(3798 – 4362 km)
The clock is set back an hour and not only beaches are waiting for me. A national park with its mountains puts my campervan to the test.
I stop at the first surf spot after the border and spend the morning and afternoon surfing. The sun is shining and I enjoy a coffee and the legendary Portuguese pastel de nata at the beach café. Unfortunately, the forecast does not predict any waves for the rest of the week. I head east, inland. My destination is the Peneda-Geres National Park. It is located in the mountains on the border with Spain. On the way I make a short stop in Ponte de Lima. A nice little town on the Lima River with an old Roman bridge over the river as its main attraction.
I arrive in the northern part of the park in the evening and set up camp at the Lima Escape campsite. Perfect, a very good restaurant takes care of the food and you can reach all the main sights of this part of the park from here. I torture my car up the steep and narrow serpentines and first visit Lindoso, a former border post to Spain. As well as the old fort, there is a large collection of typical granaries, the espigueiros. The granaries, which resemble raised tombs, are arranged around the communal threshing floor.
I take the serpentine road back down into the valley, over the big Alto Lindoso dam. On the other side, I wind my way back up the mountain to Soajo. Another original mountain village, where the second large Espigueiros factory in the region is located.
I stay at the campsite for a few more days before heading to the southern part of the park. It is a lot greener here and there are a few waterfalls in the forests as well. I use the Parque Cerdeira campsite in Campo de Geres as a base for a walk along an old Roman military road. It goes down to the banks of a reservoir and back up and over the mountain to the campsite.
I drive a little further south and up another adventurous road to Ermida in search of a waterfall. I spend the night at the small campsite and walk through the unspoilt mountain village and adjacent forest to the Cascata da Rajada.
After a week spent in the mountains, I find myself drawn back to the sea. I pass through Braga and visit the church of Bom Jesus do Monte. The church is accessed via a flight of stairs, each of whose landings is dedicated to the seven senses. On the sides are pavilions with scenes from the life of Jesus, like in a wax museum. It is also possible to simply take the cable car up the mountain and then use the stairs to get back down.
Back at the sea, I land in Vila Cha, north of Porto. From here I take the subway to Porto and visit the city. I stay on the north bank of the Douro River and stroll through the old town, down to the banks of the Douro River, past the Ponte Luis I bridge, up by lift to the Se do Porto Cathedral and back to the Trinidade metro station.
But one day of the hustle and bustle of the city is enough for me and I am drawn further into the centre of Portugal and along the green coast.