12th - 15th May 2022
Wow! What a weekend!
Camp Quirky is a relatively small, but utterly fantastic festival. There were a couple of stage tents with amazing presentations We loved the presentations and talks on all things campervan and campervan travel by some of our favourite people.
The beer and music tent was also a huge highlight! George loved the mini golf. And we all loved having a look at the incredible hand crafted campervans - there were so many incredible styles and designs and layouts! If you are looking for inspiration for your own build, then Camp Quirky is a great event to visit.
But our favourite part has to be being back in a field with our great friends from the VanLife world.
Hereford Rowing Club
29th April - 2nd May 2022
What better way to spend your birthday weekend than with all your friends in a field? If I could describe the perfect birthday weekend it would be this weekend.
We hijacked a Motorhomer.com rally and invited a few of our great YouTube mates to join our great Motorhomer mates for a weekend of fun. Hereford Rowing Club is always a great place to camp. The Management Team are warm and welcoming, the facilities are clean and fresh and the location is just a very lovely walk away from the centre of town.
The National Motorhome & Campervan Show
21st - 24th April 2022
We're back in Peterborough to work with Warners! But it's not all work, we have our great mates camping with us.
Warner's organise several shows up and down the country and have invited us to speak and give presentations. In addition to our scheduled presentations we step in to cover Kat from Wandering Bird's presentations when she was too poorly to attend. We also hosted a daily YouTuber meet up and I did and exclusive Facebook Live wandering around the show with my lovely friend Tash (Life Beyond Bricks).
It wasn't all work though! We also enjoyed a fantastic weekend camping with our great vanlife mates!
14th - 16th April
The Captains Wife 029 2053 0066
The Lighthouse Inn 01633 680800
After we left Lincoln Farm Park we first tried a visit to Diddly Squat Farm, but it was crackers busy so we skipped that and headed straight to South Wales. Our first stop is at Steve's brother's house in Pyle for some very overdue family time.
After visiting Aberavon Beach (Steve's childhood beach) we decided to find a nice pub stop for the evening. Unfortunately we were just too big for our first choice; The Captains Wife. Our next choice was the carpark at Cardiff's international pool, but we didn't find that very inspiring. So finally it was a Third Time Lucky moment and we struck gold at the Lighthouse Inn.
13th -14th April 2022
Lincoln Farm Park Campsite
This trip starts with disaster! We've once again knocked the fresh water pipe, and dumped all our fresh water all over the road. But rather than crying over spilt water, we decide to head off anyway and just use campsite showers and bottled water.
Our first stop on this part of the school holidays is one of our favourite campsites; Lincoln Farm Park. We first camped here because it is the perfect location for a Friday after school pitstop on the way to Nanna's in South Wales.
The site has been updated and upgraded since our last visit and all the facilities look fresh and lovely. The park boasts two swimming pools that can be booked out privately. We recommend booking the pools at the same time as booking your stay as they are fantastic pools and really great value.
Mam Tor & Ilkley
8th - 10th April 2022
Castleton Park Up: https://w3w.co/inspector.theory.fish
Ilkley Park Up: https://w3w.co/flick.report.cupcake
The Ilkley Plaice: https://ilkleyplaice.co.uk/
For our second trip out in our new van we wanted to head up't'north to visit friends and family. The UK is currently experiencing fuel shortages, so before we set off our very first priority is to find some fuel - not an easy task but eventually we get on the road.
Our first stop is the hub of UK Vanlife; Castleton. At the head of the Peak District's Hope Valley, nestled beneath Mam Tor (Mother Hill) is the beautiful village of Castleton. Castleton is the perfect free ParkUp with easy access to Caves, Walks and VanLife friends. We had a fantastic 24 hours catching up with great mates, but we had an appointment to meet Grandma in Ilkley so it was time to push on!
The lovely Mandy Musgrove had recommended a stop to us in the middle of Skipton which is just a few miles from my Grandma in Ilkley. Unfortunately the stop in Skipton was inaccessible in our 9m motorhome. One way was too tight, another way was over a hump bridge that would have damaged the underside of our van. So after an U-Turn and several rude words, we decided to "Skip"-ton and head straight to Ilkley.
We love Ilkley, it's a stunning town at the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales. A former Spa Town, which rose to fame in the 19th Century when many visited for it's fresh air and wonderful hotels. We can confirm that the air is still fresh, and our ParkUp, right in the heart of the town was truly wonderful. For dinner we had Fish, Chips and Scraps, then took a walk following an unexpected stream through the centre of town to my favourite Wetherspoons. I love that 'spoons!
The next morning was clear and bright. Our ParkUp was in the carpark for Ilkley's Darwin Gardens and Millennium Green so before we set off, we took George to explore the gardens and puzzle out the maze.
As we pulled off the carpark, we drove over a very slight hill, ground out, and damaged the fresh water pipes - which dumped all our fresh water out on the road! Thankfully Steve was able to borrow a screw driver from Grandma's home and was able to create a temporary fix. At 91, Grandma was in fine fettle! We had a blumin' lovely time catching up and when we left we headed to meet Auntie Chris for lunch.
After an afternoon of family time, we came back to the van to discover that we had run out of gas. We also had a phone call from our neighbours telling us that there was an alarm going off at home!! Rather than head to Skegness, we decided to follow the "signs" and head home to regroup.
The Mill Wheel Pub, Hartshorne & PP Protect
1st - 2nd April 2022
We finally have our wonderful new Motorhome, we have a Swift Kon-tiki 874, and she is a cracker!
Before we even picked her up, we had decided that she needed her paint protected with a Ceramic Coat, and of course we turned to our great mate Richard from PP Protect. We were booked in on Saturday morning so decided to head up the M1 on the Friday night and spend the night with Richard and his family in their local pub.
Richard is friends with the Mill Wheel team and had already OK'd our stay, when we arrived we tucked in to the corner of the carpark and headed inside. Dinner was wonderful, the wine flowed freely and we enjoyed a relaxed evening catching up and getting to know Richard's family better.
Here are links to some of the interesting products we use in our van:
Clever stacking pans: Tefal Ingenio Pots and Pans Set, Stainless Steel, 13-Piece, Induction
Tefal Ingenio Essential Non-Stick Pots and Pans Set, 5-Piece, Starter Kit
Joseph Joseph Nest Utensils Set https://amzn.to/3jIzIBw
1st - 3rd January 2022
When Lou and Emily decided to come back from their European trip a few months early, it seemed rude not to throw a New Year party. So on New Years Eve we invited the girls plus Jon and Tash and our old friends Stevie and Dave to come and join us to see in the New Year with pizzas and games.
Mid afternoon on New Years Day we were joined by Daz and set off in convoy to a great farm we know in Wantage. We were joined by Charlie and Lauren, David (Vandemonium) and also Rob (Red Pill in Motion). For a donation (for charity) of just £10 per van per night we had a safe park up with access to a lovely large dry barn.
We spent a great couple of days hanging out together. The boys had a great time showing Charlie and Lauren their favourite games on the Switch. We cooked together, ate together and generally had a blast. We even took a walk down to the local pub, arriving 20 minutes before it was due to close - D’oh!
This weekend was a wonderfully relaxed way to see in the New Year, and then on the way home we decided to sell the van ready for our 2022 adventures.
4th - 5th December 2021
What3Words Parkup Location at Mam Tor : https://w3w.co/seriously.offers.universal
Link to Lyndsay Loves Leggings : https://www.roamingradfords.com/our-merch.html
Our final trip of 2021 was up to the Peak District to meet up with lots of our vanlife friends. The official excuse was to celebrate Rick, Debbie and Izzie Beechwood’s Vanniversay, it’s a full year since they moved to live in their van full time, and what a wonderful year they have all had.
The weather was typical Peak District Winter weather. We took a very wet walk down into Castleton to enjoy lunch in a pub, which was about the only time we could all get together in one large area. The rain and wind were relentless, but the Beechwood’s joy for life was infectious and we had a wonderful 24 hours clinging on to the side of the hill as the rain lashed down on the roof of our van (actually one of my favourite sounds in the world).
The next morning we woke up and convoyed over to Barnsley to join Liam the Terrible for a pre-Christmas BBQ. Thankfully the weather had dried up a little so we were able to catch up with even more friends before we returned home to Milton Keynes to start the rest of our Christmas preparations.
2021 has been another incredible year for the Roaming Radfords. We have been very lucky to be able to travel and explore both in Europe and at home in the UK. We are excited for some huge changes in 2022 but for now, it’s time to pack up the van and enjoy a small family Christmas at home.
25th - 26th October 2022
Swansea Marina Motorhome Park : 01792 470310
What3Words Location of Parking for Mumbles Pier https://w3w.co/tour.skirting.tinny
National Waterfront Museum : https://museum.wales/swansea/
Ninja Warrior Cardiff : https://ninjawarrioruk.co.uk/cardiff/
We woke up bright and early and headed down the mountain to one of Steve’s favourite childhood haunts - Mumbles. Mumbles is a headland on the western edge of Swansea bay, it’s a proper seaside day trip destination. The boys were happy to be left playing in the arcades while Steve and I took a walk down the Victorian pier.
After a couple of hours (and several pounds in the slot machines later), it was time to leave Mumbles and meet Uncle Terry and Auntie Yvonne for lunch. Our parkup for the night was in a CAMPRA (Campaign for Real Aires) site right in the Swansea Marina. The site is accessed through a locked gate, so for £28 we had a secure city centre parkup with electric and access to a shower and toilet! We quickly pitched up and took a short walk through the marina in to town.
Lunch was lovely. Covid meant it was far too long since we had seen Terry and Yvonne, so we took our time to catch up on all the family news. After lunch we continued to explore the city centre, in the rain, Dylan Thomas references could be found all over!
As the sunset the rain finally eased up, so Steve and I took a walk around the marina. The area is undergoing a huge redevelopment and regeneration project with many new buildings and facilities being built. There are still a few free parking spots, but we suspect most of those will be gone soon.
We had huge plans for the next day, but really hadn’t factored in the fact that our half term matched the welsh half terms. All of our lovely ideas were fully booked except one. So after a McDonalds breakfast we took a short walk from our parkup to the The National Waterfront Museum, which tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years. Although it seemed a little “dry” at first, the NWM was actually fascinating and we passed a really interesting couple of (warm and dry) hours learning about Welsh history.
As the rest of our plans had failed we decided to leave Swansea early and make our way to Cardiff so the boys could let off some steam at the Ninja Warrior adventure park.
Our trip to South Wales was the perfect mix of family, fun and exploring.
23rd - 25th October 2022
Afan Forest Park :
What3Words Location : w3w.co/stands.panic.detonated
We spent much of the next 24 hours hanging out with Steve’s brother and his family. It was really wonderful to finally catch up with our gorgeous nephews!
Next stop on our South Wales tour was up into the valley’s. We had hoped to book a ride on the fastest seated Zip Wire in the world, however, we hadn’t pre-booked and for the first time in many years our half term dates matched the south wales term dates! It was fully booked. So instead, we headed deeper into the valley.
We decided to wild camp that evening in the carpark at the Afan Forest Visitor Centre. Spread over 28 square miles, the forest park is nestled in the Afan Valley and is well known for it’s mountain biking, hiking and hill walking trails. We arrived in the early evening and headed out to explore the forest
The first thing we found was an adventure playground in front of the visitor centre. The boys enjoyed a fast and furious game of tag chasing each other around the wooden structure. Once they were bored of that we set off walking again and found Cynonville Halt railway station. Built to transport miners around the area, Cynonville Halt railway station was first opened in the early 1900s. Since 1959 no train has passed through it, and although the platforms remain, the trackbed is now a cycle path.
Back at the van I cooked dinner and we settled in to watch a movie.
There is a permanent toilet block in the carpark, these were undergoing renovations while we were there, but we were able to access the portaloos while the visitor centre was open. If you plan to stay here, make sure you double check the overnight parking price, the pay and display machines were out of order when we arrived so we were lucky enough to enjoy a completely free night.
22nd - 23rd October 2022
Hi Tide Caravan Park, Porthcawl : https://www.facebook.com/HiTidePorthcawl
If you don’t know Steve was born and spent the first 9 years of his life in Port Talbot. I know, he doesn’t sound like it now, but moving and to, and attending school in Milton Keynes in the 80s soon saw him quickly lose his lovely sing-song accent. In non-covid times we travel to Wales to catch up with family 3 or 4 times a year, so we are long overdue a visit.
On Friday afternoon, we picked the boys up from school and set off on one of the longest, wettest drives to Wales we have ever endured. Half Term traffic was awful, but we did eventually arrive at one of our favourite destinations near Port Talbot. We arrived tired and hungry so our first stop was Beales for Fish and Chips. Thank YOU Charlie from the Rolling Rucks for the recommendation. It was delicious.
The Hi-Tide Inn is a beachfront attraction dating back to 1947. Tucked behind the Inn and Harbour Lights bar is a small basic campsite. We love this campsite purely because of its brilliant location. You can lie in bed and see the sea, then when you step out of the van it’s only a short 2-3 minute walk to amusement arcades, bars, restaurants and a couple more minutes to the Coney Beach funfair.
On Saturday Morning we woke up, ate bacon butties (standard seaside motorhome breakfast!) and headed out to explore. An hour (and several pounds later) bumped in to a local subscriber called Rob. We spend the next couple of hours getting to know Rob and watching the boys have fun in the fun fair.
The Hi-Tide Caravan park is cheap, cheerful and the perfect place to spend 24 hours enjoying good old fashioned British Seaside fun.
16th - 20th September 2021
Stratford Upon Avon Racecourse
We’re back in Stratford-Upon-Avon for the late summer edition of the Adventure Overland and International Campervan Show. Well, technically Steve is back, the boys and I are not staying over as it’s my Dad’s 70th Birthday weekend and we are throwing him a party at our house!
So how do you avoid missing out when you have awful FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because you can’t attend? Well obviously you send a life size cut out to attend in your place. That wasn’t really enough though, it was so much fun, I ended up driving backwards and forwards pretty much every day.
This show is always one of our highlights of the year. Because there is an amazing mix of vehicles, from off road overlanders, self build campervans and of course the factory built motorhomes, there is an incredible mix of owners too. We love spending time chatting and getting to know new people.
The live music was fantastic, the bar was buzzing, the live talks were great, and even though I didn’t stay overnight, the weekend was fantastic!
You can find out more about future events and even book tickets here
3rd - 5th September 2021
Throughout 2021 we attended several of the Warners Motorhome shows as Day Guests, but for the season finale, Warners invited us to stay for the whole weekend to get an understanding of why these events are more than just an opportunity to shop.
Steve left home first as our “advance party”. I waited until George had finished school before setting off, it was really weird leaving our two biggest boys at home (their choice!). When we arrived we were blown away at the sheer size of the event! It was huge!!
We were very lucky to be spending the weekend with our great mates; Tash and Jon (Life Beyond Bricks), and Daz (The Urban Motorhome). We quickly set up our pitch and quickly decided to have Thai from our favourite event food truck; Banana Leaf. I’ve probably mentioned this lots before, but their Veg Spring Rolls are amazing!
The Lincoln show is larger than the other shows in just about every way. There were more stalls selling every possible motorhome and caravan accessory. And after the disappointment of earlier shows, where many dealers had pulled out due to low stock, there were more dealers selling campervans, caravans and motorhomes. It was fantastic to see this side of the industry buzzing again.
As we usually attend as day visitors I’d never really grasped the scale of the warners show campsites. There were fields upon fields of individual campers, groups of friends and huge club rallies. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and we found plenty of people to chat with.
On Saturday evening we were Warners’ guests at their end of season finale event. They had erected a huge marquee large enough to accommodate a large bar, 2000 people seated at tables PLUS a large dance floor. The first act we caught was a Beatles Tribute band who had the crowds up on their feet and dancing. The original headline act Jethro retired from performing and was replaced by Brian Conley. Jon and Tash found him utterly hilarious.
We loved the relaxed atmosphere of the Warners weekend. Probably the best way to describe it is as a giant campsite full of friends, with top quality entertainment, and the perfect choice of shopping and food outlets! Thanks Warners for being such amazing hosts!
You can book your own tickets to attend Warners Shows here.
27th August - 30th August
We don’t want to go home - YET!
Before we left for Europe we had heard about a small brand new festival for the VanLife Community and on a whim Steve had booked tickets. Our original plan was to wild camp somewhere local to the event, then head in on Saturday morning. But, as we drove off the ferry on Friday afternoon we decided to head straight there.
Sophie and Mark, the legends behind the VanLife Eats brand, were amazing hosts. They have built an incredible community on Instagram around their ethos
“Cooking in a van, campervan, motorhome or any tiny kitchen, it doesn’t mean you have to have a limited menu”, they inspire others to share recipes and van food creations…
VanLife Eats Big Picnic is a festival all about vans and food - two of my favourite things. Throw in some music and some of my favourite vanlife people and we had a recipe for the perfect weekend.
It was amazing to see so many great mates in the same field. We cooked, ate, drank, sang, enjoyed a bonfire late into the evening (early morning), cooked, ate, drank and sang some more.
Vanlife Eats Big Picnic was the perfect end to our European Tour. We pulled off the field, programmed the Satnav for home and set off on our final leg of our Amazing Summer.
26th August to 27th August
It’s all over!
The European Leg of our Summer Tour is coming to an end.
After a lovely relaxed morning playing in the pool with Alex, Amy, Sen and Kieran, we left Hontanas on time, ie with not a lot of wriggle, or specifically traffic room. The 2 hour drive north to Santander was relatively smooth, until we hit Santander. The city roads were busy, and we made the mistake of following the satnav and not the signs.
Top Tip: when you arrive in a ferry or airport city - follow the signs!
Do not let google, or TomTom, or Garmin or any other navigational device fool you into believing they know the best route. They do not. You will miss your turn. You could miss your ferry.
Thankfully, after a scenic drive through the city, we found our way back to the ferry port entrance and managed to check in just about ontime. Getting back to the UK at the end of August 2021 was still quite complicated. We had to provide our Vaccine Status documents, present our PCR test results and ensure we fulfilled all Brexit requirements. Which we did. The only slight issue we faced was when the Guarda Civil decided they wanted to take a closer look at us and our van. Thankfully, we passed what ever test they were implementing and were eventually waved on to the ferry.
We have traveled the route between Plymouth and Santander several times now, each time on the Pont Aven. Although it is definitely a ferry below decks, it feels much more like a cruise ship above deck. For the first time we were able to enjoy the onboard entertainment, all the bars and restaurants were open AND, even the swimming pool was open. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised the ship was fully operational until we started to explore, and by that time it was too late to bring George’s swimming trunks up from the Van.
We always take a picnic onboard and after our evening meal of random snacks I took the boys to see Black Widow (amazing film), and Steve stayed back at the cabin to do some more editing. The rest of the trip was uneventful, we slept well enough, took a nice shower in the morning, and after a pretty awful breakfast we docked back in Plymouth.
Our month long trip to Europe has introduced us to new friends, and given us many many wonderful memories.
Is it time to plan next year’s trip yet?
25th - 26th August 2021
Find this incredible Pool : http://www.hontanas.es/bares-y-restaurantes/piscinas-municipales-de-hontanas
What3Words Link : https://w3w.co/gulfs.vents.emblem
For our last 24 Hours before boarding the ferry back home, we headed back over the border to Spain. Petrol and Diesel are much cheaper in Spain than Portugal so our first stop was to fill up at the most crackers service station we had ever seen! Along with fuel, and snacks, this service station had a huge display of knives and guns!!
From the service station we headed to a tiny village called Hontanas, about 40 mins west of Burgos. When I say Hontanas is tiny, I mean there are only 70 permanent residents. You might be wondering why we would choose to spend our last evening in such a tiny village? The answer is friends. We were there to meet back up with Alex, Amy and Sen, and meet their good friends Kieran and Marielana.
Kieran runs the large municipal swimming pool on the edge of the village and Marielana runs a beautiful hostel in the village square. We spent much of the afternoon swimming, and chatting before moving the van to it’s overnight spot. Rather than just park up, we asked a local family if we would be OK to park near them, not only did they give us their blessing, they also brought us the tastiest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. In exchange we gave them stickers ;-)
That evening we took a 2 minute walk into the village square and spent one of my favourite evenings of the whole trip drinking wine, chatting with our friends and meeting pilgrims staying in the village. Kieran and Marielena are fun and fascinating. They travel in their van for most of the year, and return each summer to run the pool and hostel. This seasonal work funds their travel and explorations. You can follow their adventures on Instagram, they are The Slow Lane
The slow pace of our time in Hontanas was the perfect end to the European Leg of our summer trip.
24-25th August 2021
Natur Water Park : https://www.naturwaterpark.pt/inicio
Castelo de Braganca : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Bragan%C3%A7a
What3Words location : https://w3w.co/uncork.rocker.variant
After leaving Porto we headed even further north and spent a few hours at Natur Water Park. The Waterpark does have it’s own campsite, but it was expensive and our good friend Pedro (Istas Garden in Porto) had warned us that it isn’t the nicest place to stay. He actually recommended a couple of other Aires that he believed we would enjoy more. So when the boys were thoroughly exhausted from the slides and pools we headed to Braganca.
Braganca’s free aire is lovely and large, it’s set on a hillside over several levels of terraces. Although there is no electricity, all the other services are available including fresh water, gray and black waste points, recycling bins and even daytime public toilets. Although the facilities are excellent, Braganca, like so many other free aires, is all about location as towering above it is Braganca Castle.
Hungry and tired, we set off to explore and hopefully find dinner. Walking up the hill and through the ancient walls we found a stunning Medieval castle which was home to a couple of restaurants, a church and an Abbey. The thing I found most fascinating was the fact that real people still live in the real houses within the castle walls!
While exploring the castle we learned about the Legend of the Princess of the Tower… When the village was still called Benquerença, there was a beautiful orphan princess who lived with her uncle, the lord of the castle. The princess fell in love with a noble young knight who did not possess great wealth. For this reason, the young man left the village in search of fortune, promising to return when he felt he had a worthy fortune to ask for her hand. For years, the princess refused all suitors, until her uncle promised her to a friend, forcing her to compromise. When she was presented to the uncle of her suitor, she confessed that her heart belonged to another man. This revelation infuriated her uncle, who thought of a ruse to coerce her to marry the one he chose. At night, he disguised as a ghost, and went through the ports of the Princess quarters, pretending to be the ghost of her lover, telling her to marry her suitor or otherwise be subject to damnation. As he was about to get an oath from her, the door to her bedroom opened with a bright ray of light, exposing her uncle's treachery. She went to live in the tower and the two windows became known as the Port of Treason and the Port of Light.**
After thoroughly exploring the battlements we continued in search of a pizzeria with lovely reviews. What we eventually found was Big Bobs, and to be honest, despite the unexpected name, the pizzas were very very good.
With contented tummies we headed back to the motorhome for some wine and an early night. The only slight down side we found to this aire was the barking of nearby dogs! I’m not sure when or if they shut up, we were all so tired that we quickly fell asleep.
**Read More Here
21st - 24th August 2021
Campsite : https://istasgarden.com/
What3Words : /https://w3w.co/ripe.touches.shiver
FREE walking tour : https://www.neweuropetours.eu/sandemans-tours/porto/free-tour-of-porto/
Amazing Sardines at Taberna Sao Pedro : https://www.facebook.com/tabernadosaopedro
The best francesinha is from Gazel : https://m.facebook.com/cervejariagazela
Oh wow, we thought we had fallen in love with Lisbon, well, Porto is also incredible. Portugal’s old cities are stunning. On our previous trip to Porto we had tried to stay at an unmarked quay aire on the banks of the Rio Douro. This would have been a fabulous spot close to the city centre, however our van was too big, the aire was too busy and we did not get a good gut feeling. So, before we headed to Porto this time, Steve did some research and found an exciting sounding campsite just 10 mins from Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia.
We arrived at Istas Gardens and were met by owners Pedro and Claudia whose smiles were even more welcoming than the delicious glass of local wine they greeted us with. Istas Gardens is a tiny campsite with just 10 placements, gorgeous facilities and an indoor pool which is perfect for year round use. We have never met friendlier or more passionate owners! “Istas” isn’t a real word, it’s like the English suffix “ers”, which they played with to create a garden open to all campERS, caravanERS, motorhomERS… essentially open to all travellERS.
Covering over 100,000km, Pedro, Claudia and their two daughters have extensively toured Europe with their caravan. When they decided to build a campsite in their back garden, they cherry picked their favourite elements from the sites they have visited and imported them to create a perfect haven for all.
Within 20 minutes of arriving, we had received a guided tour of the tiny site. Steve absolutely loved the BBQ area. I adored the upstairs kitchen that could be opened to enjoy the sun, or closed to stay warm on winter evenings. The kitchen and BBQ are both fully equipped, Pedro and Clauda even provide salt from the sea to cook with, and a free washing machine (which I’m almost embarrassed to have used to the max). Istas really is created to be a special home from home.
Before arriving, I had booked us on a FREE walking tour of the city. As we were checking in, Pedro and Claudia shared suggestions for excursions, places to eat and even the best taxi drop off points to get the very best views of the city. It quickly became obvious that our original 2 night plan would be woefully short, they soon helped us plan an action packed 4 day, 3 night itinerary. They even booked our “Fit to Fly” covid tests for us!
Our walking tour was as good as any we have ever taken before. The guides don’t get paid upfront, so they earn their money in tips by being informative, entertaining and generally amazing! Lunch on the walking tour day was a bit rubbish, but we picked a tourist trap and the Franceshina was tourist nonsense. But the next day, we put ourselves in Pedro and Claudia’s hands and ate the best meals of our whole trip.
For lunch we visited Taberna do São Pedro, a fish restaurant owned by and for local fishermen. All of the food Pedro chose for us was incredible, but the BBQ sardines were the freshest, tastiest fish I’ve ever eaten. After lunch we visited Unilabs in Gaia to have our “Fit to Fly” tests done, this was Steve’s first ever covid test, so he was very brave. The boys and I just took it in our strides. Thankfully within 15 minutes we were all certified and declared fit to fly and headed back to Istas Garden to enjoy the pool and do more washing!
That evening, we all headed out again to experience Porto at night. What a beautiful city. For dinner we headed to Gazel, to start we tried Cachorrinho which is a tasty toasted hot dog style sandwich, which was lovely. But then we tried a real Franceshina - wow!! Now I understand why everyone recommended we eat this in Porto!
After dinner we walked around the city, taking in the sites and listening to Claudia and Pedro share stories and explain more of the city’s history. Our final stop before returning to Istas Garden was for ice cream.
What an incredible few days. Pedro and Claudia are amazing hosts, and have created a tiny haven for travellers. Not only is a fantastic place to stay, it is also the perfect base for a trip to Porto.
#Porto #vanlife #Citybreakporto
20th - 21st August 2021
Area : Parque de autocaravanas Silveira
What3Words : https://w3w.co/bluffed.boom.roasting
We, like many people, had heard that all Wild Camping is now illegal in Portugal, and it is. Technically it’s always been illegal, but now the rules are being enforced more “vigorously”. However, that does not mean that it is illegal or even impossible to camp for free in some of Portugal’s most beautiful spots. There are still many FREE and super cheap aires to be found, you just need to know where and how to find them.
While we were in Zambujeira Steve had a great chat with one of our Portuguese neighbours. This neighbour gave us some fantastic advice and a couple of “FREE Aires” to try.
We picked a Parque de autocaravanas right on the beautiful, wide, golden beach at Silveira. This aire has services, at one end of the carpark, by the cafe, there are toilets and and beach shower. Down by the motorhome and campervan parking there is a service area including an elsan point, grey waste disposal, and fresh water tap.
This was a fantastic FREE parkup, and we spend a lovely 24 hours on the beach building sandcastles and splashing in the waves.
#VanLife #BeachCamping #Portugal