Povoa de Varzim
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Sun 17 Aug 2008 11:00
Povoa de Varzim
Povoa de Varzim has been inhabited since 200,000 BC, the first groups of settlers were shepherds, their dead deposited in tumuli, the oldest monuments found in the municipality. Fishing developed with the Cetarioe, a Roman fish factory, which produced mainly garum, an Ancient Roman fish sauce and aphrodisiac. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Suevi populations established themselves in the region. Starting in the 9th century, Viking fishermen originating from Brittany raised a peaceful colony in Villa Euracini. The town was first mentioned as being Portugese on March 26th 953.
Crossing into Portugese waters meant skipper had to do his hoisting. The landscape changed from rugged to much softer with a sandy shoreline. Skipper had to investigate of course.
The horizon started to look much wealthier than we had been used to on the Spanish coast. The entrance to the harbour and the first sight, the towns main church dedicated to lost fishermen.
August 15th saw yet another festival celebrating the sea but this time it was to these 105 lost fishermen. The whole town turned out to parade from the church. That didn't stop the whole day being peppered with fireworks the size of small bombs. The chaps timer went late into the afternoon, so instead of a nicely timed show, it sounded like world peace was at an end.
The building in the centre is a casino which has to support the marina as one of its taxes, Povoa is one of the few legal gambling areas in Portugal, it also has significant textile and food industries. Was this fisherman lost or just at the party?
The fishing industry has always been paramount, in the 17th century Povoa had the biggest fish market in northern Portugal, due to its brine preservation business, supplying inland provinces via a battalion of hawkers. As a result, the Poveiros became known as "the people who worked the hardest and knew the best seas". To us the marina was way to full of Brits that had found a cheap refuge ( 996 Euros a year, including living aboard on the hard in winter, a free bottom scrub and an internal spring clean). One yachty had arrived like we did for a few days and was still there two years later. ARC people get half price rates. One American asked for ten nights and was told it was cheaper for a month. We had little sleep as a VERY loud siren goes constantly as soon as any niff of mist or fog arises, on this coast, thats enough to drive you nuts.
We did get the metro for a day out in Porto, see its own blog. Therefore we can drop our stop at Figueira de Voz (to get to Porto in greater comfort) as in the guide book it said the metro had not been finished this far out and it meant a tortuous bus journey to Porto. So midday Sunday we set out with Algieba VA (Joe and Jo a lovely French couple, so small you could wear them as brooches and always smiling and laughing ) to do an overnighter of 119 nautical miles to Nazare where will will stay a week as there are many important places to visit.