Santa Cruz, Praia Do Porto Novo & Peniche – Spain & Portugal Tour 2009

On leaving Ribeira d’Ilhas, we retraced our route for a couple of kilometres to use the motorhome service point at Ericeira. This is located by a garage and is free. It uses a Euro Mini Relais type service point that provides fresh water, grey water disposal and toilet waste (black waste) emptying facilities. (Note that this is a service point only – no parking or overnight stops.)

A Euro Relais Mini motorhome service point
A Euro Relais Mini motorhome service point

As always with these units, there is a separate, labelled water tap for washing your toilet cassette. It’s the one with the hose pipe in the picture above. Don’t use the fresh water tap for this purpose. One thing we usually do is wipe over the fresh water tap with a Dettol (disinfectant) wipe before we start filling our fresh water. You can’t tell what other people may have used the tap for…

Once back on the road, we headed north along the coast, looking for another beach location at which to spend a day or two. First stop was Santa Cruz. It seemed okay but not as good as where we had been the day before, so we pressed on to Praia do Porto Novo, where we had lunch in a large beachside car park. We were planning to spend the night here – along with a couple of Dutch motorhomes – but discovered that not only was camping prohibited, but the police made regular patrols through the car park.

Praia do Porto Nove - day parking only (but lots of it, right by the beach)
Praia do Porto Novo - day parking only (but lots of it, right by the beach)

As a result, we moved on again mid-afternoon and headed for Peniche. This turned out to be an excellent decision and Peniche was one of the highlights of the trip. A pleasant seaside resort and fishing port, it had everything – an attractive old town, a great beach, loads of free motorhome parking (more of that in a minute) and good restaurants and bars.

Our first night’s parking at Peniche was on a disused market area just outside the walls. When we arrived – between 4pm and 5pm – there were already quite a few motorhomes parked up. They were virtually all Portuguese, which we took as a good sign, so we joined them. From here, it was less than five minutes walk into the old town, to an excellent sandy beach and to an Intermarche supermarket. Granted there were no facilities, but you try and beat that in the UK!

A large, free car park by the harbour in Peniche
A large, free car park by the harbour in Peniche

The weekend passed very pleasantly at Peniche. We ate, drank, sunbathed, walked and visited the town’s Espacos Internet to check our email and so on. Espacos Internet are free internet sites situated all over Portugal. I think that locals need to register to use them but in every one we went into, once it was obvious we were just visiting, we were allowed to use a PC without registering. Usage was normally limited to 30 minutes (after which you are automatically logged out) and it was sometimes a bit slow – but who’s arguing when the cost is €0.00?

On Sunday morning, we took a small trip out around the cape and then to Baleal, a popular seaside and surfing location. It was impressively scenic but there wasn’t much to do apart from lie on the beach or lounge in a cafe. As we had promised ourselves Sunday lunch out in one of Peniche’s many restaurants, we headed back to Peniche to park in another area we had discovered – in a large car park right by the harbour. This too was full of motorhomes but by arriving mid-morning we managed to get a space right alongside the water. Suitably parked, we ate, walked, stopped for a very good ice cream and then visited the town’s fort to finish the afternoon off and work up an appetite for tea.

Part of the beach at Baleal
Part of the beach at Baleal

We left Peniche with a real fondness for the place. It’s a really pleasant seaside town that is big enough to be a ‘real’ town, too. It’s ever so slightly like Scarborough, in the UK – but better! I imagine there might be more foreign visitors in summer, but we saw virtually none – they were all Portuguese.

Distance driven over two days: 52 miles

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