Video – Ireland to Portugal

A video summary of our roughly 950nm tour this summer from Cork, Ireland, to Lisbon, Portugal.
We meant to spend a little more time cruising the southern Irish coast and ideally round Fastnet Rock before heading south. However, the weather convinced us to leave right away to take advantage of the northerly winds (and to avoid the upcoming strong southerlies).
While the water remained cold all the way to Lisbon, it was clear that we were moving south as day after day we were wearing less and less layers.
While La Coruna does not look that pretty from the water, we were quickly convinced we found a hidden jewel when walking down the old town alleys with endless rows of restaurants, bars and an amazing atmosphere until late. That in combination with outstanding food and endless opportunities to visit historic sites made for a good start into the Iberian part of our tour.
Santiago de Compostella did not disappoint at all; neither did Lisbon – fantastic destinations on their own.
What surprised us was the natural beauty of the Islas Cies (a must stop for any visitor in Galicia!) as well as the atmosphere of Porto. We wish we had been able to spend more time in either location.
On the downside, the water was much colder than expected and we therefore sailed in a fair bit of fog (we never saw the Portuguese coast north of Lisbon…).

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History and serious food

After our very rewarding first day in Lisbon, we finally managed to get a second one. While it clearly takes a lot more to really get to know Lisbon, we believe we got a good first impression of what this amazing city has to offer.

It all started in the morning when Jan, our Finnish sailor-friend, came over for a late breakfast. Ulf and Philip had taken care of the urgent work items early in the morning and were ready to sneak into the marina showers to clean up – before combining work with pleasure.
We took the train to Lisbon and went from one interesting site to the next, took care of more important work when needed and learned a lot more about Jan, the Finnish culture and how quickly he got into sailing (he bought his boat 3 years ago, quickly learned how to sail and now had managed to sail single-handedly all the way from Finnland to Spain!!).

We ticked a few more UNESCO world heritage site boxes as well (after Porto’s old town and the Torre de Hercules before in A Coruna) by visiting the Torre de Belém (a historic tower at the river Tagus) and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (an impressive monestry that among other things is the home of Vasco da Gama‘s tomb (the Portuguese explorer and first European to reach India by sea)).

We were also quite lucky that Salt of Portugal liked one of our earlier posts. We were curious about who they were and very positively surprised by their blog and wished to have come across it earlier. Have a look at their really nice wordpress blog – very good quality.
We followed up and went to two places they recently wrote about:
Bairro do Avillez to have a late lunch and after that to Manteigaria for desert and were very happy that we did.
Bairro do Avillez had an outstanding atmosphere and very high qualiy food, while Manteigaria cleary made the best Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon.
A walk through downtown to the Praça do Comércio and a joint dinner on the boat with Jan rounded of our day.
While business work and sightseeing were our main focus over the last few days, we will change gears tomorrow to get more boat work done as we getting ready for the sail to Madeira.

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Today was a slow and relaxing day.

We stayed in Cascais, got some work done, did laundry, scoped out the supermercado (they do deliver – which is important for our planned shopping spree on Thursday before we leave to Madeira), picked up the not repaired gennaker (and took measurement to potentially find a used replacement online), watched the very impressive J-Class Endeavour tie up in the marina – always quite a sight when the mast length of the tallest mast in the harbor doubles…

We also made a first connection with the Clube Naval de Cascais where Ulf and Philip are planning to work from for the next couple of days (and change burgees with) (they are the first yacht club that has optimists made out of aluminum we came across).

We had spent about 30min debating various ways to get Tioga out of her slip against the gusty northerly and were positively surprised  that the wind had not only calmed down significantly but also turned 180 degrees – making for a very smooth departure – lots of noise about nothing and quite a relief for us (and better than the other way around).
We then left the marina and anchored just outside of it – to learn that we had to move due to the local fireworks.
Moving half a mile further down the coast positioned us well to watch the show and enjoy Ulf’s first pulpo dinner – and what it dinner it was, we want more, a lot more…

Maybe the day wasn’t as slow as it seemed…

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A day is not enough

The day started with the obligatory drone flight and some work. We were quite impressed by Cascais last night already and got to see more of this beautiful summer resort town on our way to the train station. Walking past the Clube Naval de Cascais we got a feel for how active the local sailing community is (SB20 worlds, ORC regattas, dragon racing all going on at the same time – it would also later be the reason why North Sails would not be able to find capacity to fix our gennaker before our departure – we are now in touch with a sailmaker on Lanzarote).

The train to Lisbon runs roughly every 20 min and takes just over 30 min to downtown Lisbon.
Similar to Porto, we came across many beautiful houses and steep roads. Overall, Lisbon felt larger and more polished/wealthier. There were lots of tiled houses, castles, cathedrals and many picturesque squares, shopping streets and tempting restaurants, cafes and bars – and also lots of cool/modern elements. We took the ride down the Santa Justa lift, walked the lower streets of the Baixa (where we had a quick lunch) and found our way up to the castle. What a view!! Clearly worth a visit.
We came across lots of references to Fado, the typical local Portugese music, rode the tram a couple of times and walked the narrow winding streets of Alfama (the oldest district of Lisbon) as well as Mouraria, or Moorish quarter, which is one of the most traditional neighborhoods of Lisbon.
An outside dinner in one of the small side streets rounded off the impressive first visit to a fantastic city.

The high numbers of photos is trying to reflect the sensory overload we experienced during this amazing visit. We will come back for more!

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We had a nice sail through the night. Although our gennaker had exploded yesterday, we still made good speed and zig-zagged around our rumb line (the wind was too northerly to sail straight to the next waypoint) towards Cascais (on the outskirts of Lisbon).
Except for one jibe we had to make to avoid a close encounter with a freighter at 4am, it was generally an uneventful sail.

It was interesting to see how the water depth changed quickly from 100s of feet to 1000s and back again.
When the wind died down, we started the engine to move on. As the water got shallower, we saw dolphins again and the sun came out when we rounded the cape towards Lisbon.

Cascais turned out to be a very nice place that is packed with people until late at night. The marina is very large and international (we have French, Swedish, German, American and Australian neighbors) and hosts a lot of remarkable yachts.

Our late night dinner in town exposed us to yet new versions of Iberian food, more live music and other entertainment.

Swings and roundabouts

Today was everything but a steady day; starting off on wonky legs after yesterdays extensive port wine sampling, we marched back to Chirchill’s Caves- the port winery we, disappointingly, found closed yesterday evening. Pablo, our guide for the tour, took a lot of time guiding us not only through the solemn halls of the site, but also the rich sensations of the selected wines. Pablo obviously did a good job, seeing us leave the property with a range of their favorites and behind our planned schedule.

Leaving the Douro river we found ourselves veiled in thick fog again, wind blowing steadily in our backs, allowing us to bring out the genaker. The next few hours were dominated by high waves but generally good cruising conditions until suddenly the genaker tore. Luckily, after some minutes of tension, we were able to pack up its remains and, unfurling the genua, continue our journey south.

The evening bore another highlight, when Mark, our sealegged caretaker legend, served an awesome dish of lamb and beans. Yum!

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Morbid and Maintained

It took us a while to get going this morning, business work, registration in Portugal, dealing with the heavy rain of the thunderstorm slowed us down.
After a nice walk along the Douro river, we reached Gaia (where the port wine is made/stored in the cellars) and then then the footbridge across the river. We had expected some interesting sites in this city of 1.2 million, but were overwhelmed by the beauty and size of this large old town where every corner we took revealed yet another interesting or historically relevant site – just amazing.
Porto is truly an amazing city that is worth a visit.
We enjoyed the narrow and winding streets, had lunch soaking in the vibe of Porto and even found a traditional barber shop (with the old chairs etc from decades ago) were Ulf and Marc got their well deserved hair cut.
We tried to visit the very interesting bookstore (where it is believed JK Rowling came up with a lot of the ideas for the Harry Potter story) but were reluctant to pay for visiting a book store (never mind waiting in line for a long time to get a ticket to visit the store).
A traditional Portuguese Cod snack with Port wine helped us through the afternoon before we settled for a nice seafood dinner close to the marina (after we learned that the Port wine tours were not offered after 18:00 (the difference in working hours between Spain and Portugal is quite significant)). Of course, the restaurant had a nicely smoking grill out on the walkway – we found it thanks to one of the lovely local grandmothers whose gesture were easy to follow…We were also finally able to order Percebes (a type of barnacle that was sold out in all prior places we saw it on the menu). A very tasty appetizer. While physically very different (it looks like turtle feet) it reminded us of Cracas we had on the Azores last year.

Tasting more Port wine and a few deserts later this night complemented another perfect day. We were thankful that the weather turned out that well (after the quite heavy thunderstorms in the morning) and hope to visit a Port wine tour tomorrow before leaving to Lisbon.

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And shade we got

Unfortunately, the fog from last night did not lift and we motored out of the harbor without much to see.
As forecast, the wind picked up further offshore and we enjoyed a couple of hours under gennaker and for a while even blue sky.
In the afternoon the fog caught up with us and forced us into our foul weather gear and hats. Later, the wind calmed down and not being able to see as far as 50m we found our way with the help of the AIS system (there were quite a few fishing boats out there).
We motored up the Duoro river in the dark and enjoyed the atmosphere as the fog lifted further inland.
Tied up at the dock, we cleaned up and enjoyed another seafood dinner that Marc prepared.

Looking for shade

Today was a welcome slow day. We got groceries and laundry done, used the beautiful club house for business work, strolled around the impressive castle and were throughout the day looking for shade. We even rigged the large sun-cover to keep us and the boat cool.
It was another sunny and calm day in Galicia.

The facilities of the Monte Real Club Yates are very good, the staff extremely friendly and most speak English – an easy environment to feel at home.

In the evening, Ulf arrived after a long journey and we celebrated his arrival with an outstanding Spanish meal and lots of Rioja (even our favorite ice cream place was still open at 1am).
Hopefully the forecast for  tomorrow holds true and we will leave towards Portugal with some northerly wind (currently it is dead calm and fog moved in).

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Paradise and back

It wasn’t quite paradise but Islas Cies are pretty cool.
We went ashore at about 10 in the morning and walked most of the paths for the next 5 hours and could not believe the views the islands had to offer – from perfect beaches (voted the world’s  best beach by the Guardian in 2007) via very cool forests to quite impressive views from the mountain tops to everything in between…

We walked until we could not more and  were happy to finish it all with a swim in the still pretty cold water.
While we did expect some people on the islands (we had to get a special permission to visit with our own boat upfront), we were quite surprised to see ferries drop off tourists by the truck load – it is fair to say that we were not alone out here – nevertheless, the experience was awesome and this might have been the best day of our trip yet.

We then moved on to Baiona, were we not only had our first Med-mooring experience and dolphins in the harbor, but also saw the replica of one of Columbus’ ships who had sailed back here on one of his explorations.

We also had dinner, but it wouldn’t quite make today’s blog post. The icecream afterwards, on the other hand, should – it was simply outstanding…

We can tell we are back to civilization as people speak English again and prices are going up.

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