Heading East towards the Spanish border, we arrived at Montegordo. The guidebooks had warned us this would be a brash and over-touristy resort, but I must admit I have a bit of a fondness for tourist tat (perhaps because I grew up near Great Yarmouth,) so we were eager to see what it was like.
Montegordo is only about 2km away from the Spanish border and it did have the feel of a Spanish resort. Yes, there were plenty of high-rises and nasty 60s and 70s hotel buildings. Yes, there were more places doing burgers and pizzas than genuine Portuguese cuisine and YES, there was a cheesy cocktail bar that was actually called the “Copacabana!”
Off season though, it was hard not to be charmed by the lovely big beach, so long as you stayed facing the sea and didn’t concentrate on the high-rise skyline behind it. Is seemed somehow to be a lot more sheltered and warm than around Tavira, despite being no more than 15 miles away, and were it not for the vast amount of washed up jellyfish and lack of protective footwear, I may have been tempted to have a November swim. We had a very pleasant meal of giant prawns and freshly grilled sole. Unfortunately it went downhill with the dessert which had been sprinkled with cinnamon that tasted like it had been scraped from the back of a musty old wardrobe. The owner had been so nice we didn’t have the heart to tell him, so we went and paid inside and beat a hasty retreat before he realised we hadn’t eaten it (seems it may take a while before we stop acting English!)
On the road back, we turned off to visit another beach called Praia Verde, (green beach,) so named because of the forest on the dunes behind it, which is quite unique in this part of Portugal. The beach is at the end of a tourist complex, which you can imagine being very busy in season, but off-season it was truly deserted. There is something quite strange about these places when there is no-one there at all, they make me think of the deserted amusement park in the 80s film “Big” with Tom Hanks. They are both romantic and slightly spooky. The beach itself was beautiful – like Montegordo without the high-rises, or indeed any of the people. This would be a wonderful place to come back to, but you would need to take everything you could possibly need as there are no facilities open at all off-season.
We didn’t hang around that long, as we needed to make use of the kind of sanitary facilities not available at this time of year(!) As we drove away there was someone who obviously lived on the complex playing with his young child in the car-park and I found myself wondering whether living somewhere which is SO quiet for half of the year would be very liberating or very lonely, and couldn’t decide either way….