The last two weeks have seen us make good progress south along the Portuguese Coast. We have enjoyed the warm autumn days and calm seas (as is typical we are never totally happy and would have liked slightly more but not too much wind.) We have had dolphins come along and swim alongside on a number of trips along this part of the coast. We sailed from Figueira da Foz in the company of two Danish yachts, you can see one of them in the photos.
We have had some good trips over the last few weeks and whilst sailing along we have been listening to music and various podcasts. On Sundays we have taken to listening to the Sunday Morning service from Radio 4, its a little surreal when listening whilst out at sea. We have not found an English language church service since leaving the Channel Islands.
We also managed to have a WhatApp video call with our daughter and son in law as we sailed down the coast which was fun.
We stopped at the marina on the river Douro and walked the few miles along the river to the City of Porto proper. Rod fishing is popular here and all along the board walk to the city you will find rod holders set in to the board walk. This city has another double decker bridge, the Ponte D.Luis. The south side of the river is dominated by the Port Houses. Once across the Bridge and climbed up the hill you know you are in a proper city (Porto is Portugal’s second city.) It is not just in the U.K people are protesting there was a very noisy protest outside one of the banks as some people were clearly upset.
We explored the city and found the book shop that is said to have inspired J K Rowling’s Hogwarts Library. The queue to go in was well over an hour long so we decided to give it a miss. One other tourist attraction is the railway station with its tiled waiting hall. In the streets old historic trams run up and down some very steep hills
We crossed back on the high level walkway of the Ponte d.Luis next to the trams. As we crossed we came across two chaps who were hanging over the side cleaning and painting the bridge , you should be able to see them in the photos you would need a head for heights to carry out their job.
Close to the marina was a communal wash house, we had seen a number of these now disused but this one was recent and very much in use by the local community with a drying area outside. We found a similar wash house still in use in Peniche.
Ria de Aveiro
The Ria de Aveiro made a convenient stop over along the coast in the right weather conditions. If there is any swell it becomes dangerous for small boats to enter. As we approached a large ship in front of us seemed to be having difficulty entering so we thought we might need to carry on south to the next port however he sorted himself out and the entrance was free from swell and breaking waves, so safe to enter.
We entered safely at around high water and found the anchorage we planned to stay in but it was a little crowded so we moved on up the river to option 2 and anchored in the river close to a nature reserve with flamingoes in the distance. We were all on our own. The river was flowing at over 4 knots during as the tide rose but our anchor held fast.
The next dilemma we has was when to leave the books advised leaving on the high tide but that meant leaving in the dark or late afternoon, neither option was attractive. We thought about this and hoped we could leave at slack water in the morning. The weather was good with little wind or swell, looking at the charts there seemed to be sufficient water depth for us to get back down to the exit. We waited for the current to abate. As it started to fall we picked up the anchor, this took time as the chain was covered with seaweed that needed to be cleaned off. We picked our way back and kept a sharp look out at the currents and tides ready to change plan if the conditions looked poor. Everything remained good and we left the Ria de Aveiro.
Figueira da Foz
This is another port that gets closed in poor weather conditions but the marina is up the river and we had a comfortable stay.
The town does not seem to have much of an old town and is a working dock and fishing harbour. It does however feel that we are getting towards the warmer climes now as the town is festooned with palm trees. We also had a dredger entertaining us in the marina.
We took a walk along the beach and it was very quiet as the season was over, a few months ago this would have been a busy seaside resort with the associated crowds. We needed to go shopping. We took a walk along the beach to the supermarket, much more enjoyable than most walks to the shops, we also found the old fishing area of Figueira da Foz before the new harbours were built.
Another holiday resort but here they seemed to be stretching out the summer season with many visitors still in town.
This beach is home to some of the largest waves in the world claiming to have a Guinness record for the largest wave ever surfed (23.8m on the 8th November 2011) This may have been broken in 2018 with a 35 m wave still here. There is an exhibition and you will see a photo of a surf board and a violin apparently surfer Nuno Santos played the violin whilst surfing.
The old town is up on the hill but there is a funicular railway to make it easy to get up to the top.
Despite the massive surf on the nearby beaches the harbour is quiet and is accessible in almost all weather as the surf does not break across the entrance.
Fish drying is a tradition here and alongside the old boats on the beach you will also find a living fish drying museum, The dress you see the ladies wearing whilst selling the fish is typical of the clothes worn by the older folk around the town.
There is another interesting story that can be seen depicted all around the town is of a 12th centry nobal man who was saved from falling over the cliff whilst chasing a dear after he called out to the Virgin Mary, you will find statues, paintings and tiles on houses around the town depicting this.
Whilst here we also had to make time for boat maintenance, an engine oil change was needed and also Graham needed to fix a leaking toilet, its not all glamour sailing on a yacht. However even going to the hardware shop is an interesting experience. It is like going back in time, all the items are behind the counter and you have to ask for what you want, sometimes google translate comes in very handy.
Whilst in Nazare we made a trip inland to Batalha to see an abbey dating from the 14th Centuary. Batalha means Battle. The abbey was huge but there was no old town clustered around it as you often find with these types of buildings. The town is small and there is a big open plaza all around the abbey. This means you can really appreciate the size of the building.
The abbey houses the tombs of Portuguese royalty and the tomb of an unknown solider from the first world war with a guard of honour. The abbey was meant to be bigger and at the west end you can view the unfinished chapels where they built the walls but never got around to putting the roof on.
It took an hour to get there by bus but it is interesting to see the local towns and villages as you pass through.