2020 is coming to an end and as for everyone else this has not been the year we planned. Back in February, we showed our new charts and pilot books for Mediterranean Spain as we intended to sail south in April. We are still in the same place as when we celebrated Christmas last year. Has the year been wasted? Certainly not! Things have happened that we would have preferred not to have happened with Covid and losing Graham’s Mother in March. We have still explored and have enjoyed spending time in Portugal. We expected to leave in April but instead, we have spent time developing friendships and learning about Portugal. We have been here so long we have had to register as residents!
Covid 19 has been creating problems in Portugal just as everywhere else. As we are still treated as European Citizens (at least until the end of December) we were able to return to Portugal in June with no real problems. It has been much more difficult for people travelling from outside of Europe. We have had to keep our eyes on the news to keep track of the various restrictions, this has been easy thanks to the British Embassy in Lisbon and their Facebook posts. Since June Churches have been open with limited numbers and requirements of masks etc. Restaurants have had limited numbers at tables (currently no groups over 6 unless from the same household, (it has been down to 4) Where possible we have preferred to sit outside and thanks to the weather this is normally possible. There have been travel restrictions that restrict travel outside of your home town and also curfew at night from 11 pm to 5 am. We have also had afternoon curfews starting at 1 pm. This has usually been at a holiday period. We have some of these coming up in the new year between the 1st and 3rd January.
When we have an afternoon curfew it is strange the marina is usually busy with people walking around and eating at the restaurants, during the curfews a surreal hush descends on the place.
During the Autumn a rather famous old lady turned up in the marina. Gipsy Moth III was sailed by Sir Francis Chichester in the first OSTAR (Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race) in 1960. Sir Frances won. The voyage took forty days. Not the best photo but interesting to see this boat turn up.
We have put the boat to bed for the winter taking off the headsails and stowing them away. Before we did this we took one last trip up the Tagus River on a warm autumn day. We have started to carry out a few maintenance tasks. Some urgent, some of the hatches needed resealing as water came in when it rained and others not so urgent such as installing a new radar as the old one had stopped working. It will be good to know we have a working radar the next time we get caught out with poor visibility.
Over the last few months, there have been a few storms with big swells, one was widely reported in the news and the SNS staff, (the Portuguese lifeboat service) were standing on the roof of their hut watching, even they found it impressive.
We were safe behind the protection of the sea wall but the power of the sea can be seen in the way the capstones were moved from the wall at the Boca Do Inferno just ½ a mile down the coast.
We are still amazed by how much there is to be seen close to where we are staying, during the last few months we have been out and about walking and cycling to see new places and revisit places we have been to before.
In the last blog we mentioned that there was a display of lighthouses around the town, here are a few of our favourites.
As we were spending time in Cascias we decided we needed to explore a little further afield, by train, bike and we also rented a car a few times and were able to travel a little further away.
Just a 20 minute trip across the river from Lisbon is Seixal. Once a major cork manufacturing town but now undergoing redevelopment as apartment blocks are being constructed and old factories redeveloped into hotels. Seixal is a quiet creak with many small boats moored. It is in some ways reminiscent of East Anglia in the UK.
This was our first trip out in a hire car. Setubal is a proper commercial port, however, it has (as do most Portuguese towns) an impressive castle overlooking the town. Just outside of the town are some splendid beaches.
Lisbon has an interesting Aqueduct. Construction started in 1731 and there are sections open to the public. You can walk across the Aqueduct over the Alcantara valley and we visited the reservoir in the city, this space is used to house exhibitions.
Graham visited here last Autumn but Judith had not been there so we made a trip back. The town has a complete wall surrounding it. We walked around and did not meet another person whilst on the wall. On the way back we visited the surfing centre of Ericeira. You cannot stop here in a boat safely.
We decided to say away for a few nights to allow us to travel a bit further away to celebrate Judith’s birthday.
Aveiro is described in the guide books as the Venice of Portugal, a bit of a bold claim and as I make a comparison it has to be stated that neither of us has been to Venice. I think that the Portuguese are claiming a bit much here. It was a pleasant place to visit and they do have some canals with colourful boats making trips but that is where the similarities seem to end for me. The trip boats are powered by outboards rather than being poled along like an Italian gondola, they are also decorated with colourful paintings that would not be out of place on a traditional English non-politically correct saucy seaside postcard. When travelling south last year we spent a night anchored in the river near here. It was good to visit from the land and look out and think ” we sailed up here”.
Famous for its university and some nearby Roman remains. The city is on a hill and it was very wet whilst we were there We had our own private tour of the university as we were the only customers to show up.
The Roman ruins at Conímbriga are about 10 miles from Coimbra. The site has many buildings visible with many mosaics uncovered, it is estimated that only around 10% of the site has been excavated.
The image from Google Earth gives an idea of the scale of the site
This is an important Roman Catholic shrine and a site of pilgrimage. It dates back to the 1920s when Mary is said to have appeared to some children between 1915 and 1917.
The site is huge with two large churches at each end of an enormous plaza measuring around 100 x 200 m. The scale of the site is truly impressive.
If you have made it this far well done! We did not think we had done much over the last few months so hadn’t made a post, we found out we were wrong when reviewing our photos and preparing this post.
We are looking forward to 2021. We currently plan to start sailing in April. For us next year we will have BREXIT and the still have then uncertainties around Covid to deal with. Let’s see what the year brings. 2020 has taught us not to take anything for granted.