Wind, Stripey Buildings and Bakery Brawls

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of Portugal  ,
Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday 24 June - Wednesday 27 June 2007

We're in a town called Costa Nova, between Porto and Lisbon. It's a weird little place, absolutely packed with day trippers on Sunday when we arrived, now totally empty. All the buildings in the main street are painted in stripes of every colour. It seems to be the towns' signature feature and the tourists lap it up. It's on a thin strip of land between the ocean and a river. Come Monday more than half the stores don't even open and we almost had it to ourselves. The town seems to go back on hold until next weekend and the summer boom that is just around the corner.

The campground we're at is right on the beach. It is one of the rare ones that is open all year round. They have every site cordoned off with ropes so you know exactly where your space starts and finishes. We have to park our car across the road and the camping spots are three deep, meaning anyone camping further back from the road than us has to walk through our camp to get to theirs. Not a problem at the moment because its as quiet as the town. But come July and August..... It's a glimpse of what's in store for us then, probably more so in places like Italy. Right now we're taking up over three of their so called camping sites.

Well Monday may have been quiet but Tuesday things get going again. We headed into town to buy some bread and check the surf, and were passed by a convoy of seven tourist buses full of seniors. Following close behind was two ambulances on standby. The first two buses were already empty and they were all heading for the only shop open this early .... the bakery!!! We pounced out of the Citi and bolted across the road to get there as quickly as possible, but we were too late, already a crowd of 30 had beaten us to the door. Luckily more than half of them were in the queue for the toilet (must have been a long drive) leaving a small piece of counter still vacant. We grabbed it and within seconds were being jostled from every angle by impatient pensioners. Two particularly over zealous oldies started jabbing elbows into my ribs looking for space. I had about 18 inches height advantage so they weren't going to budge me. When the shop assistant came over I used the old eye contact trick learned from my (many) days at the pub to get served first. It worked a treat and we were out the door leaving a group of staggered elderly gasping at my efficiency...or rudeness I'm not sure which. Either way we got in and out unscathed. We found it so funny Mandy sent me back into the fray for a photo of the madness. The risks I'm prepared to take to get the photo to go with the story.

While the campground was in a great spot it was quite exposed and with 30 plus knots of wind howling from the north everyday, the camper comfort levels were quite low, particularly late afternoon after the sun had lost it's warmth. We are still just barely cracking the 20 degree barrier. That's not summer!

We could still enjoy the beach through the middle of the day thanks to a breakwall out the front of camp. There are many along this stretch to maintain the sand levels and they provide some shelter from winds and produce great sand banks for the waves too. Even with this promising setup the wind proved too strong for my only attempt at surfing here. The accompanying photo making it look a lot better than it was. We spent the evenings in the tent sheltering from the cold wind and with the forecast of more of the same we made the call to move on, leaving Portugal behind, heading inland towards...
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