Entering the home of port was both unnerving & amazing. The first because it was a large city whose steep, narrow streets were filled with busy traffic but amazing because R.A.L.F. had taken us to an Aire that was just across the Douro from the old town that was perched up high glowing brightly in the afternoon sunshine.
On our side of the river there were many ‘caves’ (cellar doors) lining the bank, some of which date back hundreds of years to when trade in the local wine first became popular. The ‘azulejos’ (hand painted tiles) were everywhere, it was like 1960’s Marrickville but without the Valiants.
At the top of the hill that constitutes the main part of the old quarter was a large building that combined two of my joys, heritage architecture & photography. It was an ancient court house & prison that had been converted to the city’s photo gallery and while the exhibitions were ‘OK’ the building was fabulous with some exhibits occupying old cells.
Next stop South was Coimbra which is just a beautiful little university town with an Aire walking distance from the main street on the other side of the river in a well maintained park catering for the locals and the rowing teams.
We only stopped at Aveiro long enough to walk around this old monastery.
Judging by the amount of motor-homes in the car park they were having some kind of muster but we couldn’t see anyone.
After getting back to the coast we stopped at Ericeira for lunch. This little town with it’s cobbled stone streets and whitewashed buildings marked the start of all the surfing towns to follow, the pastelerias were rapidly being replaced by Billabong & Quiksilver.
Despite this we still found a great place to eat and Deb & I shared a yummy seafood risotto brought out by our waiter from Mozambique.
Lisbon greeted us with a bright sunny day and the city really came alive as we made our way round the old quarter and through the back alleys.
But the hubbub of the big city soon overpowered us and we longed to get back out into the countryside. After all, coming up next was the region called the Alentejo with it’s whitewashed villages, marble towns and medieval cities….so please join us for that.