Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Spain and Portugal

We stumbled on the old part of the place which follows the River Diva. I can see some paintings coming from this area!

We wound our way back down from the mountains and followed the GPS to a place called Gijon. I had seen this on a “Rick Steve’s Europe” show on PBS in the States. 

It must have been a different Gijon! The one on the show was a small village on a hillside. This one was a big steel town with rolling mills and lots of traffic!! I had found a “Camping Area” using a phone app that appeared to be in the center of town. When the GPS said “You have reached your destination" it was a roundabout! It was a grassy roundabout but I don’t think camping on it would have gone down too well.

All part of the adventure. We stopped at a highway rest stop outside of the town and got out our ACSI camping book to find a real campground not too far away, near the beach. They gave us a nice flat grass pitch with shade trees on one side so we could choose sun or shade.

Sun or shade, take your pick
Like the previous campground this one was about $20 a night with electric. There was both a store and a restaurant on site and all the usual amenities including a swimming pool. We camped between a French family and a Dutch family, then a British couple pulled up opposite.

Taking some time to explore we drove down to the beach area. Of course, it had to be the ONE day that the weather hasn’t been great! Still we came, we saw, we photographed. 

The rocky shore

In our own special way we got completely lost and ended up in Puerto San Estoban where the street cafes were busy and everyone seemed to be having fun. Naturally we stopped for a drink and were delighted to find that a coffee and a beer were only 3 Euros (About $2.50) and came with a free sample of the Tapas dishes they served.
Puerto San Estoban
Next move was to Portugal. Another country we’ve never visited before but I have wanted to ever since I spent 6 months in Brazil in the 70’s and picked up some of the language. Portuguese sounds similar to Spanish to the untrained ear but is a distinctly different language with much more rounded vowels and a “Shush” kind of syllable that I like.
A cold drink in a sidewalk cafe in Porto
We drove over 200 miles in one day to Porto, then entered a nightmare of small narrow steep streets, trying to find a hotel that said they had room for the motor home to park. Worse was when we got there and found that they DIDN’T have room, despite the fact that they had been told twice how big it was by a native Portuguese speaker. 
Portugal has LOTS of statues
They found another hotel in the same chain slightly further out from the center which they assured us DID have enough room and we spent  another 30 minutes trying to find that hotel, for a total of about 3 frustrating hours of hot difficult driving.
The port of Porto where the Port was shipped from/
And as you may have deduced we decided on 3 nights in a hotel near the center of Porto rather than camping outside the city and commuting in every day. 
Wonderful colors and steep hills
Once we got settled in we discovered the great Metro transit system that left from almost across the street from the hotel. Barbara did great as we walked at least a couple of miles up and down some VERY steep hills. Porto is built on the side of a mountain, and it seems everywhere is uphill from where you are! We explored the narrow ancient streets, churches, cafes and sample Porto’s famous product – Port Wine. 
Port wine from Ramos Pinto
Port is a popular drink in UK, especially at Christmas. It’s a “fortified” wine in that brandy is added to it. This both increases the alcohol content and makes it last a LONG time. It’s matured in wooded casks, sometimes for 30 years and it continues to mature when it’s bottled. Port is still good after hundreds of years.
The sampling room at Ramos Pinto
We took the “Red Tour Bus” a double decker “On and Off” bus with an audio system to inform you of the high points you pass. We use them in big cities to cover a lot of ground and to find places we’d like to go back to and spend more time.
The main bridge designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel and built before Eiffel's tower.
Walk down the hill to the port wine area and ride the cable car back

We made some tentative plans for our next couple of stops.

But you’ll have to wait to find out what they are!


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  2. If you keep your receipt from the "Hop on Hop Off" bus, you can sometimes get a discount on the next one you use. We did this in Rome and Florence and also when we used them in Boston and New York. Unfortunately our John claimed the last one from Amsterdam so can we have your one for when we go to Vancouver please. LOL.!!! These buses are a good way to get around.

  3. Glad you like it! When we find some decent WIFI we'll post some more.