Lisbon is as cosmopolitan as Porto is traditional. This is apparent as soon as you hit the streets, which are bustling with travellers, hippies, performers, artists, musicians, Bohemians, and gays. Yes, it seems Lisbon is home to the hom. A wrong look in the direction of one of the many pretty boys here and you could find yourself in a tight spot. Literally.
Shock! Horror! Following Lorraine’s confirmation that she is jumping ship I have decided to follow suit. Prompted by an incident yesterday I have decided to do myself a favour and take a break, heading inland towards the capital, Lisbon.
If Lorraine does jump ship where will this leave me on the boat? I’m growing increasingly concerned that I am becoming the ship’s gimp. Despite undertaking a number of chores on the boat without being asked, from being the first person (only person) to clean the heads, or scrub down the shelves, it seems I can never do enough.
More rubbish weather so today I just wandered up to the sea break and tried to take some photos of the rather large waves crashing over the harbour wall. I got soaked and got no decent pictures.
Porto blew me away. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, from it’s opulent architecture to the river side promenades. The city of 263,000 people is stacked up either side of the Rio Douro, with the huge Ponte de Dom Louis 1 joining the main city centre with the port distillery lodges on the south side. This is echoed by another five huge bridges that continue to straddle the river in land.
I can’t remember the last time I had a decent night’s sleep. It doesn’t help that I have the smallest bunk on the boat either! I could be philosophical about it but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna continue to live like this for the next few months. Am I showing the first signs of cracking? After only four weeks? Surely not…….
After my watch and a snooze I’m woken to the sight of our first Portuguese destination, Viana do Castelo, which looks dreary and drab. How wrong I was! This town was just completing the four day fiesta Romaria de Nossa Senhora d’Agonia, or Our Lady of Sorrows. If you didn’t know the festival was called this you could have guessed by the local folk music that was playing from every bandstand and stage. Whilst the instrumental music is great it’s unfortunately accompanied by banshee wailing. This is normal, so I’m told, but it sounds rubbish.
Heh heh. All this talk of Spanish women but I don’t think I’m in with much of a chance. We have now been at sea for 4 weeks and I’m still on my first bar of soap. This is good since I have two spare, meaning I can continue my rigorous weekly shower routine for the foreseeable future, after which I’ll have to wash myself in coconut oil and banana juice.
As you should be able to see from the photos Islas Cies is idyllic. Despite the fact that ferry services cart many hundreds of Spanish every day to and from the mainland, it still retains its desert island feel. There are very few buildings on the island save a tourist centre, a restaurant, a shop and a lighthouse.
Putting the world to rights
In the evening neither Conny nor myself went ashore (so no postcard). Instead we sat on the deck drinking 50 cent wine (we’ve fully taken advantage of the ridiculously cheap wine in Spain) and put the world to rights. He believes the human race will eventually become borgs.
I was surprised that the majority of tourists in Santiago were Spanish. Santiago is one of Europe’s primary religious destinations, second only to The Vatican, yet we overheard no other language other than Spanish, save for an American couple arguing over whether they should go shopping or have a cup of coffee. That said, the streets are packed.
One thing that did occur to me was the level of involvement of the locals in these festivities. In the UK I think one would struggle to prize the youth from their car jacking and get them to dress up in frilly costumes and dance to bagpipe music, but here in the Galician area of Spain it seems the regional identity is embraced with a huge level of pride.
As the dinghy heads towards the slipway I notice the sea front is teeming with people, and the slipway is covered by more crowds. A quick scan on the bins confirms that there is a military brass band accompanying a crew of religious types who are carrying some religious thing down to the waters edge.
Am convinced I have developed scurvy of the feet. Every few days I treat myself to a good old strip down wash (yeah, I know, call me obsessive about personal hygiene – you should smell the others), yet despite smashing my toes on deck from five times a day to two my poor feet get very little attention.
Camarinas should be renamed ‘Retard Town’. Its 2,000 inhabitants appear to all be related, many not legally I’m sure. From the kid who rides his bike round the streets shouting obscenities to the local lace-makers who line the streets outside bars, to the ‘Happy Bus’ day out, to the familiarity of each and every shop assistant, I felt a little wary of Camarinas to start with.
A brief note on Corme. Corme has lots of beaches but is a rather primitive fishing village, which is why, for the second night running we didn’t set foot on land. For the first time on this trip, however, we have crickets, indicating a move to hotter climes!
El Ferrol is a major naval and commercial port, though there is little to entertain the yachtsman on land. That said the ria has a spectacular entrance, lined by forts either side. We anchored up but didn’t go ashore, which is why I didn’t send a postcard from El Ferrol. Instead we watched the red moon replace the golden sun and change the landscape from a heady mix of green vegetation and mountains into a twinkling Rupert Bear bay.
Boy do the Spanish love to party! In the main plaza of La Coruna, Plaza de Maria Pita, a huge stage had been erected to host a number of Galician bands who played into the night: I think they eventually turned the music off at 1am, which is completely unheard of in the UK considering this was in the town centre.
I’ve already mentioned the mysterious fog and its novelty factor when we first had to navigate our way through it, but one watch I undertook from 12 – 4am was no laughing matter. With the engine running due to lack of wind the sea was still but the fog extremely thick. So thick I could only just see the end of the boat, so with everyone else asleep I had no one looking out for me. I had nothing to look at except the phosphorescence illuminating the wake of the boat
“We want to refuel, why can’t you move the boat, get it out the way” and so on, now with some added comments regarding the English thrown in Now they’re starting to p!ss me off. “Look, it’s what the English call queuing”, I pipe up. “We had to wait, now you can wait. We’ll only be a few minutes, so what’s the rush?” After all, this is sailing, not the F1 pit-stop. Now they’re cursing obscenities at me, whilst some English sailors on the pontoon join in. “Aha”, I smile, “some support from some fellow English chaps”. Turns out they’re starting to have a go at me as well.
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