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The clock says 4pm; our watches, still on Portuguese time, read 3pm.

For reasons I still haven't fathomed, Spain is on Central European Time, Portugal in step with GMT.

Staying at a Spanish guesthouse near the mountains, we were told that dinner would be served from 10pm; two nights later, at the pousada in Bragança in Portugal, they stopped serving at 10pm.

Sometimes, while driving in Portugal near the border, we pop over to Spain to eat, not just because we like Spanish food but also to gain that extra hour.

Connecting them is a motorway spanning the river and an iron bridge, with a railway on the top level and a road on the bottom, designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1885.

It is not only time that differs between the two countries; it is also timing. Shops there open at about 4.30 after the long siesta; in Portugal it is after lunch at 3pm.

Today, the former adversaries are on friendly terms - except on the football field.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.But the language that some of the locals speak along parts of the border is a sort of hybrid of Spanish and Portuguese.""The Spanish are more extrovert and aggressive," says his friend."We Portuguese are more fatalistic, more reserved."But there is nothing reserved about these four, who are clearly enjoying their vinho verde.

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