A Travellerspoint blog


Our journey home; some reflections; some facts and figures

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The drive home took a mostly inland, direct route, much of it on motorway. It took us 6 days because we spent some time exploring places we stayed in inland Spain (Trujillo, the Sierra de Francia and Salamanca) as well as taking a small detour to stay again in Itxassou in the French Basque country. Here are a few photos taken before the rain met us, mid-France.

Morning sunshine in Trujillo

The buildings in the village of Mogarraz (in the Sierra de Francia, south of Salamanca) have paintings of people posted all over the walls. This is a relatively recent art installation and the paintings are copies of photos taken in 1967 of all the then inhabitants of the village.

The hills around Itxassou, looking brighter in October than they had back in August.

Some reflections on the journey as a whole

The mainland Europe Atlantic coastline is almost all about beach tourism of one sort or another, plus fishing industry in some places. There is rather little that is wild and undeveloped (as in Scotland and Ireland). This has a lot to do with the weather but also something to do with de-population in Scotland and Ireland and perhaps differences across countries in planning and conservation policies and practices. There are also big differences in the availability of good maps for walkers and (probably) good paths, as well as access to the countryside (though not beaches as such). So, travelling the coastline involved doing rather different things in each of the five countries we visited, not only because of the weather. This is something I might have anticipated but didn’t.

Also, I had expected to see many sunsets over the sea and not to be able to resist taking and posting photos of all of them. In fact, there were rather few. The Atlantic coast often doesn’t actually face west or our limited budget meant that we were some way inland in the evenings. But here are two from the last stages of the trip.

Sunset at Olhão (Portugal), almost over the sea

Sunset over Vejer de la Frontera (Spain)

Facts and figures

We started the trip on 24th April and finished it on 9th October. We had two intervals at home, one of 10 days on our way from Ireland to France via Fishguard and Newhaven and one of 3 days when we flew back from Bilbao to Stanstead. So we were travelling for 155 days. We stayed overnight in 79 different places. The car travelled 10,655 miles (17,148 km).

[This is not the same distance as calculated by the map embedded here because that includes miles travelled by boat and excludes the distance covered by side trips, getting lost and so on. Both exclude the distance we did on foot.]

We went on a lot of boats, especially in the first part of the trip. For the record, since I kept it, here is a list of those trips, with the car and without (marked *).

Thursday, April 25 Ferry Aberdeen to Lerwick, Shetland
Monday, April 29 Boat trip to Mousa island from Sandsayre pier *
Wednesday, May 01 Ferry from Toft, Mainland Shetland to Ulsta on Yell
Wednesday, May 01 Ferry from Gutcher on Yell to Belmont on Unst
Friday, May 03 Ferry from Belmont on Unst to Gutcher on Yell
Friday, May 03 Ferry from Ulsta on Yell to Toft on Mainland Shetland
Friday, May 03 Ferry from Lerwick, Shetland to Kirkwall, Orkney
Thursday, May 09 Day boat trip from Stromness to Hoy, Orkney *
Friday, May 10 Ferry from St Margaret Hope, Orkney to Gill's Bay (Scottish mainland)
Sunday, May 19 Ferry from Kennacraig, Argyll to Port Askaig, Islay
Friday, May 24 Ferry from Port Ellen, Islay to Kennacraig
Friday, May 24 Ferry from Claonaig, Argyll to Lochranza, Arran
Saturday, May 25 Ferry from Brodick, Arran to Ardrossen, Ayrshire
Saturday, May 25 Ferry from Cairnryan, Scotland to Belfast, N. Ireland
Friday, June 07 Ferry from Cleggan to Inishbofin *
Saturday, June 08 Ferry from Inishbofin to Cleggan *
Monday, June 10 Ferry from Rossaveel to Inis Mor (Aran islands) *
Tuesday, June 11 Ferry from Inis Mor to Rossaveel *
Friday, June 21 Ferry from Roslare, Ireland to Fishguard, Wales
Wednesday, July 03 Ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe
Sunday, July 28 Ferry from Royan to Pointe de Grave
Thursday, August 01 Ferry across the Gironde in Bordeaux (Stalingrad to Les Hangars) *
Monday, September 30 Return ferry trip from Olhao to island of Culatra *
Wednesday, October 09 Ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven

The most northerly point we reached was Hermaness on Unst, Shetland 60-49-38N 0-53-56W (degrees-minutes-seconds); the most southerly was at Tarifa, Spain 36-0-19N 5-36-34W. The furthest west we went was Dunmore Head (near Great Blasket Island), Ireland 52-6-35N 10-28-30W. Where we started and finished is the most easterly point, not far east of the meridian.

In our efforts to understand the local historical (and current) relationships with the Atlantic we went to many museums and art and other exhibitions, although I admit to skipping some as the journey reached its end, partly because of language barriers. We also visited others without any particular Atlantic relevance such as a number of excellent modern and contemporary art exhibitions, some of which I have mentioned in passing. This was an aspect of the trip that I had not anticipated which added both richness and freshness every time.

Again, since I kept a record, here is a list of all kinds of museum/exhibit that we visited (and a few we didn’t, with reasons why not!). I have included web addresses for most of them.

26th April Scalloway museum
27th April Jarlshof museum https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/jarlshof-prehistoric-and-norse-settlement/
28th April Tangwick Haa museum https://www.tangwickhaa.org.uk/
28th April The Weaving Shed, Hillswick https://www.northmavine.com/about/the-hillswick-weaving-shed
29th April & 3rd May Shetland museum, Lerwick https://www.shetlandmuseumandarchives.org.uk/
2nd May Hermaness nature reserve https://www.nature.scot/enjoying-outdoors/scotlands-national-nature-reserves/hermaness-national-nature-reserve
2nd May Unst heritage centre http://www.unstheritage.com/web/unst-heritage-centre/
3rd May (Old Haa museum, Burravoe on Yell closed on Fridays so we didn't actually visit) https://www.oldhaa.com/
4th May Orkney museum, Kirkwall http://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/S/orkney-museum.htm
6th May Maes Howe visitor centre https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/maeshowe-chambered-cairn/
7th May Skara Brae museum https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/skara-brae/
8th May Stromness Pier Arts Centre https://www.pierartscentre.com/
11th May Strathnaver community museum https://www.strathnavermuseum.org.uk/
13th May Ullapool museum http://ullapoolmuseum.co.uk/
17th May Kilmartin museum, Argyll http://www.kilmartin.org/
21st May Museum of Islay Life, Port Charlotte https://www.islaymuseum.org/
26th May (Titanic experience, Belfast - we only went to the free outside exhibits) https://titanicbelfast.com/
27th May Ulster museum, Belfast https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Home.aspx
31st May Famine village museum, Doagh Island http://www.doaghfaminevillage.com/
4th June Glencolmcille folk village http://www.glenfolkvillage.com/
5th June Ballyshannon and district museum https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/ballyshannon-and-district-museum/91641
5th June The Model (contemporary art gallery), Sligo. http://www.themodel.ie/
9th June Marconi station open air museum, Connemara https://www.connemara.net/the-marconi-station/
14th June The Great Blasket centre, Dunquin, Dingle http://blasket.ie/
19th June Skibbereen heritage centre https://skibbheritage.com/
4th July Le Havre Musee D’Art Moderne Andre Malmaux MuMa. http://www.muma-lehavre.fr/
4th July Honfleur Musee de la Marine http://www.musees-honfleur.fr/musee-de-la-marine.html
6th July Bayeux Tapestry Museum https://www.bayeuxmuseum.com/en/the-bayeux-tapestry/
7th July St Malo Musee de l’Histoire de la Ville
10th July Parish Closes museum at Guimiliau https://www.ciap-enclos.fr/en/
13th July Douarnenez Port-Musee http://www.port-musee.org/
17th July Concarneau Musée de la Pêche. https://www.musee-peche.fr/
18th July Musee de Pont-Aven https://www.museepontaven.fr/fr/
19th July Carnac outdoor display boards from the “Menhirs Libres” www.menhirslibres.bzh
22nd July Nantes Musee de Beaux Arts https://museedartsdenantes.nantesmetropole.fr/en/home.html
22nd July Nantes Ile des Machines https://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/en/
22nd July Nantes Memorial to Slavery http://memorial.nantes.fr/en/
23rd July Musee d’Histoire de Nantes . http://www.chateaunantes.fr/fr/evenement/musee-dhistoire-de-nantes
25th July Vendée Musée Le Daviaud. https://www.ledaviaud.fr/?lang=en
31st July Bordeaux Musee d’Aquitaine http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/en
1st August Musée des Beaux Arts http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/en
5th August Musee Basque et le Histoire de Bayonne http://www.musee-basque.com/.
8th August San Sebastian San Telmo Museoa www.santelmomuseoa.eus/
10th August Gernika Peace museum https://www.museodelapaz.org/
11th August Bilbao Guggenheim https://www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus/en
12th August Bilbao fine art museum https://www.museobilbao.com/in/
17th August Comillas Gaudí house (El Capricho) www.elcaprichodegaudi.com
22nd August Oviedo Museo des Bellas Artes de Asturias http://www.museobbaa.com/en/
30th August Santiago de Compostela Museo das Peregrinacións http://museoperegrinacions.xunta.gal/
10th September Porto Centro Português de Fotografia http://cpf.pt/
12th September Porto Fundação de Serralves https://www.serralves.pt/en/
15th September Coimbra University including the Biblioteca Joanina http://visit.uc.pt/en/library/
15th September Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro http://www.museumachadocastro.gov.pt/en-GB/default.aspx
18th September Fortaleza de Peniche
20th September Lisbon (Belém) Berardo Collection www.museuberardo.pt
21st September Lisbon Museu Nacional do Azulejo www.museudoazulejo.gov.pt
22nd September Gulbenkian Foundation museums https://gulbenkian.pt/museu/en/modern-collection/ https://gulbenkian.pt/museu/en/the-founders-collection/
27th September Lagos museum of the slave market http://www.goodtimeslagos.com/slave-market/
2nd October Museo de Cádiz http://www.museosdeandalucia.es/web/museodecadiz
5th October Outdoor sculpture on Camino del Agua, Sierra de Francia https://www.casasierrasalamanca.com/el-camino-del-agua-mogarraz-monforte

And finally
... a photo from back at the beginning of the trip, of Hermaness in Shetland

Posted by Hollysutherland 08:53 Comments (0)

Into Spain again … and the end of our route.

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Some end-of-season beach pictures and the end of our route

Kite surfing in the evening sun at Sanlúcar de Barrameda

The town beach at Cádiz at low tide

The wind/kite surfing beach at Tarifa: very end-of-season

Tarifa is where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean so marks the most southerly point on the European Atlantic coast. We couldn’t access the exact point where this happens on the Isla de las Palomas (which is connected to the mainland by a causeway) because this houses some kind of military/prison installation.

(In Shetland back in early May we also couldn’t access the most northerly point but that was because of the rocky nature of the shoreline and the strength of the wind and the waves. But we could photograph it.)

Instead here is a photo of the two of us on the causeway with the last of the Atlantic behind us, and a sign saying so.

On the other side of the causeway is the Mediterranean and its own sign, with a view of the hills of north Africa in the background. But those are other stories and perhaps other journeys. Now we start our long drive north and east across inland Spain and France to get back home.

Posted by Hollysutherland 08:48 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Turning east

Along the southern Algarve coast

sunny 28 °C
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We have turned east along the south-facing Algarve coastline. It is not only still brilliantly sunny but it is also much warmer and the sea is calmer. There is a lot more tourist development and some of the beaches are crowded again. We walked on the first/last section of the Rota Vicentina from Lagos westward to the cliffs above Luz and back. Half of it is built up or near to tourist developments but the remainder is shrubby clifftops quite high above the sea, with developments only in the distance.

Further east we chose to go inland via Silves where storks seem make nests anywhere. This pair have made their home on the roof of the local PCP headquarters.

We have not taken as many opportunities to visit islands as we might have. So we did a ferry trip from Olhão to the island of Culatra which is basically a long sand bar rising just above the high tide level. There are a few fishing settlements and low-key holiday houses as well as a boardwalk to a white beach all along the ocean edge of the island. Even a few ferry-loads of visitors did not make it busy.

Our journey out to the island was at low tide when most of the bay is exposed as mud flats. But when we returned at high tide, apart from the few sandy islands, most of it is covered by water. It is an atmospheric and peaceful place, at least in lowish season. (Ignoring the planes taking off from Faro every 2 minutes; the island is right under the flight path!)


Posted by Hollysutherland 10:31 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Southern Portuguese coastline; mostly facing west

sunny 20 °C
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Beach resorts along the west-facing coast have a definite end-of-season feel with far fewer people and easy parking. Nevertheless, we spotted a row of 7 camper vans each from different countries: E, GB, I, NL, F, D and P. Apart from camper vans our GB car is quite a rarity this far from home.
(1) Arrábida Natural Park, near Setubal

View of Serra do Risco, with sea mist

Portinho da Arrábida

Nearby Praia da Galapinhos

(2) Alentejo and Atlantic Algarve where we have walked bits of the Rota Vicentina https://rotavicentina.com/en/ The first helpful resources that we have found for walking in Portugal!

Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro, near Porto Covo

Vila Nova de Milfontes, where the river meets the sea in some brilliant sunshine.

Praia de Odeceixe which is another stunning river/ocean combo location with multiple beaches.

Looking South to Capo de São Vicente from the coast path (on a circular off-shoot from the Rota Vicentina) between Praia do Amado and Praia da Bordeira.

Praia da Bordeira having a red flag day. (Here the “season” and life-guard authority ends on 30th Sept not 15th as further north.)

Praia do Castelejo, also with a red flag.

Posted by Hollysutherland 09:49 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Tiles (azulejos)

Lisbon and before

rain 18 °C
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Tiles are commonly used to decorate buildings of all sorts in Portugal., inside and out My favourites are those using geometrical patterns. These can be made up of individual mosaic-type pieces, such as those using Moorish designs and imported from Seville in the C16th. These are from the old cathedral in Coimbra.

And these, also C16th, are from the (excellent but crowded) Lisbon tile museum, Museu Nacional do Azulejo www.museudoazulejo.gov.pt

Or, more commonly for Portuguese tiles, they are painted with designs and repeated in such a way to make a pattern as in these from the wall of the Capela de São Miguel at the University of Coimbra.

Or these from the Lisbon museum which were made in 1970 using 1910 designs.

I also like so-called “pedagogic” tiles from C18th such as this one displayed in the Coimbra Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro http://www.museumachadocastro.gov.pt/en-GB/default.aspx
Fig 14 was intended to teach mathematical definition 31 from Book 1 of such definitions (Coimbra 1700-1750) which is “A rectangle is a quadrilateral figure consisting of four right angles, which are thus equal, irrespective of whether the sides are”.

Another example, from the Lisbon museum, shows the geometrical schema of a pyramid.

Biblical scenes painted onto tiles are often be seen in churches, but I was taken with this bizarre C17th secular (satirical even?) story under the title “The Chicken’s Wedding”, from the Lisbon museum.

Posted by Hollysutherland 14:07 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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