Back to the Atlantic

Ponte de Lima was a pleasant town to visit and with a very large and convenient car park. People in cars were arriving until very late, and fortunately as the rain became heavier later on, this minimised the activity of any revellers, and I have to say that I was out like a light and slept very well. We must have had 15 or so overnighting neighbours. 

This morning the car park didn’t seem to stop filling with cars, and by late morning we’d departed. Conveniently, and less than 1k away was a services only aire, which we took advantage of. My only criticism was there was no water for either rinsing cassettes or drinking. Also the cassette emptying “hole” was the tightest I’ve ever seen. Touch your thumb and forefinger and you’ll see what I mean immediately. Anyway, with a little encouragement that job was completed successfully. 

Just prior to the services, four scraggy sheep were looking a little lost on the road, and I suppose a bit sheepish too. 

In downright defiance to my Satnav lady’s wishes, we took the minor roads route towards the coast and the larger town of Viana do Castelo. I was reminded again at how fast the locals drive in these parts, and often oblivious to speed limits.  

Being a Sunday morning we were on the lookout for a bread shop, but every time we saw one, there was someone right on my tail, or there was no viable parking, or usually both. Having learnt the trick of trying a petrol station for bread, Sophie sent me into a Repsol station. After clearly pronouncing “pao” incorrectly I used the fallback word “Ingles”, at which point the attendant told me in English that just down the road I could get bread from the coffee shop. When he saw me get back in the motorhome he ran over to say that I could actually walk there. 

So I took my life into my hands, and learnt first hand, and right up close and personal, just how fast most seem to be driving on these more minor roads. Arriving at the bread/coffee shop in one piece, I boldly tried the bread word again, and I think I must be perfecting it because she pointed at the rolls. I played the “Ingles” card again and did lots of pointing. As tomorrow is a local holiday we’d agreed I’d buy two loaves, and once chosen the lady tilled me out. However, by this point I’d also noticed the array of lovely Portuguese cakes behind the glass, and after over a month of Spain, where the cakes generally didn’t inspire us, I couldn’t help myself and bought a range of them. 

We then came across a Park4night which was in an Intermarche carpark. The reviews had said that the facilities were modern and very good, plus a couple had mentioned that the fuel wasn’t too expensive. Something we’ve learnt is that fuel is much more expensive in Portugal and today we’ve seen that Intermarche’s prices are not only noticeably cheaper than any other, but their price is consistent, at least across the several we’ve seen on today’s modest drive. This Intermarche also had forecourt washing machines, which may be of interest to some motorhomers. 

We did the supermarket the courtesy of a visit and being very pleased with getting three bottles of different local wines for about €6.50 in total we departed. We then stumbled across a Lidl, which was open all day on a Sunday, which we hadn’t been expecting at all. So we had a quick dash in there, amongst other things supplementing our supply of cakes and pastries, just in case. 

We then headed down to the industrial port side of Viana, but uninspired by the lack of view from the aire, headed North over the bridge to enjoy our bread and cheese at a half-decent Park4night on the river side. Two motorhomer neighbours then rocked up and parked with a few inches of us, and so there was half our view gone. I was disappointed to see that not only were they French, but actually from Brittany, so virtually neighbours to us back home. 

We decided that we’d defer our cake-fest until later on when we stopped for a coffee break. We then drove through the main town, by which time the sun had come out, and it would probably have been worth a visit. My plan for the afternoon was to follow the Atlantic coast in a Northerly direction, stoppping at about ten possible Park4nights. However, as it was a Sunday afternoon, with everyone out for a drive and most of these lovely hidden carparks with amazing Atlantic views were down single track lanes, so not really the day for it. Had it been midweek, we’d have likely visited most of them. 

Our coffee stop turned out to be at the mouth of the Rio Miño, overlooking Spain, with great views. As I was writing this, a bride and groom in full wedding regalia walked past our motorhome window, and a car full of photographers pulled up in front of us. Clearly they realised that if this view was approved by Sophie, then it must be a worthy background for their wedding photos, which will hopefully last them a lifetime. First attempt was aborted as the heavens opened, but a few minutes later the sun came out fully and a wedding shoot along the boardwalk next to the river ensued. 

We looked at a carpark with another great aspect of the Spanish landscape across the river, but it was on quite a busy road so we didn’t take the risk. The last overnighting spot on my agenda for the day was in Vila Nova de Cerveira. It’s another big carpark and very popular, presumably as it’s literally just across the border by road to Spain. Plenty of Spanish motorhomers, as well as Portuguese, then some French. I’ve seen one Brit here, from the West Country, going by their various stickers. 

So likely our last overnight in Portugal this time round. 

Progress as follows:

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