Well hello all y’all eager readers. We left you last from a cozy hotel room in Vila Real. We had a great night sleep, indoors, and headed out the next morning in hopes of conquering about 60 kilometers of Portuguese road. This is Matt “The Navigator” speaking by the way. I have been spending a lot of this trip looking on my phone at google maps, “map checks” as we call them, making sure we are still going in the right direction. I think of myself as a decent navigator, as long as we are not in a city. There is no way to properly navigate a Portuguese city. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that… when you see a mountain in front of you in Portugal, you know you are going to be biking over that mountain. There is no way around it, there is no tunnel through it, but the views from the top are great so why not go over it. So after many mountains in front of us, Joey and I arrived in Mirandela. We grabbed some bread, cheese, juice and canned bean soup and headed into the countryside for a place to rest our weary bodies. But first Joey got a meat sandwich from some place. Was it good Joey? “Yea.. Yea it was good. It was like a ham and thin steak sandwich.”
So we casually biked out-of-town looking for that perfect spot to hide from people and sleep. When looking for a place to stealth camp you have to take every possibility into account. Every abandoned building, every damp underbridge, every sketchy road to nowhere. While biking we regularly see great stealth camping spots, but they are always in places and times when we are not ready to stop biking for the day. So when looking for a spot you can’t pass up anything resembling a quiet place to sleep. So when we saw an old dirt path behind a gate, that didn’t have a no trespassing sign, leading down to a creek, we jumped on the chance. Super casually we squeezed through the gate and walked our bikes down creekside. And just like that we were home for the night. We slept under the stars with that uneasy feeling you get when you are somewhere that you maybe shouldn’t be but you know you’re not doing any harm. Do you get it? Like every sound you hear is probably someone coming to tell you that you can’t be there, but you don’t speak the same language so all you can do is say sorry and pack up. That sort of feeling. But no one came so we stayed the night and left by the first wink of the sun.
The next day brought us over and down some mountains, past some of the first deciduous forest I have seen in Portugal, past a donkey that scared me so bad I screamed, and then took selfies with us, over and under and under and over the interstate so many times, onto roads that seemed deserted but big enough to carry all of the traffic, through towns with more dogs than people, and into Braganca where I sit now typing to all of you on out second rest day of this trip.
We have been biking through Portugal for 11 days now. We have enjoyed daily espresso, wine, bread, cheese, meat and good times. We have also had what feels like nearly constant headwinds, a 120 kilometer day, grueling climbs and sore bodies. We have experienced the ups and downs (pun intended) of Portugal and it has left us with a love and respect for the country and the people who live here. Tomorrow we leave this land and head into the uncharted landscape of Spain. We are ready for new adventures, new scenery, new people and a new language.
Hope you enjoyed my random babbling. Share with your friends, keep reading and checking in as we will be uploading videos and pictures. Goodbye?
As per usual: If an inkling, give a donation to this linkling: http://www.walktocurearthritis.milwaukee.kintera.org/arthritisbikes
Now, time for some downhills and Irwinesque animal encounters!