Beach, Booze & Birds at Ria Formosa

20 September – 28 September 2019

Abandoned by Trevor & Maggie we lapsed into laziness. The weather turned grey and cool for a couple of days and we took advantage to get some jobs done, much to the fascination of our British neighbours who kept coming over to check out what Danny was making or repairing. One of these neighbouring vans contained Ian & Patsy from Macclesfield and we recognised each other instantly. After talking through our respective danderings we remembered we had met and chatted in Greece in May. Small world, bad memory.

Kate doing the housework

When the sun came back out we cycled into Tavira, left Kate’s bike in for repair, and caught the ferry downriver and out to Ilha de Tavira, one of the barrier island of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. We followed the boardwalk across the islet to the beautiful, broad sandy beach where we extravagantly paid for a couple of sunbeds and installed ourselves, only taking a break for lunch at one of several seafood restaurants catering for the healthy numbers of people still enjoying sea and sun at the end of September.

The beautiful Ihla da Tavira Beach

Later in the afternoon a really noisy family – 1 Australian, 2 Irish & 5  Aussie kids but it was only the Aussies who were loud –  installed themselves next door and made things pretty unbearable. We got a break when they went for a swim but when they came back full of energy and volume we finally admitted defeat and packed up.

We also did some birdwatching around the salt pans, cycling out to the channel between Tavira and the Ihla da Tavira where a number of motorhomes were contentedly wildcamping and making our way slowly back amongst the saltpans.

It was nice to get our eye in again, and as well as the ubiquitous Spoonbill and Flamingo there were a decent number of waders including plenty of Kentish Plover.  Kept us happy anyway.

The day before our planned departure we spent a couple of hours at the campsite’s dedicated washing area getting our ‘baby’ white again before treating ourselves to another Happy Hour and a curry in Cabanas. All very nice and so far so good.

The only problem was that on the way back we called into the campsite bar for a nightcap and ordered some Aguadente. The waiter turned up with the brown stuff they usually serve but we weren’t having any of it. Oh no – we insisted on the clear local stuff. He was delighted and duly brought us two large helpings. Which we followed with another two before returning contented to the van.

Next day was painful. Our neighbours waiting to wave us off watched anxiously until we finally could face daylight. It was only on checking the internet that we realised that that stuff can be up to 80% proof, and my word, were, our bodies objecting. Needless to say we went nowhere that day. The only positive to come out of it was that unable to face cooking, we visited  a small restaurant just up the road for an early dinner and discovered a gem of a place which introduced us to the concept of ‘Steak on a Stone’ – a really thick piece of raw steak placed on an intensely hot piece of granite.

Steak on a Stone

For the uninitiated, you slice off pieces and cook them as much or as little as you like on the hot stone before eating. The granite didn’t seem to cool at all and the steak was so thick it only seared on the bottom. Delicious. But we will be staying away from Aguadente for now.