Off to Portugal

Well – the complaints are mounting up and people are probably starting to think I’m having too good a time to put finger to keyboard.

So to put this chatter to rest I better get on and write a few blog updates.

As you recall from my last entry, we’d had a big night in Bayona and I’d suggested that a recovery day may be in order. But…

When I said no way, I didn’t count on Allan waking me up with some nonsense about a beautiful morning to go South. I tried to ignore Al – but you’ve got to give it to him, he’s persistent. So with the birds tweeting and the Sun Shining, we motored out in next to no wind and pointed our nose towards Portugal. Our destination was Viana Do Castelo, 30nm south.DSC_0743

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

We made it to Viana do Castelo about 12 and tied up to the collector jetty outside the swing bridge that needs to be opened to get in and out of the marina. We were met by a rally friendly marina guy, who immediately apologised for not coming to collect our lines.

He said we could stay there on the collector jetty and suggested we should stay two nights. He also charged us for the price of a monohull – no 50% uplift. The place looked rather nice so we took him up on his offer.

New country – new set of SIM cards so off we went in search of a telco store. It was Sunday and for a while there we thought everything was shut on a Sunday.

Finally we found the local shopping centre where it seamed everyone from Viana had gone for the day and we got what we wanted. That night we had what we thought was a good attempt to find the local nightlife. It was a bit of a shock to the system to go from Spain, where you just had to walk around a corner to find a bar going off – to Portugal where the highlight seemed to be two little old ladies getting slightly animated on a cup of tea and a portuguese tart.

But not to be deterred, we tried again the next night for pretty much the same result, beside consulting Google and Al asking the local hairdresser. Yes, following on with the tradition started by Ooroo, both Al and I had our hair cut. I found two 70-year-old (male) hairdressers in a very traditional old saloon – Al went for a slightly more modern approach, complete with head massage.

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Its funny, but when you get to Portugal everything changes. For a start, all the way around France and Spain the water is deep a short way off the coast, but now when you look at the electronic charts you see lots of shallow bits miles off shore – no more than 20-30m deep for a long way out.

And the people are different – a lot more reserved than the Spanish who are a little bit out there. The portuguese generally speak pretty good English and are happy to do so, so that was nice. On the downside, the nightlife drops away – the late opening Tapas bars being replaced by sedate cafes.

Viana do Castela turned out to be a real find. In its hey day, back in the days when the Portuguese were ruling the waves, it built some truly magnificent buildings, in a very classical Portuguese style, again quite different to the Spanish architecture just 30nm to the north.

And then there was the magnificent church at the top of the hill. Inspired by the Sacre Couer in Paris,this church was built in the 1800s way up above the town, with views up and down the coast. Monday was the day the venicular railway was closed so we had some enforced exercise going up all those stairs.

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The next morning we were up early (but not that early) as Portuguese time is an hour behind Spains, and off towards Porto.