A Travellerspoint blog

Beautiful Barcelona 1

..the Costa Brava and Besalu.

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Fri 20 September. We headed south towards Barcelona, via a planned overnight stop on the Costa Brava. On the way, we visited the unbelievably quaint, and former Jewish, village of Besalu. This place could have been a film set for a medieval film. We spent a lovely couple of hours walking, snapping, and buying some souvenirs and gifts from the array of well-stocked shops. Magic!

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Then onward to Palafrugell and a slightly flasher hotel than normal – to belatedly celebrate Phil’s birthday. Lovely spot saw us on the beach for the afternoon, though MC took off for a walk (!!) and a few photos, incl Phil back on the beach. Where's Wally? Lovely seafood dinner at a gorgeous cafe on the waterfront in the evening. Suitably romantic! Hotel room had a spa-bath on the balcony!!!

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Sat 21 September: Phil was woken early by what he at first thought was the surf. Turned out to be thunder, and we spent the rest of the day enduring a major electrical storm that went on and on and on. Clear as a normal Costa Brava day that the beach was not going to be happening! The hotel's ground floor was flooded! But it’s an ill wind.... – because for Phil, Saturday morning’s priority was always to be the All Blacks’ opening– and major pool - game against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup!

ITV in the UK were broadcasting free-to-air, and with the help of Express VPN – originally purchased to access US Netflix – Phil settled in to a far more trouble-free viewing than we subsequently learned was the norm in NZ for the Spark-Sport afflicted. And a good result! With that over, we headed south in the rain, stopping briefly to have a nose around Torro del Mar, another beach resort with a castle that looked like it would have been gorgeous in the sun!

Then south to Barcelona to spend a long-planned six days with a Servas friend and his teenage children in an apartment in the heart of beautiful Barcelona. We were given a great welcome and humbled to discover our host had moved himself out into a single bedroom to give us his own bed for the duration!

Before we forget again, we need to mention one of the odder regional food fads. In Catalonia (Figueres, Barcelona etc) the thing is 'bread with tomato'! What? Everyone has bread with tomato! Not like this. In Catalonia, they use tomato essentially like butter. Half a small tomato is rubbed and squeezed onto a slice of bread -maybe both sides - or baguette, then often olive oil and salt, and maybe some meat or whatever else you would normally put on a sandwich. It's just routine. Always, everywhere, when there's bread! Have a look

Sunday 22 September was Catalonia’s patronal feast day – La Merce, for Our Lady of Mercy, established in 1223 to celebrate the release of Christian captives of the Moors, or something like that! We headed into the main square to join the celebrations. The square was vibrant, packed to the gunnals. Main focus was “castelling”. Here are a couple of photos. We took our own video but it won't load, so here's a longer you tube clip...; same day, same place just a few years earlier. However, all the castells we saw were successfully completed! No-one fell!

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Note the political banners, also in many other Catalatan photos (Figueres, Besalu etc). Catalonia is proudly independent of Spain and when we were there, it was suffering the aftermath of Madrid's brutal supression of its independence referendum. The official 'regional' Catalonian flag is a simple affair of red and yellow stripes. Add a Cuban-style star, and you've got a revolution! These flags, and the yellow ribbons displayed in solidarity with the democratically elected politicians and supporters exiled, or imprisoned by Madrid, were everywhere. Madrid had sought elsewhere in Europe to have the exiles extradited but everywhere in Europe where there's an independent judiciary (UK, Belgium, a couple of others) the courts have thrown the cases out as ridiculous. Spain's judiciary on the other hand, still smelling of the Franco era, is anything but independent, subservient to the Government and ridiculous sentences have ben imposed. The more we hear, the stronger are the parallels with the brutal and stupid English stance in Ireland in the early years of the 20th century. Look where that led! Our thoughts and prayers are with those who continue to peacefully struggle for their nation's freedom in the face of ridiculous Spanish oppression. How this injustice and thuggery is tolerated within the EU is a mystery. As we say down here: "Kia Kaha".. (Stay strong).

But an hour and a half standing in the baking sun was enough, so we headed away into shadier side streets for a bit of an explore. Some shady characters in a nearby shop window!

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Then a recommended church, Santa Maria del Mar, St Mary’s by the Sea. Nice place, and we climbed the tower to get some great views, including of the Sagrada Familia in the distance. St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and the famous ‘spiritual exercises’ was at one time a parishioner. Interesting contemporary statue with which MC had a bit of illicit fun :) Phil headed home and miraculously found a craft beer bar on the way! MC did some more walking. Familiar theme #3 :)

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Monday 23 September was Sagrada Familia Day. There’s an earlier separate post about this; you can read it here: for both of us hands down our tour highlight

Tues 24: We decided we need to recover our planned second swim on the Costa Brava so back in the car for the 90 minute trip back north.
Mary Clare had researched the target beach – Platja (beach) 'Cala Alguablava' near Begur; just beautiful. We spent a lovely day there on the beach; in and out of the water; great temp.
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Too much this week for one post, so more to come, highlighting the wonderful Montserat and Gaudi's other achievements! Thanks for reading!

Posted by philandmc 18:23 Comments (0)

Dabbling in Dali

The lovely Figueres.

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Wed 18 September: We were looking forward to Figueres, home of Salvador Dali, and one of the only two Servas stays we managed to organise while on the road this trip, the other being Ana in Gijon.

Briefly about Servas: It’s an international mutual-hospitality organisation, kind-of couch-surfing for grown-ups. Founded in Europe in the wake of WW2, there’s an emphasis on peace-building through increased inter-cultural knowledge and fellowship. For most people, it involves registering as a host, and then using the directory of host families in a country you’re visiting to seek accommodation while travelling. Only two rules: (a) no money changes hands and (b) you can’t stay one night (that would undermine the ‘getting-to-know-you bit). You can stay longer if invited and it suits and the norm is to leave a small souvenir gift from NZ with the hosts. Worked wonderfully for us in France four years ago and we’ve also stayed with host families in the States and Canada. Our trip this time was bookended with pre-arranged Servas stays in Prague and Barcelona with people who had stayed with us. That’s just the best! We have about 4 or 5 international guests each year. We’d thoroughly recommend it – Phil is now the Lower North Island Coordinator for Servas NZ! Think about signing up; talk to Phil or go to the net (: NZ page here.

Figueres is not far from the border with France, a couple of hours north of Barcelona. We learned, though, that whether we were back in Spain or not depended very much on who you spoke to. For most people, we were not! We were in Catalonia, the land of the Catalans. The Spanish were unwelcome invaders and the parallels with the English occupation of Ireland pre 1921 felt very real to us. That all really came into focus when we got to Barcelona though, so we’ll save it for the next post.

We arrived at Miquel’s place in Figueres by 1pm, as requested, to a great welcome and lunch and to allow Miquel to settle us in before he headed to his work as a teacher. He did the 2pm to 8pm shift with adult students at the local high school, using the facilities after the day-students had left. Apparently not uncommon.

From the outside, Miquel’s looked like it would be an apartment; it was in fact a large terraced house with huge basement, and very large garden, brimming with fruit trees, and some vegetables struggling in the dry, dusty heat. We knew from the Servas directory that Miquel was Vegan but discovered it was for him a religious commitment; a part of his following of an Indian Guru, Sathya Sai Baba! He was a lovely man, even if we shared neither his food or faith commitments.

After finding a park a few blocks away; nothing doing on the street, we wandered the few blocks up into town, and the Dali ‘Theatre’ – a gallery actually establish by the artist in his lifetime. Just as extraordinary and bizarrely wonderful as we’d expected. Unfortunate though, that some of his best known (to us anyway) pieces (Last Supper, Christ of St John of the Cross) were of course in overseas galleries. But there was plenty to get the juices flowing:

The outside and the entrance:

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The what-we-thought-of as-Dali Dali:
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The WTF Dali:
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Some interesting different stuff, probably a period with a name :)
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This an interesting double-take large painting. Is this an old bloke's portrait or a young woman's bod??? :)

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Best of the rest!

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..and Dali's extraordinary take on the Sistine Chapel ceiling :)

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Anyway, reeling a little from all that, we wandered home via a supermarket and, though Miquel wasn't home, we decided to respect the kaupapa and cook ourselves a tomato pasta dinner, sans dead animal :)

Thursday 19 September:

Miquel generously offered to show us something of his Figueres. We headed east to the coast, through 'Roses' to the lighthouse at 'Far de cap de Creus'. Some terrific views.

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Then back through Cadaques, whose main claim to fame is the house that Dali lived in. He developed and expanded it up the hill, for we Wellingtonians, it brought to mind Sir Ian Athfield's Ngaio sprawl! Athfield wins, though:)

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...and back to the very pretty Roses for a hastily herded walking tour (we had booked lunch - Vegan of course - back in Figueres).

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Then a haircut for Phil - given the lack of language connection, I'm not sure whether it was me or the barber who was the more nervous, while MC took off for a wander (of course!) and found another church she thought was simply beautiful, and restful enough for Phil to go see and enjoy as well. She was right! Just lovely. The usual skewered Saint Sebastian offset by a rather gorgeous painting of the Emmaus scene from Luke's gospel.

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Miquel was to be back early for his equivalent of a house group meeting so we planned to head out for dinner to give him some space. A short break at home though, to bake probably the 4th or 5th loaf of sourdough of the trip then we headed out. Randomly found a great little tapas restaurant with, oh joy, a great little range of bottled craft beers! Then a brief wander around Figueres by night, and home to discover Miquel's amazement at Phil's bread baking. He explained he'd forgotten to tell us his oven didn't work and was staggered to discover it had worked for us. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Not knowing we couldn't do something, we just did it. Miquel became one of at least three people we left committed to baking sourdough in our wake :)

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Next morning, continuing south to Barcelona via a delayed birthday celebration on the Costa Brava! Watch this space.

Posted by philandmc 18:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Fortuitously France

North of the Pyrenees

Friday 13 September: Well, the plan was to head to San Sebastian, the Basque capital and tourist mecca. We tried, we honestly did. But no-one from Servas was interested (I’d imagine they’re exhausted by requests in Summer) and our search criteria in Air BnB was turning up nothing; that will have been our price range!

Actually, that’s not quite true. What was popping up was a place called St Jean-de-Luz and places/beaches near it. We had a closer look and realised it involved crossing the border into France! San Seb was only an hour or so’s drive back west. We found a nice-looking place on Air BnB, a converted stable with good reviews, so we went for it and booked 4 nights! The place was compact but absolutely lovely, with a couple of kitchen burners outside, under a canopy. We received a great welcome and orientation from husband Francis, who also pointed out the trees laden with ripe figs; Phil indulged! Then we headed straight to the nearby beach, for the sunset and tapas at a beachfront restaurant. Nice, but price shock!! “You’re not in Iberia now Dr Ropata!”

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Sat 14: We took off to explore the local area by car. Hendaye was adjacent; a nice beachfront resort. We checked out the water - great surprise, the water was warm – similar to the Algarve  We drove back to base and walked to the local beach, Erromardie, for a swim in the surf. Home to a third Phil-made cataplana, this time chicken, and a lovely, and still dirt cheap, French rose from the supermarket, all outside under a wonderfully romantic canopy.

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Sun 15. Time to introduce ourselves to St Jean de Luz proper! We did a bit of touristy wandering , photographing, church visiting, coffee-drinking (Phil) and one of those little train tours of the place to get our bearings. One of the better value things we did! And we struck a trio playing Basque folk songs in the main square; they had a libretto vailable to follow the songs; quite a different language.

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Then to the main beach! Hot, water warm and dead calm like a swimming pool. Decided there and then to forget about San Sebastian and repeat the dose the following day  We’d planned to cook again but discovered the supermarket was closed. So we grabbed take-away pizzas from ‘Pizza & Co’; just superb, with yet another bottle of wonderful 3 Euro wine; we decided this fellow was a Syrah!

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Mon 16 September: The Energiser Bunny was up early for walk along the coast. Phil relaxed and progressed the blog. Beach again for another lovely afternoon, then to the supermarket for dinner supplies. Home, and disaster!! Phil’s cellphone, including drivers’ licence and two credit cards could not be found. Anwhere!! Car turned upside down three times! Minute examination of paths and gardens, kitchen and bedrooms; even the fridge  Too late to head back to the supermarket where last known use occurred! Not much sleep was had!

Tues 17. Up early and straight to the supermarket. Staff disclaimed all knowledge. A look through the bank of trolleys turned up nothing, nor did a close examination of the area we’d parked. Time to disturb our host, Francis’s wife Marijo, thankfully a former English teacher. She was beyond helpful. For the third Air BnB time, wonderful support above and beyond the call of duty of an Arrbnb host.

Off we went to report the loss, in the vague hope it might have been handed in, but more realistically to get the required acknowledgement for insurance purposes. Despite her best efforts we were shunted from pillar (National Police) to post (Local Police) and back again. Because we couldn’t assert it was stolen (we simply didn’t know) the guy was initially not that interested in accepting a report. Marijo eventually got the better of him and we departed, sans phone, but with tightly clutched police report for the insurance company. Following some emergency work on the internet, suspending credit cards and filing an insurance claim, we belatedly set off. Since we were on the northern side of the Pyrenees, we decided to stay in France and head East on the northern side towards Figueres and Barcelona rather than backtrack into Spain for the more southern route. One of those days we were grateful for the speed and efficiency of the otherwise-boring toll road!

We booked an overnight stay in a motorway hotel, generally designed for truckers. It was as ‘ok’ as we expected.

Wednesday 18 September: Phil's birthday!! Onward towards Figueres. Stopped at a lovely little mountain village; Rennes le Chateau, Another old church. Took photographs.

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Then the driving got interesting  With MC in the driver’s seat, hearts went to mouths! Praying nothing was coming the other way! Stopped to see where we'd been, great views, a cute little hermitage we decided we wouldn't trek down to (!) and MC found an empty grotto!

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Next stop, Salvador Dali country!

Posted by philandmc 17:08 Archived in France Comments (0)

Negotiating the North

Santiago de Compostella, Asturia, Cantabria, Basque Country

Next day – Monday 9 September – we awoke on a different planet. Temperatures had dropped 10 degrees, from the high 20s to 18!! And it was wet as! This was to be our climate for the next 4 or 5 days and the cool snap seemed to have affected the whole region.

Our next target was Gijon on the Spanish north coast but we planned a brief stop in Santiago de Compostela. Most obvious sign of our shift from Portugal to Spain was an increase in the Motorway speed limit from 120 to 130kph!!

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We had heard of many people who had walked the camino to Santiago de Compostela, and had both enjoyed film ‘The Way’ so thought we should check it out. A place of pilgrimage over many centuries; it also provided a good spot for a lunch break on a 5 hour car trip. Apparently, a local hermit followed a star, sometime in the 9th century to discover the remains of St James (Santiago), instantly receiving both regal and papal favour, and generating a place of pilgrimage third only to Jerusalem and Rome. In the early years, apparently a well conducted Santiagran pilgrimage could in a Holy Year generate remission for a lifetime’s sin! Quite where Jesus came into this is a bit murky. No wonder there was a reformation!

As we walked up the hill into the central square in front of the church, we came across many tired walkers arriving, collapsing in the square on the cobblestones. Others greeting and congratulating fellow sojourners who had also completed the walk. There was a great air of achievement, joy, satisfaction and camaraderie. We visited the church, but with much renovation going on, it was difficult to get a real sense of it as a sacred space rather than a building site.

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Then onto Gijon (pronounced with that ‘hoick’ more common to Afrikaans that we found utterly undoable) where we were very warmly greeted by our Servas host Ana Garcia and her 20 year old daughter, Pilar. They lived in an apartment building on 12th floor. Parking in cities and towns can be a challenge. Ana came with us and helped us find a free park close by and gather up our bags. Ana welcomed us with a delicious vegetarian dinner during which time we learned about Gijon and Asturia and as Pilar was studying languages and classics, gained some deeper insights into Asturian culture and language. The apartment was small, but the welcome huge.

Portugal had seemed relatively homogeneous; the concept of Portugal had originally developed in the north of the country while the Moors (Muslims) were occupying the South. They were driven out in the 12th century by the ‘King of Portugal’ and the newly identifiable country gradually expanded south, as far as we know with relatively few objections. Interesting to read somewhere that anti-Muslim prejudice is far less strong in Portugal because of the deep and often positive impact the moors had on that country.

Travelling across the north coast of Spain, on the other hand, one becomes very aware of the strong regional traditions and previously independent nations that are now absorbed as regions of a unified Spain (and France). How much this usurpation is accepted by the locals seems to vary tremendously. In Catalonia, as we’ll see in a subsequent post, it continues to be determinedly resisted. But before we got there, we travelled through Asturia, Cantabria, and Basque country. Asturia was the only part of Spain never to have been occupied by the Moors.

Tuesday 10 September: Ana was working as a physical education teacher in a local high school , so we headed out with her suggestions for a self-guided walk around Gijon. While out , suddenly there was torrential rain. Fortunately we were prepared with an umbrella, which helped and it was a bit of a foggy grey day around the waterfront and historical area. So we did some shopping; bought shoes!

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That evening we went out with Ana for a traditional Asturian meal, yet again meat and fish heavy but utterly delicious. Two great memories; one food one drink.

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Asturia is renowned for its cider, a slightly different animal to the one we know, less carbonated and rather cloudy but mostly known for the rather incredible pouring method. 95% of production is locally drunk. In specialist “ciderias” – we were in one – your bottle of cider is put to one side by the waiter, who periodically returns to fill the (shared) table glasses, rather flamboyantly and from a great height! This is supposed to refresh and enliven the drink and one is expected to skull it down immediately, while the fizz has been activated by the pouring technique. MC struggled to keep obliging and became rebellious, being a hobbit and not wishing to become drunk, to the chagrin of the staff. Phil and Ana on the other hand….

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Here's a bit of video..

The memorable food was “Cachopo”, which Lonely Planet describes as “a local speciality, breaded veal stuffed with ham, cheese and vegetables.” So we had to sample that, alongside a delicious vegan salad and fresh fish , chosen before being cooked. The Asturians clearly believe in very generous portions of everything. We had to ask for a doggie bag to take some home.

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Wednesday 11 September: A touring day; we began our sojourn east to Barcelona. First stop was Vilavisciosa, a very pretty spot where the river came down to the sea. We enjoyed a walk and some lovely views.

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Then on to Tadoniz, a pretty fishing village at the base of a windy hill road.

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Some pretty views on the way to our next stop, 'Praya de Gulpiyuri ', which turned out to be a beach in the middle of a paddock!!

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Finally for the day, on to Suances, with a couple of abortive attempts to visit a not-open-to-visitors-as-it-was-supposed-to-be cider factory, and some caves that had only one ticket avalable for the remotely-plausible tour time. Suances was a pretty little beach spot where we'd booked a couple of nights in a lovely aprtment: 'Apartamento sol y mar'. Some issues getting in because the owner knew no English and our Spanish was non-existent. But we had a lovely couple of days and made use of the kitchen. Spag Bol one night, then out came the cataplana for a sausauge/seafood delight the second. And the fantastic 3 Euro supermarket wines kept coming!! And for about the fourth time on the trip, the touing sourdough bug was put to work and we made some bread! The weather was starting to improve so we braved a rather windy beach; even Phil had a dip in, honestly, what seemed like near-freezing water. Phil was knackered so otherwise a quiet day!

However, MC went walking on a round trip up the hill to the township and stunning views and a walk back down the hillside past grazing horses and farmland back down to sea level. She also enjoyed a long walk around the coastline on a long promenade walkway and thoroughly enjoyed the crepes both savoury and sweeet.

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Friday 13 September: After a restful couple of days, and with the weather finally improving, we continued East. The plan had been to stop in San Sebastian, an apparently gorgeous place and tourist mecca in the heart of Basque country. That didn't happen (see next post) but on the way to our next stop that turned out to be in France (!!), we enyoed a couple of stops. First was the delightful little medieval village of Santilla del Mar; Lonely Planet says "They say Santillana is the town of the three lies: not holy (santi), flat (llana) or by the sea (del mar). This medieval jewel is in such a perfect state of preservation, with its bright cobbled streets, flower-filled balconies and huddle of tanned stone and brick buildings – it’s a film set, surely? Well, no. People still live here, passing their grand precious houses down from generation to generation. In summer, the streets get busy with curious visitors." It was lovely:

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and we rather enjoyed an unexpectedly interesting and absorbing diocesan museum with religious art and other antiquities, mostly dating back centuries but with some interesting contemporary stuff:
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Our second stop was Santander, another lovely, if larger and more modern city. We managed to park between the tourist attraction of Magdalena (Palace and Peninsular) with park and castle, and the beach, where we enjoyed a swim and sunbathe, and lunch, in the improving conditions. Water not yet wonderfully warm, but starting to get there!!

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Next - St Jean de Luz and a wee disaster!

Posted by philandmc 14:20 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Perusing Porto

5-8 September 2019

Thurs 5 September: Up and away from Coimbra bright and early on the road to Porto. Stopped for a swim at a nice beach, Aveiro, on the way.
Porto has been a highlight of our trip, and certainly a contender for ‘best geographical’. ….And the nominees are.. Now here’s an idea: We could have awards place of the trip, meal of the trip, host of the trip, beach of the trip, attraction of the trip; even disaster of the trip! There are a few candidates for that. We’ll come back to that.
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Our accommodation in Porto was booked through Air BnB. Again, we were staying out of the city, about 20km south in a suburb called Lourosa. Host Carlos and wife Sylvie welcomed us and provided a great orientation. We had the upstairs and majority part of a two-storied house, with Carlos’s mum living downstairs. We struck a few teething problems involving hot water, air con and the location of the resident iron. Some were due to our own stupidity and all were sorted quickly with the help of the English language ability of Carlos’s son.

Not for the first time we wondered about the arrogance of English language speakers, expecting people to pop up who will understand our language, while we have little or none of theirs. We try to learn the basics: Please, hello, thank you, yes, no, 1,2,3 etc. If this is Monday, thanks must be Obrigado (Portugese), or is it Merci, or Gracies (Catalan), or Gracias (Spanish). Come next week it will be Grazie!

Fri 6 September: Getting into the centre involved a 15 minute car journey to a ‘Park n Ride’, then a four-station light rail journey (from St Joao 2 to San Bento, across the River Duoro over the renowned St Lui iron bridge) to the tourist heart of the place. Worked well.

We struggled to understand how to use the ticket machine but were saved by a very helpful local who gave us quite a bit of time to help us out. We realised this was typical of the Portugese, who were extraordinarily Kiwi-like in this respect. Brought to mind something MC’s dad used to say about NZ; You ask for directions – in other places they’ll tell you, in NZ, they take you!
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MC had planned a walking route around the historic area of Porto, which turned out to be a bit more complicated than it looked on Lonely Planet! Porto’s Railway Station, like elsewhere in Portugal, was decorated with tile panels depicting the city’s history. We found some magnificent views of the city across the river; found more grossly OTT churches filled with gold, including Santo Idelfonso and the adjacent landmark Clerigos tower after wandering more winding narrow cobbled streets. Noticed huge queues for a mysterious attraction; it turned out to be the house that inspired Harry Potter, or in which JK Rowling, or something Potter related. We passed.

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We were fascinated by these shops. This one in Porto but we'd seen them in other places. They looked like cans of sardines in fancy packs, at exorbitant prices. Couldn't work it out, and forgot to ask :)

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After lunch, more walking was decreed and we found another church (San Francisco), more cobbled streets and a delightful wander along the Douro’s city waterfront, doing the market stalls (Phil’s bracelet collection grew further), enjoying the vista and concluding with a light fish supper.

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Some of those photos were from a museum associated with one of the churches. We had a bit of a giggle at this one, which Phil named "the first Gay wedding" - actually supposedly a couple of saints!

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But we need to talk about lunch!! Having tolerated a couple of hours of walking, Phil’s agenda then took priority. We were aware, both through Lonely Planet and Si and Nic’s travel blog from their Porto visit 10 years earlier, of the local culinary masterpiece, the Francesinha. The story goes it was created by a Portugese chef who had spent time in France and wanted to design something to put the French Croque Monsieur - the fancy toasted cheese sandwich - in its place. Though we subsequently realised many restaurants did it, LP had nominated a particular restaurant as the best, so the mission was on. All historical sites were off the agenda until this Taonga was found and MC noted with bemusement how energised Phil suddenly was for further walking 

It took some finding, and careful study of the map over a beer but we eventually found the famed Santiago restaurant and joined the queue which was way shorter than, apparently, it can be. Shades of Fergbergers in Queenstown! It was worth the effort! This enormous toasted sandwich, incorporating at least five different types of meat and sausage, covered in a cheese sauces, topped with an egg, and served with chips. Mary Clare had a salad!
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Sat 7 September: The next day, we headed back into Sao Bento station at 8am to take a train journey 2hrs inland along the Douro to Regua, mainly so we could take a cruise along the Duoro back into Porto. Really enjoyable. The weather was perfect and we could soak up the scenery along the river whilst relaxing in the sunshine, chatting with a group of Americans with whom we shared a table over a simple lunch. The riverbanks were covered in vines planted on terraces. There were two dams/locks on the river. The first was 35 metres, the latter a 14 metre drop; lots of photos taken.

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Sun 8 September: Day 4 in Porto.
Our host Carlos offered to share the day with us and using our car show us around places he thought we should see, and meet Phi’s desire to have a seafood lunch somewhere. Together we visited some beach spots north and south of Porto. Espinya, and another beach with a little chapel close to sea, where miracles – Lourdes-style - are purported to have occurred. Then to Montesinho , a fishing village, for an al fresco lunch centred on grilled fish and squid, with Carlos guiding the choices. The tour continued, with local knowledge gaining us access to a super-flash, historic hotel with infinity pool we’d noted as a landmark on the previous day’s cruise. Way beyond the duties of an Air BnB host!! We returned satisfied, grateful and tired and ready to head north and out of Portugal.

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Posted by philandmc 00:03 Archived in Portugal Comments (3)

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