Portugal Trip 2017

Hello from Portugal – Week 2

The second week was very similar to the first, however the weather cooled off with Thursday morning being the coldest at around 5c. Our big outing the second week was a trip to Lisbon where we had a lunch of mixed tapas including squid, octopus, and a few things we never really figured out but made for a great adventure in eating enjoyed by all. We then visited the castle in the middle of the city, parts of which dated back to before the birth of Christ. We were surprised at one point to notice a half dozen peacocks in a tree above our heads (I hadn’t realized that peacocks actually flew). Our phone GPS glitched a bit trying to find our way out of Lisbon so we saw a lot more of the city than expected and some extremely steep and narrow streets.

Overall the 2 weeks were an amazing opportunity for both the paddlers and non paddlers. I have included a few pictures of the food from the resort. It was fairly basic but there was no shortage at breakfast lunch and supper (I saw one paddler with 6 steaks on his plate one night). Given the food was included in the price it was very economical for feeding hungry athletes. We ate out at a restaurant across the street the last night which was a great feast to finish off the trip.

This was a very intensive 2 weeks of training both on the water and off. At the end, everyone was tired but the feedback I received was that it really helped jump start their spring training and everyone felt they had improved over the duration of the training camp. Toshko did A great job at keeping all the athletes engaged and challenged throughout the 2 weeks. People were still smiling and talking to each other on the trip home which is always a good sign.

A huge thank you to the parents who supported their athletes on this trip. Whenever any questions arose they were quick to respond (and always supportive of suggestions we put forward). Also a very special thanks to Shelley and Logan who joined Patricia and I on the trip as chaperones and drivers, I can’t imagine how we would have managed without them and their ongoing support (and good sense) throughout the trip.

Overall this trip had a number of positive advantages and only a few disadvantages (travel time comes to mind). For Spring training, Nelo Portugal as a training facility depends heavily on the athletes that are interested in going but I would definitely consider it as a viable option for future camps.


Hello from Portugal – Day 6

Another beautiful day in Portugal the athletes were going to have a short practice in the morning so we would have a little extra time for sight seeing but the conditions were so nice it was more than 2 and a half hours before they got off the water and then the guys wanted to get a run in so we ended up going sightseeing after lunch. It was a bit tight fitting 5 athletes into a Yaris and a little slow getting up some of the mountain roads but we made it to the beach at Fiaguiera da Foz to check out the surf and arrange a little surfing for the non-paddlers tomorrow. After the beach we all headed to Coimbra for a little exploring and a Pizza dinner.

Hello from Portugal – Day 4 & 5

As the week progresses the weather just keeps getting better, cool mornings and around 25C in the afternoons. Pedro explained that the bit of wind we experienced the first day was extremely unusual. The water is typically flat and if there is a slight breeze there are so many sheltered places along the river you can find a good spot no matter what direction the breeze is coming from. The athletes are putting in lots of Km on the water and their hands are toughening up (everyone gathers together in the evening for a debrief and a little iodine for the hands).

The adults managed a quick trip to Coimbra on day 4 and a private wine tasting at a local vineyard from the 1700’s (currently owned by 12 year old twins) on day 5.

Athletes get a 30 minute sleep in tomorrow and then on the water and a run before hitting the coast for a little sightseeing.

Hello from Portugal – Day 3

Day 3 of training and it’s a short one. After a bit of a sleep in, the athletes hit the pool for practice then had the rest of the day off and a tour of the Nelo factory. We had to rent a second car to accommodate everyone. It was an hour and half drive on open highway and easy driving to Porto-after Porto it was a little diceyJ.  After passing Porto we got a bit off track so stopped at a small restaurant for a bite to eat. Without being able to speak Portuguese it was a bit of a challenge  but we managed to order for everyone.  Back on the road we went from a little off course to a point where we were winding down a dirt logging road figuring we might have missed a turn or 2 but a few turns later the Nelo factory came in view.

We had a personal factory tour and learned about the history of the of Nelo company and even saw Nelo himself.  At the end of the tour we ended up in the warehouse to pick out a few souvenirs. After the tour we headed to a nearby outlet mall for some shopping and a good food court. Luckily we had a bite to eat as the drive home was bumper to bumper  through Porto (apparently a football game was just starting or letting out). Back on the water tomorrow.

Hello from Portugal – Day 2

Day 2 started with a run through the forest followed by a good paddle. The wind had picked up a little with few whitecaps but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The wind had died for the afternoon paddling session and with the sun shining and 22C is was pretty much ideal conditions on the water. Michael continued his learning experience and  had the pleasure of finding out what it is like to be left in the wake of a top Russian paddler.

The rental car arrived so we made a trip to the grocery store about 10km away. We thought $10 was an awesome deal for 24 beer until arriving home to find either paddling makes your hands very big or they were actually “mini” beers.

Kids are swimming this morning then we are off to Nelo for a factory tour and a little shopping in Porto.



Hello from Portugal – Day 1

Team Banook landed in sunny Portugal around noon on Sunday. The driver from the resort picked us up and headed out on to the highway. After a bit more than an hour the highway turned into smaller roads and we twisted and turned up into the mountains through a series of switch backs and small villages. We hadn’t thought to have checked the elevation of the resort but apparently the name “Montebelo” refers to beautiful mountain which is very appropriate as the resort is situated lakeside on a dam in the mountains. I have included a picture of one of our apartments living rooms and the view out the patio door.

Once we arrived and checked in we met Pedro from Nelo and checked out our fleet of Cinqo’s (and a Viper for Michael). On checking the schedule we saw an impressive list of teams sharing the facility this week -Team Russia, Team Moldova, Team Hungary, Team Lithuania, Team Portugal, and Banook Canoe Club. It was great to see Toshko in his element seeing familiar faces on the docks and in the gyms.

Monday was day one on the water. It was cool in the morning but warmed up to 18 by midday. The team all got well over 30km of paddling in. Morgan was able to join the Moldova female canoe paddlers and got along really well despite the language barrier. Michael managed to stay dry for his first time in a Viper kayak (and paddled about 40km less than Alex). After dinner there were a few blisters to attend to but everyone was in good cheer and looking forward to starting tomorrow with a good run to give the hands a bit of a break, then back on the water.


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