Vila Chã – rming

vImg_4346‘Did you have crusty nuts this morning?’ is not a question a man expects to hear every day. I should explain that Gill was doing a shopping list and was enquiring about my breakfast cereal intake. The French, Spanish and Portuguese foodstuffs have some great names – the French Muesli Croustillant aux Noix is Crusty Nuts in Vince-talk, and I’ve just enjoyed a bowl of Portuguese Muesli Noses!

This is an unusual post for me as it’s still morning; I usually post in the evening with a glass of wine or a beer to hand (you mean you haven’t noticed..?) but we had such a busy day yesterday that we’re just doing not-very-much in the sunshine today. We did a little bit of washing, sweeping and tidying first thing – as opening cupboards lately has been like losing at Jenga when everything falls out on your head. So coffee is poured, Vince is shuffling through the 1500 or so songs we brought away with us and all is well with the world 🙂

Crusty Nuts issues resolved, we left Bragança on Thursday via an Intermarché – a bit strange going to a French supermarket in Portugal but hey-ho – and set the controls for the West Coast. I resisted the temptation to sing a Beach Boys medley – not easy when West Portugal is a bit of a surfer paradise, but Gill really didn’t deserve two hours of the hell that is my vocal performance. We’d found an ASCI site in Vila Chã, a tiny village by the sea. It was only a short drive from the motorway, but we had to negotiate a spaghetti junction-like series of interchanges, which went flawlessly, so thanks go to Gill, Mr Garmin and blind luck for that one.

Shall I warn her or will you..?
Shall I warn her or will you..?

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 Vince results in fillings falling out, blurred vision and shattered crockery. Sorry guys, please pass on the left.

The campsite is a bit of a squeeze – everyone gets guided into their pitch by the really helpful staff. Caravanners dump their ‘vans and are then made to park their cars elsewhere, just to maximise the number they can squeeze in. That said, the facilities are great and there’s a little supermarket on site too so we’re all good.

Yesterday was a special day – Gill’s humpty-humpth birthday – so Happy Birthday again gorgeous! After breakfast we got the chores out of the way, then packed a bag with water, suncream & swimming cozzies and got on our bikes. The local authority here is doing its best to preserve the habitat on the dunes leading to the wild Atlantic beaches, so they’ve built a boardwalk which stretches for miles along the coast. It’s wide enough for walkers and cyclists as long as the cyclists take it sensibly – which of course we did, as polite Brits abroad. We took it really easy, stopping to look at the huge breakers pounding the sandy beaches every now and then, and made an obligatory coffee purchase at the first village to do our bit for the local economy.

Fish so fresh.....
Fish so fresh…..

After six or seven kilometers we came to Vila Do Conde, a big fishing town with a busy harbour. We skirted round the seafront here, spoiled for choice of eateries. The mouth-watering smells of charcoal smoke and searing fish led us to one particular street facing the sea and we settled in for the dish of the day: fresh Cavala which are young mackerel sprinkled with coarse sea salt, seared on the BBQ and served with new potatoes and mixed veg (yes, cabbage again!) In an earlier post we had fish so fresh the next-of-kin hadn’t been informed; these ones were so fresh I don’t think they’d even been reported missing yet!

It was a delightful lunch, with a soup starter, the fish, a carafe of crisp & cold white wine and coffee, all for the princely sum of €7 each. That’s £5.60! That made it the perfect birthday lunch to Gill’s Scottish sensibilities, especially as I’d – ahem – forgotten my wallet so she had to pay for it, oops.

vImg_4341We jumped back on the bikes (well actually we climbed on slowly, full of food & cheer and wobbled off…) for a little look around the town, watching the elderly anglers in the harbour for a while casting their lines directly into shoals of mullet and catching none! We’d made a pact in the morning that we’d have a swim in the sea no matter how cold it was so we did. And boy it was colder than a penguin’s pocket! I’m sure you know that feeling where you gingerly step forward bit by bit trying to get used to the freezing water a little at a time? That luxury was taken away from us by the massive Atlantic waves which just crashed down on top of us. They were so powerful that we didn’t dare go too far out for fear of being swept away but I can’t think of a better way to wake up from post-lunch snooziness!

On our return to the campsite, we were covered in sand and sea-salt so showers were the order of the day, followed by us taking advantage of the site’s free wifi to FaceTime family for birthday calls. We forget sometimes that life moves on outside our travel bubble; our oldest daughter and her fiancé showed us round the new home they moved into this week, and our youngest was full of excitement at finishing her first year as a Junior Doctor with a great report. We can’t wait to see them when we get back. Not that we’re cutting our trip short or anything, oh no!

The plan for later is to check out train times from here into Porto, the nearest city to us, famed for its er…port which of course we’ll need to sample extensively before buying a bottle or two. I really don’t fancy taking Vince down Porto’s tiny winding streets and the Metro station is only a short taxi-ride from here so that’s tomorrow sorted! We’ll let you know how we get on.

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About Ken Tomlinson 219 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and world’s best grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up and downsized to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

2 Comments on Vila Chã – rming

  1. I cannot believe you went in the sea! It is always as cold as the Baltic in Portugal. We took the train into Porto a few years back. The trains are really cheap and we had a lovely day sampling all the various Ports. We bought a white Port that we had never had before. Have a great day!

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