Europe 2005-2006 travel blog

Statue of a lace maker;note the various colours of marble used

Peniche is known for its unique method of lace making. Note the...

The wall around Peniche and the view from our motor home when...

Fish drying on the clothesline

Downtown Peniche - tractors are the vehicle of choice for trips to...

The fishboats are in.. and so are the gulls

Our camping spot along the river in Peniche

We decided on the spur of the moment to drive to Portugal from N. Spain to try to escape the days and days and days of rain we were experiencing. We arranged (via our newly acquired European cell phone - big story on trying to get that to work from country to country!) to meet friend Antonette and her daughter Kimberly outside Ilhavo, a suburb of Aveiro. It is very much a Portuguese resort town complete with miles of stormy beach, houses covered in ceramic tiles, vacation apartments, etc. but naturally all closed up for the season making us feel we were touring a ghost town. And it rained......and rained.

We drove down the coast (Antonette in a rental car and us in the motor home) to Peniche that is about 10 Km off the highway on the coast and worth the effort if the weather was NOT storming with high winds and torrential downpour. We pulled into the campsite and just before it got dark, tried to back up and ended up getting stuck in the sand. We tried as best we could to dig ourselves out with little strips of wood until it got windier, rainier and darker. It took about an hour for me to try to beg the security guard (the campsite now being closed) to call a tow truck - he spoke no English and me, no Portuguese. I finally pulled out the big guns and burst into tears - that produced the results we desired. A "tow truck" turned out to be 5 guys in a tiny delivery truck that could in no way tow a 5.5 ton motor home out of the sand (we were stuck up to the top of the back wheels!). They ended up racing off and arriving back with a huge farm tractor and got us out in about 2 minutes - yet refused to be paid. Ah, you have to cherish these moments given how we were feeling slightly prior to being extracted (read: "tell me again why we are doing this").

Peniche turned out to be a wonderful, traditional Portuguese town but also a surfing "hot spot" full of young surfers from all over the world since there are about 5 surfing beaches in the vicinity. It was entertaining to watch them head out into the surf by the droves despite the rain. Peniche has a dark past since it housed a large maximum security prison for dissidents of the Salazar regime (1930s to 1974). The prison still exists as a museum so very interesting to tour and see the cells, visiting rooms and samples of correspondence (that got through legitimately, that was "censored" and held back, and that got through "clandestinely"). It was all very creepy - especially since Moe was in Portugal in 1973 and was totally unaware all this was happening.

Peniche is an old fashioned fishing town so most everything is given over to fishing, processing, selling or serving fish. It was fun to watch the fish boats come in; have the fishermen selling buckets of fresh sardines along the road, and the millions of seagulls screeching overhead. We tried the traditional sardines at one of the restaurants. They are those little things in the cans, right? Wrong! Our order, for €6 (or about $9) consisted of 7 sardines each a foot-long (plus soup, bread, wine and potatoes) - but there must be a knack to eat them as they seemed to be about 90% bones!

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