A lie in until 8am felt pretty luxurious but then we were raring to go to to box the bike and switch in our new shiny Hope freehub. If you look carefully you can see the remaining spring…
A bit of negotiation to get on the airport shuttle and we went through the rigmarole of checking the boxes in. With the most expensive bill yet to get them on the plane, we were fairly unimpressed to have to open them all up again because they didn’t fit through the tiny xray machine at Halifax.
Finally through all the hoops of passport control and security we celebrated with an amazing Mexican meal and a few PFDs.
A matter of hours later and surreally we were back in Monteal wait for the integration flight. With a 5 hour Time difference we would lose most of a night’s sleep and the wait just compounded our feeling of hours lost. .Finally on board.we settled in for a long uncomfortable night having failed to get an upgrade to extra legroom seats!
Stumbling bleary eyed off the second flights with swollen feet and ankles (this has seemed a particularly bad side effect of flying during this trip…possibly related to a break from the continuous exercise load?) we queued through “non EU” passport control to have our boxes beat us to baggage reclaim.
10 flights and the tandem to arrive safe and sound has been crucial to the success of our trip and the sense of relief everything those boxes turn is immense.
Although this time we did spot them being unloaded from the plane and Laura may have speculated what wondrous activities we’d have doen if they had been “unfortunately” lost for a week…*
A brief debate with the customs officer as to whether the bike was old at 6months and we narrowly avoided paying tax! But then to the build up which is a well oiled machine.
Setting out in relatively warm weather it was a bit busy to get out of Lisbon but then opened up to rolling fields. A coffee was required to perk us up after such bad sleep on the planes.
Trying to see if offroad section could help us cut off the corner backfired and we climbed up to Santarém at dusk. As we left the town the castle on the hill way illuminated but as the dark encroached we were left feeling we we’re missing the best views.
A supermarket sweep for dinner and a beautifully eclectic hostel with the ubiquitous blue patterned tiles on every wall.
A great first night’s stay in Portugal in a lovely hostel set us up well for the day.
We started in out in variable weather but with the wind mostly behind us and enjoyed the Portuguese countryside and villages with their beautiful tile houses and architecture. We got lots of “kudos” for the tandem with people smiling and waving and the old lads outside the taverna nudging each other and given us a firm nod as we rode past.
Our stop of the day was outside a supermarket and by this point it had started to pour quickly got back on the road. Jetlag still had broh of us getting drowsy though and we failed to get a cup of coffee.
The road soon wound up through the hills giving our legs some elevation we weren’t used to and a sweeping descent hampered by the rain.
Hitting Castelo Branco as it got dark we skirted the edge of city. There was still another climb to go before we rolled into the sleepy village of San Miguel d’ Acha still rather soggy. Welcomed into a beautiful b&b in and old stone building we feared we had missed any hope of dinner…but our wonderful host did snacks and a plate of tapas and a cheeky port was just the ticket!!
We’re leaving Portugal tomorrow so needed to make the most of it! 路♀️
Can you spot Tim?
After a lovely continental breakfast at our bed and breakfast “casa” we set out under clear skies…but we feared it was not to last as a couple of dotwatchers and our lovely hostel had commented on the rain due through the day!
And a tough day it was…the feeling like it was all uphill turned out to be correct and we got a significant morning dunking. Through the drizzle we had glimpses of vineyards and olive groves and as we climbed we were sure the views were getting more scenic, we just couldn’t see them!
Finally reaching a summit amd q brief descent into Sabugal we were gasping fir a break after only 30 something miles. A supermarket proved just the ticket with a little cafe selling rolls and pastries. We tried our luck and ordered a selection trying to guess what they were as we ate.
Back on the road there was even more climbing and we missed a turn in a smaller town to be diverted into an endless maze of cobbled streets. It seemed to take an age and most of Stevie’s sense of humour to get out!
Finally back on track we had but a few more climbs before a rather undedstated entry to country number 18 Spain!
We decided Spain was lovely as the skies cleared, it warmed up and we finally got some flat miles. The climbing wasn’t over and there were still some drags to go but we felt more motivated with the change in country, scenery and weather. We practiced our limited Spanish (and tried not to confuse it with other languages) and pressed on into dark.
The practice paid off as we arrived at a local motel, seemingly for truckers and workers where the enigmatic chap behind the bar didn’t have a word.of English but was very happy to relay everything we needed to know in very fast Spanish. A mixture of gesticulation and Google translate got us through as soon we had a room, the bike safe, several plates of amazing tapas and un cerveza por favor…
Maybe a close shave given we’d not booked anywhere but a very welcome respite after a tough day uphill.
We opened the door to pouring rain this morning…not the encouragement we needed to get back in the saddle.
But we did. And it did get better, desayuno completo (full breakfast) had consisted of a croissant, orange juice and coffee so we were pretty peckish by the time we got to Salamanca for second breakfast. Taking a punt on a cafe, Laura’s near fluent* Spanish came into force again and we successfully acquired eggs, bacon,chips and more coffee and orange juice. Feeling refreshed we were relieved to shed our waterproofs and got a bit excited as we approached our 2nd Antipodeal point of Alejos!!
So we reckon this means we’ve technically cycled around the World and just need to get back to Berlin…
It seems a long way from Wellington, New Zealand though and still a long way until the finish line, but now every day counts!
Successfully negotiating the city of Valladolid we stopped at the first small town the other side and found the hostel in the quaint town centre. Feeling slightly paranoid from past experience we had a sense of rising dread as first there was no one there and then no one answer the phone…but after several minutes wait and lady appeared and told us everything we needed to know in rapid Spanish!
We soon had everything sorted out with the help of Google translate and unfortunately were forced to have more tapas for dinner instead of microwave meals…
We awoke to the patter of rain bouncing off the shutters and it was another morning where it was a struggle to get our heads off the pillow…the fatigue runs deep…
Finally making it to breakfast a bit later than intended it was again a light affair of jam and croissant, not exactly the fuel we needed for a big day in the saddle.
We headed off into the countryside regardless and were treated to picturesque landscapes and quaint sleepy villages. It took Google maps to locate a second breakfast as everything seemed hidden behind shutters and very local. Tracking down a bar cum bistro cum cafe we ordered Spanish omlette and bacon rolls… to be presented with two massive baguettes each, one filled with a carb heaven of potatoes and egg omelette the other piles of crispy bacon. We accepted the challenge.
Fuelled up the rolling countryside continued and kites wheeled over plowed fields as we crossed the huge plateau we had climbed up to. We’d been watching the weather blow across but as we approached Burgas we finally got caught in a shower and then a beautiful rainbow. The elevation came with a temperature drop though and the wind, rain and snow on distance peaks had us shivering by the time we got to the city. Pilling into McDonald’s to warm up and layer up in clothes we’d hoped we’d packed for good in Canada we decided to brave it to the hotel still 39miles away in the dark and cold.
After one last climb we were finally descending though so able to pick up the pace after we’d warmed up. Trains races by in the dark but we were parallel to the main motorway to Vittoria Gastiz so had an empty road to ride. We made good progress but it was still a long day and late arrival at our hotel, but thankfully the Spanish still serve food at 10pm! Another embarrassing attempt to communicate and we were soon very well fed and off to bed!
And we thought yesterday was a big day…
Starting out from the vaguely alpine looking hotel mission #1 was to get to Vittoria Gastiz and up and over our first climb of the day. We were quickly on a isolated country road watching the weather roll across and hoping it didn’t hit us on the climb. We avoided the showers, but were still pretty chilly at the altitude by the time we reached Vittoria and grateful of a cafe stop to warm up and don more layers in preparation for finally some descent.
A bit more climbing first though and the drags seemed to go on and on as we rounded a large lake. Finally losing some of the height we’ve accumulated over the past few days we still struggled to pick up speed on a rough road, suffering from subsidence and therefore frequent roadworks. Hitting the significant climb of the day we already felt knackered and the challenge we would have relished and the views we would have admired at the beginning of our trip were lost on us as it was all we could do to get our heads down and get up and over.
The weather rolled in a the descent and rain soon had us shivering and having to stop for respite in a cafe. We’d lost the light by this time too but there was nothing for it but to switch about layers and hopethe rest of the way down, with a few blips, was warmer and kinder.
The next challenge was different though as the route sandwiched between river, mountains and motorway was intricate and weaving in and out of towns full fo Saturday night revellers to dark cycle paths. Feeling disoriented between the bright lights and raucous noise to the dark and silence it was hard to keep track of the route ahead. Finally reaching the outskirts of San Sebastian we headed East and over what we thought we some small lumps, but the profile from earlier had skewed them and in the dark and rain it took everything we had to get over the steep inclines. More convoluted town work and barely a glance as we entered France, our 19th Country!!
The hotel was closed when we arrived and it took some negotiating to get ourselves and the bike in safely… Stevie was so shattered he didn’t even noticed we were still (attempting) to speak Spanish!
Total mileage 16,904 miles
Weekly mileage 716 miles
Pizzas 5 😍