May 5-7  Orbitur Point campground Guincho Beach

We returned to the sunny skies, wind trained pines, and dunes of the Orbitur Point campground near Guincho Beach. With the weekend over, the camp was nearly empty and the exuberant energy and activity of youth was replaced by a quiet solitude. Camped in a grove of pines, it was pleasant in the radiant warmth of the sun but cold in the shade. Tomorrow would be our 20th wedding anniversary. Relaxing in a patch of sunlight, we debated whether to celebrate al fresco here, or more formally in Coimbra . We opted for another day of relaxing. Sadly, Sheila  developed an increasingly severe head ache and disorientation followed by nausea lasting the night. By the afternoon Sheila felt well enough for a walk to the beach. The sun was delicious against the cool Atlantic breeze and helped to clear her head. We strolled the long walkway through the sands to the beach and chilled our feet in the cold Atlantic before returning to camp for a luxurious hot shower. Showered and refreshed, we opened a bottle of sparkling wine, toasted to the past 20 years as the best yet and to the next 20 being even better, before making a somewhat ragged looking but tasty chorizo frittata for dinner. May 8 Transit to Coimbra We got away a little late and had difficulty finding a supermarket, then difficulty finding parking, then difficulty finding things in a new store layout, and then finding a store selling Sheila’s urgently needed contact lens solutions. I returned to the van to wait for Sheila to get her lens solutions, but needing to use the WC, I returned to the store and was gone when Sheila returned. She in turn went looking for me. Finally, by about 10:30, we were reunited, only mildly disgruntled, and on the road north to the town of Peniche situated on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. Our entry to the town of Peniche was unexceptional, a narrow road passed between nondescript, 5 story condominiums and the high wall of a sand dune. But, sand covered wooden stairway climbing the dune, to a long sweeping sandy beach, backed by wild flower and grass flecked dunes. It swept east and north for 4 km from a rocky headland and old fortress walls in the west, to rocky point at Baleal in the east and beyond Baleal, another 10 km to  the Obidos Lagoon. A lone kite flyers added a splash of bright colour to the sky. It was quiet, peaceful, and idyllic, the high dunes, speckled with bright yellow wildflowers and tufts of tall grass hid the town from view and made the beach a world of its own. Magnificent though it was, the cold Atlantic wind drove us back over the sand dunes to the shelter of our van. To the west, the stone wall, cannon bays, and a small, domed gaurd post of a 16th century fortification halted the graceful sweep of the beach. Small boats pulled up for storage and repair in the lee of the fortress wall and wild flowers carpeting the sand beneath the castle walls softened the harsh stone and belied the castle's recent past as a political prison under the Salazar dictatorship in the 1960's and 70's. Behind the fortress wall, the steep rocky bluffs of the peninsula rose from the Atlantic, and further west, we could see the square tower of the Peniche lighthouse perched on the point of the rocky headland. Here, in contrast to the sweeping curve of the beach, strong north winds and pounding waves had cut tortuous, jagged, vertical walled, keyhole gorges and caverns deep into the 20 meter high bedrock of the peninsula. Some were narrow enough to jump across but so deep and precipitous that standing even here could induce a sense of vertigo. Had it been warmer, we would have stayed for a picnic lunch sitting beside one of  the chasms cut into the point. As it was we ate lunch and warmed ourselves in the van before heading north to Coimbre. From Peniche we headed east on the N14,  following a disappointing Micheline “scenic” route before heading north  into hills and endless tracts of forest land broken occasionally by unexceptional towns. Hoping for a more interesting route, we left the divided highway for the slower A1 to Coimbra. It was Saint Fatima day and a day of pilgrimage to her shrine in central Portugal. For forty some kilometres, we passed hundreds of pilgrims, some in large groups, others in ones and twos, some walking briskly, some struggling, some in organized groups and uniforms, others a motley crew wearing multi-coloured tank tops, halter tops, t-shirts, singlets, and jeans or shorts.  A few carried poles with small icons and shrines on top, most carried just their water bottles. On arrival at Coimbra. our plan was to suss out the location of a highly recommended restaurant, arrange our campsite, and go back into town for a "proper" anniversary dinner. However, Coimbra is Portugal's oldest, most venerable, and most prestigious university and it was graduation week. A long week-end of celebration and drunken revelry was in progress. It was also a zoo and parking impossible. We finally gave up, found our campground, and with the help of our friendly receptionist tried to make reservations for dinner. To our disappointment, the restaurant where we had hoped to dine now only catered to groups but our receptionist recommended a place for a special anniversary dinner and made reservations for us. Sheila had hoped to wear an elegant summer dress but it proved too skimpy for the cold weather and she had to dress a little less elegantly. The restaurant staff were very attentive and solicitous and gave us a complimentary glass of rosé wine. The food was excellent the covers, bread, butter, and olives; a seafood pate; and a hot cod salad. We followed with an excellent tournedos, batata frita, and rice for me; and venison with sautéed chestnuts and rice for Sheila. The wine, an Alentejo tinto, went well, and we returned to camp with left-over main courses and wine. The only sour note on the night was that when we got back to camp, a French van had parked right next to our pitch and, ignoring our occupied sign, had appropriated our extension cord. I re-appropriated it and the next morning the campers studiously ignored my greeting.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map The Orbitur campground near Guincho Beach. Sheila looking for me in the parkade. High sand dunes hid this spectacular beach from the road. Vertigo inducing chasms cut by the sea. Faithful pilgrims made for a slow transit to Coimbra. The university town of Coimbra.

May 5-7  Orbitur Point campground

Guincho Beach

We returned to the sunny skies, wind trained pines, and dunes of the Orbitur Point campground near Guincho Beach. With the weekend over, the camp was nearly empty and the exuberant energy and activity of youth was replaced by a quiet solitude. Camped in a grove of pines, it was pleasant in the radiant warmth of the sun but cold in the shade. Tomorrow would be our 20th wedding anniversary. Relaxing in a patch of sunlight, we debated whether to celebrate al fresco here, or more formally in Coimbra . We opted for another day of relaxing. Sadly, Sheila  developed an increasingly severe head ache and disorientation followed by nausea lasting the night. By the afternoon Sheila felt well enough for a walk to the beach. The sun was delicious against the cool Atlantic breeze and helped to clear her head. We strolled the long walkway through the sands to the beach and chilled our feet in the cold Atlantic before returning to camp for a luxurious hot shower. Showered and refreshed, we opened a bottle of sparkling wine, toasted to the past 20 years as the best yet and to the next 20 being even better, before making a somewhat ragged looking but tasty chorizo frittata for dinner. May 8 Transit to Coimbra We got away a little late and had difficulty finding a supermarket, then difficulty finding parking, then difficulty finding things in a new store layout, and then finding a store selling Sheila’s urgently needed contact lens solutions. I returned to the van to wait for Sheila to get her lens solutions, but needing to use the WC, I returned to the store and was gone when Sheila returned. She in turn went looking for me. Finally, by about 10:30, we were reunited, only mildly disgruntled, and on the road north to the town of Peniche situated on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. Our entry to the town of Peniche was unexceptional, a narrow road passed between nondescript, 5 story condominiums and the high wall of a sand dune. But, sand covered wooden stairway climbing the dune, to a long sweeping sandy beach, backed by wild flower and grass flecked dunes. It swept east and north for 4 km from a rocky headland and old fortress walls in the west, to rocky point at Baleal in the east and beyond Baleal, another 10 km to  the Obidos Lagoon. A lone kite flyers added a splash of bright colour to the sky. It was quiet, peaceful, and idyllic, the high dunes, speckled with bright yellow wildflowers and tufts of tall grass hid the town from view and made the beach a world of its own. Magnificent though it was, the cold Atlantic wind drove us back over the sand dunes to the shelter of our van. To the west, the stone wall, cannon bays, and a small, domed gaurd post of a 16th century fortification halted the graceful sweep of the beach. Small boats pulled up for storage and repair in the lee of the fortress wall and wild flowers carpeting the sand beneath the castle walls softened the harsh stone and belied the castle's recent past as a political prison under the Salazar dictatorship in the 1960's and 70's. Behind the fortress wall, the steep rocky bluffs of the peninsula rose from the Atlantic, and further west, we could see the square tower of the Peniche lighthouse perched on the point of the rocky headland. Here, in contrast to the sweeping curve of the beach, strong north winds and pounding waves had cut tortuous, jagged, vertical walled, keyhole gorges and caverns deep into the 20 meter high bedrock of the peninsula. Some were narrow enough to jump across but so deep and precipitous that standing even here could induce a sense of vertigo. Had it been warmer, we would have stayed for a picnic lunch sitting beside one of  the chasms cut into the point. As it was we ate lunch and warmed ourselves in the van before heading north to Coimbre. From Peniche we headed east on the N14,  following a disappointing Micheline “scenic” route before heading north  into hills and endless tracts of forest land broken occasionally by unexceptional towns. Hoping for a more interesting route, we left the divided highway for the slower A1 to Coimbra. It was Saint Fatima day and a day of pilgrimage to her shrine in central Portugal. For forty some kilometres, we passed hundreds of pilgrims, some in large groups, others in ones and twos, some walking briskly, some struggling, some in organized groups and uniforms, others a motley crew wearing multi- coloured tank tops, halter tops, t-shirts, singlets, and jeans or shorts.  A few carried poles with small icons and shrines on top, most carried just their water bottles. On arrival at Coimbra. our plan was to suss out the location of a highly recommended restaurant, arrange our campsite, and go back into town for a "proper" anniversary dinner. However, Coimbra is Portugal's oldest, most venerable, and most prestigious university and it was graduation week. A long week-end of celebration and drunken revelry was in progress. It was also a zoo and parking impossible. We finally gave up, found our campground, and with the help of our friendly receptionist tried to make reservations for dinner. To our disappointment, the restaurant where we had hoped to dine now only catered to groups but our receptionist recommended a place for a special anniversary dinner and made reservations for us. Sheila had hoped to wear an elegant summer dress but it proved too skimpy for the cold weather and she had to dress a little less elegantly. The restaurant staff were very attentive and solicitous and gave us a complimentary glass of rosé wine. The food was excellent the covers, bread, butter, and olives; a seafood pate; and a hot cod salad. We followed with an excellent tournedos, batata frita, and rice for me; and venison with sautéed chestnuts and rice for Sheila. The wine, an Alentejo tinto, went well, and we returned to camp with left-over main courses and wine. The only sour note on the night was that when we got back to camp, a French van had parked right next to our pitch and, ignoring our occupied sign, had appropriated our extension cord. I re-appropriated it and the next morning the campers studiously ignored my greeting.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map The Orbitur campground near Guincho Beach. Sheila looking for me in the parkade. High sand dunes hid this spectacular beach from the road. Vertigo inducing chasms cut by the sea. Faithful pilgrims made for a slow transit to Coimbra. The university town of Coimbra.