We woke up on Christmas Day morning and had breakfast in the hotels restaurant. It’s was pretty tasty, ham, cheese and eggs on toast.
We packed our things and checked out of the hotel and rode up to where the fire roaring was the previous night. It was still smouldering and going nowhere fast. We waved goodbye to the locals standing around the fire and rode out of town and back toward the TET route that we were following.
The road took us up into the mountains and along into the Parque Natural Do Douro Internacional, which was absolutely stunning to behold. The route wound its way to the highest point of the mountains where we were riding as high as the eagles fly. (I was feeling at home. If I could have built a house there and stayed….I probably would)
The canyon below was full of eagles flying around and I could see a whole load more resting in their nests on the cliffs. The echo across the canyon was also amazing to hear, it took about 3 seconds for my voice to return back to me. We went back to our bikes after taking a few photos and rode along the trails admiring the view when a fork in the road appeared. To the left was the trail down to the waterside and to the right was the trail ahead.
We decided to take a detour down to the river and see what was there.
When we arrived at the waterside about 10 minutes later we discovered an orchard where such fruit as lemons, satsumas, oranges, persimmons & kiwis were growing. We picked a few to eat and my word, they were pretty damn tasty. So fresh and juicy. We picked a few to take with us too!
It was eerily quiet with the only sound being out voices and the only life being the eagles flying above our heads. It was a pretty nice place to be on Christmas Day.
We made our way back up the path through the right and left hairpin bends which were the road was only a cars width and back to the trail to ride ahead. When riding down one trail the fuel tank I was helping Chris carry on my bike decided to come loose and was bouncing around the back wheel for a few minutes, eventually the cap came off and petrol was flying around everywhere. It was at this point my trusty riding companion finally noticed and caught up with me to tell me! Thank god he did notice because it could have been a lot worse!!
We managed to strap it up again and find the cap further back down the trails and had a good laugh about it!
Fuel tank reattached we carried on whilst stopping a few times to the take a few photos. We rode past lots of burnt ground where the wild fires took place in Portugal last year. The terrain turned from gravel tracks to sand to huge big rocks, the bikes and us took everything in our stride and went over them easily. At one point on the trails I was coming down the track pretty quickly and stupidly bounced off a few rocks and the front wheel slipped into the side wall!
Not very fun at all. I bent the bar on the front of the bike and knocked the light in a bit too.
None the less after a good mornings / afternoons riding we found a petrol station/ restaurant and filled up with fuel and had a quick snack and a few coffees whilst calling our families back home.
After which it was on the bikes again and back out on to the trails which were amazing. We got lost in an olive grove as the route was not that clear and it took a while to find our way out and back on the path again where we passed a few small villages which also had their own bonfires going in their village squares. It must be a tradition to burn the old and enter the new.
The trails took us up into the mountains again this time having to climb a big old mountain on a leafy muddy track that hair-pinned its way up. So apart from having very little trail to ride on each time we went up a level there was either a tight left or right tune with a steep incline to boot! I got most of them right and ride some good soft power slides around the hairpins and a few I got wrong!
The trail led out to a blacktop road with a view over the mountains and well into the distance. We stopped a while to take in the view before heading off to traverse the next trail.
The wind had picked up and we were riding the dirt roads for miles high up in the mountains until eventually it wound its way down and around the mountain side and led us out into an olive grove with dogs barking at us from the fenced boundaries of a near by house.
We made our way down and on to the blacktop road which came out next to a bridge where we set the camera up and started doing wheelies along it! My attempts were not very good, however Chris’ were better.
After the wheelies on the bridge the weather started to turn a bit wet and the rain came down from outta nowhere.
We made our way to try and find the hotel Chris had planned (or so I thought!) and ended up in a town with no sign of life and somehow actually ended up back in Spain of all places! We must have crossed the border and not even noticed!
We rode through a small town a few miles back that I remember had signs of life so we went back there where we stumbled upon a sweet bar where the owner took Christmas pity on us and knocked up a plate of small tapas for us to enjoy.
The food was amazing! After eating hardly anything all day it was simple and gorgeous food. They were some of the best cured meats I’ve ever tried and so we ate and drank beer whilst looking for a hotel.
Which we eventually found via the internet in a small town called Almeida. We said our goodbyes to our kind hosts and made our way to back out into the rain towards Almeida which was around a 20 minute ride away.
Upon arrival the town was dead. Only the petrol station was open and even that sold limited food. Beer and potato chips it was to be for our Christmas dinner! At least we some good tapas earlier!
The hotel was right next door to the petrol station which was really handy, so we rolled the bikes over and walked into the reception. There was no body there except a note in Portuguese that didn’t make any sense and a key saying room 14.
As we had booked online and it was Christmas Day I guessed the owner scribbled the note and left the key then left for the night.
Well. That was my guess. And we had a room booked and there was no one else around to ask. So we took the key and went upstairs to a dank hotel room to spend our Christmas evening eating crisps and drinking beer watching shit tv!
Life on the road is not always what people think it is……especially on a budget.
Happy blooming Christmas everyone!