Crossing the boarder of a new country is always a real treat, obviously apart from the joy of spotting one of those beautiful little blue signs, you get the chance to destroy all the bits of the language of the last country whilst you try and digest out what you really should be saying – is it just me ?
Todays stop is in Portugal, we have left the land of Tapa and ventured into a unknown country for us, ok it’s not as random as some folks will be doing right now, but a small adventure for us.
The side roads here are often cobbled, which is fine in a modern car with good suspension but we may have upset a few drivers with our speed, unfortunately. On these roads anything over 25mph in Verity results in fillings falling out, blurred vision and shattered plates !
The campsite is a bit of a random, even in my world row after row of seasonal, tented vans
helpfully we are guided into our pitch by ‘no problem’ I’d love to ask his name as truly nothing was a problem, whilst we were their we broke the tumble dryer, well it tripped the electrical due to the rain, but Mr ‘No Problem’ ran multiple extensions leads across the site so that it worked and we could dry our washing !
That said, the facilities are great and there’s a little supermarket on site too so we’re all good as they have fresh croissants each morning!
Verity the Volkswagen is happily parked on sandy grass of camping de Vila Chã (N41.2981, W 8.73282) . Although it’s a near 300 meters to the sea thankfully we haven’t come here for the sea views and to catch a few rays as we have had helpful Text messages from the Portuguese advising of the coastal events and possible flooding .
We have come because a short 25-30 minute walk away is a designer outlet shopping centre …,
And a metro stop to whisk us away towards a wonderful little city, quiet possibly perfectly made for the curious traveller seeking a new European destination that isn’t overrun with tourists. (Well almost)
The second largest city in Portugal and one of the most beautiful places in Western Europe in our humble opinion, Porto is a dream destination.
There’s a reason that Porto made it on the UNESCO World Heritage list—every corner is full of historic, Portuguese charm. You can spend hours wandering the cobbled streets, relaxing by the Douro, or hopping from port house to port house !
The city is characterized by hilly cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches, and beautiful azulejo tiles.
Our starting point, as it has the best view in the whole city , Ponte de Dom Luis I, the bridge linking Porto and Gaia, is a site to see itself.
The bridge, ranked #1 for things to do in Porto on Tripadvisor, becomes the heart and soul of the city in the late afternoon, as locals and tourists alike come out to walk and cycle along the bridge, or simply take in the views, this is one of those time where we would have loved to have been staying in the heart of the city, but with a MoHo that’s not always possible.
Once across the bridge and the Douro Rover we are in Vila Nova de Gaia,famous for its many cellars where port wine has been kept and aged since the 17th century.
Port wine is a fortified wine made exclusively from grapes grown in northern Portugal’s Douro Valley. It’s shipped to Vila Nova de Gaia to age in casks before being bottled. Shipments today happen over land but the wine used to be sent down the Douro River in these traditional boats called “barcos rabelos”.
At this point it would be almost rude not to stop and try out some of local produce
Did you know it comes in every variety from ‘Dry White’ though to ‘Ruby’
Final tourist stop, Sao Bento Station isn’t just one of Porto’s busiest train stations, it’s also its most breathtaking, possibly in the whole of Europe
Sao Bento Station features over 20,000 azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tiles depicting key moments in Portugal’s history.
The station was built in 1900 with the blue and white tiles being put in place over a period of eleven years (1905–1916).
All I can really say is ‘epic’ city that truly deserves a return visit at some point !
I think at this point it would only be fair to say that Vila Chã would be a magic location in itself had we not arrived in Portugal worst rain storm in history, the boardwalk and seashore are absolutely amazing with some amazing beachside bar for a Sundowner!