We crossed the border into Portugal and were slightly confused by the tolls as we hadn’t planned on using any tolls in Portugal but upon entering you can register your credit card and vehicle so that if you do end up on one of the motorway tolls then you are automatically debited. After reading the instructions it was a very simple task, put your credit card into the machine, it takes a photo of your registration and then spits out a receipt with your registration number on the receipt. Just one problem, it has not read our registration number correctly, it has read the E as 1, so who knows what will happen if we go through a toll! Just so you know, when you cross the border at this particular entrance into Portugal, even though you enter on a motorway, the toll does not actually start for another 20km so easy to slip off onto one of the non-motorway roads, as indeed we did to get to Olhão.
Before reaching Olhão we called into the town of Tavira and walked across the old Roman bridge that leads to Praça de Republica, the town square on the river, where slaves were traded along with fish and fruit. We continued up through the old town then wandered back down through the cobbled streets to the river.
At Olhão we stayed for 3 nights at the aptly named Camping Olhão, did the laundry, used the swimming pool, cycled into town and researched where, when and how to catch a ferry across to one of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa’s sandy islands, Culatra and Armona.
We caught the ferry to Armona. It is about a 15-20 minute walk from the ferry dock to get to the main beach but a pleasant path leads through the centre of the town and then continues on a boardwalk. The beach is fabulous and it looked as though we had arrived in the Caribbean, beautiful white sands and a clear blue sky, the only difference was that the water temperature was a bit colder than the Caribbean but warm enough for us!
We spent the day on the beach, reading, sunbathing and cooling off in the sea. On arrival back in Olhão we stopped off at a bar for an aperitif before cycling back to the campsite.
The campsite is large with numerous sanitary blocks, shaded pitches, a good swimming pool, tennis court, supermarket, restaurant and at €11 per night, fantastic value. It’s about a mile cycle ride from the campsite to the quayside and centre of town.
Tomorrow we plan to head westwards along the Algarve.