Thursday

Caminha to Vila do Conde, Portugal, 09/09/04

Caminha to Vila do Conde Portugal 09/09/04
Arrived here yesterday, it's only a few miles down the road from Caminha but is not in a town.... The site looks like a fairground from the road, pulled in to rest up and repair. Site called Camping Sereia Da Gelfa, E4.20 for 1 night.
Woke this morning to find an English couple camping about 30ยด away, surfers, got lost yesterday and arrived late last night, they have a Lonely Planet guide for Portugal...handy, thanks for the loan.
I'm 5 miles down the road when they pass, heading south to the Algarve (no surf here) in a tiny yellow car packed full of gear with 4 surfboards strapped to the top.
Route today, N13 to Viano do Castello, got lost again, same old story, roadsigns atrocious.
Ok if you are on the dual carraigeway or motorway, or want to be on them, but otherwise? forget it...
I think you are expected to already know the place, all it takes is 1 wrong turn, 1 unsigned junction......enjoyable tour of the town though.
Went through a surprisingly steep underpass, picked up speed, no space just cars around me, and right at the bottom, in the tunnel in the dark the road is all broken and potholes. Adrenaline!
Dodging deep holes at speed in shadows made darker by the bright sunlight "outside".
There's a bus behind me, I nearly shat myself!! ha.
N13 south lovely road, rural, quiet, and mostly FLAT. Excellent riding here, negotiated the roadworks/diversions in Esposende to cross the river.

Esposende
The roads here are cobbled too, small granite sets 3" square and the guys laying them work whilst the road is still open, thats with Portuguese traffic not English!! Danger money for that job.
Side trip to Fao, beautiful fort, town is a little nondescript, bland, flat, but also quiet, clean, peaceful and friendly.
Further south is more agricultural, ancient pick ups loaded with veg chugging around, big roadside market stalls, produce for sale on the tarmac on rugs, dozens of small stalls.
Slow traffic, polytunnels, Lincolnshire with a good climate and a little spice, almost.
The flat strip is only 1/2 mile wide max, and the hills on my left for most of the day are full of villas, flash and above it all, looking across to the sea.
Tiny tractors full of veg with people riding on the carts, smiling and waving "buenos". Sometimes they laugh and point, sometimes cheer or shout (I think/hope it means faster faster). They shout from the cars and the lorries, the same thing and always with a smile. Everyone is interested here, very very friendly.
Can't say the same for the drivers, jekyll and hyde, put them in a car and they seem to turn into maniacs. Swerving all over, pulling out at junctions in front of anything, cutting up, I even saw a police car leaving the road today, onto the verge, realise and pull it back, at Speed.
Scary.
Tower blocks in the distance = Povoa de Varzim

Straight through the middle, a long straight road with lots of pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians don't wait for the traffic to stop here, they just step into the road. Cars can stop just a little faster than me and a closely missed rear end slows me down a lot, screeching tyres as a pram just "appears" on the road, no waiting.

Again the south of the town is nicer than the north, lots of new development, well laid out clean and smart. Fantastic fountain here, 2 pyramids, man on one woman on the other, water between their outstretched hands. Turned right and followed the sea for a while. Camping in Vila do Conde, the site belongs to the Portuguese climbing club, would you believe it? A month and more in the Pyrennees and not a sight of a climber, come to the flat seaside and find the climbing club!
Old guy showed me where to pitch, I'm right in the middle like a goldfish bowl. A kids play area, all sand and fag ends. The cafe crowd can see straight through the door and the promenaders are peering in at the gear whilst pretending not to, hmmmm.
Wondered about all the caravans being sheeted over with plastic, I just found out why, thousands of starlings have arrived from nowhere, big pine trees here are full of them - a huge racket.
There's a sea fog coming in and the foghorn has started, the air-raid warning type, I hope it doesnt last all night.
2 beers from the shop and a stack of milk, hotdogs and eggs from some kids that were leaving (I think they took pity, lost another belt, bootlace for the trousers again) and I have more food than I can carry. Mosquitos and patrolling security guards take the place of the foghorn to keep me awake, ahh well.

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Good luck with your own journey.
Thanks for visiting,
Rob.