As usual we were up too early. Had an hour to spare before our taxi was due. We left the apartment and waited outside the Hotel Royal ( which doesn’t look very regal at all). Eventually the taxi arrived and 10 minutes later we were at the Station where Avis is located. A short snoop about and J saw the sign and we went in. We had the car booked for 11:30, and they started the paperwork at 10:45, but we kept being interrupted by nuisance customers dropping cars off or collecting them ( they were technically before us). However at 11:35 we were ready to go.
Not a Renault Clio auto as booked, but a Fiat 500x manual ( a Fiat 500 on Viagara according to the advertisements). Anyway the luggage all fitted and we soon got the hang of keyless entry and ignition.
Tom was fired up, and we were on our way! No real issues getting out of Porto, and once we got on the motorway it was easy. We stopped at a service centre and decided to have something for lunch - selecting bread rolls with lettuce, tomato and cheese. The cheese is white (goats) and not at all like Fetta. Pretty bland really. Also some custard tarts, and coffee which was the worst we have had. J couldn’t finish his.
Back on the road towards Coimbra for a short stop. Tom stuffed us Round as usual - off the motorway, then back on, then off again. J was getting hot under the collar. Eventually he worked out how to put a parking lot in as a destination and off we went. Of course there were barriers across the road Tom wanted to take, so we had some wasted time doing detours - across the river, then back again. Found the car park, one spare space, and no charge today (Saturday).
Another hill with interesting old buildings all over it. It was quite warm, and J and C weren’t all that keen on a big steep walk, so did an abridged version after a cool drink. An unusual feature was the narrow streets with lace cloths (table cloths?) stretched across form building to building. Must investigate.
About 4:15 we thought we should move on - still 90 odd km to go. Tom behaved and wasn’t to know about the roadworks that slowed us down a bit. Eventually we turned off towards Piadao, our destination. At first the roads were wide, and then as they climbed the mountains they became very narrow. Add to this the fact that the bushfires had been through here a year or so back, and the drive became a bit hair-raising! C could look over the edge much of the time - she didn’t say much but there were probably some words going through her mind! And it just kept on going, right up near the top of the mountains above the tree line. Huge wind turbines above us. There was a panoramic view down to the north west. And Tom kept telling us that we had over 10km to go. There were quite a few cars coming towards us, so we figured there must be something worth visiting. Eventually we reached a high point and started descending on the other side. With a few km to go we could see Piadao - a grey Stone Mountain village clinging to the side of a hill.
The hotel , built in the same stone, was soon visible. We drove up,
Asked, and checked in - the room is ok but a bit tired as the reviews have said. But it was cheap enough. C was delighted to find some Zapatillas! (Throw away slippers!). The village is a 1 hr walk (doesn’t look that far - needs checking) , but you can drive closer. Guess what option we will take?
Tea in the hotel restaurant- buffet style. Not flash but good value for money. J had a few things he didn’t recognise. Maybe guts or gizzards but he was not asking! Wine was good, and cheap. C enjoyed herself!
We went on to the balcony and you could see Piodao with lights sparkling. We are looking forward to visiting it in the morning.
After tea, J thought he should read the pack of information the Avis people gave him in Porto - Mt Renald Prieur of Quebec, Canada - if you are reading this, J has all your papers including your rental agreement, and insurance quotes!
At the winery tour yesterday, the guide was describing the industry or the vineyard ( can’t recall which) and he said it was ‘huge’ - with his best Trump impersonation. That got a laugh, so he followed up with ‘Great country, Great country’. He was good. He apologised to some Americans and said “you are on holidays, you don’t need Trump!” Someone chipped in “who does?” J laughed out loud, but nobody else did!