written 30th December
We did indeed achieve what we set out to achieve on sunday - a spot of electronics fettling and some daisy painting and guide book reading respectively - result!
Unfortunately it got too cold for BBQ on the beach, which we think we would have got away with, so delicious sausages and wedges in the van on saturday night and the weather wasn't so good on sunday, to the point where, on sunday night, with the wind once more rocking the van quite violently we decided that the beach wasn't the place for us anymore and set off back into town.
We had intended to try and find the Euromaster which we had seen by the port, but, heading back into town a different way, we came across an industrial road with lots of car dealers which seemed like the right sort of place to be - we didn't really want a dealer or dealer prices but had no other way of finding a suitable garage that may have the right bits as such short notice so were resigned to it. A few drives up and down the road confirmed tht every other major (and some not major) car manufacturers were represented, but the only sign of VW was the many Touran billboards.
"can you tell me where to find a shop to look at my cars brakes?"
"¿puede decirme dónde encontrar una tienda para mirar mis frenos coches?"
"please can you look at the brakes"
"Si no puede buscar en los frenos"
"the rear wheel is making a noise"
"la rueda trasera está haciendo un ruido"
"it sounds like a train going round a corner"
"que suena como un tren que va en una esquina"
"we thought it was a wheel bearing because the noise got louder turning left but after 100km the noise had almost gone until we used the handbrake again"
"pensamos que era un rodamiento de la rueda porque el ruido se hizo más fuerte a la izquierda, pero después de 100 kilometros el ruido se había casi desaparecido, hasta que utilizó el freno de mano de nuevo"
we managed to explain our problem :)
but, simple problem, easily fixed by judicious application of new bolt and two nuts and we were back on our way - and all for only just over an hours reasonably priced labour - brilliant!
Someone has commented that it is a shame that there always seems to be something going wrong with Jules, and I guess that that is how it sounds. but it doesn't seem that way to us (and some of the problems are of our own making, not Jules' fault at all) and we wouldn't want any of you thinking this is a carefree, jolly holiday... ;) through trying to fix the problems we have had, we have also seen a lot more different things and places and how "real" people live - which turns out not to be much different from how we live, we all want or need the same things, just in different ways, from different places and at different times or in different orders! - and anyway, other than where to park for the night, we don't really have much else to worry about, which is nice... :)
Wheel worry over, and with nothing holding us back, except a need to do washing, we struck out for the border and planning to head next to Parque National de Penedas-Geres (PNPG), we set course for Salvaterra de Minho.
During the night the rain hammered down - and seemingly some boy racers decided that 2am in a downpour was a good time to practice powerslides in the carpark - but it was sunny yesterday as we headed back into town to collect washing (where the lady who didn't speak french recognised me and spent a lot of time telling other customers about me being english and speaking french!) then off the the national park.
Parque National de Peneda-Geres was established in 1971 and covers 70,000 ha of mountainous granite land on the border with spain. It peaks rise to about 1300m and it is full of ancient granite villages and a big hydroelectric park from the dammed river/reservoir. We had a round trip proposed in the leaflet (by which it meant start in ponte da barca, drive as far as you can, then return the same way back to ponte da barca), a more detailed map than our atlas (not difficult!) and clean washing in the back - what more could one want??
heading onwards we stopped for ham and cheese rolls over looking the valley before pressing on up the mountain side and unfortunately into cloud :( Due to the unclear maps and lack of road signs, we also ended up going the wrong way so instead of the drive through the valley to the Peneda sancturary, we ended up on the high road through the granite peaks with national park on one side and windfarm of the other - actually probably the more impressive road! - until we got eventually to our ultimate goal of Castro Laboreiro.
By now, it was dark and heavily raining as we set off back to our lovely well appointed carpark in Ponte da Barca - probably the worst rain we have had so far, and certainly the worst rain, plus wiggly roads, plus possibility of hitting a cow (cars you can see, they have lights, cows don't) combination. We went passed the Sanctuary of Peneda, which we had missed, and which looked impressive - one for another time maybe - and did eventually navigate our way home in time for tea and I am now writing this in the middle of the night (well it is dark, I don't know what time it actually is) as the rain is once more crashing down on us like someone is pouring the atlantic through a sieve and onto our heads :(
Porto later to meet the parents!