Freedom Day – Esposende, Portugal

Yesterday after I posted, whilst we were sat with a drink after our beach walk, one of the staff at the restaurant came to tell us they had a concert planned that night til 1am with 60+ visitors expected. We were clearly in the way. So sadly at 5.30pm we set off to find somewhere to stay. The easiest was Darque where we had been that morning only 10 minutes away. However, of course when we arrived it was full, with 3 more vans circling for a space.

A number of places showing on Park4Night and other camping apps like a park up in the woods nearby, are now getting reviews to say the police are moving you on unless it is a designated space due to a national clampdown on wild camping. Next we tried Castela do Neiva, the next village down the coast again only a few minutes away which has some designated motorhome parking. Unfortunately that was also full, again 2 more different vans arrived straight after us and were also disappointed. There were people letting of air bangers and all the restaurants and bars were bursting, we began to think there must be a national celebration in progress.

Finally we found a large place in Esposende. Just 20 minutes further down the coast. That looked like a more likely option so we headed there. It was a slightly uninspiring looking place, a large flat area at the back of the bus depot. Apparently the usual market space which was free for camping except market days which were provided on a big notice board. However, there were dozens of vans already there and services also available if needed plus plenty of space for us. Relieved we parked up and made some supper before bed.

In the morning, we thought as it was a Monday (supermarkets in Spain were shut on Sundays), we would visit the Aldi just round the corner. I googled to check opening hours and then we found it was a National Holiday. Freedom Day, a celebration of the coup which toppled the dictatorship of Portugal on 25th April 1974. Only 4 deaths resulted from fire from the defending government forces those responsible were tried for murder. The rest of the coup was entirely peaceful, in fact it was named the Carnation revolution after the flowers from the market in Lisbon were hung in the gun barrels of the insurgents.

Thankfully the supermarket was still open and we were able to restock. However, our plan to head to Porto we decided to delay for a day as clearly parking was going to be tricky to find. So we did a few jobs, cleaning etc in the van.

Happily we explored Esposende later, the sun was shining finally and hardly a cloud in the sky. The seafront was stunning, we are just at the entry of the estuary for the Cávado river and the golden sandy banks opposite made a lovely view from the seafront. We had a fabulous lunch in the sun, enjoying some great Portuguese cuisine. As the Portuguese lady we met in the Pico’s said, we must try it, being completely different to Spanish which she disregarded rather as “mostly fried”. I am not sure we would fully agree as we had some great food there, though lunchtime today was certainly a highlight of the trip so far.

Lovely Portuguese food

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