Sunday, May 21, 2017

Early October 2016 - Lisbon, At Last

Lisbon is a wonderful, small, old city, with fading glory from prior wealthy periods and overseas conquests.  The Portuguese were the first european overseas explorers and conquerors.  There are fantastic monuments to see from the water and from shore.  
Belem Tower
Monument of the Discoveries wrapped in scaffolding unfortunately.
Lisbon is now Portugal's capital, main port and largest city.  It's compact and lively, and a popular tourist destination.   It was mobbed.
But wonderful sights to see
 Centuries' worth of elaborate buildings ....
Like many european cities, cycling is popular, although Lisbon is very hilly. 
          Rossio Theater
Free bike self-service repair station...

Cascais and Sintra

Lisbon is several miles up the Rio.Tejo.   But out at the mouth is the fashionable yachting and beach town of Cascais (pronounced Cash KI Eesh).  There's a spendy marina, but the weather was calm enough we could stay in the anchorage, which is open to the south, for a few days.

It's a busy and fun holiday town, set among cliffs with great, cheap, train access to everywhere else.  It was awesome.  

Nearby is the fantastic historic castle town of Sintra.  There is a very old 12th century Moorish fort on a hilltop to clamber over.  Both castles have fantastic views over the landscape and far out to sea.

 And a flamboyant 19th century castle inspired Neuschwanstein, in Germany, I think by the same architect.  We took a convenient bus up there.  Of course the whole place was swarming with tourists.

 The place is so extensive, it's hard to photo
more fancy tile

We also see scout troops from time to time.
A super fun day in the sun

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cruising the Central Coast of Portugal, Small Towns

On our route south, in mid-September, we stopped at several charming small towns.  Some were up big river estuaries, others were just perched on the coast with breakwaters and jetties and tiny marinas.  We had mainly sunny weather with light winds.   Our stops were Aveiro, Figueira da Foz, and Peniche.  We cut a wide arc around Nazaire.  There's a deep underwater canyon that causes ginormous waves famous among surfers.

Aveiro is set in a large estuary and has canals snaking through the old town.  We arrived at the harbor entrance just as a big fishing boat festival parade was barrelling down on us, loaded with merrymakers, flags flying, horns honking.  A marine policeman on a jet ski helped us through.  Then we motored through a sailboat race.  There was lots of current, so tying up our 42ft boat in a 44ft spot on a long dock was a challenge.  But we made it with help from the friendly folks already there.
Aveiro Gondolas
 All over Portugal, many of the old towns have elegant buildings clad in colorful tile.
City Hall

Royal Language School, sounds posh

  And imaginative combinations

Waterfront church/lighthouse combo

Side Trip to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Gentle Reader, After a long hiatus, we'll resume our blog, starting in September 2016.

From the beautiful coastal village of Muros, Galicia, NW Spain, we took a short bus trip to Santiago de Compostela.  But first, I stopped at an ATM.  Bad move - late on a Friday afternoon, after the bank closed for the weekend, the ATM ate my debit card.  And we needed to leave Sunday and kiss the card goodbye.
Hence a new travel and cruising rule:  Only use bank ATMs while banks are open, to have some chance of recovery.  We get by OK with spares, but the "no drama" philosophy corollary requires  "prevent easily preventable problems"
OCC cruise leader's boat Malvina
 Anyhow Santiago was fantastic.  Crammed with camino walkers and devoted pilgrims (sometimes on knees), and raucous regional festivities, it was a real contrast to the calm and quiet normal cruising life (up until then).  Of course, at first there is the beautiful old architecture...

 and lavish decor from New World exploration plunder...

Outside, pandemonium ....
Really loud, but no amplifiers
Fantastic costumes
Horses appeared to be completely deaf, took no notice of the racket going on around them

Meanwhile, there were fashionably dress wedding goers on a back street, a contrast from the more ruggedly dressed camino walkers.
More fancy clothes


and bands of bachelorettes for future weddings

Cruising the Atlantic Coast of Portugal - Part 1

In mid-September, we crossed the border from beautiful Galicia, Spain, into Portugal, still in the company of the small OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) East Atlantic Rally (6 boats)..  The coast flattens out and the scenery is less dramatic.  However, we visit a number of pleasant coastal towns en route to Porto and Lisbon.

Most are shallow estuaries requiring entry in calm conditions.  Prices are even lower than Spain.
Our first 2 stops were Viana do Costelo and Povoa de Varzim, very similar towns and ports.

From Povoa de Varzim, we took a short bus ride to Porto.  It's a fantastic town to visit, but very crowded and seems smothered by visitors.
Porto Skyline

Lavishly decorated old Stock Exchange

And of course, Port wine warehouses