Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Coast of Galicia from Ancoradoiro Campsite for Three Days

11 April 2014
Anchor Point Restaurant and Camping sign

The afternoon we arrived at Ancoradoiro (Anchor Point) I eargerly dragged Alan down to the little harbour wall below the campsite for a paddle and an explore. He took pics while I happily sat on the rocks and swished my feet in the refreshing water. The pic below was our view from there. Our walk didn't get us too far as, with bare legs, we didn't fancy bundu-bashing  (South African for walking through vegetation where there isn't a path) through prickly plants to find a better beach - and we hadn't found the correct path yet. So we returned to camp and relaxed with the yummy supper I spoke about, and showed you, on my last blog entry.

Just a lovely yellow flower on the pathway

Next morning, we were up at (was I going to say dawn? I would have been lying! Porkies.) ... sometime after the sun was well up, and with breakfast done and dusted, we climbed into our old and disintegrating swimming costumes (cozzies for us South Africans and bathers for those of us, being Alan, who lived in Australia for a couple of years) and trotted off in search of a beach to play on.

Our first attempt at accessing this stunning beach we had first seen was thwarted by a barrier of small rocks which are fine for some but not for my recently healthy arthritic ankles. 

Thar' be unseen boulders a 'lurkin' outta sight!
An approximately three or four metre wide band of challenging
boulders stretches the length of this side of the bay.
There was a wooden walkway over a lot of it but recent
weather had destroyed most of that.

 Never mind, we had seen a path heading towards the lagoon on the other side of the campsite, and as we thought, it brought us to a beach we could take a walk on – and have a swim! I haven’t swum in the sea for a few years so was a bit like a ten-year-old, delighted there was absolutely no-one else around to see my “overly feminine” non-ten-year-old body, and it took me just minutes to be hip high in the waves. Alan followed suite but being of the no-extra-fat-on-his-body type, he felt the cold sooner than I did and we didn’t venture too much further before heading back to the beach to dry off. I loved it! Just look at this beach!

Returning from a little walk up to the lagoon after our swim, I painted for the rest of the day and Alan played housey, enjoying cleaning up Milly and giving her the upload-download service. It was super to rest. We haven't had a real holiday since our honeymoon to Namibia in 1997. Usually I plan our holidays by finding some way to work and justify the trip!
Yum, game sausages and veg for dins.

12 April 2014
Up and into cozzies for a walk and a paddle along the beach again. We sat for a while and watched a German chap walk up and down the beach twice while his wife shed her top, and later her bikini bottom, and literally marched up and down her little section of beach a million times. I mention this because from where I come from, and also from the country I live in, this is a remarkable thing to do, for different reasons! I thought her example was great and absolutely love the feeling of not-too-hot sun on my body, so when we were sitting alone with no-one nearby, I emulated her pleasure in a bit of topless bathing. I think Alan was horrified. Well, quite rightly so my dear husband, for I do not have the body of that stunning German lady! It was great fun though (he he he). This is how far away from us the nearest person was.

Back to Milly for a lovely day painting and rootling around with chicken carbonara on egg noddles for supper.

13 April 2014
The third day there was the same as the other two .... pure paradise and a heaven of relaxation. I did a bit of shell collecting, laid out here on a painting inspired by the sea there)


That evening we strolled out along the peninsula which is home to the actual anchor which gives the area its name. The moon was enchanting, the view simply breathtaking (albeit a tad misty, perhaps from farmers burning something in the area still), and the sunset very different. The sun was coquettish that evening, peeping out from windy clouds as she said farewell for that day. Enjoy the shots!

14 April 2014
On our last day there, instead of being the lazy louts we'd got into the habit of being, we took a drive along the coast, going north west to Fisterre (sometimes Finisterre, meaning Land's End) where there's a lighthouse - of course! There are always lighthouses at land's ends! I wasn't wearing suitable shoes that day so Alan tramped around a little and took a pic or two:

That's Milly on the right. I was inside, with my feet up,
enjoying the birds and little round bunnies which lived there.

 The lighthouse - rather grand, isn't it!

 The view down to the sea on the northern side of the peninsula.
That's not Milly you can see.

The view down to the south side of the peninsula.

This was the rock we parked next to. I'd say it has its own
right to fame ... Blue Lizard Head, or Tortoise Head, or Fish Head.
All name suggestions welcome.

On the way back, after our usual lunch of cheese, pâté, biscuits and a bit of fruit, in Milly, we kept a lookout for the signs leading us to a ceramic artist we had spotted on the way there. It took us through an area - a very large area! - which had been burnt out a year or so ago thanks to an arsonist. Plants were thriving again in their extreme greenness, although all the trees which remained were still sporting a man's height of charred trunk. The sight was both a horror and a beauty, as all fire-damaged areas are, and kept you looking and wondering about it all.

The turning duly presented itself and this was the slightly nerve-wracking and extremely picturesque road we traveled up for a kilometre or so before we reached Nacho Porto's house. It wound through the middle of the properties of very well-kept stone houses and small farms with historical drainage and water wells here and there. You need to remember that Milly, although not a big motorhome, is about 2.25 metres wide and 6.32 metres long and we just made it between some of the houses! A lot of these pics were taken through the windscreen while driving as we couldn't risk stopping in case someone came along from either direction and difficult manoevering might have been required!

I seem to remember we took the right hand bend here.

Love this dog! Sensible in a couple of ways ... walk in the water
to keep cool, and keep to the side of the road to avoid being squished.

These were some of the most picuresque and old horreos
(grain storers) we were able to photograph. They're just stunning!

This is Nacho Porto, the ceramic artist's, house.

 The view from Nacho Porto's house

Nacho Porto couldn't speak a word of English and we can't speak Spanish very well. Both sides were happy we were there, so communication was enthusiastic and, through mime, body language and the help of a few brochures, we understand the main gist of his artistic pathway and inspirations. Alan was very drawn to a limited edition tile Nacho had produced, inspired by the fire I mentioned. I had also picked it out from the selection on the wall, so of course, we had to buy it!

We'd decided that on this trip, because we're not huge on presents for all our family, choosing rather to give things when appropriate, we would look out for unique gifts, preferably produced by artists who largely represent themselves, for our kids. We found something rather fun and arty for our son-in-law Paul, but I'm not putting the entire image up here because he doesn't know what he's getting yet!!! Here are snippets, rather enlarged in their cropping (he he he):

Only after we'd left, we realised that our other son-in-law Jorrit, might well enjoy a similar item. Luckily Nacho does mail order!

Our visit was really good fun and we were tickled to have found unique art pieces. Now we had to negotiate our way through houses and along the narrow road again.

On our way down, back to the main road.

The top of a water well. I had the 300 mm lens
on my camera at the time so couldn't fit the whole
thing in! Here's the bottom part:

It was hot. Thirsty hot. Along the way home, whilst looking out for somewhere to buy a couple of icy beers for home, we caught these gentlemen doing the age-old traditional village bench chat. I'm so pleased it's a tradition that hasn't died out.

We stopped in a town called Cee for those precious beers and while Alan rushed in to make his purchase, I couldn't resist these photos of an old, abandoned building. It must be that sense of life which remains forever in buildings after the last folk have left, which attracts us. Or is it maybe the signs of age on beautiful architecture? Perhaps it's just that overall atmosphere of history. Whatever, it's irresistable.

And so, our last day at Ancoradoiro came to an end and we felt sad as we drove down this road which leads to the campsite. It's a municipal picnic area where we could have wild camped. But why? The peace and security of the Ancoradoiro campsite at €15 per night, including a power point and sparkling, newly painted wash-up area and ablution, was way more worth having to keep all our belongings safe and inside Milly.

On our last walk I had found Prickly Pears! Last seen in the Karoo Desert in the middle of South Africa.

Prickly Pears.
 Time to say goodbye to our 3-day paradise at Ancoradoiro

15 April 2014
Fun was still to be had the next morning as we headed south to Portugal. Before we left the coast of Galicia we stopped at a market in Muros where we found a natty handbag for me to make my days less heavy, a change purse for Alan (he lost his some time ago) and some yummy treats to eat. I took pics of those on my Blackberry, but can't seem to access them. Here are some market oranges though! :-)

 A vege shop on the main road

As we walked towards the market, we watched some fishermen scraping nets along the bottom of the bay. A friendly chap next to us on the bridge (who had visited Cape Town in his days on the sea so was very excited to chat!) informed us the fishermen were licenced to haul in 55 kgs each of clams. We saw about a dozen boats in all but he told us that the day before he had counted 48 boats in one bay and a similar number in a second bay. That's a lot of clams.

Hauling the net in.
Their arms must be very strong. Or aching.

It makes for a tranquil scene.

This is the backview of the chap we chatted to.

Like so many villages, Muros is a mixture of the old and new. When we drove out to Finistere lighthouse we noticed a statue of an old woman dressed in long old-fashioned clothes, with a tall walking stick, hiking towards the point of land's end. Being just before Easter weekend, there were also loads of tourists and locals walking the annual pilgrimage to the area. Many of them trek to Santiago de Compostela but we wondered if there's another known pilgramage to this area, perhaps made famous by this old dear. We found her again in Muros, not looking too cheerful, but then if her feet were hurting .....

 ..... and she is perched looking out over the bay with this really ancient church behind her. Perhaps it's the church she worshipped in .....

One of the ruined buildings in Muros which caught out attention.

As usual, even although a lot of the day was spent on motorways with me snapping pics on my Blackberry as we tootled along, we loved the drive south to Portugal. I've stopped snapping pics with my Blackberry as they're poor quality and I can't access them easily. It took me a few days to work this one out (duh!) and I now sit happily with the tablet on my lap, often not being able to see if I'm getting a good shot because I don't have time to change from sunglasses to reading specs, or the tablet has snoozed off and has to be awoken, but we win more than lose I think.

A gripe I have about the EU now is that there are no longer border posts between some countries, Spain and Portugal being two of those countries ..... and I still desperately want someone to stamp my passport! 

We had a booking at a campsite not too far from Covelho called Quinta Do Covelho and owned by a Dutch couple who've been running their little piece of paradise in Portugal for two years. This time Hambakahle was correct in her guidance and we had a lovely, hilly drive, again through delicate forests of trees, to the campsite. It looked awfully steep to reach most pitches but we walked the area first, decided on a lovely pitch near to both a small pool and the ablution block and it only took one fierce look and a little persuasion to get Alan to attempt to take Milly up the little road to get there. It was so worth it!

A little out of sight where this little road disappears are two
dirty great rocks who wanted to be a bit too friendly.
We kept our distance and slithered a little up the gravel road.

This is definitely the time of year to travel ... no-one else there!
Bliss. All to our selfish selfish selves.

It took me probably sixty seconds flat to get into my cozzie
and sizzle into this pool.

We only spent a night at this campsite as our plan was to head to Alenquer, not far from Lisbon, to spend a day in Lisbon and a day in Sintra. I'd definitely spend more time here though in future. Except for the big dogs barking incessantly all night across the valley, the peace and serenity in very alluring. Highly recommended.

16 April 2014
Today the countryside began to get more typical of the Portugal I remembered from nearly four years ago when we entered the country further south after heading there from Barcelona. Scrubland appeared along with fields and fields of soft, round fir trees ... the one where those deadly Portuguese spiders reside. Finally we arrived in Alenquer, followed Hambakahle's advice, decided she was talking rubbish, asked a local the way, and turned into the very steep driveway of the Alenquer campsite.

A few years ago my niece Carly said her impression of Portugal was one of faded grandeur. I was finding it the same. I felt quite sad about it but the Portuguese are made of tough stuff and those with whom we've chatted about the subject seem to acknowledge that the country has worked out where it's gone wrong and is simply patiently beavering away and finding its way back again with full confidence that it will happen. the Alenquer campsite seemed to epitomise this state. We saw awards on the wall of their receiption area, claiming high standards and popularity, but what we saw outside was an unkempt campsite rich in weeds and in need of a paint. The swimming pool was thickly emerald and the bar-pool was dry as a bone. Gone were the chickens and little animals from the chicken-wire cages, and again we were the only campers there.

Alan looked with horror at the steepness of the driveway we were expected to navigate, and for once, in trepidation, I agreed with him. However, the receptionist Vera was an absolute joy. She couldn't speak English at all but when she found out we lived in Ireland she picked up her mobile and called her sister Raquel who works in Ennis, Co Clare at a Centra supermarket, for her to be our go-between. Raquel was equally as delightful as Vera and described to us the in's and out's of the facilities at the campsite, offering her help at any time we found ourselves in need in Portugal. I do like the Portuguese people ... they're warm, friendly and helpful, ever willing to speak English to help you at any time.

I wasn't sure if he was Vera's son or little brother, but a young fella happily pointed out a site to us with a worried look on his face and the equivalent of: "This okay for you?" We were a little confused at first as to whether he was showing us the camp or indicating a place for us to park as he'd taken us just a few metres up the steep driveway and onto a roughly red-paved surface with small football goal posts at either end. A footie court! This was to be our home for the next three nights. Camping sure can be interesting at times!

Our temporary home on a footie court!

The bone-dry bar-pool and empty pet cages.

Um, anyone for an emerald swim?

These cabins were still being rented out which was good.
They looked primitive but comfortable when we peered inside.

Our first braai since the UK ... on the footie court!

A view of our site from the porch of one of the cabins.

We took some time, over our braai, to plan the next couple of days. Parking in Lisbon seemed difficult for motorhomes so we changed our plans and decided to spend one day in the town of Sintra and the second day in the walled town of Obidos. Lisbon we would visit later in the month by taking a train from Albufeira, the timeshare we had booked on the Algarve, and spending two nights in a hotel in the city. A bit of a treat.

Practical Info:
Ancoradoiro Camping
GPS Coordinates: Latitude(42.7566),Longitude(-9.11066)
Address: Ctra. Corcubión-Muros, km.7,200. Ancor, 15291 - Muros , Galicia (España)
Also easy to find on a google search

Quinta Do Covehlo, A
Ronald, Aty and Esther
Quinta do Covelo
3405-517 Travanca de Lagos

Phone: 00351-238-648082
Mobile:0031- 655386060

Alenquer Camping
Estrada Nacional 9 Km 94
2580-330 ALENQUER
( Alenquer (Santo Estêvão e Triana)
Tel : 263 240 978

Fax : 263 710 375