Up the Atlantic coast

7th September

I have a Portuguese friend Pedro Barrento, a writer I met first online. He lives not far from where we were camped at Santa Cruz and I’d been in touch. So today he came over to meet us and take us out for the day – show us a different side of Portugal.

In Pedro’s car we went first to Obidos which is a medieval town with a castle and fortifications and a load of gift shops. Very pretty but definitely still ON the beaten tourist track. Next stop was Buddha Eden, a huge landscaped garden amongst vineyards, with various statues set all about. It had grown since Pedro last visited and is no longer just Buddhist. We enjoyed the newer African sculptures. A wonderful place to stroll around. And from there we went to a small village festival for dinner. In a huge sports hall they were dishing up amazing seafood platters. We had one between us and it was delicious!

Ignatius and Pedro at the festival

Lovely to meet Pedro in the flesh at last and we very much enjoyed our day with him. He also gave us the name of a campervan service centre who might be able to fix our broken door lock.

8th September

First job today was to drive over to Clinica das Caravanas to see if they could fix the lock. As Nuno (the proprietor) was saying yes, probably he could fix it but he was busy today, he then sniffed and said he could smell gas coming from under our van. We could, too. Another problem! On the clifftop it had been windy so we wouldn’t have smelled it there, but definitely inside his workshop we could tell there was a leak.

He tried to find where it was coming from but couldn’t, then sent us to an LPG workshop near Obidos where they had an electronic device, and were able to find that the regulator on the LPG tank was where the leak came from. But those guys sent us back to Nuno to get the regulator replaced. We had driven to Obidos via Buddha Eden and had a lovely lunch in a restaurant near there that Pedro had pointed out, and drove back to Campelos (Clinica das Caravanas) via a beach where we had a walk and an ice cream.

Spent the night parked outside Nuno’s workshop as he wanted to work on our van first thing. Hooked up to electric so as not to need the gas switched on!

9th September

A morning of hanging around while Nuno and his employees worked on our van. We had coffee in the village, walked back to the workshop, sat outside playing dominoes. Eventually he called us over to say all was done – the regulator replaced and the door lock barrel swapped with one from a side locker we never open (as it is also accessible from the inside). We can recommend Clinica das Caravanas if you’re ever in mid-Portugal and need a fix! They specialise in van conversions and from what we saw, do a superb job on these too.

We were then able to get back on track and go to Peniche. This is a town on a headland, and there was a camperstop in the middle of town where we parked up for the night. I went for a walk out on the cliffs and out to a pretty little peninsula.

Peninsula at Peniche

10th September

Drove around the Peniche headland, and parked up near the fort for a look around there. Bit like Sagres fort but this fort was used to hold political prisoners in the time of Salazar’s dictatorship, right up till the 1970s.

We headed north from there, up the coast to look at Baleal, a town on a near-island accessed by a causeway, where we had lunch. And on to Nazare, a surfing holiday town. I do love this Atlantic coast of Portugal, with its endless wild beaches! Nazare was packed and we had difficulty parking. There was some sort of festival going on.

We decided to head further up the coast to find a quiet spot to camp. Ended up just outside a small village, on a cliff top. Lovely spot.

heading north
Heading north – lovely road for Gertie!

11th September

The plan for the day was to drive a long way north, as time is getting short. We started off on the back roads, then part of the way on motorway. Ended up a little way north of Porto at an ACSI campsite, arriving in time to relax for a few hours. Very nice beach near the campsite. We had a meal out at a local fish restaurant, sharing a locally-caught turbot.

12th September

Today we took a taxi to the nearest Metro station, then the metro into Porto, travelling with another English couple from the campsite.


Porto is Portugal’s second largest town. We didn’t have much of an agenda, and were happy to just wander around and see where it took us. The weather was sunny but cool – such a change from all the hot city sight-seeing we’ve done earlier in this trip! We went to a very nice gastronomic restaurant for a long lingering lunch, and into one small museum in the house that was the birthplace of Prince Henry the Navigator. Walked over the Ponte Luis bridge (designed by Gustav Eiffel and you can tell) and watched a couple of lads jumping off it, while their mate collected money. They did this over and over. Unusual summer job!

Porto riverside with the bridge in the background

When our legs had had enough walking we took the metro back and ended up in a taxi with the same English couple as in the morning.


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