!). We managed to contact them and called in for a ‘quick’ catch up and coffee on our way to more friends from Pembrokeshire who are now living near Valencia.
A two night stop in Monserrat, a small village north of Valencia was next on our agenda. Jenny (a long time friend of Judith’s) and Trevor her new hubby had relocated just over a year previously. They were kind enough to provide us with fabulous hospitality over the next two days when we did a little sightseeing in Valencia and basically just enjoyed catching up.
Seville was next. What a great city! We managed to free the bikes from the back of the car and explored the city over the next two days before the final leg of our journey over the border to Portugal and Albufeira.
The view from our Hotel in Seville by night!& Day!
During February we worked hard on Money Penny to get her ready for the next stage of her journey. New antifouling, sail drive seals, replacement anodes and a good spit and polish. It was a pleasure to be working in the dry and not the cold and wet of East Llanion Yard. She was out of the water for a total of 5 days.
Once the hard work was over we spent time exploring east of Albufeira . Vicki & Brett, whose boat, Questing was in the Guadiana River, where coming out for a short break, so we arranged to meet them. In the meantime we had taken a trip to Villamora by road. Whilst walking around the Marina we came across two Birdy bikes that looked extremely familiar! On looking down the nearest pontoon we spied Legal Tender, Martin & Pat’s boat! They had made their way from Baiona and were now moored in Villamora. We made contact, joined them on board for a drink to catch up on all our news and then arranged for them to join us and Vicki & Brett the following day in Olhao for lunch.
The weather continued to be amazing for the time of year, we were thrilled as Sophie (Judith’s daughter), husband Chris and their two daughters were joining us over February half term. We had a fantastic week exploring the coast, swimming in the sea (well those that were mad enough!) and again ‘catching up’. During the week a competition developed between Chris and Alistair. Firstly, a pool tournament in which Alistair thrashed Chris and culminating in a go-carting race in which Chris obviously had the faster cart!!!
3rd March arrived…….Alison & Neil were joining us for a week. Oh no! The weather decided to change! It rained & it rained for most of their stay, the first we had seen all winter! Two or three days of storms left damage to many areas along the coastline.
We made the most of their visit, touring the area and even spent a night in Lagos Marina Apartments where we met up with Stephen & Karen Oates who drove down from their Spanish home. Such a shame that the weather wasn’t any kinder.
Judith returned home for a short break to celebrate her youngest grandson’s 1st birthday a few days after Neil & Alison’s departure and then on the 21st March 2018 we said ‘goodbye’ to Albufeira and continued on with our adventure.