One year – September 2015 part VI


Bye, bye Porto


Hello Viana do Castelo – and a host of classic rally cars


Saturday evening


Evening light


Down by the Rio Lima


An iron giant down by the Rio Lima


Viana do Castello harbour


Viana do Castelo from just below Monte de Santa Luzia


On Monte de Santa Luzia – two names for the same building?


Sunday afternoon…


Still Sunday afternoon…


Sunday night…


Time to move on – Monday morning


Viana do Castelo railway station



When we were planning this trip, we hadn’t considered Viana do Castelo

Then I spotted a photo in Rough Guide to Portugal. After reading up on Viana do Castelo, the town went into the melting pot and came out unscathed as a stop for a relaxing middle weekend of our break.

After leaving Porto, we exited Viana do Castelo station on a warm, sunny and quiet Saturday afternoon.

Or so we thought. We’d walked about 300 metres from the station and saw a few classic cars heading down Ave dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra.

It’s a long time since I followed rallying, but the passing cars were joining those parked further down the avenue and it wasn’t long before I started to remember the names of all the cars participating in a classics rally that had Viana do Castelo as a stopping off point.

The cars were parked up opposite some cafes, so we found a table, ordered food &  drink and waited for the drivers to get back into their cars.

When they did, the camera was almost forgotten about as the sounds and smells of the procession moving off brought back memories of going into UK forests to watch the formidable RAC Rally during the late 1970’s/1980’s.

Our hotel – O Laranjeira – was found, booked into and siesta declared. We were booked in for two nights, so our bags didn’t need to be unpacked, but there was washing to be done.

Our evening meal was taken in the same cafe as lunch, but we held off having coffee and dessert as the light was changing, so a wandering session was declared and photos taken as the sun went down.

After breakfast, we headed out and realised how quiet Viana do Castelo was. The funicular was found and taken – to Monte de Santa Luzia.

Caroline headed into the impressive building at the top (Santuario de Santa Luzia according to Rough Guide and Templo do Sagrado Coracao de Jesus according to Lonely Planet) whilst I fired off a few frames on the compact camera before hitting the cafe.

When Caroline came back down to earth we took a look at the gift shop and open market, but our wallets stayed closed so we headed down on the funicular to further explore Viana.

As you can see from the photos, Viana do Castelo’s streets were virtually deserted and only the local newsagent/lottery seller appeared to have customers, largely because there was at least a single roll-over on the lottery and people wanted a slice of the action.

And me? All I wanted was a copy of a Brit newspaper.

You may have gathered by now that we liked Viana do Castelo. It was a good antidote to how busy Porto had been and with the weather holding out, there had been plenty of opportunities to wander, eat, drink and be merry.

With a little help on Sunday night by eating Italian style at Dolce Vianna in Rua do Poco.

Although there were a few couples in Dolce Vianna, most of the local blokes had descended on the place for beer, pizza and the football on the restaurant’s TV set. We did have coffee at Dolce Vianna, but there was another course awaiting elsewhere in town.

It’s not often that we have coffee and cake after 10pm, but we made an exception by having coffee and cake at a pavement cafe before getting our heads down for the night.

After breakfast, our bags were packed and we headed back to the railway station via a cafe and then the supermarket. Yes, we stocked up on bread, cheese, ham and water for our lunch on the train, but there was something in the fish department that I’d seen, but Caroline hadn’t.

Nestling on the ice in the fish section was a creature that I’d read about, but never seen – a conger eel that looked rather dischuffed at its fate. Funnily enough, it also had the look of the craft used by Titan’s henchfishmen to attack Stingray in the classic 1960’s TV show.

Once seen, the station beckoned. We had plenty of time to spare before the train arrived, so the cafe provided another opportunity for me to order coffee in bad Portuguese along with a pastella for Caroline and a couple of shrimp croquettes for myself.

Next stop? Aveiro via Nine. The first part of the journey was by one of the regional trains from Viana do Castelo to Nine, but the second part from Nine to Aveiro was on one of the swanky Alfa Pendular high speed trains. It may have been in Turistica class, but it was both comfortable and fast.

More on Aviero tomorrow!

About Keith Rickaby

I’m a writer and photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now based in Yorkshire & back out there working for a travel and outdoor activity based retailer.
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