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And they come for shopping - linen, clothes and embroidery are cheaper in Portugal.""The Spanish and Portuguese are like the English and Welsh," says one of her companions, a plastic surgeon who trained in England.
"As a country, we're smaller than Spain and we've always had to defend ourselves against it.
After driving over the bridge from Valença in Portugal to Tui in Spain, we climb the narrow streets of the medieval town to the top of the citadel and wait for the cathedral to open after the Spanish siesta.
It is only then, looking at the clock on the cathedral, that we notice the time difference.
We managed to locate one of the leading vineyards, Granja Fillaboa, and parked the car by a small chapel, stocked with cases of wine and attached to a country mansion."Buenas tardes! We drive back across the river to the Melgaço, Portugal's most northerly town, where we tackle another ring of city walls and gaze upon another medieval fortress set inside.
From there we head south into the mountainous Peneda-GerÍs National Park.
We end up in his bodega sampling dark, home-made red wine, which he pours straight from the cask into drinking bowls the size of small saucepans.
Every day, in our in-and-out, up-and-down exploration of these borderlands, there are serendipitous discoveries - a winery here, a castle there, a hidden hot spring elsewhere.
Food and wine are taken very seriously in the region.
The peak of Santa Tegra, an ancient Celtic sacred site, rose like a fairy-tale mountain above a blanket of mist creeping in from the sea. Of course, follow me."In his battered Land Rover, we head up the hill to the vineyards where a crew of local lads, lasses and jolly old ladies is crouching in green tunnels of vine, snipping bunches of ripe, straw-coloured grapes."Benedictine monks of the Order of Cluny brought these grapes to the area in the 12th century," says the patrón.
A row of pine trees on the hillside looked as though it had been transplanted from a Hiroshige woodblock print. "Although wine has been grown here as far back as Roman times."In his large office above the modern wine-making plant, the patrón hands me a card inscribed with his name: "Javier Luca de Tena de Haz, Director Comercial." Then, with a practised hand, he uncorks a bottle of one of his finest and pours it into long-stemmed glasses.
So in Spain we drive to the hot flamenco rhythms of the Gipsy Kings, while in Portugal we listen to the melancholic fado songs of Amália Rodrigues.
Flamenco and fado, reverse images of each other - joy and sorrow, life and death - provide great soundtracks as we motor through car-advertisement landscapes of lakes, rivers and mountain ranges.