Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PORTUGAL: Portinho de Arrábida

Portinho de Arrábida
Before leaving Spain, our host Peter directed us to the small community of Portinho de Arrábida, remembering it as very charming from his time working in Portugal decades ago. It lies on the peninsula between two large estuaries immediately below Lisbon. Much of the southern area is taken up by the Arrábida Natural Park next to the city of Setubal at the mouth of the Sado estuary.

Portinho panorama (2)The short coastal drive after Setubal was very pretty, with many sheltered coves. We turned into Portinho itself just after 5pm, and then down a narrow road to a small cluster of houses and restaurants on piers. We walked around the bay, past people returning from swims on a white sand beach about five hundred metres on through a parkland track. The sign at the start of the track said no dogs, and although a number of small dogs accompanied the people, I judged better not to risk a bigger dog.

Munson on the shore  Gustav at sea 
I didn’t want Munson wet or sandy before checking into our hotel this evening so Gustav and I took advantage of a ladder down to the bay, and swam for about half an hour while he looked on patiently from the footpath.
Portinho panorama (2)
Portinho (2)  Munson stands watch
Portinho (photo taken at water-level)
It was still another hour to our hotel near downtown Lisbon. We had more fighting with Portuguese roads, first when I went through one of a row of tollgates and discovered that a road barrier was erected between the two exit roads, so we ended up paying to go back south another 10km, and then paid again to return to the same spot; and then when crossing the bridge into Lisbon where none of the tollgates had a recognisable label to indicate which was needed.

The “25th of April Bridge” crossing the Tejor river into Lisbon is surprisingly less than 50 years old, and is quite similar in appearance to the Golden Gate Bridge (some thirty years older). Apparently its toll system has always been messy, and now I am no longer surprised.

The 25th of April celebrates the 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal which ended military dictatorship. That day also happens to be celebrated in Australia for the ANZAC involvement in the Gallipoli campaign in WWI, and there is an ANZAC Bridge in Sydney.

Lisbon area
We checked into our hotel in the Lisbon Saldanha district, and I was rather shocked to find that Munson was going to be charged as a full extra human (true for all dogs), which made it the most expensive surcharge I’d ever seen for a dog in any of the dozens of countries I travelled to. To add to this, the hotel required I sign a detailed contract which essentially allowed them to charge me even more than our total bill if they found the slightest hint of anything they could possibly ascribe to a dog. At that point in the evening it was too late to go looking for another hotel, but I was not a happy person. There is no excuse for a hotel (advertising itself as dog friendly) to spring these on a guest at check-in.

After a long day on the road, Gustav and I weren’t ready to properly go exploring, and it was a good half-hour walk to downtown area so we satisfied ourselves with a circuit around the neighbourhood. After locating some Chinese takeaway, we went back to the hotel to crash.

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