Rain hammered on our alloy roof for most of the night. This wasn’t easy to sleep through. At least Uller is half deaf now, so seems less stressed by the sky falling. Welcome back to a maritime climate. At least it’s not cold and damp like it was in the mountains. In the morning there were some light showers that blew through after about an hour of pottering about with breakfast, shower and dishes. Then BAM! The sun blasted through the clouds and splashed warm colour over the freshly washed land. It’s as if Portugal was saying “good morning – look how lovely I am”. I’m not superstitious, but today was going to be a good day.
As having batteries that charge properly is a fairly important part of the way life operates in a motorhome, finding an auto electrician was top priority. So back down to the tourist office in Aveiro to ask in my best Portuguese, if they know of any auto electricians in town – well that’s what I’ll ask if the response is “no” after I say I don’t speak Portuguese, do you speak English, in Portuguese! Yes I know, I’ve just spoken Portuguese to say I don’t speak Portuguese. I know I’m being a lazy foreigner, but in this case it’s a little more complicated than asking for two coffees please, in a language that looks Spanish but sounds Russian at times!
Aveiro looks stunning and a bit bonkers. Canals, palm trees, Baroque buildings, cobbled streets, cobbled pavements with fish and other random patterns. Cars dart here and there and then stop wherever’s convenient. It has a sort of colonial African feel to it. I love it! No time to dither though, we are on a mission today and the sight-seeing will have to wait.
The helpful and quietly smug chap (well I’d be smug if I could speak Portuguese fluently) at the tourist office pointed us to a large workshop in a newer part of town. His information was good, except the workshop didn’t have an auto electrician and fat-boy Hans would not fit in the workshop. Despite it being Friday afternoon with a shop full of people, the helpful chap took me through the workshop to the other side of the building to point out the road I should take to an auto electrician and wished me well with a handshake.
After only one wrong turn, we found the auto electrician! With tiny bits of Portuguese from me and a whole lot more English from the administrator lady and the auto electrician, who stopped everything to take a look, said we may have alternator trouble. They asked if we were staying in the area because they could not have a proper look until Monday. Yes fantastic! The workshop looks full of cars yet they can have a look on Monday. No need to leave my name, just turn up.
We might be spending more money on Hans, but I don’t really care. He is our house, car, office, B&B and package holiday all rolled into one aluminium box. With the big stressy bit of doing more than asking for two coffees over, we decide to head out to the coast and stay in that shanty town campsite we saw earlier and walk on the beach and drink coffee all weekend.
So it was a good day and the warmth and friendliness of the Portuguese made it a much more pleasant experience than I was expecting.
It’s not just shop staff who seem to be happy to help the hapless tourist. Before heading to the Aveiro tourist office we found a quiet spot with angled parking, but Hans’s back end was still in the road by a couple of metres. While I was out checking if cars could still get around Hans’s huge arse, a couple walking past pointed behind the buildings, to “gratis, blah blah”! I replied “autocaravanas, grande?” The reply was “Sim, blah blah, blah bridge”. Thanking them I said “Ah, Obregado”, then drove to the right of the bridge and nearly got stuck in the tight old fishing quarter of Aveiro. OK, so “blah blah, blah bridge” means go over the bridge then turn right, but still very helpful in the end – we found the free motorhome parking spots eventually. Here’s another example from the other day when we were slightly lost in Pardilho. A bloke walking past a hesitant Hans waved to get my attention then pointed down the road in the direction we should go to the autocaravanas parking. In a previous European adventure, I’ve had someone try to grab a bag from the back of our car in Barcelona after pointing to a non-existent problem with the car, so I was instantly suspicious of this attention seeking. Well, not this time! I looked in the direction he was pointing and there was a sign with a little motorhome illustration. I waved and gave him an appreciative thumbs-up at the same time hoping I hadn’t just done a Portuguese “up yours”!
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
I like the look of Aveiro. Anywhere you can sit in a town square, sipping coffee and looking at the lighthouse is OK with me. The world-wide-wait has a great photo from the top of said lighthouse, looking over the square and down a long street. Very pictureshqueao. The little boats in the photo here are a real throw-back. If they were made from hide, they would be currachs. (Is that how to spell Currach? Liz? Sue?)
The lighthouse isn’t in Aveiro. Were you using Google Vague rather than the better known part of their website?