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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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.