Last day in Portugal, sniff, sniff

2018 2

(There’s a steep walk from the parking)

We found another wall. In the town of Bragança in the north-east corner of Portugal. The town provides free overnight motorhome parking just under the castle walls. Unfortunately, the castle was closed on Monday but I went to see the walls, they’re open all the time.

2018 3

(Can you see the road sign? Cars go through this gate in both directions!)

They can’t close the walls because there are houses in there, people are still living within the walls. It reminded me of Carcassonne in southern France. Except for the crowds. And the number of shops. It’s what I wished for in Carcassonne – peace and quiet.

2018 6

(This is too high! Too high!)

Remember my new rule about climbing city walls? A railing is required. I forgot. Somehow these walls lulled me into a false sense of security and again I found myself very high up without a railing… I started off at a low section with only four steps – no problem. By the time I was looking down over the houses I was thinking of ringing Denis. Instead I turned around very slowly and kept looking up until I was back where I started on the ground in front of the four steps.

2018 7

(The views were nice though)

Later that evening we went to dinner at a restaurant inside the walls. I booked it after I climbed backwards down the four steps. It got great reviews in the parkings app and as this was our last night in Portugal we were celebrating. Or maybe commiserating. Anyway, we arrived at 7.31pm. one minute after opening. There was a young couple already seated (must have been waiting outside) and we waited while the waiter explained the menu to them. Then he came over and directed us to the table right next to them… There was no one else in the restaurant and the four of us were as close as family. The waiter went back to explaining and Denis and I partook of the up and down eyebrow thing you do in such situations.

2018 8

(This gate is only one way…)

After the waiter left them they were speaking in one of the languages we don’t speak (i.e. any other language that’s not English) so we wouldn’t be able to understand them and they wouldn’t be able to understand us, grand. The waiter arrived with us and explained the menu and as we were deciding I overheard our neighbour say they were on bicycles. In English. Right so they will understand us… more eyebrows. But hang on.

2018 4

(View of new part of town from inside the walls)

I have a secret talent. It turns out that even though I can’t speak another language I am very good at identifying languages. Go me. I identified they were speaking German to each other or it could have been Dutch or maybe Flemish? It didn’t matter this meant they had cycled from Germany (or Holland or Belgium.) I was now more interested in them than I was in Denis so I ignored his eyebrows and the first chance I got I turned my head a little and said, did you say you were travelling by bicycle?

2018 5

(The easy bit that tempted me)

That was it. We talked all night, like family – on a good day. The language was German but they both speak English. They’d been travelling 100km a day, by bicycle! They had travelled all over Portugal and then down to Morocco and this was their last day in Portugal too. They’d been to Lisbon and Serpa as well, remember Serpa? She’s a language teacher. When her secondary school teacher told her French was the hardest language she decided to study that first! I can’t remember how many languages she has but it’s her full-time job, well except when they can negotiate holidays like this six-week trip. She explained why I have such difficulty with languages (I’ll tell you later.) He was born in East Germany and was 11 when the wall came down. The biggest impact for him was his heroes from comics and television disappeared overnight to be replaced by our heroes… that made me sad. He also missed their sweets. They were really inspiring and such a gift for our last night. Before we left we all thanked the waiter for seating us together and he nodded knowingly. He’s French, they know stuff.

Oh and the reason I have difficult with languages? It takes time to learn and I give up too soon. Mairead.