Our route so far has mostly followed the coast so after leaving the festival in Sines we decided to go for a change and head inland for a few days. We went to Evora, a pretty, historical town with Roman ruins, a cathedral and a big market square. Just walking around the town was really interesting, scaling the old perimeter wall and enjoying the beautiful local park was a nice relaxed way to spend our first afternoon there. We did the touristy bits and had our fill of sightseeing then took to our bikes.
There’s a cycle trail that runs for 60km from Evora to Mora that’s part of the EcoPista cycle network.
The route from Evora runs through the town and out along an old disused railway line.
It was a particularly hot day when went for our ride so we took it fairly slow and only went for 40km but we really enjoyed the trail. As you go along there are lots of reminders of the railway as you see old platforms, train stations and ticket offices still standing fully intact but empty and abandoned.
While it was nice to have a change of scenery it was just way too hot to be inland and we missed the cool breeze of the coast. We headed back out to the coast again to a place called Setubal where we’d read there was good snorkeling, a nice way to cool off!
We found another great campervan parking spot that was a couple minutes walk from the centre of town in one direction and to the beach in the other. There was also a good free WiFi connection and lots of other van dwellers to keep us company.
We explored the beaches for a couple of days which were perfect for swimming with lovely calm waters then went a bit further North to Sesimbra. On our first night here we parked up next to a beautiful coastal walking trail, the Cabo Espichel, where you can see actual dinosaur footprints!
Along this walk there’s also a 17th Century Aqueduct and an old monastery that you can look around for free.
Another reason for going to Sesimbra was to visit a local dog rescue shelter called Bianca charity. We’ve been thinking about what it would be like to have a dog travelling with us for a while. Of course, this is a really big decision that we don’t want to rush in to so we thought that doing some volunteering at Bianca would be a good way to spend some time taking care of dogs whilst helping out with a good cause.
The shelter looks after 300+ dogs and maybe 30 or so cats that come from all different backgrounds, some rescued from the street, some had been dumped in bags or boxes outside the charity or beside communal bins, some had even been taken away from neglectful or abusive homes after complaints were received by the charity. It’s run by only a small group of staff and volunteers who do everything from daily feeding, grooming, walking and administering any medication the animals need, to cleaning out the kennels and sorting out paperwork for international adoptions. It’s intensive, full-on work that demands long hours, we were amazed by how dedicated everyone was.
Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming to us, we met volunteers from several other countries and after our first day they invited us over for dinner. We washed the dogs, took them for walks and tried our hand at shaving the coats of the really fluffy dogs to help make them feel more comfortable in the heat. It was really enjoyable, rewarding work and we’d definitely love to go back one day.
When we weren’t volunteering we went snorkeling around the beaches of Sesimbra which was amazing! Neither of us have really been snorkeling before but we now feel hooked and have already spent hours and hours bobbing around looking at sea life it’s so interesting and relaxing, we could happily do it every day!
On our last day in Sesimbra we had a walk around the castle which dates back to the 12th Century. The castle is amazingly well intact so there’s lots of history to explore plus amazing panoramic views from the top of the turrets looking out across the coastline.
After Sesimbra our plan was to head South to meet up with Simon’s family who have a house near Silves. On our way down we saw a poster for Flower Power Fest in Santo Andre, a celebration of the anniversary of Woodstock. We thought we could spare just the one night to check it out. The festival was a bit more village fete than summer of love but the music was up our street and we saw a Pink Floyd tribute with a light and video show so we had a good time!
Now we’re in The Algarve having just said goodbye so Simon’s family last week. It was so lovely seeing everyone and very relaxing living in the luxury of their home for a few days. Now we’ll find out what The Algarve has to offer…