HOTELS FOOD DRINK SOUVENIRS
By PETER WHELPTON
Sea, Sunshine, Laughter—
and Good Red Wine
Where'er a Catholic sun cloth shine There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least, I have always found it AO:
AS well as laughter and good red wine", I think Hilaire Belloc would have agreed that most of us look for sea, sunshine and service on our holidays. Several trips recently have convinced me that the North of Portugal can offer just this to the British visitor at incredibly low cost. What is more, communications have improved so much in the past few years, that the physical act of getting there is no longer the problem it was.
For a small country. Portugal has an enormous coastline, which offers a variety of climates, amenities and accommodation.
DEOPLE seeking simple
1sea-side holidays in the summer months would probably be wise to consider one of the small resorts on the coast between Oporto and the Spanish border. The climate here between June and the end of October is quite reliable, yet the cool Atlantic breezes prevent it becoming uncomfortably hot for British visitors.
By air, B.E.A. and T.A.P., thc
Portuguese Airline. both serve Oporto. Tourist fares vary from £33 7s. return mid-week night flight, to £37 18s. mid-week.
By sea. the Booth Lines serves Oporto and the short sea trip of between two and three days makes a pleasant prelude to a holiday. [he ships can carry cars at quite modest rates.
The snag is that bookings are not always available and sailing schedules rarely fit in with the usual two or three week holiday.
One solution is to fly out, and return by sea or vice-versa. Any good travel agent will advise you on suitable sailings and can obtain fare concessions for the round trip. Only hardened travellers will attempt the journey by rail which takes 40 hours or so and costs 1:2') 2s. return second class with an extra charge for sleepers.
1,1"•ASILY accessible by , rail or bus from Oporto. is the lace-making town of Vila do Conde with its 14th century Convent of Santa Clara. Here the Palacio Hotel, which has recently been completely renovated. charges .E3 10s. a day full pension for two persons in a double room with bath.
Vila do Conde is famous for its T.enten processions when the statue of Our Lord of the Way of the Cross is borne through the streets by attendants in violet capes; bouquets of violets are strewn in their path.
As in most Portuguese processions. the little girls of the town are transformed into angels whose
wings are made of sw:ins' down and who arc dressed in white tunics and wear crowns.
A little further up the coast is Povoa de Varzim. once a fishing village but now fast becoming a resort in miniature with its own Casino. swimming pool and Bull ring. The Grande Hotel here charges about 32s. for a double room with breakfast, while a
couple of pensions provide simpler accommodation at about half thr price.
HALF a mile ot so from Fao, the next village of consequence up the coast. is the °fib. Hotel in a splendid setting of pine woods running down to a large beach of dazzling white sand. This hotel really caters for families. with a swimming pool for the children and a night club on the premises for the parents. Prices are reasonable and start about £3 10s. a day full pension for two people.
Further north again, on the mouth of the river Cavado. is one of my favourite spots, the charming village of Esposendc with its colour washed cottages and tile-hung public buildings.
Here the Hotel Suave Mar lies just across the road from the sea and though simple is spotlessly clean.
IDEAL for adults in search of luxury is the Hotel Santa Luzia perched high on a mimosa-covered hill overlooking the 16th century town of Viana do Castel° and the estuary of the -iver Lima. A lift on the hotel's own private ar service takes you down to the own or beach in about 10 minutes. The feast days of Our Lady of the Agony in mid-August bring pilgrims to Viana from all over Spain and Portugal when the colour and variety of the folk costumes
has to be seen to be believed.
At this time accommodation is very scarce and one should not attempt to visit the town without a hotel reservation. From Viana one can make many fascinating excursions into the interior of the Minho region with its wealth of folk-lore and ancient fortified cities
0 PO R 1 0 itself. by far the largest city in the north, is an attractive enough town for a day or two but can hardly be classed as a resort. Situated on the mouth of the river Douro, Oporto is the centre of the Port wine trade and should time permit a visit to one of the wine lodges is an experience not to be missed.
Accommodation in Oporto is not difficult as there are three good hotels. The best and most central is the Infante de Sagres, an old private mansion recently converted into a luxury hotel with large homelike bedrooms, all with private bath. The charges are from 52s. 6d. pei day full pension for a single room
From Oporto you can reach the hathing beach at Matozinhos by tram. but it is not particularly attractive and is very crowded in the season.
One way to make the most of a stay in Oporto is to hire a car. as most of the resorts mentioned previously can be reached in an hour or so. An English travel agent. Tait & Co.. 19 Rue Infante D Henrique. will always arrange hire cars to meet planes and will be
happy to advise on coach tours. hotels, etc.
THE standard of service in Portuguese hotels c‘tremely high and you will meet hcerful courtesy wherever you go. The food on the whole in good class hotels tends to be international with an accent on the delicious local seafood.
A word of warning however, many people suffer from upset stomachs as a result of change of food, water and temperature. It is a wise precaution to take intcrvioform or chlorodyne before feeling ill and so prevent spoiling your holiday.
On the question of drinking, milk for children should always be scalded and it may be thought advisable to either change to frui: juice or to take dried milk with you.
Portuguese wine is cheap and excellent, particularly the rose's which are drunk ice cold. You should also try the "green" wines which are refreshing and slightly effervescent.
ON the question of souvenirs. the gold and silver filigree jewellery is of fine design and very good value. Lace. basketware. and pottery are all on sale everywhere at very reasonable prices.
No visa is required for British visitors to Portugal and if taking your car theoretically it is not necessary to have a "carnet". My advice however, is to take one. particularly if contemplating entering or leaving the country via Spain.