The McKenzie's Official world tour site
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Portugal times come to an end for now and Macswayround moves on................
We had an enjoyable (if only a little wet!) day in Lisbon – and had great fun exploring the sights in an automatic buggy! Phil’s new toy had a top speed of 25 miles per hour which was ample around the streets and we think that they are still a relatively new addition to the city-as we got a lot of strange and bemused looks along the way!
The buggy came kitted out with a satellite navigation system and a verbal guided tour system for the specific route that we chose and we could access ‘pedestrian only’ areas if we waited for the post in the centre of the road to lower itself out of our way!
We took the very narrow, cobbled and windy backstreets of the ‘old Lisbon’ and found some beautiful little places that we would never have found either on foot or with Nessie!
As a special treat on the day before his birthday both Phil and Ben took the Portuguese barber shop experience! Phil went for the full package – hair cut, bead trim and shave with the good ‘ole cut throat razor! Phil says this is definitely the closest shave he has ever had! Ben had the shortest hair he has ever had too – and looks like a different boy now – even with a number 4 all over!
Phil celebrated his 40th birthday on November 5th and our family tradition of a firework party was put on hold for this year. In previous years our celebrations have grown and grown, and last year we had approximately 175 people in our garden! There is always a donation bucket raising money for (of course) the Devon Air Ambulance. So if any of you out there have been meaning to donate for us and have not quite got around to it yet – what a good time this would be! EVERY PENNY COUNTS!!
We found an enormous shopping centre just outside Lisbon, to spend the birthday day (after breakfast in bed!)
The children were then amazed to be able to have only cake, ice-cream and jelly for tea – as a very special treat!
Later in the evening we used the remainder of the sparklers as these were the only fireworks in sight around here! Phil was then able to enjoy a sample of his all time favourite whisky – Glenmorangie. He had bought this bottle in Inverness back in June this year – especially for this special occasion and managed to save it for the day too!!
As ever- on the journey of Macswayround – so far – we have enjoyed the luxury of no deadlines, no pressure, no bookings.....we have an idea of our route but this has already varied along the way many times!
As the shipping company still continue to have no idea of a sail date-even having quoted for the route and taken our payment details......we were in a dilemma. How long do we ‘wait’ in the sand and mainly sunshine of Portugal for our boat to come in?!
Phil ‘s birthday provided the mile stone that we were after and following uncountable ,unproductive emails and telephone calls we decided to take other action to get us back on the move.
Flexibility is the name of the game and so we found ourselves saying an emotional farewell to Sesimbra and motoring out of Portugal. We had befriended many many cats during our time here and three young kittens who had arrived on our doorstep a few days before. Everyone was devastated when one got squashed under the wheels of Nessie as we left .........the jokes that were created the day before such as ‘what goes meow crunch?’ – were not funny anymore.
We drove back through Portugal and into Spain. We camped at Salamanca-and found a camp that we have previously enjoyed - Camping Regio, and then came into France. We stayed near Leon at the Le Galan Castets des Landes and then near Poitiers at Le Futuriste Camp. This whole area has been developed with a futuristic theme and has a theme park (Futuroscope) with many space age activities and prehistoric attractions......the information leaflet was jam packed. We will keep this idea up our sleeve for another visit!
Lastly we reached Argentan and stayed at Camping Du Val De Braize, just south of Le Havre.
We took the ferry from Le Harve to Portsmouth!! YES-you read correctly.....not an anticipated route -but it does mean that we have completed a loop of Europe during the first ‘leg’ of Macswayround!! We found an English Shipping company (contacted by mobile as we drove through Portugal!)who gave us a sailing date immediately (Southampton to New York) and a quote that was unbelievably and substantially lower than our previous route! It is obviously not always the case that the shortest distance covered is going to be the best option!
After landing in Portsmouth we have been very fortunate to be able to stay with Phil’s cousin, Don and his wife, Sandy. They have been extremely hospitable and provided us with an amenable base to organise ourselves once more and to arrange the next stage of our travels. We are so grateful to them as we have turned their home and life completely upside down!
It has been very strange as this has been our first stay out of Nessie since we left home in July! We delivered Nessie to Southampton docks where she will need to be for a few days before she is taken away! See you next in USA -Nessie!! She will sail on the ship named Don Juan and leaves on Wednesday (19th Nov).
We have booked a flight to New York (from Heathrow) and will give the children their first flying experience! Everyone is very excited – after a re-charge –the next part of our adventures will continue........Nessie is organised, our flight is arranged and a Hotel is booked for our first few days in New York!!
Wild life Hit:
* A Green Woodpecker in France!
Sunday, November 16, 2008 12:46:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) Portugal
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A poet and didn't know it ....................
WAITING FOR OUR BOAT TO COME IN
Oh- for a boat,
To be a float,
And sail away to USA,
We’ve had a great stay,
At Sesimbra Bay!!
We now need to make our way,
And sail Nessie across the pond,
Oh – how we wish for a magic wand!!
Portugal has – as ever – been ace,
But now our world trip must touch base,
And continue on its way,
To let us fight another day – Please!!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:13:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) Portugal
Portugal - Part 2..............
Caught in the Waves.............
"I've got the whole moon in my hands!"
"Keep back from the Edge Ben!"
Inside the Glass Bottom Boat............
A Colourful Fishing Boat!
Sesimbra Friends- Salvadore and Angelina.
Canadian friends - Monir, Lisa and the gang!
Geoff & Kath-Fellow GB travellers!
Box Weighing Ceremony!
Sesimbra beach in flight.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:09:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) Portugal
Monday, October 27, 2008
Portugal - part 2..............
We have continued to have an enjoyable stay in Sesimbra and have almost become ‘locals around the town and campsite!’ It is amusing to see the confused expressions of the regular campers (who arrive late on a Friday night to their permanent pitches-for every weekend) and do not understand why we are still here?! Word has spread about what we are doing and where we are going next......Everything is so very laid back here in Portugal – which is one of the things we love about the country but there is no rushing anybody –and when you have something a bit urgent to arrange it makes things quite difficult...................
We are still making final arrangements for the shipping of Nessie and our belongings (separately) to the USA and we have boxed everything apart from the bare minimum into 33 boxes of varying shapes and sizes! We have had to give the weight and dimensions of every box, including a detailed itemised list and wait on the booking clearance – something we were aware of before we left- but were unable to arrange in detail as we did not know how many boxes we would have at this stage. Phil still maintains that the girls have 10 boxes of clothes against the boys 2 boxes......but we beg to differ! Phil even had to set up a weighing station at the branch of a big tree, using a small set of scales and a chain to hang individual boxes from!
As the weather is still being very kind to us we have had many a day at the local beach and we had a great time at the Albufeira Lagoon-perfectly safe for the children to swim and just around the corner the mighty waves roared.........we watched experienced surfers who were actually running into the water from the shore and surfing out to sea as well as back in again!
The panoramic views from the lighthouse at the most easterly side of Portugal were simply breathtaking and the lighthouse is now centre to a small community of people who live in the cottages surrounding it, with a wall to enclose it. The children were interested in the Homing Pigeons that were living at the lighthouse and a nearby shepherd as he tended to his flock of sheep.
Phil and the children have enjoyed some fishing with homemade bamboo rods and we also took a trip on the Aquarama Glass bottom boat out of the harbour. This was very entertaining and the glass gave the impression that we were only centimetres from the sea bed – although we were reassured that we were at least three and a half metres from the base at all times! We saw many fish of all shapes and sizes.
We have met many more friendly people around the camp and have enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Our neighbours who arrive back each weekend – Salvador and Angelina have been very helpful to us and have even offered to come to the port and help with the arrangements and the speaking Portuguese part – which could be extremely useful!
We have also met a Canadian couple who are travelling Europe–Munir and Lisa and we will hopefully meet again when we reach Canada next year!
We were also grateful to fellow GB travellers – Geoff and Kath who also have a Mercedes Geist motor home and have showed us a trick or two to do with our satellite dish which helps us to receive even more English channels !
On Tuesday 21st October- we hit the first 100 days of our trip and we had a family party to celebrate! We had BBQ sardines, party games, music, dancing and a triple jump competition! When it was dark we lit the night sky with colourful sparklers too!
Phil managed to have an incident in the local public library – yes we did say library! As you may or may not know this is not the place you will often find Phil! We took a trip there as the internet connection back at camp was having a blip and we needed to check our emails. Phil was carrying the laptop bag (again not a Phil thing!) Shortly after entering the library reception Phil swung around and the computer bag knocked an exhibition piece of pottery clean off its low stand and everyone stood in silence, hands over mouths, as it smashed into lots of tiny pieces. Woops- wrong time, wrong place – an unfortunate accident and it was nothing to do with the children on this occasion! Phil asked if anyone spoke English and left his details while they contacted the artist. A few days later we have had a meeting with the artist and our travel insurance will hopefully come to our rescue as the value of the piece has been set at an amazing 1,500 – BIG WOOPS. This amount was dropped in the space of 10 minutes by 500 if paid today – NO – probably not ! You obviously have to have an appreciation of this sort of art and it is very difficult to put a value on such pieces. We did not see the creation prior to the ‘accident’ but Ben has since described it as a model of a dinosaur’s foot? We have put the matter into the hands of our insurance and are waiting to hear the outcome.
· Tawny Owl very close by each night.
· White Lizard – about 8 inches long crawling across the toilet ceiling!
· The male shower block has just been kitted out with shower heads ( not just a pipe out of the wall) and the shower head has been fitted with Hemp....a method not often used in UK (Phil thinks).
Monday, October 27, 2008 7:49:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) Portugal
A Traditional Sight in Portugal.
'What's the problem officer?'
Somebody forgot the plug!
'I'm not getting very far!'
'Nor am I!'
'Mind the balconies Nessie!'
A Lovely Bit of Masonary!
'Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.'
Monday, October 27, 2008 7:46:34 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) Portugal
Friday, October 17, 2008
Sorry for the delay in writing - time flies around here!!
Our next trek was to be the longest until we get to the United States! We travelled into Portugal and rested at Orbitur Camp in Evora (approximately 100 miles from Lisbon). Here the staff were obliging and the sun shone on us once more. I even tried out that fig oil concoction I was sold in Croatia! The children used the swimming pool (as they were getting withdrawal symptoms!) and Jemma, in particular, practiced many different swimming strokes and her diving!
After clearing up some dodgy stomach bug (thank-you to those fellow English travellers who kindly revamped our medicine cupboard for us!) -we continued our travels towards Lisbon and found Camping Forte do Cavalo at Sesimbra, about 20 miles away from Setubal (2nd October 2008). We took what might be referred to as the direct route – right through the town centre! As the roads continued to narrow and the porches and balconies overhung the cobbled street - we found ourselves zigzagging along and thought that maybe we shouldn’t be there....until a very helpful local stopped us and said “do you need some information about the camping site?!” Yes please and thank-you very much! We took a walk down those roads later and couldn’t believe that Nessie had been there!
The camping site was at the top of the hill overlooking the harbour and beach and the views were beautiful. The harbour area has a very rugged and scenic coastline. As the name suggests it has an ancient Forte just next door. The play area has provided many big trees which just have to be climbed by Jemma and Ben! They have spent many a happy hour looking across at the views from a height!
With just a short journey to the bottom of the hill a perfect beach was to be found – much quieter now as it is out of the summer season but still blessed with glorious weather. We have visited on many occasions so far – and enjoyed creating sand castles with bridges and moats that hold water through to sand sculptures of kayaks! I was even enjoying a quiet time reading my book one day when I was very rudely disturbed by a most peculiar looking dog –wagging its tail at me – very scary – bless it! (take a look at the photo added soon - and everything will become clear!)
We drove along to see Setubal -to get a sense of direction around the town. We understand that the American shipping company that we have been in contact with over the last few months, sail freight from Setubal to Baltimore...........more on this to follow.......(we did find an Indian takeaway although we have all agreed that it wasn’t a patch on the Bay of Bengal!)
Sesimbra is a quaint and picturesque traditional fishing town –in the heart of the Costa Azul. It is increasingly making its mark as a tourist resort with everything you need and a few luxuries too – all within easy reach. Each day we leave the camp to explore something new and at the bottom of the hill there are always many fishermen sorting out there lines across the road! We pass through the harbour with a row of fish huts......Ben calls this row his sweet shop and we have barbequed a wide range of fish (and a rabbit!) in the last couple of weeks, including Red Snappers, Dorado, sardines, and horse mackerel . There are many wild/stray cats everywhere and they have been extra interested in what we are cooking! We have eaten at a restaurant in the town and tried monk fish in a fish stew, and lemon sole, also Paella and pizza at the camping restaurant.
The children are busy with more maps and routings. Ben is still planning the world trip that he would like to do when he is a grown up (his own words!) and Jemma is reading an animal tracks and signs book and planning how to track animals when we reach the USA!
We have visited the castle in Sesimbra which was in very good condition considering that it is dated back to 1040 . We assume that this preservation has much to do with the climate – compared to that of a UK building!
More news of Sesimbra and our adventures to follow shortly...............
Friday, October 17, 2008 8:55:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) Portugal