Continued north today passing up through Guimaraes and Sao Torcato to a small (and very friendly) family owned campsite in the tiny village of Garfe for a couple of day’s relaxation. We didn’t drive far but the landscape has totally changed to one of rolling wooded hillsides.
On our way to Garfe we paused in the village of Sao Torcato so that I could view the Basilica. We couls see the Basilica from quite a way off with it’s two tall, slender granite towers. They started building this church in the 800’s but didn’t finish it until well into the 1900’s with the sanctuary not being consecrated until 2015 and with the church being elevated to the rank of minor basilica by Pope Francis in 2019. Saint Torcato was born into a noble Roman family who grew to become Archbishop of Braga and then Oporto and Dume. Early in the 8th century he was killed by General Muca who had been sent to conquer the Iberian Peninsula and convert the Christians to Islam. Torcato became the first Saint on the Iberian Peninsula and his body is now housed in a glass chamber in the church sanctuary. Inside the church they were preparing for a christening as I arrived and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the craziest fountain with running hot and cold water feeding into the baptismal font.
They were preparing for a christening as I arrived. The fountain feeding the font is amazing
There was little for us to do in Garfe, just the one cafe bar and the smallest shop and so we all simply chilled.
While Aveiro has no beach of it’s own, the town has two beaches nearby (Barra 9 kms away and Costa Nova 3 kms further on). Vanya wanted to visit Costa Nova to see the colourful beach hut houses which predominate there and this led to us staying overnight.
The village was formed in the 19th century as fishermen, wanting to be closer to their fishing grounds, first extended their brightly coloured wooden storage huts into temporary shelters and then into more permanent dwellings (so that their families could join them). Costa Nova still has a fishing industry but, judging by the crowds that were there when we visited, tourism has fast taken over with the colourful houses being the main attraction.
I was not sufficiently impressed by Costa Nova to recommend it as a place to visit (there’s little there other than a beach and the colourful houses) unless of course you do as we did and combine the stay with a visit to beautiful Aveiro. Having said that, the dogs loved the beach…
The poor weather we experienced in Vigo prompted a radical rethink. Our original plan upon crossing the border into Portugal was to head for Braga and camp there for a few days while we enjoyed both the city of Braga itself and a couple of outlying towns, Guimaraes and Amarante. However, all the weather forecasts suggested the poor weather was going to be around the north west of Portugal for at least a week and we therefore decided to head directly south to the Lisbon area. We could always return another day.
We chose to do the journey in two steps stopping first at a coastal camp site near the Estela Golf Course for the night (simply to break the journey) and then in a town called Obidos (where we booked two nights in a hotel – time to treat ourselves).
Estrela, just north of Agucadoura, is okay as a rest stop but there is nothing else in the immediate area other than the golf course, not even a shop. The campsite we stayed at was an Orbitur site (a chain we would see more of during our time in Portugal and not one I would generally recommend) but it gave easy access to a massive beach which the dogs loved.
Access to the beach was through some large tunnels (pipes) which went under the golf course…
… and then out onto the beach
The beach stretched for miles in both directions
We only stayed the one night but I found time to walk the very pretty, albeit totally deserted, golf course. Perhaps it is still closed because of Covid? What a waste!
The Estela Golf Course
The Estela Club House. Not my photo – the place was deserted while I was there.