29 December 2018 to 2 February 2018
Combi Van Days #vanlife for New Years!!
After walking to the Fisterra we had arranged to hightail it to Porto to spend New Years with Aires and Patricia (the Warm Showers hosts who unknowingly signed up for a lot more than just a bike garage hosting us 😐). Aires and Patricia has organised with their good friend Tiago and Joana to head south and party up the New Years in Figueira da Foz. They decided to roll full retro camper spec and had the old T3 VW ready to roll. Although the crew had arranged an Air Bnb in the city Aires and Patricia made the very generous offer to allow us to sleep in the van and have the true #vanlife experience.
The cruise down to the Figueira da Foz was filled with more stops than the Macquarie to Wynyard suburban train but it made for a fun day cruising south.
The following day was New Year’s Eve. We did some 4wd (yes 4wd in a T3 😳 did I mention Aires had heavily modded this bad boy) and visited some pretty epic view points. New Years was a real banger. It is sad to admit but it has been many years since either Emm or me have actually made 12am for a New Years. I’m happy to report this was not the case at all for ushering in 2019. We partied like it was 1999. There was a free music festival being held on the beach and we were all cranking till 4am. Seriously so much fun to usher the new year in partying it up and I vow to make more 12am New Years in the future!
It was a late semi hung over wake up on 1st Jan 2019. We had a long drive back to Porto scheduled for the day but luckily had a stop near Mealhada where we were to meet up with Carlos and Joana (good friends of Aires) who had graciously offered to have us for some suckling pig for lunch (a local speciality). It was unbelievably succulent and tender.
This pretty much wrapped up our time over the new year period and we can’t thank Aires and Patricia enough for making such a banger new year. We consider these guys lifers… life long friends and I know we will cross paths again with them in the future ❣.
#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Pesto jar count (our new sweet hit replacement): 28
Hazelnut spread jar count: 14
Pistachio spread jar count: 2
Jam jar count: 15 (2 jars from berries we picked ourselves)
Honey jar count: 3
Tires Worn Away: 2
Brake pads cooked: 10
Gear cables: 3
Handlebar tape: 2 rolls (1 roll equals 1 handlebar)
# fuel bottles: 3 litres of denatured alcohol, 1x 250g gas bottle
# Sporks broken: 1
# knives broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 2
# shoes broken: 1 pair sandals
# novelty sunnies from Kurt: 1
# novelty straw hats from Kurt: 2 (lost somewhere in the Mediterranean ☹️)
# silicon phone holder (noooo this was essential gonna be hard to navigate now)
# iPhone screen
# Emma’s shoulder
Words of Jerry Fitzgibbon – Em’s Dad for a summary of a spectacular January!
After two days of travel from Oz to Portugal, including cancelled flights and missing bags Julie and I arrived in Porto totally exhausted. We caught the train from the airport to our accommodation that we had arranged to share with our daughter Emma and her husband Beau. As we got closer to our home for the night, we heard a voice in the distance calling “Mum.” It was so good to hear your voice again Emma! The re-union was special (and tearful).
We decided to include the autonomous region of Portugal, known as the Azores. The Azores is 1525 kms west of Portugal and is the most distant destination on the planet from Canberra. We all considered a visit there would be quite unique, such a long, long way from home.
But firstly, we needed to complete our mainland Portugal leg. After a coach trip from Porto to Sagres on the far south coast of Portugal we began our epic hike, known as the Fisherman’s trail. With heavy back packs of camping gear, clothes and food we set off on our quest with spirits high in lovely sunshine.
Hiking along towering cliff tops with unlimited views of the ocean was amazing. Portugal really is a stunning country and the most western nation in Europe.
However, our exhilaration soon gave way to the realisation that hiking through soft sand is very hard work. The hamstrings began to ache and I began to complain a lot lol…. I was however, able to be pacified with the offer of a few beers each night when we reached our destination and bed for the night. Julie and Beau settling for a bottle of red wine on occasions and Emma stuck to her diet cola. Camping each night brought with it our favourite meal (well for Mum and Beau at least) chick pea soup with chorizo and black tea!
Each morning there was a light dusting of frost on our tents, but this soon gave way to another beautiful sunny day.
The little villages along the way were very quiet as it was tourist off peak season, but we were still able to get coffee in the mornings and adequate supplies of food, wine and beer from the friendly locals. Overall we hiked 250 kms from Sagres in the south to Santiago do Cacem in central Portugal. The scenery was absolutely stunning and to hike with the three most important people in my life was very special. Many laughs, many songs, beautiful scenery, some tears (mostly from me) and so, so much fun. Fishermans trail you were tough but I loved every minute of it.
Back in the capital Lisbon, we bundled into our little apartment in the old part of town. Whilst the apartment was quite small it was very comfortable and it felt luxurious to be not camping, also having wifi was a serious bonus. Following a few days of sightseeing in Lisbon we boarded a Ryanair fly to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. What can I say about this place? It was really like stepping into Jurassic Park! Beautiful lakes of blue and green, changing weather patterns effecting the sun and clouds and unexpected heavy showers, they say you can get four seasons in one day in Melbourne but Melbourne you don’t have anything on this place it can change in an instant. Other highlights included active volcanoes and incredible waterfalls, yummy food (slow cooked meat and vegetables in volcanic steam pits) and wine, thousands of old massive trees, wild ginger plants from the Himalayas everywhere and most of all lovely, helpful people. You really get to smell the freshness of nature in the Azores, these tiny islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean will always remain in our hearts.
The five weeks spent with my wonderful wife, beautiful daughter and exceptional son-in-law past far too quickly. It was time to bid our sad farewells.
Portugal you have been great, special mention must go to Aires Vilas Boas and his partner Patricia Riberiro, our warm shower hosts in Porto. Aires and Patricia provided Julie and I and Beau and Emma with wonderful accommodation. Also storage of Emma’s bike after her accident in Bosnia and use of their garage for bike repairs and maintenance. Aires and Patricia you guys are amazing and if you ever come to Australia the hospitality will be coming right back at you!
However, it is now time for Emma and Beau to move on to their African adventure and Julie and I to commence our journey home. Have fun in Morocco Emma and Beau, stay safe and enjoy the next experience in your amazing journey.
Cheers from Jerry Fitzgibbon on behalf of Emma and Beau