Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sao João Festival

Finally back on the internet to update our journey.

Day one (as mentioned earlier) was spent in Vila Real, where we ate at the local restaurant in the caravan park - and made friends with the owner (who took great pride in knowing German) so since Tom could understand him, he kept pouring us Port after port. Then to top the night off, we received a 50% schnapps. That definitely helped us sleep!

Stayed somewhere in between, but have forgotten the name already - Vila do Condo or something like that -just north of Porto on the sea. Fantastic food (always bucket loads of fish) and lovely people who spoke some English!

Next day, we headed up to Braga for a look around, then headed down to Porto and stayed on the other side of the river in a village known as Vila de Nova Gaia (actually, this is the home of Port Wine) in a seaside caravan park. I was lucky enough to talk the bar owner of the camping ground to turn the TV onto Australia Vs Croatia (despite the Portugese having an obvious preference to watching Brazil play...) Was so nervous, and was joined by a bunch of French pensioners on the caravan vacations and had a nice time with Tom aiding in every way with communication!~

Then- yesterday. I have found my favourite place in the world. Porto... the city is exubing with charm, character and kindness. Although it is built on an excrutiatingly painfully steep hill, it helped with the fitness! We booked ourselves into a lovely little hotel, then walked through the city, across the river (back to Vila de Nova Gaia) and decided to make the most of the Port! We paid for one tour, then made our way through about 8 other port houses, tanking ourselves up for free (all the tourists do it) and decided we are fans of the Tawny Port aged 10 years from Quintra de Nova. And now know all details as to how to make it! Then, we just sat on the river and waited for the festivities to begin: 23rd of June is Saint Johns festival and for some reason, everyone walks around hitting themselves on the head with toy hammers and there are festivals all over the street. It was bigger than any new years celebration I have seen in Australia! And so much more peaceful. At one stage, we were close to a big stage and surrounded by a young family, so tom picked up the 4 year old, and I picked up the 1 year old and we started dancing together! Incredibly fantastic atmosphere.

We are on our way to Nazare tonight via Coimbra (where we are now - the student city of Portugal) for a quiet night on the seq again. Have so much more to write but will update another time!

Will post pickies when we get home

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