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Old 01-30-2012, 02:58 PM   #31
BSTT
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Top RR...

Very nice, please carry on. I followed you to Salamanca tonight and I want to see and read the whole story!
Wonderful photos, interesting story telling.

Ciao Gero
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:23 PM   #32
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You're an inspiration, even if you don't have an hourglass figure. Sat here in Upstate New York following your journey with the hope that some day soon I'll be treading that ground. You have a gift for taking gorgeous pictures.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:15 AM   #33
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Thanks for the high praise, everyone (even if one of the compliments seems a tad poisoned).

Hey Grumpy, let's ride together again. I enjoyed our trip last summer, lots. Just be aware that taking all these pictures require a lot of patience from my co-riders. It's one of the reasons to travel alone at times.

Back to Portugal for now, the weekend ain't over yet.

Sundays first sighting was a small chapel, very basic, somewhere deep in the woods:



A river in northern Portugal is the source of one of the most famous wines, though usually most people only know an afterproduct: The Port Wine. Often it is very sweet, I know many people that dislike Port because they believe there are only sweet variants ... definitely a misapprehension. A river coming from Spain ("El Duero") meanders through northern Portugal ("Douro") until it reaches the Atlantic at Porto. To me, a guy who has lived in one of germanies best wine regions for many years, the landscape amazingly resembled the Mosel and its wineyards. Quite a surprise, to encounter such similar views two thousand km southwest of my former home.







Ok, slight differences ...you wouldn't find such a boat at the Mosel. Last year I ordered an image printing company to print a 200 parts puzzle from the next image: XMas present for my small nieces. They love it. Not only is it a great picture, even more: Uncle Stephan created it especially for them, a unique puzzle that nobody else has. Exists only once in the whole world. Veery special.

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Old 01-31-2012, 08:21 AM   #34
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Up here I found another gravel path (which doesn't look steep on this image but I actually needed two attempts to get up, almost whacking the windshield into my own face on the first attempt) ...



... to enjoy the scenery from above:



At the center of this part of the wine region I found this beautiful house (apparently creating (port) wine is a business that creates nice income) ...



... and further on a gate and a road behind it. Unfortunately the gate was closed and locked.



Backtracking a bit and looking for another exit I found several more such gates, leading to the conclusion that I was on private property, not open to the public. After almost an hour of erratically cruising around the very same entry point as in the beginning appeared to be the only way out:



I guess they just hadn't expected someone would drive up this ramp and thus skipped to close it like all the other entry points.

Afterwards I was in need of some refreshments and a drink. On the terrace of a bar next to the river two british BMW riders were reclining, for a while we traded travel stories. I'm pretty sure afterwards they shook their heads about my enthusiasm for the KTM ... after all we all know that the Beemer is the best bike in the world, don't we? Anyway, they gave me ideas for my next visit to Portugal, to which I'll come back later on.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:38 AM   #35
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Sunday afternoon it was, so I decided to follow the Douro upstream until it'd become El Duero and then head home to Salamanca. Taking a couple of excursions left and right, just to be sure to see as much as possible.

Here we start leaving the wine region:



Unfortunately this turned out to be railway only, with little hopes of riding the Adventure through it ... even more so as the occasional train could have posed an ugly surprise should I get stuck.



Eventually through ...



... I found a road ...



... until I got stuck again:



Next time I'll try with serious knobblies, betcha!

The way home was really nice while I was in Portugal ...



... but back on the spanish highlands thunderstorms accompanied me (should I, for effect, write: "attacked me"?), soaking me entirely. At home I realized that I hadn't given much attention to my learning materials but my mind had cleared and become free for another week of classes.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:20 PM   #36
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I can't get enough of your RR, the pictures keep getting better the writing is great. I truly feel being there with you.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:28 AM   #37
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Another week of learning ensued.

On monday our communications teacher asked us to prepare a 10 minutes lecture about traveling and our preferred traveling style.

To my surprise the majority of students, mostly women in their early twenties, considered visiting towns as traveling, in fact as the only traveling style that occured to their mind. Later, in 2010, when I lived in Berlin and hosted travelers through Couchsurfing I found an even stricter approach to traveling: Hopping from capital to capital (e.g. Prague, Berlin, Paris and Rome in one week) young people from other continents believed they could experience Europe. I was baffled: How stupid intelligent people can be! No doubt those are interesting towns but how much can you see in one or two days per town? And how much does seeing a capital really tell you about a whole country?

In preparation of my own speech I had a photo shop print about 30 images from my current journey, roughly an excerpt of the pictures posted above. While showing them around I talked about Adventure Traveling as my style, explaining how I am convinced it is the most interesting and exciting way of traveling. To my surprise only the teacher and a woman in her 50s agreed, while to the others it seemed so alien as if I had talked about my experiences in outer space.

Several modes of Adventure Traveling I proposed:
  • The sportive challenge:
    Be it biking or free climbing or whatever ... in our case riding trails that are hard or almost impossible to ride,
  • Navigation and Path Finding:
    Somehow finding a way from here to there ... just knowing I am here and want to reach the other side of these mountains, using nothing but the sun and my own orientation sense, or using road books, or whatever tools are available.
  • Finding:
    Finding beauty while searching for the way. I have kind of a sixth sense to find the most beautiful places, full of energy, where I can let the mind roam. Some of the best spots I found have an almost erotic quality - but I only find those when I am alone and nobody is pushing me.
  • Relaxing:
    Just be. Let the mind roam, unwind, drift without target. Be open to what happens next.
  • Meeting:
    Meeting people or animals ... other travelers, climbing girls, cute donkeys, festive locals, ...
  • Roaming:
    Sleep somewhere else each night, preferably wild camping somewhere remote, hidden between rocks and vegetations, listening to the nights sounds ...
  • and and and ...

... and the best of all is being able to switch between these modes whenever I feel like it.

Contrary to all the others in the course I avoid towns ... too many people, too much traffic. The same goes for tourist attractions: Too many tourists, too much stuff made up, too much pretending... but well, I love tourist attractions because they keep other tourists away from where I roam. Imagine all these masses that clutter the beaches and towns were out in the wild like we do. Ha!
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Old 02-01-2012, 12:03 PM   #38
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Sounds cool

I too, am in, I love to travel, especially vicariously, it costs sooo much less!
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:38 PM   #39
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Very neat pictures of some beautiful country. Thanks for the time and work to share.
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Old 02-01-2012, 11:26 PM   #40
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Something I haven't told yet and skipped the respective images ... I like taking pictures of anything that's blossoming.
A small selection from this trip, sometimes including guesses about their name:




Wild rose:


Might be Lavender:










Apple:


Grasses:


Additional wisdom from kind readers will be appreciated.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:00 PM   #41
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Each spanish town has some days of festivities, in bigger towns it lasts for one or even two weeks: La Feria. It's always in the same week each year per town but each town has its own date. During La Feria everyone is partying, often very traditionally. In Almería, where I lived for many years, business almost comes to a halt. I guess you can party all year, following the Feria from town to town.

Ten years ago I experienced it in Salamanca: Hot September days, lush evenings. As Salamanca imagines itself as one of the most intellectual towns the Feria is (apart from partying) a cultural event. Salamancas famous Plaza Mayor offered the main scenery: The town administration erected a huge stage with room enough for a whole orchestra and invited musicians of various different styles to play, at least one concert each evening for a period of two terrific weeks. To me the most memorable concert was a band that played a weird mixture of Flamenco, Jazzrock and Indian Music. Sadly I forgot its name. That concert wasn't to everyone liking, many people left the Plaza Mayor early, and indeed it required great openness to unusual music. Nonetheless nobody was unhappy, they would just came back tomorrow to listen to something that would pose as the spanish equivalent to french chancons.

In May 2007 I learned that Salamanca has another festival with a very similar setup, the Fiesta de los Libros: The Book Festival. A big stage again, accompanied by a fair of roughly 20 bookshop stalls, where everyone would browse and buy any kind of printed things. The concerts offered a similar broad range of styles, and when on one evening they performed a concert unwelcome to my taste, there were enough alternatives in the surrounding bars and university buildings.

So my second week was a pleasant mixture of learning and going to concerts.
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FlameDance screwed with this post 02-02-2012 at 11:42 PM
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:51 AM   #42
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On my second weekend trip I went south. Ten years ago we had taken the bus, another student and I, heading south and then hiking into the mountains. Being filled to the top with culture due to the Feria de los Libros, feeling a bit weak due to a slight cold, I skipped my offroading plans and the festival in Portugal too (remember the pic of the rehearsing band)? Instead I went to see if I'd find the same places again and the same hotel.

Salamanca is situated on a small hill in the middle of a vast plain. The region lives on agronomics (think jamon and Pata Negra), the city on the university and its students. The landscape is slightly rolling but you have absolutely no sense of climbing significantly, nonetheless after 70km you've reached 1200m above see level after starting next to Salamanca at 800m. As long as summer hasn't arrived yet it is relatively cold.

My first impression of a charming village I found ten years ago was that it seemed to be at war. Usually protesters want to stop industry and instead preserve nature - here it was the opposite:



Formerly the region thrived on creating clothing, a successful craftspeople economy, small factories too. However, as is the case with many low tech industries, they couldn't compete with asian concurrents and prices. From wealthy the region declined to poor within few decades. In creating a ski resort some of the people see an escape route from poverty, strongly opposing a nature park that was about to be established.

Learning and doing some homework was on my agenda. You may remember I wrote about feeling uneasy with my accommodation in Salamanca. When I saw a sign pointing to a "Zona Recreativa" I checked it out ...



... and soon opened my open air bureau



where I stayed for 6 hours, in the company of cows.



Even here, roughly 200km southeast of the previous weekend, I found similar rocks as in Portugal:





Another highlight was this artistic junk yard:



On the way back home a small but very straightroad - quite unusual in Europe:

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Old 02-04-2012, 12:42 AM   #43
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A couple of impressions from Salamanca. You may have seen Salamanca and its Plaza Mayor in the 2008 movie "Vantage Point" ("8 Blickwinkel" in german).

During a concert ...



and after the stage has been ripped apart:



My bike in a bike parking lot next to Plaza Mayor:



Early morning when I went down from my room to buy the latest issue of "El Pais" the newspaper kiosk owner warned me to park my bike somewhere else: Big commotion, President Zapatero would come to speak and the police would clear away all cars in my street to make room for the presidents caravan. Including my bike. Funny, many people aready knew me ... neighbours, shop keepers, the police too .. whenever I passed those motorbike policemen that had shown me the KTM dealer on my first day they waved at me. Did I mention I like Salamanca?

Well ... except my fellow students. They seemed to have decided that I am too old to be considered their fellow. I tried to talk a few into accompanying me on my next weekend trip, one girl even had bikers clothes and a helmet as her father had dropped her off during his motorbike holiday ... to no avail, nobody would come along. Their loss, I believe, not mine: The next weekend turned out to be a great trip.
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:39 PM   #44
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Thank you for sharing, that seems like a fantastic trip in the Iberian peninsula! Please go on with your RR! Now I am really curious about what happened next!
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Old 02-17-2012, 01:11 PM   #45
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I'm in for this RR,

beatiful pictures from Trás os Montes

keep it coming
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