Tag Archives: Aviero

Portugal, Atlantic Gales and a Bike Ride

Portugal Fishing Boat

Although the sun was shining the wind was raging and wild, someone told me later that it was something to do with Hurricane Irma on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and that may have been true, but then again maybe not.

As we walked along the seafront Kim continually complained about how cold it was and although I disagreed with her and accused her of being nesh, (nesh, if you are wondering,  is an English dialect adjective meaning ‘unusually susceptible to cold weather’’ used mostly in the Midlands) I have to  retrospectively confess that secretly I was rather cold myself.  Naturally I just shivered in silence but didn’t share this information.

With last night’s excellent local restaurant inconveniently closed we looked for an alternative and chanced upon a likely looking place quite close to the seafront.  Kim declined my invitation to sit outside so we found a table inside as near to a fire as she could find.

And then things went wrong.

I suggested a fish stew to share which looked good on the menu but when it arrived spectacularly failed to live up to its promise.  Full of bits of fish and bone that they were evidently not going to sell to anyone else.  The only recommendation that I had made whilst in Portugal and it was a near disaster – and considering the content it was relatively expensive.  Kim said nothing but I knew inside she was preparing to refuse me any further menu selections for the remainder of the holiday.

The wind continued to buffet the seafront promenade as we walked back to the hotel, it carried on howling throughout the night and it was still blowing a gale in the morning when we left the hotel after breakfast.

Vila Do Conde Portugal

The beach plan had to be revisited once more and it was clear that there would be no swimming again today.

Actually, to be fair, the weather was a lot better this morning because the sun was shining and there was no fog but there was a scything wind ripping in off the sea like the grim reaper, a dangerously high surf and a churning ocean like horses of the Camargue making a charge out of the rolling, twisting waves that relentlessly barreled and pounded the gritty shoreline.

crashing waves portugal

We thought that we might walk along the beach towards the next village to the north but we were forced to turn back after only a couple of hundred yards or so because the wind was too strong to battle against without serious discomfort and the flying shrapnel sand was stinging our faces so we gave in, turned around, made our way back to the promenade and sat for a while outside the Tourist Information Office.

I feared that this might turn out to be a very long day!  What should we do?

We considered going by train to Aveiro but to be honest we were rather weary of travelling and trains , I couldn’t face the prospect of queuing up for tickets and we would be doing that again tomorrow anyway on the way to Porto so we decided against it.  And then I remembered that the Tourist Information Office had bikes for hire so I went inside to enquire the price.

They were free, how brilliant was that, so we selected one each and then headed north out of Furadouro towards the seaside town of Praia de Esmoriz about eight miles away.

We didn’t get time to buy dayglo lycra outfits or alien shaped cycle helmets but simply set off in our beach walking clothes.

Cycling in Portugal

The gentle ride took us away from the sea and the beach and through a dense pine forest which stopped the invasive wind from penetrating and made this a pleasant pedal along a lonely cycle track.

Eventually we arrived in the unremarkable town of Praia de Esmoriz but to be fair it was now end of beach season and most of the cafés and bars were firmly closed up.  A single life guard was working his last shift on the beach.  Chairs and tables were stacked where until only recently they were set out on the pavements.  Some local men who had spent the summer chatting up girls were now doing crosswords.

Back at the coast the wind was strong again now but we found a sheltered spot and stopped for a drink before turning straight back around and making our way back to Furadouro.

Kim had complained rather a lot on the way out, the saddle was too hard, the gears didn’t work properly, the handlebars were too wide, the little bell wasn’t loud enough, the basket on the front was too small, the brakes were stiff, the list was endless so I had to find some way of incentivising the long ride back.

My solution turned out to be a complete success and I could barely keep up with her and we arrived back at the resort in about half the time that it took to cycle out.

Incentive001

The sun was shining but it was still blowing a gale and our favourite promenade bar was closed because if it had been put out then the pavement furniture would surely have been scattered way across the beach so we found an alternative along the main street and reflected on our sojourn in Furadouro.

It hadn’t worked out quite as we had planned, this was supposed to be have been a few gentle days at the seaside to break up the travelling but the weather had intervened and put paid to that.  Never mind, we had enjoyed the beach walk on the first day, the tour of the tiles in Ovar on the second, which was an unexpected bonus and our bike ride today.

Later we returned the bikes, found somewhere for evening meal and then packed our bags ready for our next train journey tomorrow to the city of Porto.

Portugal Blue Sky

Portugal, Coimbra to Furadouro

Coimbra Postcard

When we woke in the morning, instead of the blue skies that we had become accustomed to there was a thick mist over the river and the city and it didn’t look like clearing away any time soon.

We had planned to have a final hour exploring the streets of Coimbra but after a second excellent Hotel IBIS breakfast the mist had become a fog so we made breakfast last a while longer, waited around for half an hour or so and then made our way to the railway station and waited for the train to Aveiro.

The plan now was to spend a few days at the coast, relax and to take a break from the city visits.

The train was on time and it didn’t take long to get there and as we crossed a spur of the River Boca and looked out towards the lagoons and the Atlantic Ocean we could have been forgiven for thinking we had been transported to Venice because the city has a very Italianate architecture and a waterway full of Gondolas.

Not surprising then that Aveiro is sometimes called the Venice of Portugal.

Aviero Postcard

Other places have their own associations with Venice – London and Birmingham in England are two examples as are Amsterdam in the Netherlands, St Petersburg in Russia, Prague in the Czech Republic and Edinburgh in Scotland who are all sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North’.  There is a Little Venice in Michigan USA and another in Bavaria in Germany, there is a casino in Las Vegas designed as Venetian canals and there is even one entire country that is called ‘Little Venice’.

The name ‘Venezuela’ is believed to have originated from the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci who led a 1499 naval expedition along the northwestern coast of South America.  When he landed he saw people living in houses on stilts and using boats that were shaped like gondolas. He thought that the country resembled Venice so he named it Venezuela, which means ‘Little Venice’.  That’s a bit odd I suppose when you consider that Venezuela is nearly two thousand three hundred times bigger than Venice itself!

We thought that we might like to stop a while and explore Aveiro but there wasn’t really time because we had a train connection to make and needed to dash to the Porto Metro line for the train to the nearby city of Ovar.

On first impression we weren’t quite sure what to make of Ovar, it seemed like the end of the World, almost like that scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they first get off the train in Bolivia and wondered why they had gone there.

Furadouro Stone Fishes

We needed to travel about three miles west to the seaside town of Furadouro and rather unsure and completely disorientated we broke our no taxi rule for a second time in four days and hitched a ride to our hotel, the Furadouro Spa.  The taxi dropped us off outside reception and we went inside to register where on account of a nippy wind coming in off the sea the staff were in thick jackets and expressed surprise that we were wearing our summer clothes when, in their opinion, it was so cold.  We explained about being from England and living on the North Sea East Coast.

After we had approved our accommodation and settled in, good but not as good as the last three in Lisbon, Tomar and Coimbra we stepped outside to take a look at Furadouro.  This didn’t take very long, but we found a restaurant that caught our eye for later on and a nice pavement bar to have a beer and then we made our way to the seafront.

There was a strong wind blowing, towering Atlantic breakers and red flags flapping furiously, rather unnecessary in my opinion because only a crazy person would go into a sea as mad as that.  Only half crazy we went into the sea but only up to our ankles with an occasional waist high splash and we walked the beach for about two miles or so.

Furaduero Beach Portugal

Portugal is famous for its Atlantic beaches which stretch for one thousand, one hundred and fifteen miles and along this coastline are three hundred Blue Flag Beaches which is the fifth highest amongst participating countries but looking at the statistics in a different way and dividing length of coastline by number of beaches, Portugal is way out in front and storms into first place with one blue flag every three and three-quarter miles.

It was certainly storming today and as we walked the salt spray splashed our clothes and the wind whipped sand stung our faces.

We could have walked forever along pristine sands between Sahara like dunes on one side and crashing waves on the other but eventually we reached an agreed point and with only more sand and surf stretching out before us as far as we could see we turned around and returned to Furadoura.  We hoped the sea might be calmer tomorrow and we might be able to go for a swim.

Later we found a back street fish restaurant overflowing with local people so on the basis that this is always a good sign we requested a table and had a first class meal for a very reasonable price and we agreed, as we always do, that we would come back tomorrow.  On the way out we attempted to book a table but the waiter told us they were closed now for an end of summer vacation.

We were having a lot of bad luck with restaurant closures in Portugal that was for sure!

Furadouro fish restaurant

Portugal by Train – Arriving Soon, Next Stop

Portugal Postcard MapLisbon Lisboa postcard TrmsPortugal Tiles AjulejosPorto Douro Postcard