Portugal in the Box – #33

Tuesday 1st July 2008

Miranda do Douro – Mogadouro – Barco de Alva

„… 2 artists (painters) are living in two parallel, but intertwined spaces. They never can see each other, but everything they do is interacting at each point of their timespaces, in a way which is bad for the Art and consequently for the Universe. One of them must die. A comittee has been formed to decide which one should die, and it should be the worst painter. I have been chosen to decide who is the better artist, but I refuse to do it, because one of them is a former friend of mine, a painter-mathematician, and I could not be objective…“

I think we had to suffer both from the consequences of our exhausting bike ride yesterday, as we were both quite lethargic today, without any energy, somehow. Well, I was in especially bad form, the main reason being though, that I had a bad hay fever attack and this  usually puts me out of function.
We spent the first part of the day preparing to depart from the campsite, and headed then towards Mogadouro, a little town where I wanted to make a stop to have lunch, to look for an internet connection and to make some sketches.  We found the town after a nice drive on nice roads, but there we could not find any internet, and I was too tired to walk to the interesting parts where I could have drawn. The result being that we had only a lunch, and I even had a long siesta after that.
I had planned to spend the night in another little very ancient town not far from the river. We drove across wonderful landscapes of vineyards on stepped  hills by the river Douro. I started wondering if the wine here is as good as the famous „Ribeira de Duero“ in Spain, (Duero being the same river as the Douro, just called differently), and my brain went on asking itself what exactly makes a wine how it is, surely not only the river bank on which it grows! I would be curious to taste the wine here, unfortunately Kevin does not like wine. The best thing will be to bring some nice bottles to my parents and to let them invite me to dinner! Anyway, until now I could not find any adequate present for them, so I guess this would be a great idea.
As we finally  arrived in the town I had chosen for the night, we did not find it so appealing at the first glance and we decided to go on. I am not sure if it was the right decision, because we were both in a sort of negative, apathetic mood, still very tired, and nothing seems really good enough for us at that time. I hate it when I am like that, but in fact more than anything I hate my hay fever. I mentioned it already some days ago, but it made my life hell as I was living in Germany, from April until October, every year…

But at the end I must say that a big surprise was awaiting us, which could make us think that all that bad mood and laziness had a good reason. We arrived at this place, called Barco de Alva, which does not even exist on my map, and it turned to be like Christmas. First of all it is a wonderful place, the place where the Douro leaves the border, makes a 90 degrees turnd and heads towards Porto, where it joins the sea. The landscape looks fantastic, the little town has it charms too. But that is not all. This place seems to be an embarkation point for river cruisers, and we are parked right now in front of the „Douro Princess“, which, we suppose, brings her passengers –most of them English and American there and back to Porto (or the contrary). I love to look at boats, I can do it for hours and hours without being bored, even if they don´t move, my fantasy does the trip…
But it is still not all. As we arrived we noticed already 4 English motorhomes parked, with enormous tents mounted and attached to the motorhomes, and under each tent was a powerboat, and men working on them with a lot of tools and machines. I kind of got the feeling that there was power there, soemwhere. I really could smell it.And suddenly we saw it,  triple plugs were installed in the area everywhere.
Kevin went to one of the tents and asked what was going on. They told him that there was an international competition of powerboats next weekend, on Saturday the qualifications, on Sunday the final. The guys told Kevin that there would be about 50 boats participating, and that we perhaps could get away with staying here for the night, but then wed better leave. And yes, there was power everywhere, of course!
What a joy, really! If you have never lived on a sailing boat or a motorhome, you cannot know how exciting and freeing it is to get a possibility to be connected to mains power. This is the main reason why we sometimes spend time in campsites. But when the power is suddenly there, out of nowhere, and free, it is really like Christmas! And believe me, to plug the motorhome in there into these cute little sockets, was the same as to plug ourselves in: the energy was suddenly back, full power!
So I went sketching at once, starting with the Princess Douro, but my God, these things are so difficult to draw! I think I will try it again tomorrow… I made some other sketches, of simpler boats, and one of the village.
By the way, the behaviour of the village inhabitants was very different from what I had experienced in Portugal until now. As they saw me, they walked rapidly towards me, came very close, and walked then behind my back, stood there for a while totally silent and then went away. I found it very unpleasant, almost scary…

We spent a long part of the evening having a drink outside, on a bench, in front of the extraordinarily illuminated bridge and the Douro Princess. It was simply wonderful. We totally changed our plans, and decided to be here at the weekend for the competition, I never attended something like that, had never ever seen such powerboats before. We don´t know yet how we will manage it, but I think we will have 2 or 3 days around the area, and then come back for the competition. I doubt we will find any place to park the motorhome then, but well, we could park it anywhere and then ride here with the bikes…

By the way we have started a new American TV series, House M.D. Unfortunately without English subtitles and it is hard for me to understand. Oh, and that reminds me that I have a great anecdote to tell about House M.D., but this will be for another day…


3 Responses to “Portugal in the Box – #33”

  1. bob cornelis Says:

    I must admire the adventurous spirit you two have to travel around in such a way that finding something as simple as power can make your day! Your fascination with boats makes me think of your motorhome as this big schooner that you are taking around Portugal, Kev as captain at the helm and you as second in command. Finding the right port to dock at is so important and sounds as if it can be treacherous as well!

    By the way, House MD is my son’s second favorite series (after Lost, which if you have not tried it or heard of it, I recommend – you will have to watch a lot of episodes of this to begin to figure it out). I don’t like to watch medical shows myself – I start thinking too much about the diseases and traumas they show and it makes me uneasy. But it is supposed to be a great series – the character of House seems to be very loosely based in some ways on Sherlock Holmes…

  2. Miki Says:

    Travelling around with the motorhome is really similar to travelling in a boat, and we have quite the same necessities too concerning power and boat and a windfree dockplace (I even become seasick in the motorhome when the wind is blowing too much!).
    But you know, Bob, when you spend so much time in a motorhome, and you have your laptops with you (from which one, for any obscure reason, does not work anymore on battery… any idea why not?), and you need power for your electric guitar, and light to read and to paint, and then for the tv to relax in the night, power becomes like an obsession and a very complicated matter. Finding some place to connect often dictates the ways we chose and the decisions we take. One cannot imagine that living in the daily comfort of our houses!
    But yes, we have both quite an adventurous spirit. But I don’t like adventures just for the sake of it, neither do I like danger or missing power and water!!! I just love to explore and discover new things, new places, new activities.

    Concerning TV series. Yes, we know House MD, and we are looking at it right now, but it is very difficult for me to understand the language he speaks, even with subtitles. And then of course it is full of medical terms, which i even less understand. But the character of House is really very interesting, I really like him. By the way I had a personal painting story with one of the directors of House MD, did Susan tell you?
    By the way i understand you very well not watching at medical show, I have exactly the same problem as you have. Looking the first 10 episodes of House, i already found out that i have some of the diseases myself… 🙂
    And we know “lost” too, have looked the first part of the first series already, and will look the next soon. It is Kevin’s son favourite show too! I cannot say that I am very keen of it, I find the characters quite superficial and not convincing. Until now at least! However, it is is great to tell us about these series, we always need some info about new (or even old) good American series.

  3. kevmoore Says:

    Hi Bob, I completely relate to the allegory of a ship with the motorhome…though I think I’d go further and say, on days like the one we spent trying to negotiate our way through Porto, it feels like an ungainly Supertanker that takes about three nautical miles to make a safe turn!

    Lost is a series I really enjoy, though, as Miki told you, my son adores it, drawing on all his sixteen years, he proclaims it to be the “greatest show ever”.
    No one will ever accuse him of damning with faint praise! House is great, and as a Brit, I’m pleased that Hugh Laurie has achieved international recognition with his portrayal of the eponymous character. I believe his American accent to be convincing, what do you think? He’s been a comedy star (with occassional serious roles) in the UK for many years. His comedy partner Stephen Fry, now seems to be gaining more roles in the U.S. As Booth’s Psychiatrist in Bones, for example. (One of the medical series, I guess you could call it, except the victims in it are usally beyond anything modern medicine could do for them)

    I’ve been introducing Miki to British comedy, a series called “Black Books” in particular, which she loves. I find the ability of humour to travel, or not travel, well across cultures and language quite fascinating.

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