OUR FIRST TIME IN PORTUGAL
On our first visit to Portugal we headed to Viana do Castelo. We’re quite an active couple so headed down to the beach pretty much on arrival to find a small stand outside the Restaurant Aquario. Outside was a trailer with a fine row of fat tyre bikes, all in the same bright green colour and a local guy who spoke great English available to help us. It wasn't long before we signed up for a ride on the fat tyre bikes, the following day.
What a fab experience, we're pretty used to riding bikes, mainly road bikes, but riding on the beach was a weird experience, especially when we let the pressure down to extremely low pressure so we could ride over the sand, but it was staggering, amazing in fact. Being fair the locals on the beach were just as amazed as we were riding past them.. on the beach up and down the sand dunes.
Our guide was Ricardo Viana, (you may be thinking he’s named after the city, or is it the other way round?) Ricardo is the founder of Portugal Active and just loves to help and share his passion for the area and for outdoor activities. In his modest years Ricardo has achieved some great things, including being National Champion for downhill MTB and competed at a world level, amazing Kitesurfer and very inspirational for his passion for Portugal it's local products and the environment - Check out this video he made on one of his travels - so inspirational.
So what next Ricardo?
Having seen Kitesurfing going on we really fancied that but with not enough time to do the course, so we opted to go on a Stand Up Paddle board. Based on the tide times we headed out towards Ponte de Lima, early the next morning, where we were greeted with an amazing sunrise and 3 stand up paddle boards, ready for a unique journey down stream towards Viana. Amazing to arrive in Viana 2 hours later, with the rest of the day free and the experience of going down a wonderful river experiencing the different conditions as we neared the ocean.
Being as it was early we have the rest of the day ?
“OK - Let's go up to the temple, into the woods behind and to a wonderful plunge pool in the rocks.” said Ricardo
So back on to bikes for a tour up and over the temple which looks majestically over Viana. Apparently you can go up the hill on the railway, but we took the hard route and rode up. Made it all worthwhile when we got to the top, for ice creams and to watch a wedding take place in the temple.
Then off into the woods behind for a spot of off road riding before we came to an isolated swim hole. Crystal clear and so refreshing after a hot day off riding. Thankfully it was all downhill back to town where we had a spot of lunch in a local restaurant.
So is that it Ricardo?
Of course not - tomorrow lets go horse riding !
I must admit i’m comfortable in a 500 horsepower car, but when it comes to one horsepower.. it sort of concerns me. Especially when we arrived at the stables the following day to find my horse (Flash).. prancing about waiting for a suitable driver…:-)
After a briefing and helmet selection, I mounted and then found out quite quickly how to go about controlling Flash, in the indoor arena before heading out and down to the beech. I’ll be honest, i was a tad nervous, which is never a good thing so i’m told, but it was a great experience to go through, trotting on the beach with crashing waves next to us.
Ricardo, could not have been more helpful. I've been on many trips in my years, but the feeling we left with is that this guy really cares and loves the area. Check out his site, and sign up to something. You won't regret it.