No, this is not a lesson in history but more of a present day observation.
I have been slowly meandering down the coast of Portugal and in that time have come across only a spattering of other motorhomes outside of the obvious tourist destinations. They have been mixed nationalities: French, British, Dutch, German, Swiss, Belgian and the occasional Spaniard, and travelling individually or in pairs. The exception was the Portuguese Motorhome Association get-together of 60+ motorhomes in Condeixa-a-Nova.
Now, I find myself in the small sleepy coastal village of Porto Covo and I can’t move for German motorhomes. They’ve staked out the cliff top spots as if they had placed their beach towels around the swimming pool and are sitting in comfy chairs, sipping cups of hot tea while watching the waves crash against the rocks.
I park in the official aire, well just beside it as it’s rather muddy after the last two days of continuous rain, and am soon penned in by a highly-polished, burgundy, German campervan and a large, German Hymer with an appropriately large, noisy dog.
I had read that the police had clamped down on wild camping in the Algarve and it seems that perhaps the German sunseekers have decided to move north to the Alentejo coast. Or, perhaps this is only the front line and I have yet to encounter the main offensive.
Despite the invasion, Porto Covo is a lovely, relaxed place, even more so now that the sun has decided to put in an appearance. It’s wonderful to walk along the cliff tops, around small coves with beaches and jagged rock outcroppings, where cormorants sit and dry their wings. In the largest cove there is a small fishing harbour with tiny little cottages where old fishermen sit and disentangle their nets. My passing sets off a cacophony of canine barks, better than any modern alarm system, but I don’t see any dogs. They are hidden behind walls or doors.
During the summer months, the fishermen earn extra euros by ferrying the more adventurous tourists to Peach Tree Island a kilometre off the coast. However, there are no peach trees on the island and apart from a ruined 17th century castle, it is rather barren.
As I sit on a restaurant terrace with a glass of local red wine, while watching the sun sink into the sea, I wonder why I am the only customer. It’s not like the village is short of potential clients. But it seems that the Germans prefer to stay with their motorhomes and enjoy the sunset from their own little bubble.