The Portugal Diaries #11

As mentioned last time, we had a trip inland pencilled in for the Wednesday of the first week of July. A good friend of ours from Wales and his fiancée were holidaying in Lisbon and he had asked if we could meet up as we haven’t seen him for a few years. We also would be meeting his fiancée for the first time, so BattleDad found a place that was roughly half way for us and we planned our meet up.

Little did I know that the reason BattleDad chose it was because there is an amazing castle in the town. We left our place and headed past Castro Marim towards Beja, taking the mountain roads inland. We passed through a town called Mertola, which also hosts a castle on a hill. We plan to visit that as it’s only an hour from us.

After almost 2 hours on the road we arrived in Beja and found the castle. I honestly did not associate castles with Portugal but you can imagine my delight that we managed not one, but two dragon hunts within days of each other.

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Beja Castle
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Beja Castle

M and P were running a little late so we walked along the outer walls and admired how beautiful the castle looked. Once our friends had arrived we went into the castle to explore and hunt out the dragon lurking within.

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Selfie with my boy at Beja Castle

After an hour, we found a café for a sit down and catch up with toasties and a coffee. I have to say I’m a big fan of toasties since moving to Portugal. They aren’t afraid of using butter and the bread they use is really good. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend the afternoon with M and P as BattleDad had to get back for a conference call at 3pm but we thoroughly enjoyed our catch up and were so grateful they took time out from their holiday to come see us.

We decided to head back to Tavira via the main motorway and we got a nasty surprise on our way home. We came across a set of tolls not far from Beja and I mistakenly thought we could use the fast lane. I’ve set up an online account for our tolls along the A22, the main motorway that runs along the South of Portugal. But alas, these electronic tolls are different to those on the other motorways.

There are actually 3 different types of tolls and unless you have a tag, which you can only get for Portuguese plated cars, you have to get a ticket and present it at the other end. We didn’t have a ticket and as a result ended up paying a fine of over €100 for a trip that should have cost less than €10. A costly lesson to learn! I’m just glad we had enough on us to pay.

On our way home we did pass the exit for Silves which my Dad reliably informs us has another castle. I really am surprised at how many castles there are in Portugal and how amazing they look. I had been wondering whether we would be able to continue our dragon hunting adventures but thankfully we can.

Later that week we spent yet another Friday evening at the beach. Someone fell asleep on the way there and woke up to discover himself at the beach. He and BattleDad had a whale of a time jumping waves and running away from them.

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Jumping the waves on Manta Rota beach

It’s an absolute joy to be able to nip to the beach of an evening and see the joy in our son’s face as he plays in the sand and sea, which is warm by the way. It makes us happy to know our decision to leave the UK for a life in the sun is paying off. We’re starting to settle in and find out feet but we’ve a while to go before I think it’ll truly feel like home. But so far so good.

Next time I tell you of more blogger mail that has winged its way to us here in Portugal!

To be continued…

Cath x

Read more about our Portugal Adventures at Portugal Diaries.

The Portugal Diaries #10

So, after finishing his calls by 5pm, we decided to jump into the car and go exploring. And we hit the beach but not Fabrica. We hit a beach called Manta Rota which is a sandy beach that stretches for miles. And even better, you don’t need to get a boat to it. You simply walk out the boardwalk and you’re right on the beach.living arrows my sunday photo

It was still quite busy with lots of people still arriving. It seems it is a popular thing to head to the beach after work! And we had a great time. BattleKid got thoroughly soaked and I was glad I had a spare change of clothes as we headed to Xicken Piri Piri for dinner afterwards.

So nice was Manta Rota that on my sister’s last day I picked them up early and we headed there for a few hours to let BattleKid and his cousin play in the sand. They had a ball and it was lovely seeing them enjoying themselves. After showers and lunch, I dropped my parents home before carrying on to Faro airport to drop my sister and niece off. My sister really didn’t want to go home but they’ll be back later in the year.

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Playing in the sand with his cousin
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Burying me in the sand!

We had a quiet few days after our visitors but on the first Sunday of July, we decided to get out early and carry on exploring. We had been told of a castle fort at a place called Castro Marim that might be a good place for some dragon hunting, so off we went. I was very surprised that it was only 20 minutes for our home.

Castro Marim has two forts on top of hills. One is open to the public and in we went, on the hunt of our first dragon in Portugal. It was a great place to spend an hour or two and I’ll be writing all about our visit soon. Afterwards we stopped at a café at the bottom of the castle hill and had toasties and a cuppa before setting off for home. I can see us returning to Castro Marim time and time again.

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The second fort of Castro Marim
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Just taking a break from dragon hunting

After the weekend, and once BattleDad was finished work on Monday evening, we headed back to Manta Rota but not to the beach this time. We wanted to take BattleKid somewhere flat to practise his cycling and there was no better place we could think of than the big square in front of Manta Rota beach. He had a great time for over half an hour before we stopped for dinner.

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Cycling on Manta Rota

Later that week we had a trip inland lined up but it turned out even better than I thought it would. Stay tuned to find out why!

To be continued…

Cath x      

Read more of my Portugal Diaries here.          

Be In The Picture 7

I’m falling behind with getting this post done at the beginning of each month but it’s been a busy one and we are getting ready for our forthcoming USA road-trip, which I mentioned in my Holiday Diaries for this year. But, as the saying goes, better late than never. I am glad I am managing to keep up with this series as it ensures I try to get in front of the camera during the month. And BattleKid will have lots of pictures of his mum to look back on in years to come.

We started off the month by exploring a nearby castle at Castro Marim. I was put in the stocks for taking too many pictures and not doing enough dragon hunting. I got a kiss though!

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Getting a kiss while in the stocks at Castro Marim Castle
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Holding tight to the Castro Marim dragon

The same week we met friends of ours from Wales in a town called Beja in Central Portugal and as it had a castle, we did a bit of dragon hunting there. While we waited for them, I sneaked a picture of the boy and I.

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This month also saw my nephew pop over for a visit and we did a few silly snaps after getting some promo pictures for our collaborative YouTube Videos on both mine and Nico’s channels. BattleKid wanted to get in on the action so we let him.

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BattleKid getting in on the action!

We also went to Ayamonte with Nico, and BattleKid didn’t want to play ball on the selfie front so I thought bugger it and pulled a silly face, as you do!

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Other than that we’ve just been crafting, going for dinner, enjoying some early morning cuddles and time on the decking while it’s still cool enough.

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If you didn’t catch June’s Be in the Picture post, why not check it out. Next month’s post will definitely be late as we will be in North West America on our road trip but I am hoping both August’s and September’s posts will have some good pictures to share.

Initiated by Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday, Be in the Picture encourages us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up.

Living Arrows 28/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

In the last week we have the pleasure of visiting not one but two castles here in Portugal. I had no idea there were so many in Portugal, let alone within two hours of us.

The first we visited was in a town 20 minutes from us called Castro Marim. Castro Marim has two fort-type castles on opposite hills, one which is open to the public and one which isn’t. We had a lovely time wandering around, looking for dragons of course, and imagining what it was like to live there hundreds of years ago.

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Just taking a break from dragon hunting

We also visited a castle in a town called Beja which is 2 hours drive from us. We were meeting up with friends from Wales who were in Lisbon on holiday and who kindly offered to meet halfway. It was so good seeing M and his new fiancee P, who is lovely, and we spent a lovely hour wandering around the castle, hunting for dragons, before having a bite to eat and a coffee. I was blown away by this castle. And guess what? We passed another one in a town called Mertola which we are going to return to!

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Standing in the courtyard of Beja Castle

We also spent last Friday evening at the beach after BattleDad finished work. I still can’t quite believe that this is our life now; popping to the beach after work on Friday while it’s still hot is still something dreams are made of.

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Jumping the waves on Manta Rota beach

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Living Arrows

28/52 My Sunday Photo: 09/07/2017

Last Sunday we ventured out and headed to a place called Castro Marim, as recommended to us by BattleDad’s aunt. She had told us of two castles or forts, one of which you could visit and she thought it would be a great place to go dragon hunting. And we weren’t disappointed.
The two forts are enclosed within walls. The one we visited had towers, castle-like buildings, horse stables, a beautiful church, various buildings and battlements you could walk on. Up there we saw great views as far as both Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Portugal and Ayamonte in Spain across the river. We visited the museum inside and saw some amazing artefacts. And if you are wondering, yes we did find a dragon but that is a tale for another day.
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The second fort of Castro Marim
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Looking out across the salt pans towards Ayamonte
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Just taking a break from dragon hunting
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