Thursday, 7 June 2012

The shopping fortress

Day 42 - 03.06.12 Tui and Valenca do Minho
Sure enough we awake to a much brighter day and set off mid-morning to Valenca.  The walk across the iron bridge to Portugal offers great views along the river.  It’s odd to just walk into a different country with a different language and time-zone without anyone asking to see your passport.  At least this time there’s a signpost to let us know of the change!

Valenca is a small town inside a huge and incredibly impressive fortress.  The views from the fortress are again utterly stunning.  It’s a fantastic place to walk around and looks to have been a formidable bastion in its time.  We take a walk along the walls nipping in and out of fortified parapets to enjoy the view.

Valenca is known as the ‘shopping fortress’ and it’s easy to see why.  Despite being Sunday, every shop, bar, cafĂ© and restaurant is open with their owners stood in the doorway hoping tourists will come and view their wares. The shops have almost identical stock of bedding, towels and tourist trinkets.  The restaurants all have their immaculately dressed staff outside like an army waiting to strike with death by customer service.  It’s a little uncomfortable in its pushiness and puts a bit of a dampener on walking around the rest of town, although aside from some very pretty houses and a couple of nice churches there isn’t much left to see.  The attraction of this town is largely its views and the fortress both of which are well worth the journey.

We head back to the van for lunch and a short siesta and the go to explore Tui.  It’s a much sleepier town but has some very nice sights to offer including an unusual looking church and a large cathedral.  Thankfully it has none of the tourist tat of Valenca although it’s on the Camino de Santiago so gets quite a few visitors passing through.

It’s been a busy day which turned out to be pretty hot, so by the time we get back to the van we’re knackered!  We saw some great sights though and definitely made up for yesterdays flop.

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