Driving in Portugal was one of those things where little preparation bit me in the butt. The road map I bought at a street vendor in Lisbon was horrible and streets were not really well signposted. From Lisbon to Porto on the Autostrada is about a three hour drive. So I thought taking a detour along the coast can’t be thaat much longer. Oh boy was I wrong. I wanted to spend two nights out in the hammock on the way to Porto. I didn’t expect to be driving almost all of those two days (including side detours voluntary and involuntary). Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t even ask google on the matter. If I do now, it tells me that those three hours become eight. I don’t have any regrets though. I had reasons for my decisions at any given time and I encountered beautiful places and wonderful people along the way.
I had some memorable stops. One of them I already showed.
The drive on my second day was characterized by beautiful coastal views and many little towns and villages. I had dinner in one of them with the sun in my face, a beautiful view of the Atlantic and a nice chat with two teenagers from the Netherlands. Searching for a good spot for the night wasn’t so easy but in the end I found a quiet dead end in a wealthy people’s neighbourhood that led to cliffs covered in dune and shrub vegitation. There I found a spot between two dune pines that felt really cozy and private. Just as I had set up my camp and was about to check out the beach, I saw some dark clouds coming in. So no beach for me – instead 45 minutes of struggeling with my tarp (for the first time) and strings and finding anchors. After that all urge of exploring was gone and I wrapped myself in my hammock with my book while listening to the ocean.
The next morning I would have been able to see the ocean, only if it wouldn’t have been hiding in a wall of white – low clouds and fog were melting together and gave me another hazy morning. I packed up and left. At a little beach town I stopped for some breakfast and had a nutella banana crêpe, while watching the people at the beach. They didn’t seem to care much about the weather – holidays are holidays, beach is beach. Or maybe they knew it would be better soon. After that and a morning toilete break I hit the road again. Around noon the clouds started burning off, just in time for a road sign telling me about a “lago” (lake). After some frustrations had accumulated – driving a lot, searching for a place for the night, setting up a tarp for the first time, poor weather… – I was in need for balancing out my mood and decided to check out this lake. I found exactly what I needed – the sun just coming out, a beautiful, tranquil, little lake set in the middle of a pine forest, happy locals and a small beach. Everyone was at ease and I enjoyed watching a passionate dad play with his daughters. I went for a short swim – the first in Portugal, read a few pages and fell asleep. When I woke up I felt rejuvenated and energized and was ready to hit the road again.
I continued my way north and stopped where I felt like it. Among the stops: a river mouthing into the sea with giant sand dunes next to it, enjoyed by many and a look out overlooking a lush sea of green. For a short way I picked up two hitch hikers who were travelling with a tent along the coast.
After getting lost and being very confused in Portos traffic, I arrived in this second biggest city of Portugal in the early evening. I was welcomed by my host and his dog…