All packed and ready to leave Spain, all uphill now [on the map anyway] to our final destination for this trip, which is bitter sweet for us, on one hand we will see family and friends but it means our trip of a life time will be over..
I don’t really remember much of the ride to Portugal, except for the small village on approach to the border.
The village was small and quiet with white washed homes and a few small shops, all surrounded by dry fields that were in desperate need of water, it kind of reminded us of parts of Bulgaria…
Apart from the sign to say we were now in Portugal there were also some badly run down stone huts of either side of the road, they must have been the old border huts.
The weather was perfect and the scenery was much the same as Spain for a while any way.
Stopping for a ‘leg stretch’ and a drink we noticed some unusual windmills, the sails looked like they were made from cloth, these windmills were critical to village life many years ago, as the windmills ground corn and wheat to make bread and grain, all towns had at least one mill.
The country side was beautiful, passing some strange looking trees, that had the bark removed ?
We found a local supermarket, bought some supplies for lunch then stopped at a roadside rest area that had a few well used picnic tables, it was great to just chill out under the shade of the trees…
We found out the mystery of the stripped trees, they are cork trees and apparently it takes 43 years for a cork tree to yield its first wine cork and the life of a ‘cork’ tree is about 200 years and the best cork is meant to come from Portugal, we have been hearing for years now that there was a cork shortage, but apparently thats not true, as always it boils down to cost the aluminum twist off caps and plastic cork cheaper to produce…
The road towards Lisbon was leading us towards a toll road… N’oooo, something we had tried to avoid, it had cost us a small fortune in Spain when we were caught on one.
Slowing down we could see some toll booths and a drive through with no physical gate to stop you (you must have to have a tag or something) we choose that lane a small alarm went off, but there was no one around to ‘chase’ us so we carried on, well we got away with it in Italy!
On this beautiful smooth road and sharing it with one or two cars, we couldn’t believe that these roads were hardly used, when stopping for fuel along the way, we half expected police to come up behind us, but no.
We had to make more adjustments to the bike chain, is it going to get us to England?
Lisbon was now only a short ride away, but before we got there we need to go over a bridge…
The bridge was crammed packed with big trucks, cars and other motorbikes, their driving was not impressive, they were a bit crazy in fact, but we have encountered worse…much worse, we however took our time to enjoy the views.
Riding into the city was frustrating at times, we have been having problems on and off with the GPS for a while now and today was one of those days, so as usual we seemed to go around in circles few times in this very hilly old city.
Being a GPS that is a few years old, it was having trouble keeping up and we seemed to be passing the turn off before it told us to turn…which was not fun on one way streets!
Finding our hotel wasn’t too hard once on the correct road, when we checked in we were told that the hotel didn’t have a car park, but were told we could either park in the nearby bank car park or on the pavement outside the hotel, so after checking out both areas we decided that the pavement was the safer place for the bike, so after moving a few pot plants we got the bike as close to the door entry as possible made it as secure as we could and put on the bike cover on, our room over looked the bike, although if someone was to meddle with it, it would take us a while to get to it as we were on the 5th floor…
After a quick shower and change we head out for a look of the local area Anjos, but first Clive needed a hair cut, it was getting in eyes.. we found a Nepalese barbers, the owner wanted to see some photos of our time in Nepal so we showed them some pictures from our phone, him and his staff were fascinated and couldn’t believe that we had ridden from there..
Many bars and restaurants line these charming colourful streets of Lisbon, some buildings had tiny wrought iron balconies, which just added more charm to these already charming buildings that stand tall in the narrow streets some with beautiful tiled frontage on them was impressive its not just public buildings but also residential homes that also have elaborate tiled frontages some from bottom to the top, take a wander down some of the side streets and you will be surprised by the splendour of it all.
Trams old and new went past us, what an amazing city this is, this is one place to add on our ‘Revisit’ list, which is getting increasingly long now..
Before we knew it the sun was setting and the streets were quiet, well in this side of the city anyway, this stunning city really did not feel like a city at all, more like a large country town.
We had breakfast early, loaded up the bike and set off towards Porto… but not before getting some photos.
Porto shouldn’t take too long to get to as it only 316k’s from Lisbon.
The day was turning into a bit of a scorcher, and we needed to open up the vents on our jackets and ‘delayer’ a few items, as it was close to lunch time we stopped at a local supermarket and then found a ‘rest stop’ on this lonely stretch of road, whilst enjoying our lunch, a few other cars at various times pulled up, but they were only stopping for a toilet break (there weren’t any loo blocks either) they didn’t care that we were in full view (sort of puts you off your lunch!) thankfully we didn’t sit on the grass to enjoy our lunch! with that we decided to leave..
Later that afternoon we arrived in sunny Porto, we had a list of hotels, but finding them proved a challenge with one way streets, taking us to many sides of this city, but hey at least we got to see more of the city than we would have..
We decided to have a few days here as it had such a relaxed feel about it, we found a little hotel squeezed in between two larger buildings, the small reception looked really nice, boutique style, with lovely greys and a splash of lime green, nice…pretty modern, so off i went to check out the room, hmmm once out of the lift the boutique feel had certainly disappeared to the ugliest paint colours i have ever seen put together (mustard yellows, faded red and dark purples) and it wasn’t helped by the tatty old furniture, ekkkk we have gone back to the 70’s lol… opening the old wooden (chipboard style) door i ventured in to a old style room, the sheets were clean and so was the bathroom, thankfully we only had pale yellow walls and nothing else, it’ll do i really can’t be bothered checking out any other hotels…we booked for three nights, but yet again no car park, looks like the bike will be covered up again at the front door, so with every thing unloaded we made our way up to the top floor, thankfully there was a lift.
The next few days were spent exploring the ‘birthplace of the popular drink ‘Port’…
Porto is situated on the right bank of the Douro, a mythical river on which was used for transporting barrels filled with Porto wine from the producing region.
Porto the 2nd largest City in Portugal is a mixture of modern and ancient, with its magnificent monuments, beautiful museums, gardens, and restaurants and the tiled buildings.
We walked the narrow lanes and stairs that zigzagged parts of the city, you couldn’t help but notice many dilapidated houses, that have been left to crumble, many roofs were completely covered with tarps and held on by ropes and rocks, unfortunately and like a lot of european city we have visited we couldn’t help but notice there is so much graffiti, spoiling the charm of these old cities, so sad…
Down by the river, Ribeira is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Porto, and the narrow streets open onto the river front square (Praça da Ribeira) a picturesque stretch of the Rio Douro, it was here with the bridge Ponte de Dom Luís (The view from top of the bridge was amazing, well worth the hike up) this was a backdrop for our morning coffees whilst in Porto…
It was in 1880 that Construction started by a student of Gustave Eiffel, the bridge’s top deck is now reserved for pedestrians as well as being the city’s metro line, the lower deck is for regular traffic, with a narrow pedestrian walkway along the road.
We spent a fair bit of time in this area, it is a place to people watch and relax with a glass of wine or beer it was here we tried a Flaming chorizo sausage, it was a little spicy but very good.
It was here that we could watch the traditional boats, going up or down the river and when they weren’t doing that they were moored up at the quayside waiting for more passengers, this really is a picturesque place that even UNESCO thought as well, as it is a World Heritage Site now.
Sheltered under medieval arches here makes for great cafe, bars etc as well as the many Port tasting that can be done as well!
Climbing up the medieval alleys and stairways we came to SE a hilltop fortress of the cathedral, which was founded in the 12th century, we decided not to go in, as we have become a ‘bit churched out’ now…
We decided instead to carry on walking past the many magnificent little shops that Porto has to offer, until we come to SÃO Bento station, we were blown away by this place, we spent ages studying the tiles that seem to tell so many stories here.
The first train to arrive here was in 1896.
There are about 20,000 tiles on these walls which cover the history of transport and Portugal and covers most of the entrance which is the work of artist Jorge Colaço and date from 1916, they are so magnificent its hard to steer your eyes away, there is one remarkable panel which shows King João I and Queen Philippa of Lancaster by the city’s cathedral in 1387, Prince Henry the Navigator conquering Ceuta in Morocco, and a representation of the Battle of Arcos de Valdevez, truly amazing, i think this station is my favourite place here in Porto.
Close by is the monumental Avenida dos Aliados this is coated in the heart of the city a place full of grand buildings, one of them being the poshest McDonalds ever…
The Clerics Tower, or Torre dos Clerigos, is a popular tourist attraction here in Porto, It was originally built between 1754 and 1763 as the bell tower of the Clerigos Church.
The above picture is how we felt, we have had summer seasons for most of the year travelling through the many countries to get here and we were now facing the onslaught of winter.
We enjoyed just relaxing and chilling out for the last few days, but in the back of our minds this trip of a life time was closing in…
We decided to ride the short distance to where the river meets the sea, not one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seem…there was a huge wall that devided the path from the beach area, this turned out to be a great place for us to snooze in the warm sun, later followed by a short stroll watching the locals fishing and once again reflecting on how lucky we are…
What a great place to one day revisit, there is far to much to do for just a few days.
Back now to the hotel to repack and head for Spain the next morning.
We wanted to ride the coastal roads as much as possible, which we did, with views to the Atlantic in the distance whilst riding through ‘post card’ villages…
Don’t worry Portugal we will back…