“I can see the car disappear’, he said … that is John’s way of guessing we must be at the top of yet another hill.
This is what tour cycling is all about. A great day on the bike, all boxes were ticked, adventure, culture and a much more.
We woke to an amazing view of the valley. I was a little anxious … the route was 5km steep down; 5km steep up then 52km steady up; 950m ascent and 610m descent.
Breakfast was entertaining there was us, Julie from Brazil on bike, Antoine from France on bike and a guy who was going out shooting wild boar, it’s his sport, lovely guy, we were all quivering at his stories and videos of his passion to shoot boar and to sell to butchers … as he lifted a slice of ham at the breakfast table.
Komoot took us on a ‘Cooks tour’ out of town much to John’s displeasure … small cobbled paths and up hills … I thought it was lovely; he was cussing away … haha. Back on the national highway and 7% down to the river, crossing the Còa River with the confluence of the Douro River. It’s quite warm as we start climbing … the Douro River below a glimpse of 2 river boats then more climbing 7-8%. We are blessed as some cloud cover and a little tail wind helped. We are up amongst the vineyards with beautiful views.
We reach the top and plateau with slight inclines and lovely rolling hills. … the landscape also changes … it’s a lot drier with large outcrops of rock. A lovely old village for a coffee … a group of cyclists on a Backroads tour having their scheduled break.
‘Hey John, keep a look out for cork trees’, I say,
‘Oh no … I saw a tree with a number 5 painted on it … it could have been a cork tree’
Further on we find a plantation of trees some with number 6. We laugh and think of how Choo, from Malaysia would be so proud … he was on a hunt for cork trees in Pinhao.
Another lovely town, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo for lunch then it was smooth slight climbing to Almeida.
A lovely day … lots of changes in the landscape, vineyards, almonds groves, dry rocky outcrops and views of hills. The end result was 1014m elevation gain.
We are very close to the Spanish border. Almeida is a walled fortress in the shape of a star … a quick change and off to explore the old town. Lovely old buildings and view points.
We, on the other hand are staying outside the wall at a very cheap Casa. We are likening it to be a scene from Fawlty Towers.
On arrival the door is open, nobody in sight, keys to rooms all exposed. A phone with a number. We ring; a friend who speaks English says someone will be here soon, the petrol station person next door comes to the rescue and we get the key. After showering and exploring the old city our key doesn’t work. We try the phone and number, leave message, the whole town tries to open door including a 99+yo dear old lady. Finally the owner and his English-speaking mate arrive after an hour. The lock is dodgy but it finally works. All good.
Oh well that’s country Portugal … my mind goes back to the 70’s when you didn’t lock your car or your house … wouldn’t we all love to turn back time.