Sunday, 20 March 2016

BOARDWALKS BY THE SEA AND PORTO

20th.March 2016
The Obitur site was very good and not very busy, but then everyone is heading south to the warmth of the algarve. The weather warmed enough for a long walk along the beach and a bus ride to metropolis of Figueira da Foz which is a pleasant town where Wellington first landed at the start of his iberian campaign but after 5 days we decided to head for the bright lights of Opporto, not having been there since 2010. Found an excellent little campsite at Vila Chã, about 20km north and on the metro line. The site is about 200 m from the beach which has about 10 miles of boardwalk from Vila do Conde along which one is also urged to cycle and which is great fun......although we were hampered at one stage by a school outing of several hundred teenagers who completely ignored our attempts to pass through despite various adults shouting at them. In the end we gave up and popped into a bar for a drink whilst they dispersed, only to discover a very pleasant restaurant at which we had lunch. This boardwalk must have cost a fortune to install all along the dunes and from various signs was paid for by the EU and a jolly good example it is of money well spent.
The campsite organised a taxi to the metro station, having advised not to leave the bikes there for a day although I think it would have been OK, and the taxi was only €6. They also supplied detailed instructions on how to buy the right tickets but even the assistance of 2 Portuguese ladies failed to produce any legal means of transport from the ticket machines. Our instructions warned that they would not accept foreign credit / debit cards which proved correct, one machine would only accept coins of which I did not have enough (2 return tickets were €11.40) and the second machine wouldn't take notes which the ladies said was a fairly regular occurrence when it hadn't been emptied. One of the nice ladies then said she would stay with us until the first major stop in Porto where we should dismount and buy tickets, and she would be able to explain to any inspectors why we had no tickets and save us from being sent to prison.. this worked well and no inspectors jumped on looking for fare dodgers so we were able to get off at a major station, buy correct tickets and continue legally. Apart from the obvious, the actual metro tram system was brilliant. So we wandered from the top of the city to the bottom, in and out of churches and things until we reached the river and then spent 30 minutes choosing a restaurant for a splendid lunch in the sunshine in a lovely setting. I like Porto, a very walkable and pretty city ; and full of shops selling interesting port.
The campsite shop also sold port and did me a good deal on 6 bottles of Offley 's Tawny for €30, which was better than the Intermarché or Pingodoce supermarkets and just was what I was looking for...
The weather forecast for the weekend was foul so we decided to move on Friday,  to near Vigo. Nice trip over mountains covered in mist and fog.
We still have 2 weeks before needing to be back to Calais, but the plan of slowly meandering up through Spain and France is being thwarted by the weather which is looking cold and wet across Northern Europe or the next 10 days. Stopped outside Vigo at a small town called Arcade which had lovely aire on the quayside of a marina, overlooking a sea inlet and resembling a fjord. ...to get us in the mood for June. ...nice views, esp at night with lights over the water and an illuminated suspension bridge.
Good to get back on decent roads in Spain. The Portuguese roads may now be the worst in Europe as they try to get you on horribly expensive toll roads.
Drove from Vigo up to Coruna, passing Santiago de Compostheap of which I have written previously and will never mention again and a lovely scenic drive in mainly sunshine up to coast and along to Gijon. Campsites in its neck of the woods don't seem to open until easter (next week), but a couple near Ribadesella opened on the 18th March  so here we are, now in the rain at Camping Ribadesella which has decent wifi so that with the wonderful Wifi booster and Filmon, we got to watch  (almost uninterruptedly) England win the grand slam .....for which Don now owes me a bottle of brandy.

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