Calypso Capers

Road Trip -Tui & Porto

We had returned to San Adrian and booked in for a month as we were traveling to the wedding of our god daughter, Kathryn, at Vilamoura on the Portuguese Algarve in a couple of weeks time. We caught 2 buses back to Xufre on Illa Arousa and collected our Berlingo car/van, which had been left within the Xufre boatyard’s secure compound (at no extra cost – another plus for this place!) 

Before heading off to the Algarve we had arranged to have a short road trip with Adam and Lynne to explore the area and head South to the medieval frontier town of Tui followed by Porto.

Before heading off from San Adrian we decided to have a day exploring the local area.

After dropping Adam’s tablet off for repair in Vigo – which entailed visiting just about every suburb of the city – we headed on to Redondela at the opposite side of the lagoon from San Adrian.

Val and Lynne saw sculptures of spinning dancers, a folk dance for women with children on their shoulders designed to chase away dragons. They insisted, much to Adam and Paul’s embarrassment, on demonstrating the dance – opposite a street cafe full of dumbstruck observers!

You can see just how impressed Adam was from the photo……..

We then headed along the shoreline to a small resort with old fashioned restaurant facing the Illa de San Simon. We could see it across the lagoon from San Adrian marina.

This place was once a prison and is apparently now haunted. Adam and Lynne had anchored off here earlier but we weren’t so keen!

 

Returning to the marina for the night we then packed our bags for two nights away from the boats. First we stopped at Tui, the medieval Spanish frontier town that sits on one side of the Minho River, facing the fortified town of Fortaleza de Valenca on the Portuguese side.

Adam had booked an Air BnB apartment – a first for us, but it was excellent and very close to the old town, and we headed straight in there to drop off bags before heading into the remarkably well preserved medieval part of the small city.

Paul had just finished reading Pillars of the Earth, set in medieval England, which paints a good picture of the chaotic and cruel life in medieval times, with particular reference to the building of castles, churches and cathedrals and the role of the church and nobility in everyday life.

Val, Lynne and Adam  had also read the book and we were all fascinated by this town which is a little piece of history frozen in time. Okay it does have electricity, but the design of the town and the cathedral in particular were fascinating. Work had commenced in 1120 and the building sports cloisters as well as battlements, for this was constructed as a “castle cathedral”. 

As we arrived at the cathedral a youth choir were visiting and gave an impromptu concert on the steps of the church – magical! We then wandered inside the church and adjoining cloisters, followed by a trip up the tower accessed from the cloisters and around the battlements along the roof perimeter, with fabulous views of the surrounding landscape.

Many of the old houses had been kept in good order with some in need of restoration. The narrow streets were unsuitable for cars or carts in places, and the street shown in this photograph was certainly designed for man and mule only.

In fact a plaque told us of its interesting history:

“Of pre-Roman and medieval origin, it functioned as a drain for waste from the ancient tripe factory”!

“In this ancient guild street, the tripe seller used animal offal to make tallow for candles and clean guts as casings for sausages”

I guess that the wealthier citizens wouldn’t have occupied the adjoining houses……

 

After our interesting and indeed educational visit to Tui we headed South after breakfast the following morning and reached our hotel in the heart of Porto around lunchtime.

After depositing our bags we headed straight across to the Palacio Das Artes to visit the exhibition of Picasso’s Suite Vollard – a collection of 100 etchings commissioned by art dealer Ambroise Vollard and created between 1930 and 1937. It was good to have ex-art teacher Val along to give commentary, and the free glass of port, sponsored by Taylors, at the end reminded us how much we used to like white port – even though we have stopped enjoying the sweet red stuff!

Wandering back to the hotel we stumbled across a very long religious procession, and in the evening we had cocktails on the balcony of a sister hotel, watching the sun going down and enjoying our very first white port and tonic – who knew ? Now a firm favourite and a great alternative to a G&T!

The following morning we elected to take the open top bus trip, which turned out to be a good shout. There is far too much to see in the short time we had here. One day we will return and visit some more of the sites, but the bus tour was a great way to get the lie of the land. The tickets included a free taste of port at the Porto Cruz port house in Gaia on the southern bank. 

The red and rose ports on offer were not to our taste, but we discovered an amazing roof terrace with lounge seating and dining areas. We managed to grab the last table and ate a very good meal, accompanied by Cafe Del Mar style music and with breathtaking views across the river. The view down Gaia, past the Sandeman port house wasn’t bad either.

Oh – and whilst we’re not fans of their sweet ports, we did enjoy their white wine (Dalva) as served with the meal.

We returned to the car for the trip home to find that we had parked opposite an amazing wine shop (the photo shows around a quarter of it).

They serve wine as well as sell it by the bottle and so we had white port and tonics, with sparkling water for the driver.

We bought white port to take home, and on the way bought a cheap version from Lidl to make our own white port and tonics – which turned out to be surprisingly good in the cocktail!

I think we all had a thoroughly good trip, and after taking a detour (driver and navigator both denying responsibility) we arrived back at the marina a little over 2 hours later.

In the back of the Berlingo we carry our tent and basic camping gear. 

The next day we packed our bags for the rather longer road trip through Portugal to Kathryn and Ben’s wedding, with a stay/trip on the yacht of our good friends Rick and Debs and a bit of camping either side.

All that to follow in the next episode. 

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