day 99 to 105 Ponte de Lima to Nazara, Portugal

 

The Knights Templar Fortress and Gardens

The Knights Templar Fortress and Gardens

day 105 – Tomar to Batalha to Nazara, Portugal

18th December 2011.  The main attraction for us in Tomar was Tina’s fascination with the Knights Templar so we visited the Convent of Christ and the Knights Templar Fortress.  It always makes me wonder in amazement that these structures were built so long ago so high up and with such beauty.

Convent of Christ, Tomar

Convent of Christ, Tomar

The great thing about Sundays in Portugal is that most museums are free before 2.00 pm so for Motor Homers on a budget that is quite a saving.  So we were up early and as soon as we had finished at the convent we headed straight over to Batalha to visit the monastery which we had heard so much about.

Batalha Monastry

Batalha Monastery

Construction on the monastery of Santa Maria began in 1386 and was still being extended well into the 16th century by various Portuguese Kings.  It was a very impressive building especially the ‘Unfinished Chapels’ with their amazing detail.   The cathedral has one of the highest ceilings in Europe and is one of the most impressive cathedrals we have visited.

We arrived at a car park in Nazare that had been recommended as a good spot to free camp and there were already a few Motor homes parked there.  It was just light enough still for me to tie Santa on to Christina’s ladder and as I was doing so John a Brit from one of the parked up Motorhomes came over for a chat.  He and his wife had been parked there for a few days and this was not their first visit.  They came back most years ever since his retirement when they swapped their boat in Whitby for a Motorhome and planned to spend 5 years travelling around Europe.  They only managed to do 18 months in one go as his wife became home sick but they had given it a good go apparently never stopping on campsites and free camping only.  Again what fabulous inspiration and shows that we are definitely not the only ones doing this.

There was also another what you could sort of call a motorhome parked up it was more a converted lorry but I was really envious of it because it had a wood burning stove.  How awesome!

We had a quick wander around the town and found a bar with a covered patio area which allowed dogs which meant we could have a cheeky beer with Loli in tow.  [Car park, Av. Do Municipio, Nazare N39.597021, W9.069930]

The University on the hill at Coimbra

The University on the hill at Coimbra

day 104 – Coimbra to Tomar, Portugal

17th December 2011.  We went of to explore Coimbra in the daylight with Loli.  It is a lovely town and we spent a fabulous morning walking around the old streets popping into the numerous old churches and even taking in the local market.  We finished off by walking up to and around the university campus which is the oldest in Portugal with a reputation in Portugal that our Oxford and Cambridge have.

On the way back to Christina we struck lucky at the Chinese shop and found a ‘Climbing Santa’ to attach to Christina’s ladder how fab!

The Roman ruins at Condeixa

The Roman ruins at Condeixa

The main reason we had stopped at Coimbra was to visit the Roman Ruins at Condeixa so we drove the few kilometres there and spend a very informative couple of hours looking around the museum and the ruins.  Did you know that the Romans used scissors over 600 years ago just like the ones we use today?

Me in ruins

Me in ruins

Jay and Ju and Marc and Jacqui had found a car park to overnight in Tomar so we met up with them there and had a quiet evening out at a café that served the most amazing hot chocolate so thick that your spoon literally stood upright in it.  [Car park in Tomar, N39.602492, W8.408896]

The festive look in Christina

The festive look in Christina

day 103 – Porto to Coimbra, Portugal

16th December 2011.  Coimbra the famous university town was next on our list and we knew Jay and Ju and Marc and Jacqui were at an Aire down there so with the Garmin and the Autoroute all programmed ready we headed out of the campsite.  Well it’s not the first time we have had conflicting information from the Garmin, Autoroute and Tina’s map so we weren’t too worried and decided to go with the Garmin which ahs always turned out to be the best way.  Well you know the streets I didn’t want to be seen dead in where we as passengers all had to breath in so we could get through well you can guess where the Garmin took us.  We found ourselves in a labyrinth of narrow cobbled, car and low balcony lined streets literally a motorhome nightmare.  Because of it all being a one way system it was like a maze we just kept going deeper and deeper in and found ourselves on the exact same roads the bus had travelled.  As we turned a corner two cars coming in the opposite direction started waving frantically and gesturing for us to stop and go back.  One driver was kind enough using hand gestures alone to get us to turn and follow him.  So we found ourselves following an unknown Portuguese driver on an unknown route for about 5 kilometres with him slowing down at every junction and waiting patiently for us until we got onto a real road.  What an amazing relief to be heading in the right direction on a wide road.

We arrived at the Aire in Coimbra at about 15.00 and had a catch up with Ju and Jay and Marc and Jacqui who were parked up.  Then Mike and Liz turned up in their super Hymer home so as it was Friday night we arranged to go out as an eight some to paint the town a shade of pink.  Ironically the nearest bar to the Aire was an Irish bar on the riverside so after a quick drink there we headed into the town for the authentic Coimbra experience that we had read about.  Trouble was we were a day late because all the cape clad students has celebrated end of term the night before and the town was empty.  We came across a café next to the church which looked rather original even if it was a little empty but easy enough to get a table for eight.  It turned out we had stumbled across the ‘Fada Mecca’ of Coimbra and at 21.00 three very glum looking men dressed in black took to the stage to serenade us with misery and sadness and even though we didn’t understand a word it had the desired effect of being on the one hand fascinating and on the other downright depressing so we moved on and made our way back to Christina. [Coimbra Aire, near the swimming pool at the river side, Avda Ines de Castro, Coimbra, N40.199330, W8.429008]

View of Porto from the prison (Photography Museum)

View of Porto from the prison (Photography Museum)

day 102 – Porto, Portugal

15th December 2011.  We took the bus into Porto from just around the corner of the campsite just €1.50 for a 40 minute ride and boy what a ride.  After experiencing how the bus driver managed to throw his bus which is wider and longer than Christina around tight bends and weave around parked cars and hurtle down narrow streets with literally only inches to spare either side I felt a right wimp of a driver but stilled vowed never to go near those streets in our Christina.  The bus dropped us right in Porto centre by the tourist office so we popped in there and picked up a map with all the ‘must see’ sights marked on and then went for a cheeky coffee to plan out attack.

We decided to teat ourselves to a typical Porto lunch in the back streets of the Barredpa area. Tina had ‘Tripas a Moda do Porto and I had ‘Alheiras com Batatas e Arroz.  Well mine was a sort of black and white pudding, with chips and egg and Tina’s was ‘tripe’ and we both agreed it was tripe.  So the accompanying Vino Verde really helped. 

View of the bridge at night in Porto

View of the bridge at night in Porto

As Tina was just taking a picture of me outside Cris’s bar in Porto out walked Mike and Liz from the shop next door who were parked next to us at the campsite so we introduced ourselves and had a chat as we wandered down towards the river to catch the bus back to the campsite.  On Mike’s suggestion we popped in to one of the riverside bars for a cheeky beer which turned in two but it was fascinating to hear their backgrounds.  They say the world is small but its getting tiny because as we walked across the bridge to get the bus we bumped into John and Clare who we fist met in A Coruna and then again in Ponte de Lima and now again in Porto.  After a brief chat and introductions to Mike and Liz we headed to the bus stop to see the bus wiz by us which meant yet another cheeky beer before the next one came.  (I’m suddenly realising as I write this that our time in Porto seem to involve lots of drinking which I suppose is appropriate when you think the town is named after a drink!).  The ride back on the bus was just as hairy as on the way in and both Mike and I agreed we wouldn’t be seen dead on those roads in our motorhomes. [Camping Card ASCI, 8th Edition 2011, p.720, #1888, Orbitur Madalena, Rua de Cerro 608, Praia da Madalena, P-4400-736, N41,6’29”, W8,39’19”]

Porto

Porto

day 101 – Porto, Portugal

14th December 2011.  We did suffer from the excess of the 100 day celebration but we had a good clean up in Christina and I cleaned up Taz the Tandem who had got a bit rusty in the chain area after being hung on the back of Christina in the wet weather. By the time we had done all that it was late afternoon so as Tina was still suffering a bit from a cold and the previous nights escapades had got both of us we had a cheeky siesta. Dinner was roast chicken and properly rested and fed we are all set to hit Porto properly tomorrow for some serious sight seeing.  [Camping Card ASCI, 8th Edition 2011, p.720, #1888, Orbitur Madalena, Rua de Cerro 608, Praia da Madalena, P-4400-736, N41,6’29”, W8,39’19”] 

Guimaraes Castle

Guimaraes Castle

day 100 – Guimaraes to Porto, Portugal

13th December 2011.  It was a wet day ideal for exploring museums.  We visited the castle which was originally built in the 10th century whose car park we stayed in and Tina climbed to the very top. We then walked into town to visit the Alberto Sampaio Museum which had been recommended by the tourist office. It was full of school children when we arrived but they were on there way out and we had our own guide who didn’t say a word but walked ahead of us pointing us in the right direction and opening and closing doors for us. The museum had some fabulous art but the silver alter pieces from the 14th century were unbelievably beautiful and I loved the tunic on display that was worn by King Joao I at the battle of Aljubarrota over 600 years ago.

We then looked around for somewhere to have lunch but decided we had enjoyed the bread so much from a little bakery that we found yesterday that we would buy some more rolls and eat in Christina especially as we had left Loli on her own.

Christina the Adventure Home visiting Guimaraes Castle

Christina the Adventure Home visiting Guimaraes Castle

After lunch we headed out direction Porto to a campsite located near the beach just south of the city so we could do some washing and charge Christina’s battery’s.

We arrived about 6.00pm Tina got to work on the washing and I cooked ‘favourite pasta’ and we celebrated 100 days travelling with drinks and ‘pass the pigs’. Only thing is I think we may have over done it with a bottle of Vino Verde, a bottle of red wine and then Port (well you have to) to finish off. [Camping Card ASCI, 8th Edition 2011, p.720, #1888, Orbitur Madalena, Rua de Cerro 608, Praia da Madalena, P-4400-736, N41,6’29”, W8,39’19”]

Guimaraes

Guimaraes

day 99 – Ponte de Lima to Guimaraes, Portugal

12th December 2011.  We find it easier to wake up in Portugal than we did in Spain being on UK time seems to make a difference. Perhaps it’s because it’s lighter in the mornings. We got Christina ready for the off and I programmed the Garmin with the co ordinates of a good overnight car park that Marc had recommended and off we went. It was a fab drive along the N201 we were chatting, listening to ‘Swing Out Sister’. After about 30 minutes of driving things didn’t appear to be right and when we pulled over to consult the map in detail we had been travelling on the right road but in the wrong direction! So lesson learned the Germans don’t always get it right and DON’T rely on a Sat Nav!  We had that de ja vous feeling as we drove back direction Ponte de Lima and we got a chance to see the town again so that was positive. We stopped for lunch just outside Guimaraes and found the correct co ordinates for the car park by the Castle and parked up for a cuppa.

Checked out Guimaraes next year’s city of culture. They are doing a lot of work getting it ready. It is a fabulous medieval city but everything is closed on a Monday so we stayed the night so we can visit a few museums tomorrow.  [Big parking behind the Castle, R. Dona Teresa, N41.448642, W8.289326]

 

 

 

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