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Povoa De Varzim to Cascais
08/10/2008, Cascais

Povoa De Varzim to Cascais

With the auto helm repaired we set off feeling excited that we were on our way at last and to bless our escape from Povoa we were accompanied by a small pod of dolphins. Our enthusiasm was short-lived when the auto helm went "walkabout" again. After a quick conference we decided that we would carry on the old-fashioned way with manual helming and look for a Raymarine Dealer in another marina to have it properly sorted.

It was a grey day, the wind less than a 3 so we motored for the 12 hours it took us to reach Figueira da Foz and light was fading fast as I steered us in, dodging the many fishing pots, so helpfully positioned in the way of port entrances. Steve booked us in and was told to go where he could find a space, not easy as it was pretty full. As we were not given a card for the pontoon it was fun getting back there after a shower but some locals were helpful and kept an eye open for us when we returned to go for a meal. I can only do the basics "please, thank you etc" in Portuguese and the waitress seemed confused by my order for Sea Bass so I repeated it to make sure. Five minutes later a huge Gin and Tonic arrived! I was relieved to receive only one fish - you never know.

The following day we set off for Nazare. A small pleasant marina with 2 main pontoons, next to a fish dock so there were a few fish heads floating about but the smell was ok. We were late arriving so had to raft on to a Swedish yacht. In the next hour another 2 boats came in and rafted onto us with the same thing happening on the other pontoon. We were tired so after drinks with another couple on their boat, swapping stories we didn't fancy walking into the town.

The next morning we were met by a rather cross Harbour master who turned out to be English. He was much exercised by the fact that the pontoons were anchored and not on piles so the strain of the rafted boats was a worry for him. He was relieved most of us weren't stopping and even gave us his top tip of how to get to Cascais quicker by going a little further out than we planned to catch a current which would hurry us along, near the islands off Peniche.

We saw lots of dolphins off the islands and the sun was shinning but the current was having a day off so we finally got to Cascais at 10pm in the dark, dodging the pots on the way. Some as you can see not so easy to spot even in daylight!

The Rabelo boat
07/28/2008, Povoa

The Rabelo boat invented in the 9th century was used for transporting port wine from the farms of the Douro for centuries. The journey lasted more than a week and the conditions were precarious, often leading to dangerous accidents. However, with the coming of the railways and better roads the boat lost its importance. Finally, the dams along the Douro river brought its activity to an end.

Visit to Porto
07/28/2008, Povoa

The work on the boat has been completed successfully and the price was far more reasonable than the UK where people seem to wrongly assume all boat owners are well off. Our departure was short-lived however as we were only a mile or so from the harbour entrance when we switched on the auto helm which promptly went loopy so we returned to the marina to have it looked at as we have a long journey ahead.

Alex and I decided to spend a day in Porto. We travelled there by the efficient, modern metro system. The city has many beautiful old buildings and picturesque squares. We walked down to the river Douro and had lunch at one of the many cafes along the banks. Then we walked over the Dom Luis I Bridge which connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, where the port houses are. Famous port names like Taylor's, Croft, Fonseca, and Sandeman crop up everywhere, and many have cellars that can be toured. I suggested this but Alex said he preferred just to taste some port and as he insisted on paying I agreed. You can also see the old fashioned boats for shipping port-wine along the River Douro from the vineyards further up the river to the storing, shipping, and aging warehouses in Vila Nova de Gaia moored alongside the bank.

Those yellow beans.
08/22/2007, Povao

I was intrigued by the yellow beans as they seemed so popular and did not look in the least appertising to me so I Googled them Apparently these are Lupini / Tremoco beans, frequently served free of charge in bars alongside a glass of beer These salty, buttery beans make perfect beer-munchies and are said to be an awful lot healthier than salted peanuts so I'm told. The outer skin is thick and not something you want to try and chew. The thing to do is nip the corner of the skin with the teeth before squeezing the soft bean from inside, or pull a tiny corner off and squeeze the bean out with the fingers. Ugh - not for me - But then I don't like beer. Steve tried one - just the one!

The Feast of the Assumption
08/16/2007, Povoa

Before we left we saw the festivities for the Feast of the Assumption on 15th August. The day before the procession, as we walked along the cooler shaded backstreets near the marina, we noticed lots of women working at wiring flowers together. Of course the next day all was revealed as these were made into huge flower arrangements to display the statues of saints on for the procession. In the fishing harbour all the boats were decked out with colourful flags as well. The town was heaving with crowds so it was a good job we set off early to find a suitable place to view the parade. The heat was oppressive with not even a hint of a breeze and I have no idea how the men, dressed in suits, managed to carry the heavy statues from the church through the streets for hours.

In the evening we were perfectly placed on our boat to watch the impressive firework display on the harbour wall. It was all very pleasant except for those maroons which were not pretty but just ear-splitting and they lasted for the whole fortnight leading up to procession.

A good spot to stop
08/14/2007, Povoa

We explored the town of Povoa and decided that it was a good place to stop to over-winter as we had run out of holiday time. The marina staff were helpful, it was cheap and there were plenty of little shops and a small supermarket in easy walking distance of the marina. With cheap flights from nearby Porto airport and a train service to get you there it was the perfect option. The only downside was the noise. on the way in to the marina we were startled by the sounds of gun shots which we later learnt were fired on the hour to celebrate the feast of the Assumption.

The beautiful baroque church opposite the Marina.

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