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Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

It is amazing what two weeks away from home can do…

Two weeks in which I haven’t seen the news, besides glimpses on TVs in cafés and bars. From those, I’m pretty much up-to-date with recent transfers of various football players, but politics and other domestic news have escaped me completely.
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Palaces and Churches

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

This blog is running a few days behind.

It seems that no trip, not even a mini-trip, is complete without
a) an episode of food poisoning,
b) a near-death experience.
Mine came when I was nearly razed to the ground by a little red van with flashing blue lights that bounced off the kerb inches away from me after taking a corner too fast. Before I could collect myself, it had disappeared down the Praça de Lisboa.
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Port in Porto

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

Long entry warning

This morning saw me trudging up the Castello Hill in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from the city centre where the world’s greatest port lodges are concentrated. I was heading towards W. & J. Graham’s (est. 1820) because a leaflet inviting me to a tasting was pressed into my willing hands as soon as I stepped off the heavily scaffolded Ponte Luís and—well, I might as well start up the hill and work my way down.

Not that this is a bad start: Graham’s 2000 Vintage Port was ranked in the top 100 wines of the year 2003 by Wine Spectator Magazine—out of a list of twelve thousand.
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Eucalypts and Grapes

Saturday, November 20th, 2004

Thankfully it wasn’t an infection—just the strangeness of it all, I guess, combined with my greed. One of those plates of food would be enough for two—or even four if John wasn’t one of them!

Tonight was snug and in the morning I almost felt tempted to stay. For a moment at least. What was I thinking? This id Camp Sh*t and after the weekend I think I am the site’s only inhabitant—it is time to move on. Not even the dolphins can keep me here any longer, but I leave with fond memories of sun-soaked days watching them from nearly deserted beaches. Even with all that litter, jellyfish (not a pretty sight on a sore stomach) and smoking chimneys in the distance, it was the closest to paradise I have been in a long time. One day I hope to return (and stay in the Pousada de São Filipe!).
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A sh*tty end to a bad day

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

There are (very few!) advantages to a polluted beach but one is that I usually find a piece of styrofoam to sit on. I almost wish there was enough of the stuff to carry back to Camp Sh*t—in fact if I was here for the long term I’d be sure to construct something. The nights are surprisingly cold.
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Having a field-day

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

The tide is well and truly out: Dolphin Bay is almost drained (you can wade across). This means the dolphins were in waters no more than 2m deep. There is no sign of them now (11:15).

A few old men dig in the mud for clams. Blue-green jellyfish the size of dinnerplates have washed up on shore, looking for all the world like ornamental blobs of snot.

The whole of the Portugese coastline seems to be lined with anglers, day and night, and they are out in force today. At first it looked as if angling was a male “club 75+” activity but that is only because most younger people work during the week. I wonder if all these people are fishing for sport or for need. Every now and then, one or the other fisherman pulls in a piece of seeweed. Today they only occasionally land silvery sargos, oval fish the size of the palm of my hand. There can’t be much sustenance in them
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Market Day

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

The old devil overcharged me! —Bus prices here are a bit of a puzzle anyway: sometimes its 1�30 and other times its 1�15 per ride. I handed over 1�50 and received back 5 cents.
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Dolphin Beach

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

I don’t know how long I will stay at Camp Sh*t. It could be some time.

After a hard days’ dolphin watching, I had dinner in the snackbar again; this could become a habit. Then again, you have to take the smooth with the rough (sleeping) and I tried to save some dosh by settling for the ‘Prato de Dia’. It was good, but not great.
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Monday, November 15th, 2004

By the way, John, if you are reading this blog you are welcome to drop me a comment!

Camp Sh*t has a snack bar, the sort of place you’d expect to find on a campsite where you might get a stale sausage roll or, if you’re lucky, a burger and chips. But this is Portugal.
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Camp Sh*t

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

I have a knack of ending up in the most unlikely places when travelling—mine is the only small tent on what is the crappiest campsite I have ever stayed on. There is no sign of any other travellers, just caravaners who seem to have laid down roots here. Our nearest neighbours are not quaint little villages but cement factories (two of them). The view of the estuary is blocked by densely jammed caravans.
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