We left Carvoeivo quite soon after breakfast. We didn’t have a long journey ahead of us but we planned to stop a few times. I had liked Carvoeivo, I wasn’t disappointed by the changes in the last thirty-five years but I was ready to move on.
The route took us past the busy cities of Portimão and Lagos but we stopped at neither pushing on instead to the resort town of Praia da Luz. This is another in the string of old fishing villages that have turned to tourism to replace the tuna but what marks this one out is the incredible story of Madeleine McCann and it has become notoriously famous for the location of the alleged abduction and where a few English detectives, who probably can’t believe their luck at being assigned to the case, now spend their time on permanent vacation inventing new, ever improbable, leads that keeps them permanently sunning themselves at the expense to the UK tax payer. Every year when the funding is about to stop they come up with another unlikely lead which keeps them going for another twelve months.
Nothing will ever come of these pointless investigations until the parents Kate and Gerry finally have the courage to confess what they really know. No one knows who is protecting them from justice or why?
It is an untidy sort of place with nothing really to commend it, I stayed there with my family in 1994 but it really wasn’t worth a revisit. I had high expectations of the next stop at the village of Burgau, I walked there from Luz twenty-five years ago and I remembered a dusty but charming fishing village with one shop and a single bar.
and now (same shop I note)…
It was inevitable of course that I would be disappointed and sure enough there are several more shops and bars, the fishing boats have gone and the beach is covered in sun-beds and parasols. We stayed for a while but declined to find somewhere for coffee and carried on driving west instead.
We should have skipped Praia da Luz and Burgau and visited the southernmost town of Sagres but we didn’t and I regret that and when we reached the far south-west we immediately turned north looking for a wild Atlantic beach. We were driving now alongside the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park and although we knew there were unspoilt beaches there it was difficult to find a way down to them. I suppose this is the whole point of a protected area of land and coastline after all.
Eventually the road strayed close to the shoreline at a place called Bordeira so we left the main road and made our way through the dunes to a car park and a wide sandy beach. Every now and again we come across somewhere that has the WOW factor and this turned out to be a very special beach and when I get around to reviewing my top ten stretches of pebbles and sand then Bordeira is certain to squeeze in there.
We struggled across the soft surface of the dunes sinking ankle deep in the energy sapping sand until we reached a welcoming beach bar where we stopped for refreshment before walking some more close to the rough sea where surfers courageously rode the waves and then returning to the car and completing our journey to the seaside village of Odeceixa.
We arrived there about mid-afternoon and I was surprised just how many cars and camper vans were parked close to the beach. This place was very popular. We found the accommodation and lucky for us there was allocated parking.
I confess to being a little shocked, the room was in a local restaurant overlooking the beach, it was simple, it was basic, it needed decorating, it was remote and I immediately wondered if I had made a mistake and that three nights might be two too many.
After a walk to a local bar we spent the afternoon on the balcony of the room. There was no denying that this was an idyllic location overlooking a wide sand beach which was busy but not overcrowded. Almost all of the people on the sand and in the surf seemed to be families with young children and it seemed to me that everyone seemed to know how to look after it.
On the sand leave only footprints…
We allowed the afternoon to tip over into evening and we waited for the sunset to end when the burning sun dropped suddenly and finally into the sea, darkness fell and we enjoyed a fine meal in the restaurant, Kim had fish soup followed by Tuna steak and I had Algarve shrimps and grilled sardines. We had walked four miles today.
There was no modern air-conditioning system in the room so we slept with the windows open with the gentle sound of the sea and the tide as a lullaby which was much nicer than the monotone hum of an electric motor.