Viana Do Castello – Porto
On leaving VDC the wind was not in favour or very strong, so the amazing Portugese Northerly winds we’ve been told about have yet to show up! This meant we had to motor (again) but it was good to test the engine and we wanted to get stuck somewhere new with the storm that was coming. It was crazy to see how the coastline had flattened out completely since leaving the hugely mountainous terrain of Spain. It was just one long beach with a rows of houses and buildings along it and then a vast stretch of sky above them.
As we’d left late afternoon 75% into our passage it started to get dark. We hadn’t done a night sail since the awful trip from Santander to Ribadesella and I had forgotten how pretty all the shore lights looked from sea. As we entered the mouth of the river to the marina there was a big bridge ahead of us and due to its shape and lights it reminded us of Clifton Suspension Bridge. This little reminder was of home was greatly welcomed. The marina office was shut when we arrived at 9pm so we found an empty finger berth ready to settle in for the night…. or so we thought!
Douro Marina itself was lovely, the most helpful and friendly one we had been so far. They spoke excellent English and gave us a huge map of the city pointing out all the key places, including Churchill’s Port which offered a free tour & tasting if you were staying in the marina. They even dropped off free fresh bread to the boat every morning. Unfortunately not the same can be said for the finger berth! They were relatively short and lacking in sturdiness, combined with the tide from the river, strong winds and motion of the other boats we rocked, rolled and bounced from side to side the whole time. Simon tried everything with the mooring lines, but everyone in the marina was in the same boat (excuse the pun!). On top of this Porto seemed to be a popular holiday resort for mosquitoes, their impossible to find against all the wooden panels inside the boat and once on board there was no getting rid of them. We had to close all the windows but we were desperate for the cool breeze and then we couldn’t even sleep out of the covers for fear of being bitten. Forget snakes on plane, mosquitoes on a boat makes for a good horror film! Despite splatting any we saw they feasted upon us the 4 nights we stayed here.
Day 1 – “A Holiday back to Normal Life’
On the first day the weather was pretty rancid so took a trip across to the big shopping complex, we were very surprised that it was even open being a Sunday…as this is one of the biggest problems we have found since entering Europe. In our old lives we would live for weekends, trudging through the week at work in the hope that the weekend would bring something amazing and we’d have a good rest (unlikely)…..out here in our new lives, its the opposite, the weekends are a pain the ass, everything is shut from Saturday afternoon. If we are ever in need it anything essential, for instances engine repair bits, supermarkets etc, its pretty likely that we arrive on a Saturday, meaning a 2 day wait until you can get what you need. Also there are things you take for granted at home like being able to buy everything and anything at a decent value. Supermarkets back home have absolutely everything you can think of, towels, mirrors, foods from around the world. It is not like that at all where we have been, no big supermarkets so if you need a towel its like finding a needle in a hay stake. You can even ask the locals as most of them don’t speak any English. I was delighted just to find a tin of Heinz Baked Beans in Castelo (but they cost €2.75). We are desperate for some real English extra mature cheddar cheese! ….. Thank God Michelle Bevis is bringing lots of UK goodies to Lisbon ……but we were soon to learn that Portugal was not as bad.
It felt odd walking around all the branded clothes shops after living on board for 2 months and just seeing little fishing villages. It almost felt like our ‘normal’ life back in Bristol ………and strangely it didn’t take long before we were bored and ready to head back to the boat. As we wondered around looking for a taxi back we stumbled upon what can only be described as ‘Heaven’ in the form a ginormous Supermarket. It sold pretty much everything, including Extra Mature Cathedral City….BOOM! …..but the search for the Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce continues!
Day 2 – “Wind, Deet & Lack of Sleep”
The second day we did a huge load of washing using the marina launderette. I think that perhaps after 2 nights of being eaten alive whilst sleeping on what felt like a noisy bouncy castle that Simon and I both had short fuses. This soon escalated in to a ‘disagreement’ which was basically caused by Deet (mosquito repellent) and a fart!!!!! Its a long winded story ……get it ……..WINDED….. ha ha ….. more puns! Anyway not much to tell other than we spent the day breaking up and making up ….. these things are inevitable in a confined space with no sleep.
Day 3 – “Fun & Port”
The third day we went out on fold up bikes, we really haven’t been taking advantage of these enough! Our Marina was about 4-5 km from Porto old town, by the time we had walked there we’d be too tired to enjoy it so the bikes were ideal. We cycled along a path than followed the river up into the old town and locked them against a big footbridge. We enjoyed the day wandering around and taking in all the architecture and we were the best of friends after making up yesterday. We took lots of photos which hopefully we can upload on here if we have sufficient wifi.
I noticed that everywhere sold sold bottles of Port and then I finally put 2 and 2 together figuring out the Porto is the home of one of my favourite tipples. I felt mighty stupid but it just never occurred to me that Port came from Portugal…. what a plonka! Being a Port fan and realising that we had a free visit to Churchill’s up our sleeves it was rude not to take advantage, so once we’d had enough of walking around we decided to cycle to Churchill’s. On route we managed to pick up a €5 selfie stick from a Lookie Lookie man and had some fun videoing our cycle ….check out the video on our youtube channel Boat Hobos.
We had to cycle up a bloody great hill to the Port place so both of us were sweaty boat hobo messes when we arrived. The Port tour was really interesting and we learned all about Vintage, Ruby & White ports, how they are aged it in oak barrels blah blah blah ……give us the free drinks! No really I did actually find it really interesting. They even had a letter from Winston Churchill himself thanking them for a bottle of Port given to him and so we too treated ourselves to a Bottle of the Finest Ruby for the boat.
All in all a good time was had by all, but we were glad to get back to the boat to be graciously greeted by our little furry baby …..Scrample Doodle Dandy. (Don’t worry we left him with lots of treats and squeaky toys while we were out and we weren’t gone long!
Day 4 (well day 5 if you count our first night but I don’t as we arrived at 9pm)
Not much to say here other than I managed to wake up early and can you believe it ….. took Scrumpy Dog for a run. I’m feeling a bit lazy on the boat and being in a small space is making me feel like I’m hunching up into a little old lady! …..so I felt a bit of exercise was needed, I didn’t go far but it was good blow the cob webs out and Scrumpy enjoyed chasing his ball along with me. We also got some really cool photos of the sea crashing on to some rocks.
We left Porto dead on midday and we had planned to do a BIG sail as we really needed to get our arses to Lisbon for the 12th Oct. This turned out to be a pretty successful sail …so stay tuned for more updates!
Much love Holly x
1 thought on “Hevean, Hell (Mosquitos), and Port!”
Oh no all that sea air has made your GF all hairy !