SANQUIN VALLEY IS BEAUTIFUL IN ITSELF
IT ONLY TAKES 2 HOUR TO GET TO THE MOUNTAINS-THEME PARKS-COASTAL AREAS-EXCEPTIONAL RESTURANTS IN FRESNO. THE FRESNO AIR TERMINAL HAS GREAT PEOPLE WORKING THERE -IT IS VERY ORGINIZED AND A RELAXING PLACE TO TRAVEL IN OR OUT OF ALL THE AGRICULTURE-THE BEAUTY OF LIVING THINGS. BEING ABLE TO GO TO MONTEREY COAST ANYTIME I WANT-2 HOURS AWAY, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COAST EVER. WHY PEOPLE GO TO ANYWHERE ELSE TO SEE BLUE OCEANS IS BEYOND ME.
"Trip to Ovar, Portugal"
Just returned from a week of travel in Northern Portugal. Headquartered in the town of Ovar, stayed at the Hotel Meia-Lua, very accommodating staff, and simple and nice rooms, as well. They also did a straight exchange of dollars for euros - they made no money on it. This welcome surprise was but one of many on our trip.
This small city plays host to one of the top Carnaval celebrations in all Europe, and our group (which consisted of organizers of Carnaval celebrations worldwide) was amazed at the beauty and technical prowess of many of the entries. The younger adults of Ovar are some of the most polite, intelligent, and warm people I have ever met - not much TV watching, mainly hanging out in coffee shops and such, and easy for foreigners to engage in conversation with. Most young people at least understand English, because much of their tv is american re-runs with portuguese subtitles.
The city has a wonderful cathedral (the "mother church" of ovar) with a spectacular facade of Azulejos (blue and white printed tile) with an ornate cemetary in back. There are several charming smaller "chapels" throughout the city (some are simply altars in what look to be very small rooms). Patterned cobblestone sidewalks line the streets, and many of the apartments and houses use azulejos in their exterior decorating scheme - Ovar is known as a showplace for them.
There is one great disco/niteclub in the city center that is the happening spot on the weekends for all young adults.
Ovar is also a short drive from Foradoura, the local beachfront community and home to much longboard surfing - jettys make for nice long rides on longboards or bodyboards. Definitely worth checking out at sunset, or if you want to hang ten in a relaxed uncompetitive environment.
Ovar is 1/2 hour south of Porto, an amazing city built on the sides of the Douro, which many other travelers have posted pages about. If you want to experience the small town feel that truly exemplifies what a beautiful place portugal can be, I would suggest spending a couple days relaxing in ovar and mingling at the city center marketplace, or hanging in a coffee house. And if you are fortunate enough, go at carnaval time - it will not dissapoint.