Johanne Brookes

Occasional traveller: cities, history, culture, food. So many places so little time
Living in: Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Day5

    A soggy day in the Minho

    June 4, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 52 °F

    Up late and hoping that breakfast would be quiet. Nobody there when we arrived, although we were joined by the count later. He told us that there would be 17 Italians arriving later and he hoped we wouldn't mind if we had bacalhau for dinner again!

    After breakfast we decided that despite the grim weather forecast we would do the walk suggested in the Inntravel notes. We had barely got started when it transpired that a whole new terrace of vines had Ben planted right across the route. We tried various paths but couldn't find a way through. We retraced our steps back to the road and wandered along trying to work out where the path would have taken us. We had been walking for around twenty minutes when we met a grumpy dog guarding the road. Fortunately after a retreat and stop to consult the map the dog trotted off into the fields. We kept on plodding and then the rain poured down...
    I was beginning to lose heart but we kept going and. Google maps gave us enough of a position that we could compare with the map so we felt optimistic we might reach a recognisable point. Finally after an hour - hour&half we finally picked up a path that seemed to tally with the route notes. The path was cobbled, leading up through eucalyptus woods and the hill was strewn with large boulders. The rain poured intermittently but sometimes we got a glimpse of the Lima valley and the bridges at Ponte de Lima. Eventually we reached a saddle where if the cloud wasn't so low we'd have been able to see across two valleys. Ho hum. The path started to descend and we sustained ourselves with a sandwich left from yesterday's picnic before tramping on. The path showed evidence of recent flood damage and was very rough at points, there was also a fallen tree. Eventually we came back to paved roads past old houses and an old stone laundry before bring us back to Paco de Calheiros.
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  • Day5

    A Final Dinner with the count.

    June 4, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    We dried off, read and played Othello until dinner time came around. We were somewhat peckish as lunch had been a rather scratch affair. We tootled up towards the sitting room at about seven and found many of the Italians in the outer sitting room, the Belgians were there but not making eye contact with anyone. We were chatting with a nice elderly woman was born in Venice and lived in Milan. She told us that they were a long standing group of friends (the confraternity of?? a wine anyway). Then we headed to the other sitting room with the humongous fireplace. The staff came and brought snacks and the Italians pounced; apparently they had missed lunch and were ravenous. Ian (of the Moseleyites) opened the Count's wine and the festivities started, when the count (& Mrs Count) turned up they seemed slightly startled to fi d that things had started without them. The count did the tour in English today so we learnt that in the 17th c version of the house that room had been the kitchen, thus the huge fireplace, the family Arms - everywhere Inc the fireplace incorporated the scallop shell of Compostela. There was limoges China, a huge wall hanging of Mrs counts family coat of arms, ancient books and antiques everywhere. Then down to dinner where there seemed to be some sort of seating miscalculation. We were directed to the small table again with the Moseleyites but there was also a Dutch couple and the Belgians. The Belgians suggested that as we could all speak English we should sit together... I think they just wanted their own space they could manage in English just as well as the Dutch). It was a nice evening, much laughter, cod again for dinner but followed by an excellent chocolate mousse. Another surreal night. Back to our room to pack as the taxi was due at 10am sharp.Read more

  • Day4

    A Count, some Colombians and other Europ

    June 3, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 57 °F

    When we spoke with the count he said that some riders would be arriving later, on their way to Santiago de Compostela. They duly arrived in a clatter of hooves. Also apparently a clatter of whisky bottles, we saw the bomberio (sp?) emergency services vehicle this was due to one of the riders falling down the stairs. According to the count "his eyes were rolled up in his head and he was completely inanimate" they thought he'd had a heart attack but actually he was dead drunk!
    Dinner was preceded by a drinks reception in a room with a grand fireplace; vinho Verde for most of us though some of the Columbians seemed to have found (more) whisky. Mandy got chatting to a bloke who described himself as a farmer (though a friend reckons it the Bogota polo club people... Not farmers). He made some dubious comments about Feminism... He was against it, Mandy handled it with aplomb leading him into a discussion about machismo. Then we were led off for a tour of the house (which has been in the family since the fifteenth century), stuffed full of antiques but also lots of family photos too. It feels like a home (albeit rather grand) rather than a hotel.
    Then we went into dinner, the long table was filled with Columbians so we were on a side table with a French/Dutch couple who live in Belgium. They seemed pleasant enough until she bemoaned the number of Arabs in Marseille (her home town)..
    then continued about the Muslims in Belgium. Again Mandy was in there but this time with a forceful rejoinder that pointed out that most Muslims rejected the actions of the militants.
    Fortunately the arrival of dinner (bacalhau) a salt cod dish distracted her with a discussion about that was her favourite and how the younger generation didn't bother to make it.... Dinner was otherwise good generously accompanied by more vinho Verde, then port and some pasties de nata.
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  • Day4

    On to the Count's place.

    June 3, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    So after a rather less awkward breakfast (where we discovered that two other guests were from Moseley... And we had an acquaintance in common (Fiona)) we pack up rather hurriedly as the taxi was early to move our luggage on.
    We set off a little behind following todays route notes which started us off following the camino, which was very clearly marked. No need for maps for pilgrims. The weather was much more iffy and the temperatures around 5 degrees cooler so we dressed for the climate and we're sweating before we were half way. The skies got darker and greyer as we climbed so we ended up with our waterproofs on sweating up hill to the Parco de Calheiros. Which is magnificent, we have a little cottage with a living area and bedroom and free run of the estate. We met the Count who was very engaging in an aristocratic way. He suggested we went and met his roe deer 🦌. We had already wandered around past poultry, pools and groves of orange and lemon trees.
    The deer were fabulous and we the wandered past a coach house, and along more terraces before ending up here in a large room furnished with comfy sofas, a huge fire place and an array of hunting trophies...
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  • Day3

    Post recovery

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 52 °F

    So after our wetland walk we ambled back to spend some time in recovery, sitting in the garden of our hotel and reading. We then wandered back out into Ponte de Lima, we stopped for a quick beer and then a look around the town. There were races going on in the town and a course had been taped off. We watched very briefly and then continued on we settled on what had seemed the most popular restaurant in town last night for dinner. It was good and thankfully tonight we weren't overwhelmed with dodgy cooked innards.... Back to our hotel a short read and then bedRead more

  • Day3

    Wetlands walk

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    So after a slightly awkward communal breakfast (but with compensatory good cake) we took a taxi out into the countryside to the wetland. We had detailed notes provided by Inntravel and a map and off we went into the forest. All went well although the notes weren't quite as good as on previous trips and so we took a wrong turning at one point. We had a picnic lunch purchased from the hotel so we knew we wouldn't starve and we soon sorted ourselves out. A good walk probably far enough for me (about 9.5km) and finished with a walk over the bridge and a stop to buy custard tarts... Back to the hotel to shower, read and recoverRead more

  • Day3

    In the eucalyptus forest

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    I thought eucalyptus was native to Australia - is that right? But clearly thriving here. Obviously not the bird season in the wetlands, but lovely walking on land and boardwalks.

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