Camping Ria Formosa is situated about 1 mile from Cabanas sea front. We arrived here (from the aire at Albufeira) on October 21st and our stay here will be for a minimum of 30 days.
Winter deals are common-place on <proper> camping sites in southern Europe and don’t require that you have an ACSI card in order to get a discounted price.
The 30-day+ cost is therefore comparable to the cost on many aires (typically costing between €9 and €13 per night with EHU and WiFi included), you will also mostly experience better site facilities and a larger plot size.
A no-brainer? – well, yes – unless you like to move on more frequently – as many do (but not all, there is also a large contingent that quite happily locate here for all of the winter months).
From the point of view of long-terming in one location, we had experienced staying in the walled garden in Derbyshire for just over 3 months but that was entirely different because 1) we were using the summer to get Twernt set-up for our winter jaunt and 2) throughout that period our ‘focus’ was on a date in the future when we could start our new adventure – a feeling very different to ‘we’re here’ and we’re committed to being ‘here’ for the next 30 days even though we could ‘absorb’ what this location has to offer in 2, 3, 4, 5 , 6 or 7 days and then move on to the see what’s on offer somewhere else along the coast.
We wanted to ‘taste’ long-term staying-over in one location in order to ‘test’ how we feel about using this as an M.O. for our future wintering trips to southern Europe.
When we were in the walled garden we had certainly felt that a tow vehicle/caravan would have been a better option as we weren’t using Twernt to take advantage of its prime design remit – a motorised caravan.
Twernt became a caravan for 3 months.
This is the first of 4 blogs reflecting on our month-long stay at Campng Ria Formosa. This blog (and the next 3!) will therefore focus on a ‘sanity-check’ for our own set-up needs for future wintering in sunnier climes.
The questions that interest us are:
Did we get it right?
Is the layout working for us?
Do we need a car?
If so, a toad, a rental or a caravan outfit?
Would a larger or smaller MoHo have any justifiable benefits?
Could any alternative solution work for us?
In addition to mulling over our thoughts, we also hope that we will, over the coming months, identify which parts of southern Europe appeal most to us for our future winter visits; like many others, our motivation is simply to be in warmer climes during the British winters. We’re happy that the UK can (and does) offer us all that we need/desire during the summer months. Warm is good, cold is bad.
Beyond that all else is ‘open’ to our discoveries during this winter trip.
This stay at Camping Ria Formosa could therefore give us a steer on how we structure our future winter trips.
This blog and the next three blogs will be mostly picture based with thoughts attached to pictures and those pictures/comments will then be in our ‘Trip Book’ for us to reflect upon when the time for reflection comes.
The 4 blogs are:
The purpose of these 4 blogs is not to produce a solution to the questions posed but to hopefully provide us with a point of reference when the time comes for us to make a decision.
That decision may well be to keep our current set-up, which, in any event, we always saw as a 2-3 year commitment before considering making any changes.
This and the next 3 blogs are therefore, most probably, ‘selfish’ blogs!
But hopefully some readers may be able to gain something from my pictures/comments and all are very welcome to add their own two penn’orth worth!. I freely admit that the questions posed above were the most difficult ones for us to answer when we set out as winter sun-seeking newbies.
I have no qualms about holding my hands up should it transpire that I/we got it wrong (It’s always ‘we’ when it’s gone well but never ‘we’ when something goes pear-shaped!). If ‘we’ have to re-visit some of those past decisions then so be it – but ‘we’ won’t be in a position to do that until
Amanda has ‘we’ have completed this trip.
When we were seeking advice on which transport/living/layout vehicle to run with we were advised by quite a few experienced MoHo’ers.
The best advice was along the lines of: when it comes to discerning what is right and what is wrong, we each have our own views, requirements and our own standards that we bring to the table. There is no singular ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way, only what is the right for you.
e.g. A geriatric hippy may well be comfortable full timing in a VW fixed roof camper, whereas Bill Gates will need at least everything that a fully pimped out Morelo has to offer. Bill will need a change of clothes every couple of hours whereas my hippy buddy will get by with one change of clothes every six months, give or take a month or three.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those examples (unless you’re the type of
dictator person that likes to impose your standards on others) but the ripple-down effect on establishing your own set-up can already be seen to be taking shape – Bill will need a platinum, heated seat, toilet whereas my hippy friend will happily use the pan that he also cooks his lentils in. Different strokes for different folks.
I do know that the actual experience is very different to the perceptions that we developed and fostered before ‘T’ day (Twernt day!).
One example for us being that we settled on using cycles and dog trailers as our ‘secondary’ transport for outings and shopping trips.
Prior to being on the road in Twernt, we saw this secondary transport set-up as ‘Yes, we can do that, nae problem’ – the reality has been that we need a car to get the best out of this experience.
It may well be OK with some folk to do 2 x 8 mile hikes in 28°c heat to purchase sim cards but that’s not for me/us – Amanda doesn’t ‘do’ major roads on a cycle and buses don’t ‘do’ dogs in Portugal (well they do until a transport official intervenes – then it’s ‘hassle-city’ and that could spoil your day).
We have many examples like this and our conclusion is that we need more mobility – a scooter/motorbike would be perfect if we didn’t have dogs, but we do.
We’re happy with our ‘test’ platform so far and recognise that some compromise is always going to be required.
Perhaps, as a former IT Test Manager (in a previous life), I should have spent more time developing ‘test scripts’ before diving in to this UAT phase!
Not to worry, as we are the ‘users’ we can make allowances for not having formalised the process and the ‘FORMER’ in ‘former IT Test Manager’ is much more important to me now! For now it’s back to ‘the old days’ of cutting <our> code as we go!
A few more mentions on Camping Ria Formosa as they’re not included in the pictures herewith:
– there is an on-site restaurant/bar that also does a take-out chicken/chips for €4.50
– there is a mini-supermarket on-site
– the pictures hopefully portray the reality that this is a well cared for and well maintained site
– it is a mature ‘quiet’ site
– WiFi is better than most sites, Camping Ria Formosa have invested heavily in ensuring that WiFi is relayed to all points of the site – you don’t need a booster to gain access (don’t need an id/password either as the WiFi is ‘open-access’)
Next instalment very soon………………….