Friday 17th April
We left Porto aiming for the coast again at Villa do Conde and easily found the aire, unfortunately it was nothing special so I didn’t take any photos of it at all. It wasn’t helped by the rain and lightning so after a quick walk along the front we sat inside the van and played games. Kiss chase, pin the tail on the donkey, it and hide and seek.
It wasn’t all wasted, I’d read about a huge market on Thursday so we needed a stop off so we didn’t arrive too early.
The market is in Barcelos and this is the view from our pitch. The stone structure in the river is a weir that is partially collapsed and as the water gushed through made a very loud running water noise that kept me up all night running to the loo.
This is the town’s church with the bells so we made our way towards it to see what the centre of town was like. Over the medieval bridge and up the hill, there were a couple of shops but little else. Certainly no where to have the biggest market in Portugal unless the biggest isn’t really that great.
For some reason I didn’t take any photos of the bridge, I love bridges too. This building sitting at the south end of the bridge was constructed in 1328 by Archbishop Dom Goncalo Pereira as a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. It also housed a stone lavatory.
You can see a bit of the bridge and the town fortifications. We are getting close to the Spanish border and there have been a few disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish over the years.
And here is one of the pilgrims, they still come here to use the loo. We’ve seen a dozen pilgrims so far, note the scallop shell hanging off the top of the rucsac.
And here is a photo of Lucy’s favourite cock! The cock is seen as the national symbol of Portugal but this is where it originated. Apparently an innocent man was found guilty and sentenced to death. As the judge sat down for his roast chicken dinner the innocent man said “If I am innocent that bird will crow” and sure enough, the chicken got up, crowed and ran off into the distance. It’s all true, it’s in my guide book.
Talking of books… I had to buy Lucy a book (you’ll see it later) and since I can speak fluent Portuguese and she can’t she stayed outside so she hasn’t seen this photo yet. It’s a recipe book full of chocolate recipes to help you put on weight. The tag line says “Gorge yourself for 21 days to get big and chubby” – that’s a rough translation of course. There were no pictures inside, just lots of words so I didn’t get it.
As we made our way past the bookshop the town opened up. Lots of old streets and then a huge square currently used as a car park but big enough to hold Portugals biggest market tomorrow.
We got back to Frankie just before it started raining again and this is what i made for lunch. Toasted cheese and ham sarnie with chorizo and mayonnaise.
And this is my secret weapon. Lucy has five cupboards full of kitchen equipment and this little beauty was hidden at the back of one of them.. We bought it many years ago when we had the caravan and used it for every meal for a year before throwing it back in the cupboard. Emma, do you remember the year of the toasted cheese sandwich? Dead easy to use, one minute each side and you’re done.
This is the book I bought Lucy together with a set of pens and pencils. Kept her quiet for ages. She’s going to colour in her top later.
Thursday and it’s market day. Everything you could ever want was in the market. Clothes, veg, fruit, pottery, furniture, knock off phones and hash, yes, I was offered hash again.
Live chickens, geese and rabbits.
And orchids! Lots of different colours.
And some more cockerels, fridge magnets, wine stoppers, bottle openers, letter openers, dust collectors and key rings.
This are some of the local ceramic dishes made famous by the late Rosa Ramalho and Misterio, what do you mean, you’ve never heard of them? They are world famous and have made the town of Barcelos world famous.
This area of Portugal is noted for it’s vine verde, a white wine which is drunk very young. It is a sparkling and delicatly fruity, our guide book describes it as “celestial 7-up”. The vines here are grown high off the ground so that the grapes ripen with the heat of the sun and without any heat from the ground.
We left Barcelos Friday morning aiming for Valenca do Minho which is on the Spanish border with the possibility of crossing over into Spain so this was the last chance to buy all the Portuguese goodies that we can’t get elsewhere. Lucy’s sangria is top of the list so I found a Lidl about halfway along our route and as Stella directed us through another medieval cobbled street Lucy saw a motorhome parked by the edge of a river.
Quick detour and we are parked by the banks of the river Lima in Ponte de Lima next door to a German couple from Barcelos who waved us off this morning. Above is our view, some of this bridge is Roman, most of it was built in the 14th century. Ponte de Lima is the oldest town in Portugal being given it’s town charter in 1125 by Teresa, Countess of Portugal.
This is the view from the back of Frankie. We’ve had an explore, it’s a really lovely old town, plenty of shops and cafes and flowers. Ponte de Lima is home to the International Garden Festival which runs from May until October. It has won the National towns and cities in bloom competition three times and got silver and bronze in the international towns and cities in bloom competition.
Large bronze statues are everywhere you turn. The bridge in the background with the motorhomes just in front lining the bank.
This is the town car park and twice a month it is turned into a huge market which was referred to in the charter presented by Teresa in 1125.
We weren’t going to stay but Lucy forced a beer on me at lunchtime and that’s it, I can’t drive anywhere today. We’ve also got very fast wifi hence the large number of photos. It only goes for 30 minutes at a time and then you have to reset it but that’s enough for me.