I’m by the Portugal coast in the cool

Sunday 28th August 

I’m revelling in the benefit of the cool weather by the coast. I’m sitting on a bench by a beach in Avila which is some kilometres north of Porto and south of the river that forms the border between Portugal and Spain. I’m still staying at the answer to every hope that is Casa Do Bosque. This morning I was served a perfectly presented continental breakfast. Not too much of anything but what there was was fresh and freshly made, the freshly squeezed orange juice, the bread and coffee. And of course enough bread and sliced cheese to make into a delicious sandwich that I’ve just eaten here by the sea. Followed by some plums I bought a couple of days ago. The breeze here now is so cool and cooling. And gone is the fight against the heat. Everything is easier from packing my bags to making decisions. I’ve been surprised how my small additions of a helmet lock and a light weight disk lock really do make parking up and walking around so much easier. I walked up and down a familiar Portuguese type sea front promenade then got on the bike to take me five minutes south to a little sandy beach with a great view. In fact I’ve been here sitting in the same spot for an hour.

I find it hard to tear myself away

Next stop Barcelos which I’ve been told is a town worth visiting and I’ve plotted a supermarket there to stock up for the next couple of days on the road. My decision for tomorrow is whether to try to get to a nice site Camping San Francisco in one day or split into two. Today is Sunday so I have one week left to make the most of. I have sent a message for advice from my Galician next door neighbour in London. 

Later: The food at my hotel I have to say is sublime. Though I preferred my first meal to the second which was fish. 

Thursday at the hotel Estalagem in Braganca Portugal  Thursday 25th August

Time to catch up. 

In Braganca hotel

The ride through the tunnels from Santander heading south was enjoyable and I remembered them from previous trips. The temperature varied. At some moments I thought about stopping to get something warmer on then later to take something off. But the trend was that it was getting hotter. I stopped once at a Repsol station not to get fuel but some water and peanuts which I started eating standing next to the bike, a pattern for my travels, then headed off. But it was getting hotter and eventually the wind changed from being a cooling breeze to feeling like sitting in front of an open oven door. I don’t know why but I kept on riding when I should have stopped to drink water.

Burgos Spain
Burgos Spain
KTM parked in secret in Burgos Spain

I remember I stopped in a stone walled car park in Burgos a beautiful university city on the Camino it seemed by the pilgrims that I saw walking by the road. But I didn’t stop for any length of time. It was too hot. I headed for campsite one, Camping Riberduero Spain, Castilla Y Leon, and got there just after two. I had to phone the manager when I arrived. She said go ahead and pitch and gave directions to vacant spaces. I was impressed by the professionalism.

Camping Riberduero Spain, Castilla Y Leon

It was hot and there were flies and I was exhausted by the heat. A shower helped but it wasn’t till about 6 when I climbed back into my bike gear to visit the local supermarket and came away with Dinner and a beer all wrapped up with a bag of ice that I started to relax. So I determined to do the next day differently. I slept ok though realised my tent was next to a light so it was never dark. Dogs barked in the night reminding me of other nights in Spain. Breakfast and it always takes so long to pack up and leave. 

A better experience. I knew those first couple of cooler hours would be the ones to enjoy. A spell on a motorway then a stop for orange juice then N122 all the way over the big bridge on the Douro marking the border between Spain and Portugal noting the temperature was over 30. 

I arrived in the town too early to check in so parked up and had something to eat from my supplies.

At Braganca Portugal
Parked and feeling optimistic

There is a loud music venue and a happy dog below as I write this at 9.45pm at night at Hotel Estalagem. 

Once at Braganca and rather hot with time to kill I found the start of the ACT here – which is why I came – and tried the first bit of gravel road. The bike was hot it’s fans racing. I was hot and flustered, in turn willing to try it and definitely not willing. But I will try it and be prepared to exit onto the roads around here if needed. The next hotel further south has check in from 3pm so there will be a couple of hot hours tomorrow. I must keep my personal cool and let that ever present anxiety fall away. That’s another story. 

Dinner here. High point a huge g and t in a huge ice-filled glass with condensation on the outside. Low point waiters asking continually if all was good. 

G&T so welcome at Hotel Estalagem
Look how big this drink is! It needed both hands to lift it.

The room here is old fashioned with large old fashioned furniture and bathroom and I had to move a very large wardrobe into the middle of the room to get to the electric sockets to get everything charged up. So un-21st century.

Charging behind the wardrobe at Hotel Estalagem
Behind the huge wardrobe in the middle of the room.
Hotel Estalagem
My usual mess

Leaving for Portugal today: August 2022

It seems that my annual trips coincide with the anniversary of my web hosting company closing down meaning that renewals and problems surround my leaving – for the last couple of years meaning its been a struggle to post this. Tonight I sail from Portsmouth to Santander from where I head across Spain to start the ACT Portugal route. I am intrepid about this so I am super prepared – with an expanded first aid kit, more tools, careful travel insurance and an In-reach emergency tracker and SOS-caller. What started out looking like an accessible route for large adventure bikes, now, on a bit more investigation, has become a route that you are warned not to attempt alone and with the odd Youtube vid of riders of low skill i.e. me making a pig’s ear of the steep and twisty route with high revs, clutch slipping and heavy breathing. So the key event of the trip will be those times when I have to make decisions about carrying on, attempting something outside my comfort zone, or turning round. Even the on-road roads look pretty entertaining from the maps I have so apart from self-esteem there is not that much to loose. So I head off with a mood of more than the usual uncertainty. Also its the first bigger trip on this bike after some untested mods and with a full load of luggage on a new system and new not scrubbed in tyres. The final ingredient – small but annoying – is the forecast of rain this afternoon for my ride down to Portsmouth and the wait to board. I’ve never started a trip in the rain and hanging out chatting in the queue to other people on bikes and interesting looking people (in the evening sun) has been an enjoyment. Finally, Brittany Ferries now seem to have added the cost of meals to the basic ticket which is annoying as they seem to want the trip to be more like a cruise. So lets see how this works out.

Cooking and eating – seems pretty small
More tools – though the lightweight ProTools kit does seem pretty redundant
Clothes – about the same as usual