Viana do Castello

Finally we have left Portugal – on the second attempt. The first time there was no wind so we gave up just before the border and spent the night behind the harbour wall at the spanish border town of La Guardia. The next day there was still no wind so we gave our motor a day out and motored south over the border and in to the town of Viana do Castello.

To enter the marina they have to swing an elegant cantilevered footbridge so we agreed to stay the night on the “reception pontoon” out in the river under the shadow of a railway bridge designed by Gustav Eifel (of parisian tower fame). We immediately swung in to action and aired all our cushions and bedding, cleaned the dinghy and went shopping to restock our supplies. As more and more boats arrived we were asked to move in to the marina. By now it was getting dark, windy and we wanted to go and eat. I was unhappy but we agreed and thus had our first attempt at bow to, mediterranen mooring. Cleverly, we had Max waiting on land so it wasn’t too dramatic.

Swinging and railway bridges

Once again Max did a great job of finding a superb restaurant at a reasonable price. We celebrated our arrival in Portugal with Caipirinha, Tapas and a portuguese lesson from the waiter. The building that houses the restaurant is built of absolutely massive stone. The walls are over a meter thick and the ceilings are stone beams on stone lintels. No wonder they don’t need air conditioning here.

As we were sailing south, we saw the imposing Saint Lucia Basilica set on a hill behind the city. This temple was built at the beginning of the twentieth century and can be seen from far out at sea. Obviously in the morning Heidi and Neill climbed the never ending staircase to reach it and, because the 200 meters of climbing was such fun, they then climbed to the very top of the temple as well. The view, despite the haze, was amazing.

Saint Lucia Basilica

Once back down in town, we wandered the old town, drank a Cappuccino (paid for with the money we saved by not using the funicular railway to reach the temple) and then went back to the supermarket to stock up on wine.

Back at the boat, we gave the decks and sides a wash and then left through the swinging bridge and headed back off down river and south using the afternoon wind.

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