10th. March 2016
Maybe too far north too early, fooled by the early fine weather. Not that it's cold, just windy and the wind is straight from the north with the jet stream vertically above portugal until next Tuesday when the wind does a 180° shift. Out of the wind it's lovely and warm but on the beach here at Figueiras de Foz which runs N-S for about a hundred miles the effect is an icy blast which cuts you in half walking upwards
We left Milfontes on Monday 7th and headed to Fatima to say our prayers at another of Europe's holy catholic sites. They very thoughtfully provide an Aire right behind the basilica which we had intended to use overnight after visting the shrine of the visitation but as we stepped from the van we realised that we were well above sea level in the hills and the temperature had dropped 5° and the wind increased 20mph so we decided on a quick visit and press on.
This is a weird place. The basilica is quite imposing, on high in the centre of a semi circular colonnade which stretches a 100 metres either side. In front is a huge flat plaza sloping downwards to give everyone a view, and can hold 300,000 pilgrims.....and a chapel on the side on the site of the visitations. Unfortunately the whole thing resembles the setting at Nuremburg for one of the rallies and has about as much soul, and you can imagine the columns draped in swastikas. And it's not just me cos the GF thought so too. There's also a huge place to light candles which again is weird as it's so hot from all the wax burning at the bottom that any candle placed in a holder bends over within 30 seconds and drops to the bottom adding to the conflagration. We thought it was most amusing. The basilica itself is extraordinarily plain inside, containing the graves of the 3 children who saw the apparition and nothing else.
For those interested, Wikipedia explains all and has pictures. Don't go on a windy day in March.
So straight on to another weird site, this time the campsite O Tomanco near Lourical. This had been recommended and given fine weather would be lovely. A Dutch eco camp probably describes it best. Chickens, geese,turkeys,black Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, guinea pigs by the 00's. Strange tree houses, yurts, and tubos which are concrete sewer sections with a back, a front of glass with a door and a board at 1/3 height which makes the fixed bed. There is one electric lamp and a curtain over the front, and you can rent one to sleep in. And Hans was a very pleasant and interesting guy. In the season he cooks, a great bar and a bbq pit and bet it's great fun for backpackers etc.but we only stayed the one night as we were the only ones there and it was damp and chilly in the pine woods. Had a nice walk the next morning round the local fields and village but decided to move on at lunchtime to Figueiras.
This is an Orbitur site of which we don't have a great opinion but as it says on the ACSI review site "this may be the best Orbitur site.....". Right on a hundred mile beach over the sand dunes which,if you hadn't been to Pilat you might think (erroneously)were the largest in Europe.
And the beach is just a beach as far as you can see, not even a hut to buy a beer. But windy at the moment although spectacular. And then we found this restaurant down the road in a housing estate that was a converted house and at 12.45 had a queue. We got in early. The GF opted for what the phrase book called 'boiled mix portugaise style' and which seemed the most popular dish, I had the meat skewer. There was enough for 4. The GF had a huge plate of bits of boiled meat (incl a pigs ear )and boiled veg and wolfed the lot! I had the less adventurous bbq'd skewer with about a lb. various meats and a dish of bubble and squeak. Half a litre of white and the same of red, fresh fruit salad and coffee for €7 each. No passing trade, not even a sign of any size outside yet over a hundred customers, nearly all parties of 4 men or more ; no wonder they go to sleep in the afternoon. I did.