Jason was up early to photocopy documents and get to the post office at opening time to post off more evidence for Australia House regarding his visa application. Am feeling unsure whether it will come through in time, but will try to stay out of it. We all had another lovely breakfast in the hotel - Emily enjoys acting all grown up and serving herself. At least with a good buffet the kids all get a variety of good things including fruit which is sometimes sorely lacking.
We packed quickly, the girls had a brief play outside and we said goodbye to the lovely hotel and even lovelier Tomar. A truly enjoyable few days. Off again, driving up to Viana do Castelo on the coast of northern Portugal where Jason says I can enjoy the best seafood in the country (according to LP) tonight! Very generous of him considering he doesn't like fish. We got to the appointed campsite early afternoon, another Orbitur one like the Evora place we had liked. This site is just a dune away from the beach and under tall pine trees. There was a man smoking outside reception who i thought was telling me to wait while he finished his cigarette, but then a lady arrived. We booked a bungalow as they are cheap and it was raining. The site looked fairly unkempt and un need of a good spruce up, but benefit of the doubt was given for it being out of season and the fir trees dropping constantly. We were sent to a row of bungalows all old and needing a scrub on the outside. Inside, it stank and was filthy. Dirt and dust on the counters and all over the floor, a broken ventilation panel covered in muck, and then creatures. While game initially, by the third spider and the realisation that I couldn't put felix down on the floor I had to go and say something. The lady was surprised but understanding and brought the key for the hut next door. That initially looked cleaner but again, on closer inspection there were worms, spiderwebs and ant colonies having made themselves a home. We took some photo's and had decided to leave but the reception woman insisted we look at one last bungalow that was an 'upgrade' and newer. I do understand that it's out of season but it's not that difficult to keep things clean! Even young em was demanding to stay in "a nice warm hotel" and had to be given the 'grateful to have a roof over your head' speech. Well, at least felix can crawl around in the last bungalow.
We drove into Viano and up the hill to the cathedral overlooking the town. The roads are made of flat stone brick - lovely to look at, not so great for the car though better than cobbles, but would be very labor intensive to lay. Everyone was hungry so we stopped at the cafe for hotdogs and toasties for the kids, then walked around to the church. A bit monotone but still an imposing building, the views up and down the coastline are commanding. On a clear day it would be amazing. We drove down to the historic centre and proceeded to wander for a few hours, window-shopping and enjoying the lovely little streets. Many are pedestrian only and have the traditional 1 or 2 up and down townhouses but being in Portugal, are tiled. Such a great idea to add color and character. We got some port for Claire and Toby, and a Portuguese Xmas present for Caitlin. It's funny how each small town, instead of having a variety of shops, seems to have a high concentration of one particular kind. In Evora it was shoes and perfume. Here it is pyjama's/underwear and flowers. How can they all survive?! Maybe people go to specific towns according to their needs...who knows? After waiting until the mediterraneanly appropriate time of 7 we walked to the appointed seafood restaurant only to find it opened at 7:30. We had a quick drink and returned as the first customers. It was in the middle of an old, residential fishermans district, narrow but long and cleanly whitewashed inside. The menu consisted of a few types of fish priced per kilo and an arroz or rice dish. Apart from which type of fish, all the other decisions were the chefs. The waiter delivered bread, olives and cheese to the table (a bit cheeky as I later had to pay for them) and I ordered the rice dish with 3 types of fish figuring the kids like paella. The waiter then brought some crispy cod balls which were delicious and the kids enjoyed, them asked if we wanted fish soup. He assured me they were small portions so we got two. It was delicious but nobody else ate it so I felt compelled to try and have some of both. Then the rice arrived in a massive iron pot. Although I put a nominal amount on the girls plates and felix gamely ate a lot for his size, I was pretty much left to wade through it on my own!! It was delicious - perfectly cooked rice, flavoursome sauce and moist superbly fresh fish. I managed to get through much of the fish and left the rice. Jason enjoyed his half bottle of wine, dessert and watching me struggle. Am so full it's not funny. Now for the washing and bed.