Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Spain and Portugal

We have visited this area for many years, but always in early July and now found Ayamonte, the nearest town to our resort of Isla Canela Golf, really quiet in comparison. We picked up the key from Pablo in the next door apartment to ours which is spacious and well equipped with the advantage of overlooking the pool and water feature on the golf course.

 view from the balcony at night

Later that evening we returned to Faro airport but Ben phoned to say the plane would be 2 hours late. It was lovely to see them but by that time the car hire place was closed to add Ben as an additional driver. We drove back and didn't get to bed until 4.30 in morning. I give that time but it is quite confusing as Portugal keeps the same time as UK but Spain is an hour later and we keep crossing the border which is only 3 kms away.

Sat: We stocked up at the local supermarket with the unlikely name of Eroski and later on went to the beach at Isla Canela for a coffee allowing Emma to practise her spanish.  It became overcast and windy so we changed plans for staying on the beach and drove along to the harbour in Punta del Moral.

the playground!
On Sunday we crossed the bridge which spans the River Guardania, a natural barrier between Portugal and Spain.  This is the only way to drive across the river for many, many miles and the bridge was only built in the 1990s when Portugal hosted a european football tournament.  This allowed this area of Spain to remain a lesser known holiday destination.  From here you get a great view of the river and its salt flats.  Last time we crossed it was in darkness and there were police with guns on the border.

Our destination today was Monte Gordo, a former fishing village now a tourist resort with a casino.   We ate a good lunch and Ben and Emma went for a swim while we looked after Freya.

On Monday we went to Islantilla to put Ben on the car hire insurance, but the branch had closed down.  We witnessed a general strike protest rally consisting of a cavalcade of cars sporting flags and banners honking their horns.  We had previously come across them at the golf complex.   The visit wasn't entirely futile as we were able to purchase pizza and other bits for lunch.  The kids went off to the beach and I went with Ronnie to play golf.  More accurately, Ronnie played golf against an invisible opponent called Tiger Woods while I sat in the golf buggy reading Girl with Dragon Tattoo.  Emma is reading the swedish version which is half the thickness of mine, but we reckon that it's because some swedish references need to be explained to non-swedish readers.

The golf course is a pleasant location for a walk with its water features and wildlife - and Freya thinks so too.

 walking gives Freya a hearty appetite

On Tuesday we went to Tavira.  The architecture of this very old town is fascinating.

We then visited Olhao where there is a large fish market.

From here we went on to Faro airport to show Ben's license to the car hire people. 

On Wednesday we went up into the mountains on the spanish side.  We reached Sanlucar where it was really hot and had bean soup and sardines for lunch.

On Thursday, Ronnie and I went to vila real de Santo Antonio by ferry while the kids went to the park in Ayamonte which boasts a zebra, tigers and, Freya's favourites, the parrots.

Here too there is interesting architecture which strikes me as french in style with its ornate iron balconies.  The town had been destroyed in the tsunami which followed the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.  I am sure I read somewhere that the rubble from that quake was used as the block paving which is widespread in Portugal and annoys Ronnie.  On our return to Ayamonte we joined the kids in the park where we found that the parrot understands not only english, but swedish too.

All too soon the holiday has come to an end.  The sun tan will fade but our memories will remain.

The weather was terrible when we arrived in Leeds!

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