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A trip across the border
11/27/2008, Ayamonte

One of the other nice things about Ayamonte is being able to pop over to Portugal for an hour or two for a change of scene or to shop on a Sunday as most shops in Spain shut.

The ferry runs every half an hour and into the evening in the main tourist season but sailings are reduced over winter. We found an excellent café called "Café Latte" in Vila Real run by a Dutch girl and her Portuguese partner, a friendly atmosphere and good value. It was opposite the small supermarket in town and just past the main square. The only drawback was the wind could play havoc with the umbrellas at times as it funnelled down the street.

We took my uncle over on the ferry when he visited in case he needed any new towels! When we returned to catch the ferry back there were 6 Policemen checking everyone's passports, it was then that we realised that we had forgotten ours. The guns strapped to their legs and our lack of ability to speak any useful Portuguese did nothing to calm our nerves. Steve said leaving the queue and going off would cause suspicion so we got thinking. We noticed that one of them spoke English well as he was telling off another tourists for having nom passport so Steve made a beeline for him and showed him his UK driving license and Marina card, explaining we had crossed over on a whim and just forgotten our ID. He passed the driving license to one of the police with a gun who kept rotating it and looking puzzled. Finally he told us off and let us on the ferry. Jack was quite sick as he had no ID what so ever, having left it all in hid room. We won't forget again!

Above Jack and Steve on ferry with the road bridge into Spain behind

What no launderette?
11/17/2008, Ayamonte

The only drawback to Ayamonte so far is the absence of a launderette. The weather has been good so hand washing ok most of the time. There is a dry cleaners where the lady will take in some at a rather inflated price if she likes the look of you. I thought she was Spanish and I enquired in English, apologising for my lack of Spanish and she said no. Returning to the boat, Dominique on the boat next door, explained that said lady was in fact French and had done some for her. Had I realised I would have tried out my rusty French on her and might have got further.

However as Steve reminded me I did have a washing machine of my own. I was very excited when he said that he had bought one for the boat but when he said it cost £25 I became rightly suspicious. It is basically a drum to put everything in and then you screw down the lid which makes a vacuum so when you turn the handle the pressure agitates the washing. You can also rinse with it and leave things to soak over night, better than by hand but no good for large items like bedding and towels. Luckily Joyce offered to do some for me sometimes in the small machine on her boat.

The Zoo
10/25/2008, Ayamonte

I heard the roaring of Lions before I actually visited the small Zoo in a park on the river bank in the Plaza de Espana. I was told that a circus went out of business and that the town decided to take care of the remaining bears, baboons, lions and water fowl to name a few. What a nice gesture and great for little children to see when they visit the playground on the same site.

Laguna Square
10/10/2008, Ayamonte

Laguna Square 10/10/08

Laguna Square is the prettiest place to stop for a coffee or glass of wine and is packed with families at the weekends. October and still in sandals - can't be bad!

The English Shop
09/25/2008, Ayamonte

I started exploring the town with Joyce who was over wintering with her husband Peter on our pontoon, they had already spent 5 years in Spain at Aguadulce. We did a lot of walking to keep fit most days, along the riverside or around the many steep streets of the town, we soon became experts at where to shop economically. A good workout except for the times we stopped at a Pastilaria for coffee and cake or had wine and tapas at one of the numerous local bars. As Ayamonte has no beach it doesn't attract so many tourists with children and there are a lot of English people living in apartments so we found the inevitable shop stocking English food and products opposite the river and Plaza de Espana. I only went there to buy Toilet Duck, Chunky Caramel Kitkats plus the odd tin of baked beans as in my view the whole point of living abroad is to have a change. There was also the Euro Shop with it's book swap but there were never any titles we wanted though they did stock apple sauce!

Somewhere to stay
09/11/2008, Ayamonte

Somewhere to stay Ayamonte 11/09/08

We were warmly greeted in Ayamonte by Brian and the two Peter's who were staying over Winter and were quick to suggest we did too as they had got a 30% discount for 6 months. Ayamonte belongs to the Andalusian Marina group (Puertos de Andalusia) which offers very reasonable prices compared to the silly ones., although it has the least array of services compared to the other 11 but it had all you really need. We knew the town was pleasant and had good shopping facilities and flights home from Faro would be easy using either the train from Vila Real or airport transfer to get there so we signed up. .

Crossing the river we had just flipped the fenders aboard as it was only 10 minutes and we would be berthing starboard to again anyway. Tying up Steve noticed straightaway that one was in a pointless position and on moving it he spied a huge scratch underneath on our new paintwork. Things all fell into place as I remembered that when I came to dump the waste in the bin before we left VR the bin appeared to have moved - magic? No we suspect the boat must have pulled along the pontoon to fit another boat in and damaged then with the fender moved to hide it. We had been out the previous afternoon and didn't notice any change on return because we were still behind a big cat, but on reflection remember it was originally 2 big Cats behind us. What rotters, of course nothing we could do but fume.

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