Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 14/15/16/17th May
As we drove into Vila Cha, we didn’t realise we were going to stay here for four nights, our longest stay at any site so far on this trip.
Two hours earlier we had been having a morning coffee at the Cais da Foz café and were now on the coast about 9km north of Porto. The weather was still Scorchio and this great little campsite was only 500m from the beach, it had really friendly and helpful staff, a well-stocked shop (with plenty of wine), a bar and good shower blocks. The beach was miles and miles of sand interspersed with outcrops of rock for interest. After an afternoon on the beach; Wendy, Lesley and Andy had got it all worked out – we would spend the next four days here, including a trip into Porto on Thursday on the Metro. We had to do a bit of negotiating as originally, they had no room for us as they were expecting a big group in on Friday, but in the end, they found us a couple of pitches that we could have until Saturday tucked up by the bar. The only drawback was that there was another English van there and its owners, Keith and Clare, had an 18-month-old collie bitch who was having her first season. They had been touring using the free aires, but Dixie was now attracting the attention of all the feral dogs in the area, so they had come to the campsite for respite. Dixie’s pheromones were no problem for Alf because he is a ‘responsible citizen’, Rio though wasn’t; and they were camped next door to each other on leads that were fortunately just short enough. Rio was so lovesick; he didn’t eat the whole time we were there!
Andy, Lesley and Wendy had had a very productive time on the beach, not only planning out the next four days, but also coming up with a name for our new website. For the last year or so we have been part of a gradually growing walking group the has the unfortunate acronym FAT which stands for the equally unflattering ‘Farts and Tarts’. We want to expand our activities to include more than just walking and good pubs to include more of our many and varied interests, sort of along the lines of the University of the third age. Andy has a plan to make the website the central hub to drive this. We have spent the last week or so trying to come up with a good name and one that has not already registered to another website. Now I can reveal the final choice; (drumroll…) it is…
We even have ideas for a possible logo.
Once the website is live, I will let you know, there may be a minimum age limit though, say 50!
So what else is there to do in Vila Cha I here you ask apart from sunbathing and planning?
Here goes – Reasons to be cheerful about Vila Cha; one, two, three…
- There is a very good restaurant close to the campsite. It is a very unprepossessing place above a slightly dodgy looking café, but inside it was very smart, does very good fish and was packed. After having to queue we managed to get a table and finally get rid of the taste of last night’s rabbit. If you are ever over this way, I recommend the fried squid in tomato sauce.
- Vila Cha also has its own inshore fishing fleet and they land their catch right on the beach. We got up early to see them arrive at 8 o’clock. However, we had been misinformed, they must have come in at six and by the time we got there everything had been cleaned and taken away, apart from a conger eel which was still wriggling when a lady insisted on showing Wendy and Lesley how to prepare it. Meanwhile, Andy and I had a session on seascape photography using his HD filter to blur the waves for that arty effect.
- We are back on a Camino, it follows a boardwalk from just outside the campsite, north to Santiago. By the way, does anyone know why the pilgrims all look so miserable and overdressed?
- You can cycle along the boardwalk mentioned above all the way to the town of Vila do Conde which is much bigger than Vila Cha and has the most wonderful restaurants that do barbecued fish. (The board walk is a bit of an obstacle course for cycling, especially with dog chariots, actually. In places there are sand traps where the dune is reclaiming the path and in others the path has been closed meaning we had to take a lengthy diversion involving hills and busy roads) We shared plates of barbecued scabbard fish and skewered squid. Vila do Conde also has an impressive 18thcentury aqueduct with 99 arches that provided water for a convent. A proper market where we got some great fresh veg and fruit and a couple of grids for cooking fish on. And miles and miles of sea front that Andy and Lesley had to cycle along to hunt down some fresh fish armed only with Google Translate (You will have to ask them about it!)
- Andy and I spent Wednesday evening in the bar (see the final bullet point below) watching Derby beat Leeds 4-3 on aggregate to go through to the play off finals on Bank Holiday Monday via the apps on our phones. Somehow the barman had a direct feed to the GPS trackers the players were wearing so he could see them, as dots, moving on his computer screen.
- It has a great Metro connection with the centre of Porto. (Watch out for a separate article on the wonders of Porto in the not too distant future.)
- It has a great bar where on our last night we met Glenn and Ann a retired couple from the States and had a very convivial evening with them. Andy spent part of the night running the bar while the barman had his supper. We were introduced to some very smooth, but very strong, grape spirit – the sort they add to the best port wines and were kindly asked to leave three hours later at midnight so they could close up. What a great way to say farewell to Portugal!