Tented Travels. Portuguese Tours and Tribulations.

After having explored the area around Ancora and its beaches and experienced an eventful time in Porto [as described in last week’s post] we determined it was time to up tent poles and meander southwards down the coast.

There is as much of an art to dissassembling tents as there is to erecting them-more so sometimes. The borrowed pyramid tent was large and we were only beginning to get a technique for using it, especially folding it small enough to cram into the bag. When we came to collapse the tent ready for folding we discovered, to our horror that the beautiful conifer that had provided our shade in this corner of the site had also dripped unsightly resin all over the pale beige canvas, leaving it stained and blotchy. We were horrified. This tent had been kindly loaned by one of Husband’s colleagues. Whatever would they think of us returning it in such a terrible condition?

Perhaps the elderly Portuguese neighbours who’d been so ready with the advice we didn’t understand had been trying to tell us this all along?

For now though, there was nothing to be done so we packed up and departed to have a look at some more of Portugal, winding up at the whimsically named Figueira da Foz, which was then a modest seaside town with an attractive sea front and of course, beautiful, surfable waves. I believe that, like most places Figueira has undergone significant development in subsequent years but then it all seemed quite basic and unspoilt.

After we’d settled we wandered along for an evening drink at what appeared to be the only seafront bar. The night was breezy and the prom almost deserted, but there were lights on and as we pushed the door and entered there was only one group of revellers inside-a family enjoying a birthday celebration. We sat down to enjoy a glass of wine, making for a table a little apart but soon we were sucked into the revelries just as if we were distant relations, and plied with slices of birthday cake.

At the time, there were few sites near enough to Lisbon to make it easily accessible, but we could drop into the beautiful old city for a day en route south towards Portugal’s corner, which we did, strolling the lanes and gazing at the iconic funiculars and elevators. This first visit to Lisbon was quiet and untroubled by traffic whereas a subsequent trip saw us mired in gridlocked jams and breathing in noxious fumes during an open-top bus tour. How times change!

On we went to Sagres, in the south west corner before the coast turns into the popular Algarve. Here it was wild and breezy. We camped in a small, wooded site and were delighted to help out our young, Portuguese neighbours with the loan of a tin opener! At sundown people congregate to watch the sun set on this furthest west point of mainland Europe, perching on the rocky clifftops above frothing waves. It is a lovely place.

We bimbled [Husband’s word] along the Algarve, avoiding the high-rise hotel developments where possible and eventually on back up through Spain and France. At some point we had to pack the ill-fated pyramid tent wet and discovered it had torn in a couple of places. Horrors! Now it was stained, wet, torn and sporting gaffer tape. Stopping at a motorway service station we removed it and attempted to dry it out, with limited success. There was no way we’d be able to return it in this parlous condition. We’d simply have to buy the kind lenders a new one-and keep this one….which we did!

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