Local Heart, Global Soul

September 14, 2010

Getting to Where we are Going and the View once we are There…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s easy to opt for the little coastal road north of Oporto instead of taking the motorway, because our campsite  is only just over one hour  drive from the city.

After all, we have all day.

As we wend our way up the coast the magic of Portugal floods back into our veins and the holiday feeling is here with a vengeance. Suddenly we find, so too is the car sickness that plagues Kiwi Daughter and myself. Darn, we have pills with us but were supposed to take them half an hour before we set out and forgot. We are greenly reminded that we aren’t in totally flat The Netherlands any more.

The rental car is as much the culprit as the winding roads, it’s a Renault Megane, and both Himself and I quickly confirm that if ever we were looking for a new car, this one would not be it.

For a start we have a far smaller car back in the Netherlands, but the steering wheel lifts upwards, allowing my 6’5″ Himself to fit his pins in the driving seat with even a centimeter or two to spare.. The Megane is a bigger car but there is zero room to spare for Himself’s legs, so it’s a tight fit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Apart from what I would call the thoughtless design of the interior of the car, (no place to set a small box of tissues), a glove compartment that would barely hold a glove, doors that couldn’t hold a small bottle of water completely upright because of the intrusion of the door handle and a  badly designed, bulky smokers ashtray that completely dominated the area between the driver and passenger seat but was useless to us as non smokers, there was also the bigger issue of the way this car drove.

The brakes seemed overly sensitive so a small touch had the car lurching forward as they gripped, and the accelerator had a habit of giving nothing at first and then making up for it as you touched a tad harder, so together the ride into and out of  tight corners on winding road was an experience of jerky responses in forward and backward motion.

It was quickly apparent that this isn’t a car to love for those of us born with long legs or weak stomachs or both.

I’ve got my license with me but very quickly decide that I have no wish to drive this very temperamental car.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The second phase of the trip is taken as slowly as possible, and it’s a big relief to arrive at the campsite and take a deep breath of fresh air.

“Convivio” is a campsite that  mostly accommodates tents, caravans and campers , but which also has several small villas available for rent. We’ve opted for one of those. It’s basic, there’s a wood stove ( for winter cooking I assume) an gas stove with oven, but nothing fancy  like a dishwasher, or any great array of cooking utensils for the oven for instance. Its basic, but basic is fine. The bedrooms are upstairs … and downstairs there’s a bath in the bathroom, a novelty for our kids as we have two giant showers at home but no tub.

Outside is where the real gems are.. down the hill is more land, an orchard of various fruit trees where instructions are quickly given that any ripe fruit may be picked and eaten, here’s a table-tennis table, a small swimming pool, (not too deep, but totally sufficient) and a little cafe where warm nibbles, cold drinks and ice-creams can be ordered from the owners between set hours of the day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s  the delightful possibility to have fresh bread delivered by the local baker each morning if you put your order in the day before, and with the owners of the camping,  there is a main evening communal meal prepared by them that you can order and join in with if you also give one days notice that you’d like it.

The owners are a Dutch couple who have lived in Portugal for nine years, they are friendly and helpful and since we had booked an extended stay of two weeks, our first evening meal was on the house.  Even better, there is a great mix of families and since the two channels on the TV in the villas are Portuguese language language only, the kids quickly head for the cafe where a heap of games and books await their perusal, and new friends are keen to play along with them.

Best of all there is no disco and other than the sound of kids playing, the campsite is wonderfully quiet. Jackpot!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s clear that most of the clientèle are Dutch families here via a Dutch website, so we do end up speaking mainly Dutch during our stay, instead of extending our Portuguese, and this is possibly the one down-side, but a minor one. There are also some French families here and since their young children speak no English (and naturally, also no Dutch) I do at least get to give my French a work out.

All of the Dutch nationals here, do of course also speak English, so we switch to this several times when there are joint meals involving camping guests from Spain, and for when the French family adults want to converse  and not everyone has the same level of French.

The kids make themselves at home quickly and so do we. It’s the kid of place where you can relax and after 24 hours you think that you must have surely been here for longer than a day?

It’s called “Convivio”, and convivial it certainly is…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

View from the window… (Spain in the distance on the left hand side)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Facilities for those in tents, caravans…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking down on the owners place, note the very typical Portuguese BBQ /oven outside on the wall…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

View by the pool. looking down the hill…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you were to take the center of the map as a clock face, then the village we are in is at the “8” point… the river just a few kilometers away is part of the Portuguese/Spanish border (close to the sea)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The area is dry and hot, so widfires are a problem, this is the BBQ area for the campers…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hmmm. I think we can certainly relax here! First and most vital mission? Sign up for fresh bread with the baker!

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