We left the vineyard and headed to A Guarda as recommended by the very friendly lady who talked us through the wines the previous evening. She told us that while we were in the area, it was definitely worth a visit to see the Celtic settlements and the views along the river and out into Portugal. As we were less than 10 kms away and not in a rush, we thought it was worth a visit. Unfortunately it was a slightly misty day – but the views were still spectacular.
Having not had time last night to bake any rolls for lunch, we took the opportunity to wander around the town to find a bakery before heading over into Portugal to pastures anew.
First stop was a little town called Vila Praia de Ancora where we parked in a small car park on the sea front with three other motorhomes – the most we have seen in a long while. We went for a lovely walk along the seafront as the sun went down and stopped at a little local bar for a glass of wine to toast to our arrival into Portugal – costing us all of 1 euro 20 for the two very generous glasses.
The location we were parked in was idyllic except for the tiny little train line that passed immediately behind us shaking the motorhome as the carriages travelled passed us at 20km/h. To be fair, the trains only passed once every half an hour and they did stop at about 11pm….. unfortunately they started again at 5.30am…. kind of lost some of the idlyic-ness for me 😦
I went for a lovely run in the morning along the seafront going against the gale force wind on the way and travelling with it on the way back …. Just how it should be – just unfortunate that I had to do it twice to get the mileage in!
Next stop was Viana do Castelo, all of 15kms down the coast. This is the first reasonably sized town in Portugal and we were trying to hunt down a Vodafone shop to get a Portuguese Sim card for our router – so figured it was worth stopping for a look around. Viana do Castelo is a really pretty little town with boutique type shops, a small shopping centre and a fishing port.
Christmas is officially here though, as they had red carpet rolled out down the streets, decorations on the side of all the buildings and Christmas carols blaring out of the loudspeakers around town. Feeling obliged to get into the spirit, we stopped for a coffee/wine and cake with the obligatory seasons addition of Cinnamon and spices ….. Bollo com mel (Cakey biscuit with chocolate, cinnamon, spice and honey) and Jesusitis (?) (Filo pastry triangle with cinnamon and a very light icing) – both of which were delicious and not too sweet.
Our lodgings for the night were facing onto the estuary in a large sandy car-park with three other motorhomes. I can see a trend starting as we were a couple of hundred yards from a bridge going over the estuary which carried vehicles and also trains ….. thankfully they were much quieter.
We have been debating whether we should head to the Parque Nacional Peneda Geres, as it is supposed to beautiful, but also fairly high and snow has been falling at around 1000m. Although we don’t have a problem with the cold, it feels a bit unnecessary to go up into the mountains if it is snowing and frosty when we have so much to explore … and we can always come back. That said however, we decided to head inland towards the mountains to see if we could do some low walking from a place called Arcos do Valdevez.
We parked up in a tranquil car-park next to the river with the sun shining and a beautiful mountainous backdrop to eat our lunch. We then headed off to have a look around and find out whether there was any walking/cycling locally and were unpleasantly surprised by the lack of knowledge at the tourist office, who pointed us further into the mountains informing us that there wasn’t any local walking here. With a bit more of a push, she said that there was a path along the river that left from the skate board park and possibly went 4 or 5 kms, but that it was more than likely very muddy following the recent rains. Needless to say, we headed along the river bank, which turned more into the river bed than a path – but strangely, it was signposted as an official walk running approximately 9.5km in the direction we were walking, and another 13.5km the other way – how the tourist office didn’t know, I have no idea … it was pretty hard under foot, but very pretty.
We got back into town as the temperature was dropping and the sun was going down, stopping at a couple of cafes en route to do a price comparison 🙂
So, our first ‘taste’ of Portugal has been good. The people are friendly, and appear to understand Spanish – although understanding their responses in Portuguese is occasionally challenging. The few items that we have bought so far (coffee, wine, cakes … oh and a tin of black Pinto beans) have been very reasonably priced…. Long may it continue 🙂