Portugal's Emerald Coast

Portugal's Emerald Coast

Saturday

TAP flight left on time. Gained 30 minutes. 1 hour from airport to Hotel. Nice Hotel. After dinner, there was time for a pleasant stroll around town.

Sunday

A circular walk starting from the hotel. From behind the hotel the group headed inland past many farms, small holdings, and through small villages. Many of the gardens were ablaze with colour

Ancient religious crosses are a feature of the landscape as is the slowly flowing river with gentle waterfalls which can be viewed from various crossing points including an iron bridge and a ford.

The scenery was very picturesque and interlaced with greenery and numerous wild flowers.
A picnic lunch was enjoyed in the grounds of a church that surprisingly provided picnic benches, tables and a water tap.

After lunch the walk continued through picturesque countryside, and while we took a short break by the river a local appeared from nowhere and started to undress, much to our amazement. As it was a hot day we expected the person to jump into the river, but instead the person sprawled out on the grass and sunbathed.

Later in the afternoon we reached a bar in a local community and everyone enjoyed a beverage. Once refreshed, we followed a dusty road to board walks which led to the beach. After a short walk over the sand Praia de Âncora came into view and another board walk and bridge took us back into the town with sufficient time to relax and enjoy the sights such as the main square.

Monday – A linear walk.

The group assembled at the local bus station and then took a bus along the coast. The bus dropped us of by a small hamlet and we walked to a lighthouse which had fine views over the Atlantic Ocean. After admiring the views, we strolled down to the beach and commenced a leisurely walk along the coast that was ablaze with flowers.

The walk took us across golden sands, past ancient forts (it was even possible to go inside one of them), along board walks and coastal paths.As this is the wild and rugged Atlantic coast line, the scenery if very dramatic at times with interesting rock formations ,magnificent waves (popular with the surf boarders), vast beaches and many plants and flowers growing in the most unlikely of places.By lunch time, we arrived back in Praia de Âncora with numerous lunch options..
After lunch, there was a walk along a coastal path in the direction of Caminha with views of Galicia’s (Spain) volcano in the distance.

By mid afternoon, we reached the small seaside town of Praia de Moledo where it is possible to take a bus or train back to Praia de Âncora.

While the Group was sitting on the sea wall watching the world go by our attention moved to a couple of locals out for an afternoon synchronized stroll. It that was not enough, the woman was wearing a Michael Jackson hat and bright red lipstick. They had also perfected the perfect synchronized turn.

The final part of the walk continued trough a beautiful pine forest and as you walked you breathed in the wonderful pine scent.

The path led us to the River Caminha with fine views of Galicia across the water.
Adjacent to the the river, there were log cabins selling refreshments. Once refreshed, we followed a board walk next the river until we reached the main road that follows the river into Caminha. We soon found the bus station and was back in Praia de Âncora in no time at all, with sufficient time to relax before taking dinner at a Brazilian restaurant overlooking the sea front, where the waiters were very entertaining.

Tuesday – A linear walk along the mountain side

Today, we took taxis from the hotel to a small village halfway up the mountain range.
The morning part of the walk was through pleasant countryside and villages
with views of the farmland below.

After crossing a river, we climbed up the hillside and then descended into the valley and followed a path until we reached a stream and rock pools where we stopped and enjoyed our picnic lunch amongst tranquil scenery which included a lavadaThe afternoon walk was gently downhill through woodland and hamlets with pretty gardens and in a most unexpected place we discovered a grandfather clock.The path then continued downwards along a tree and gorse lined track with views down into the valley through which a river flowed. At one point, there was an opportunity to visit a waterfall.The last section of the walk was through a meadow alongside a delightful stream which led to a village where refreshments awaited us before taxis arrived to take us back to Praia de Âncora, and a few hours of leisure before dinner.

Wednesday – Day Off

Today was a free day. However, there was an optional morning walk to Viana do Castelo followed by a free afternoon, and several of members of the group took this option.

Myself and another member of the group decided to take the train to Caminha to see the weekly market. From Caminha railway station, it was less than 15 minutes walk to the market that was poplar with the locals. There was a small market hall that was split into a fish section and a fruit and vegetable section.

Outside the market hall there were stalls selling very fresh produce, bedding plants and cage birds to keep as pets. Several stalls were selling local bread, cheeses, hams, sausages, cakes and honey. The rest of the market sold clothing, shoes, pottery, ceramics, jewellery, cookware, kitchenware and furniture amongst other things.

After leaving the market, we explored the quaint and historic back streets and then headed to the main square for elevenses (there are many bars and cake shops to choose from). Afterwards, we continued to explore the town. The church next to the main square is very ornate inside and well worth a look. It was soon lunch time, and we visited a supermarket for picnic items and then sat on a bench in the main square with the locals who were having a siesta.

Just sitting there having a picnic and watching the world go bye was so relaxing.
We managed to catch the mid afternoon train back to Praia de Âncora and on the train, bumped into other members of our group who has visited another town further up the line.
Back in Praia de Âncora, there we had sufficient time to enjoy the local amenities.
The evening meal was taken in the hotel followed by an evening stroll.

Thursday – A circular walk in Galicia (Spain)

On a Thursday, it is market day in Praia de Âncora, and the market is within a few minutes walk of the hotel. There are many stalls in the open air selling clothing and footwear with produce being sold within the market hall. Part of the market hall is dedicated to sellers from small holdings and farms, and when you take a close look, many of the sellers are very elderly and sit there with a tray of eggs or a basket of lettuce or bunches of onions as has been the custom for the last 100 years or more.

It was then off to the bus station to catch a bus to Caminha, and the driver was kind enough to drop the Group off close to the ferry terminal. We then boarded the ferry for the short river crossing to Galicia in Spain for the start of the walk.
We initially followed the river and then walked uphill through a wooded area to a village that had an ancient and basic lavoir (communal laundry washing place). From the back of the village, we walked uphill through a wood of pine and eucalyptus which had been extensively cleared in places.

At times there were magnificent views of the Galician plains, the river and Portugal . We then reached a view point overlooking an ancient Celtic settlement and then followed numerous richly detailed stations of the cross uphill to a refuge on top of the hillside/ancient volcano.Once we reached the refuge, there was plenty of time to relax, explore, enjoy the wonderful views and have a bite to eat and a drink in the cafeteria or enjoy a picnic. After our break, we walked down to the Celtic ruins, and then followed a wooded trail to a water fountain in the village, and then descended to riverside and ambled back to the ferry.

After crossing the river we headed to the main bus stop in Caminha and there was just enough time to take a look around a Chinese emporium before the bus arrived which was full to bursting with school children. Somehow we managed to squeeze aboard (standing room only) for the short journey back to Vila Praia de Âncora where there was time to relax before dinner.

Our evening meal was taken in a small local bar/restaurant which was located in a street very close to the main square. The restaurant did us proud and served local cuisine that was enjoyed by all. Afterwards there was time for a stroll along the sea front to work off the very substantial meal.

Friday – A linear walk along the top of the mountain

Today, the group took taxies up into the mountains to a point just above a church/monastery. We then followed a rough track uphill crossing the occasional stream until we reached a plateau that had wind turbines in close proximity.
We then walked across the plateau which was covered with wild flowers, gorse bushes and amazing rock formations.

The area is criss crossed with gentle streams and occasionally we spotted a frog or two.
One of the highlights was being in very close proximity to the wild horses that live in this mountain range. As the area has very lush vegetation, there is plenty of natural food available and the horses look very healthy. We were even fortunate enough to see several foals.We then walked through a rocky and boggy area and at one point stood in aware as an engineer climbed a radio mast. After a gradual decent we arrived in an area where there were some trees providing shade with rocks underneath them, so we stopped for a break and admired the scenery. Continuing the walk, we passed an interesting rock formation before starting our decent on very easy paths through heathers, gorse and ferns to the village below. Just outside the village, we passed an old waterwheel and mini aqueduct.As we walked through the village we passed several ancient dwellings, corn stores and livestock. A path then took us to an area that had picnic benches and a water tap so we stopped for our picnic lunch. Afterwards, we walked to the next village and once again passed several ancient houses and farm buildings – in fact it was like stepping back in time or being in hillbilly country. Finally we followed a path to the village bar passing some large peach like rocks on the way which make very unusual garden features . After taking refreshments in the bar, we took taxies back to hotel with sufficient time to relax and pack before dinner at the hotel followed by an evening stroll to watch the sun set.

Saturday

Early start for the airport.

Summary

Praia de Âncora is a small coastal town with good local amenities.

The hotel is very pleasant having been upgraded from a 3 star rating to 4 star, and is situated on the main street with the sea front only a few minutes walk away. There is a small fridge in the rooms and the corridors are carpeted which reduces the noise level. The buffet breakfast is very good (vast selection) and there is even a healthy section (e.g. soya milk and low fat cheese) for people on special diets. If you want a hard boiled egg, you have to place one into a DIY egg boiler.

During the week, the temperature ranged from 19C to 29C and being close to the Atlantic Ocean, there was usually a nice breeze.

From a walking perspective, the area is excellent as there are coastal walks, countryside walks, a walk up a volcano, and walks along a mountain plateau.

After each walk there was always plenty of time to relax, enjoy the facilities in Praia de Âncora or go for a swim.