Friday, 22 January 2010

Living the dream

written 21st January

We are once again indebted to Bill for, by following another of his suggestions, we have had the most idyllic couple of days in Seisimbra.

Arriving late after a nightmare journey from Lisbon - 3h to get 40kms - getting lost, nearly running out of petrol, inadequate road signage etc etc.  We pulled up just past the port area of a seemingly dead end road and just stopped.

In the morning, leaving Jules at the port, and after a spot of much needed bike maintenance - we haven't used them since San Sebastian and they have been out in the rain and snow for over a month - we rode off into the town.  where we found a helpful tourist lady, lots of free brochures and maps - including one of the whole of portugal as the enlightened tourist industry have decided that for people to get here, they ought to know how! - the promise of free fortresses and castles and directions to the market.

Promptly abandoning any consideration for a cheap week - we have been discussing this and we feel we are treading very lightly on local communities on this trip - possibly a bit too lightly.  Usually on holiday we pay to stay in campsites and we try and eat local food from local shops both to support them ard because the food is nicer - but we are significantly more budget conscious than usual on these adventures so are parking for free and tending to shop at big supermarkets where things are cheaper - which is a shame but is keeping the dream alive.  Anyway in warm  sunshine - the warmest we have had for a very long while, Seisimbra felt very holiday like so we dived on in to the market for vegetables, two sorts of cheese - an orange rinded one I tried in Porto and some homemade ricotta which is a local speciality and which she let us try by feeding us great big teaspoons of - mmm delicious! - And thence to the butchers for a massive meat feast of chicken legs and cow belly steak - his particular recomendation - before a wander through the sun-drenched white streets in search of a sticky breakfast bun to eat perched on the sea wall - proper holiday stuff!  

Back to the van and we found that what we had thought was a dead end was actually the start of a gravel cliff track - although in places really worn down by rain, think full on ravines not just slight erosion! The midget would not have got up there, even Jules which has ridiculous amounts of ground clearance grounded out one point! - for once terrain it is better suited for than the midge! Although I use the word 'suited' very very lightly indeed... :)  -

any way our worthy steed got us to the top and the view down over the cliffs to sea was simply stunning and so peaceful with just at puttering of the fishing boats and the cries  of the seagulls chasing them.  it was so quiet, we could even hear the fishermen calling to each other on the boats way down below - just magic!

And so we stayed for two days in our little bit of heaven, watching the sun rising and setting on both days.

Will fettled and I did paintwork - finally as dreamt about, paintwork on a Portuguese cliff top, with wine in the setting sun! - even so warm in the sun that the sundress and silly hat came out!


and restoration the white stripe on the front on the first day,

wet sanding the driver's side yesterday and blue painting this morning before we left. I finished my half can of blue paint which came with the van so sprayed the big panels and apart from a slight colour match issue and some unfortunately illconsidered and lazy masking, it all looks pretty good - well at least much better!


Will also got his dream - finally a sea view out of our mezzanine floor(!) windows

and we had two bbqs, meat the first night accompanied by new year  fizz

and sagres beer with fresh caught sole from the port on the second. 

Christened Fish Vasco in honour of the Discoveries (as they call their empire building) he was cooked whole in foil with white wine, onions, galic and honey and served with sliced potatoes, also cooked in foil, with garlic and olive oil - fish and chips portguese cliff top style! 

We also got our first chance at a proper solar shower - Biarritz doesn't really count! - and after leaving the water basking in the sun for two days, it was lovely and warm so thank you Vicky for the suggestion  - not one we would have thought of our selves - and 'so there!' to every one who laughed at and disbelieved us back in cold old England :) 

We finally dragged ourselves away from our cliff top idyll late this afternoon and set off by way of the castle, a small yet perfectly formed cliff top fortress built when Sesimbra was granted its charter in 1200-something after the land was won back from the Moors and which has two interesting exhibitions,

a lovely wall for walking on, great views - we could see all the way north tho the bridges of Lisbon! - and an attractive entry fee of nothing - brilliant.  one of the best castles we have so far been to!

We are now headed eastwards and upwards, inland towards Evora and Estremoz in search of walled cities.

Truly, living the dream!

1 comment:

  1. So glad the sun shone for you in Sesimbra - very brave of you taking the van up the quarry track but some good wilding spots up there I noticed when I WALKED up to the top. Sent you a couple of pics you may recognise.

    I'll give Lisbon another try - perhaps fly there for a short break.