Portugal October 2013 - The Anthill Tour

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Pumpy, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. ereneT

    ereneT Been here awhile

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    That's my old country, I started riding there in a little town, one day I'll have to get a bike there and ride some more, my Casal 50cc and a 1974 CB125 that still have there won't be enough.
    Thanks for sharing, great ride report .
  2. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Sunday 6th October

    I forgot to update you on the fate of our injured bikes and their riders the previous day: Gareth was lucky and got his brake line fixed in Castelo Branco. He also had his rear tyre replaced although he may have as well carried on, as he hadn't noticed the damage until the mechanic pointed it out to him... [​IMG] All inclusive for €100, IIRC, which is not a bad price at all.

    Rick was not so fortunate with the repair of his Husaberg fork - no replacement was available and so he carefully rode his bike back to Bragança and then headed home to Old Blighty... Thus the Anthill Mob was down to eight. [​IMG]

    We won't go into detail about what happened during the night...
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    ... because "what happens in Monsanto stays in Monsanto..."
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    Another crisp blue morning, just as you expect when waking up in Portugal... :D
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    We admired the views
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    ... and now you, dear Reader, can enjoy the views, too... :augie
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    Here's Famous spoiling the only picture I took at the breakfast table... [​IMG]
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    Then we got ready for another day of adventure
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    These public wells are really great - I guess we must have them in England, too, I just never looked for them before
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    Estela watching our progress...
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    ... and kindly taking pictures of us in return
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    I couldn't go without exploring this beautiful place further, so I let the boys shoot off
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    ... and climbed up to the castle - while keeping a close eye on the village of Relva down on the plain...
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    ... where the lads soon came into view
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    The footpath I'd chosen was not the main one...
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    ... and a lot longer than expected
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    Fires had been raging here...
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    ... not that long ago - the grapes had already been ripe
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    I find it a very comforting thought that life always finds a way back and that Earth was, is and will be able to survive the greatest catastrophes - even us...
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    At some point I left the sign-posted path and just climbed straight up the hill - completely covered in black smut by the time I reached the castle [​IMG]
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    ... but the views were well worth it
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    The Romanesque Capela de São Miguel
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    ... and the impressive fortress it belongs to
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    The strategic position was even better than Monsanto's
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    One of the town's quieter neighbourhoods
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    There was the obelisk...
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    ... that you may remember from the previous day
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    Even at the risk of boring you again, here are a few more sights from the top of the hill
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    St Michael's Chapel from above - and the highly controversial telephone mast
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    Spot the archway from earlier...
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    And another one
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    On the way down I used the more popular route
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    Past the restaurant we had dined in the evening before...
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    ... the historic tavern...
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    ... and suddenly I realised it was already siesta o'clock and high time to leave Monsanto if I wanted to see the boys again that day (and some more of Portugal, obviously)
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    So I vacated our beautiful room, bought some local art from the gallery, said 'adeus' to the two lovely Estelas and hit the road north towards Almeida.

    To be continued...
  3. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Small back roads took me to Penamacor again
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    ... where I filled up with fuel and then employed the assistance of a friendly quad driver to adjust my chain. The fact that I couldn't move the rear axle at all and that the young man had to organise a hammer to shift the chain adjuster by two notches, should have rang the alarm bells that something wasn't quite right here...

    But in my ignorance of the art of motorcycle maintenance, I was just grateful for the help I'd received and happily carried on towards the town of Almeida
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    Arriving at our destination for the day, I almost immediately spotted Famous who had already found and sorted accommodation in the Residencial Morgada
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    He paid for all our rooms upfront to make it easier for the elderly lady who ran the B&B and I ensured that all chambers (apart from Possu's and mine, of course) had twin and not double beds - that's very important for English men I've learnt on my travels with them. Soon said Englishmen arrived from their day on the lanes
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    Possu demonstrated what you should do to your bike after a hard day's trail riding on a regular basis - why didn't I pay more attention? :cry
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    Estacionamento seguro in the basement of our Residencial
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    This photo is for Timpolino...
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    ... who has the same model in one of his many garages...
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    ... and promptly struck up a conversation with its owner
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    The boys probably hadn't been allowed a break the whole day long; so after getting showered and changed they headed straight for the next bar. Although it felt a bit antisocial, I was more interested in exploring the historic town of
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    As you can see, Almeida is a thoroughly fortified citadel with broad moats, extremely thick walls and relatively small gates
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    Wide stairs lead up to the fortifications allowing for a maximum of troups and their mobility...
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    ... in order to defend the town...
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    ... and the citizens inside
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    Corpo da Guarda Principal - Main Guard Corps building by night
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    I walked to the other side of Almeida and another gate in the surrounding wall - you can see how well-considered the defence features are laid out
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    It was a bit spooky passing the churchyard in the dark - but I always think: what is there to be afraid of? Who in their right mind would wander around the town at this time of the night - apart from me? [​IMG]
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    Still, I was glad when I reached the more illuminated part of Almeida again
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    Then it was high time to join the lads for dinner - and guess what: dead animals were on the menu once more! At least accompanied by some vitamins this time... [​IMG]
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    Food and drinks were delicious, the service exceptional and Matt's recollection of the day's shenanigans highly amusing...
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    ... and now is the time, dear Reader, to reveal the main ingredients of the famous 'Book of Truth'
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    Rumour has it that plenty of those were still served after Possu and I had left the party, but we wanted to be well-rested to face the adventures that lay ahead. As if we both had a premonition of what would happen the next day...

    To be continued
  4. boboneleg

    boboneleg we can rebuild him.

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    Ela, there is a decent public well in Stow-on-the-Wold. Though you don't get too many bare-chested dudes filling their camel-backs at said well :D

    [​IMG]
  5. tehdutchie

    tehdutchie Long timer

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    Keep it going!! Excellent stuff!
  6. Mike The Swede

    Mike The Swede Mike, The Swede

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    Well, you can call me stupid but we have just bought an property in the terrible part of the world, approx. 10k north of Lagos. To make it even worst we are considering to run a small B&B that will with a bit of luck will welcome dirty, smelling, beer drinking dirt bike riders (if they show up with some Euros that is).
  7. Famous

    Famous Goin down hill fast

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    Is this post meant for this thread:huh
  8. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Monday 7th October

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    The settlement of Almeida can be traced back to Palaeolithic times. The town is one of the 12 Aldeias Históricas (historic villages) in Portugal and all the usual suspects - Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs - have left their mark. Due to its strategic position on an important cross-border road from Spain, Almeida is has a remarkable layout - like a town inside a fortress
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    The town was sieged and captured several times during its history, with the siege of 1810 (during the Peninsular War) ending spectacularly when a chance shell ignited the main gunpowder magazine, which exploded, killing 500 defenders and destroying most of the town. Today Almeida has been restored to its former glory and is well worth a visit.

    I certainly wanted to see more of this town, so the next morning I tore myself away from my lovely Possu's side even before sunrise and went onto another sight-seeing tour
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    The restaurant where we had enjoyed the previous evening
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    If you remember the citadel's footprint, there were two sets of walls
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    With deep, wide moats between them
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    And two sets of gates as well
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    Just when I entered the second entrance the sun came over the horizon and bathed every feature in the most beautiful light
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    On top of the gateway
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    The impressive 'barracks'
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    ... with the town they guard behind
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    Almeida's coat of arms
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    View of the town wall from the market square
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    Easy access to the defensive structures - at least two soldiers abreast could run up and down here; and the ramp was wide enough for horses and equipment, too
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    I went around the whole town
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    ... enjoying the views from different angles
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    These must have been the quarters of the footsoldiers (today the military museum)
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    Can you imagine taking care of your personal hygiene having just this trough alone - waiting your turn in line with all your comrades and in all weathers? :eek1 Tough guys they must have been...
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    Slightly modernised gateway on the other side of town
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    I could have taken lots of photos more...
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    ... but I didn't want to bore you again. Let's turn towards the centre
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    ... approaching the churchyard
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    ... which looked, of course, considerably less spooky in broad daylight
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    How many cats are in this picture?
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    What a beautiful place!
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    ... and I had it all to myself
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    Main Guard Corps building by day
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    Attention to detail...
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    Charity has a long history in Almeida
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    I wonder where this gate leads to...
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    Mmm, where is my torch when I need it?
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    For once I listened to the voice of reason and turned back to the surface... :augie
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    These cannons must have seen their fair share of battle
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    They were obviously aimed at the enemy who's made it over the first wall...
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    ... but not through this gate yet!
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    I could have spent a lot longer in this fascinating town, but the agreed time for breakfast was approaching and I hurried back. If you want further information about Almeida, please feel free to zoom in
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    When I returned to our Residencial, the boys were enjoying the morning sun and asked me if I had been jogging - Kulturbanausen... [​IMG]
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    To be continued
  9. Mike The Swede

    Mike The Swede Mike, The Swede

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    Well, maybe I wasn't expressing myself very well but it was my way of saying that I also like the dirt bike riding in south of Portugal and that I now have a place there which is suitable for a pit stop on a tour similar to the one described in the thread. I don't mind if you want move or delete the post if it is inappropriate:huh.
  10. Possu

    Possu de-nOObed!

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    I think the confusion arises because we may not be aware of Lagos in Portugal, we're perhaps more familiar with Lagos, Nigeria, not quite the Portuguese trailriding country we're used to.

    If you need qualified opinion of your trails and house in Portugal, just let me know, I'm available for a small fee. :augie
  11. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

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    Ela, at that time -and until 1900- most people should rely in going by foot to take water from a river or source maybe at several kilometers… so Soldiers were infact privileged, Water wells were a relative luxury.
    When I was a kid I was able to see with my eyes old men and women still carrying water with donkeys in the interior of Sicily (my uncle was the "cadet son" of a feudal family that owned thousands of acres , sulfur mines - but this is another long story)

    Fantastic pictures and really interesting place .
    Waiting for the rest.:deal
  12. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Giorgio, I just wanted to emphasize how lucky we are to live nowadays - not only do we have the facilities but also the privacy. And we have holidays, can ride motorcycles for pleasure and have the means to explore all corners of the world on our bikes. I feel truly privileged and grateful.

    Hope to catch up with you in person again and share more long stories. :ear

    And now that I've posted all my photos of the HAF, I'll write another Portuguese instalment soon... :type
  13. IamTRooPeR

    IamTRooPeR TRooPER from Belgium

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    Location:
    East Flanders' Ardennes Belgium
    WOW ,
    what a great RR,
    with the right ADV spirit
    I' m Fooking jealous !!!


  14. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Thanks for your enthusiastic feedback, Kurt - but your language... :nono

    :D

    Working on the next instalment!
  15. Timpo

    Timpo NORTH WALES TRF.

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    Downtown Wombatislava, England.

    Yes Bollocks....'jealous' is a terrible word to use! :D
  16. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Still Monday 7th October

    After my early morning sight-seeing tour, we enjoyed the most authentic Portuguese breakfast of the entire trip - with freshly baked bread rolls, a whole local cheese, figs just picked in the garden and freshly squeezed orange juice for which you had to peel your orange first, but not the way we were used to. Only Jimmy and I mastered the art, helpfully assisted by our hostess.

    The Oirish had left in the small hours, as both Seamus and Daithi had work commitments back home - and thus the Anthill Mob was down to six. :(:

    Saint Matthew kindly offered to ride with me again but I didn't want to spoil another one of his rare fun days with the boys. With hindsight I'm really glad I declined...

    The lads set off to Bragança on the trails and I headed north towards the historic village of Castelo Rodrigo.
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    Not even 20 kilometres into the journey, not far from the parish of Vilar Torpim, the bike started to wobble a bit. It felt vaguely like a puncture but the tyres looked fine and the pressure gauge confirmed that there was nothing wrong in this regard. Mmm, let's see if I can get to a point where the trail meets the road and - with a bit of luck - ask the boys for their opinion.
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    Alas, in addition to the wobbly feeling I could suddenly hear a loud clanging noise from the rear of the DRZ. I stopped, checked everything I could think of, took the front sprocket cover off (I'd once trapped a small flint stone which started grinding my chain away), looked at the rear brake (thinking of another incident in the Dordogne, where the calliper got stuck and the friction heat had melted all the surrounding plastics away), but I couldn't put my finger on it. It couldn't be the wheel bearings, which I had changed only three ride-outs before the trip, could it?

    However, after another circumnavigation of the impressive town wall of Castelo Rodrigo, I was sure that there was something seriously wrong with my baby.
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    My first point of contact, my wonderful personal mechanic, had forgotten to switch his phone on in the morning (:rolleyes) but the Great Organizer was on call. The group was already 25 miles further north near Barca d'Alva and the Roman Road but they would come back to rescue me.

    That wasn't really necessary, one experienced bike tinkerer would suffice. The boys must have had the same thoughts because half an hour later, one single knight in shining armour appeared on the horizon.
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    My one and only Possu! :pynd
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    Steve examined the DRZ, found that the brake calliper bolt hung on the last winding of its thread [​IMG], test rode the bike up and down the hill and then confirmed that the rear wheel bearings had indeed collapsed. [​IMG]

    And that was the end of my biking holiday. For the next five hours I sat in a little park outside the historic village waiting for my saviour who raced up the motorway to Bragança on his mousses, fetched our van from the camp-site and came back all the 179 kilometres to rescue his Pumpy... [​IMG]
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    My hero! [​IMG]
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    We only stopped for a quick coffee and pastry in Vila Nova de Foz Côa but it still took us until 8pm to get back to Cepo Verde - just in time for dinner with the rest of the group. Steve must have done over 330 tarmac miles that day... :eek1

    I can't quite remember what we had to eat or any of the tremendous piss-taking which naturally ensued. But that may not only be down to the excitement of the day but also the copious amounts of Telmo's fabulous vinho tinto consumed in the course of the evening. The last thing I recall is sitting in the boys' cabin with several dubious bottles on the table... :freaky

    Mind you, as there is no photographic evidence and no record in the Book of Truth, I'm pretty sure that nothing report-worthy happened - and I still woke up next to Possu in our own cottage the following morning... :augie

    To be continued
  17. Pumpy

    Pumpy Exiled Pumpernickel

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    Tuesday 8th October

    The most intense way to explore the world is on foot. Now we don't have enough holiday to do this every time - and riding a bike is just too much fun - but with my DRZ out of action, I had no choice but resort to some trail walking on our last day.

    The lovely camp-site crew, Telmo and Susana, didn't open the bar until 10am and so we all went to Bragança for breakfast.
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    Matt checking out next year's bikes...
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    Then the boys fanned out into the countryside and I headed for the village of Dine to start my hiking loop, as recommended by Telmo the previous day.
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    The Parque Natural de Montesinho comprises a total of 92 aldeias (villages) - yeah, I couldn't believe it either but I've counted them all and it's true! :D
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    After testing our van's climbing abilities on the tight twisty roads through Dine (it just amazes me what vans can do nowadays!), I thought it easier to park outside the settlement.
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    The start of the trail wasn't that obvious to find but Telmo's photocopied hiking map showed the path next to the river after a while - so I turned to the right following the slope of the valley...
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    ... and it was downhill from here...
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    What a wonderful day - the temperature was just perfect for walking and I had the whole area to myself
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    Great trails
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    Splendid views
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    Food... [​IMG]
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    ... and water
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    The Rio Tuela can rise quite a bit occasionally - see the flotsam in the fence?
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    And it can be cold and wet here, too
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    This almost looks like a ford...
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    ... but the continuation wasn't exactly suitable for motor vehicles
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    The sign-posting in the natural park is exemplary: turn left / not here, numpty / yep, that's the way!
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    The trail led through enchanted forests...
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    ... a seemingly Roman bath
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    ... and a root gnomes' habitat
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    Trust me, they are in there somewhere... :D
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    Lots of butterflies about...
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    ... an abundance of trails
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    ... and plenty of food!
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    You won't starve in the Portuguese wilderness at this time of the year...
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    Mmm... :augie
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    You may have to ask nicely though... :D
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    Water was not an issue either, as every little village has its own public well. In Fresulfe, my halfway point, a friendly local not only showed me to the fountain, she also helped me filling my water bladder - some times you just need three hands...

    After the village the path widened
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    ... and led through a lovely chestnut grove
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    Can't wait for Christmas now! [​IMG]
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    Isn't it just beau-ti-ful?
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    Mind you, raging fires have left their traces everywhere
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    After a few more kilometres Dine came into view again
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    See those tracks? The Anthill Mob was here! :eek1
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    Later it turned out that at least three different groups of riders had been out in Montesinho that day - but I liked to think that the boys had seen this gorgeous part of the park as well.

    More natural delicacies in Dine - Vinho tinto in its early stages
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    Figos...
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    ... and nozes
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    Back to the camp-site
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    ... as I had hardly time to savour a Galão (milky coffee) at the bar before the boys returned and the big packing frenzy started
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    Men have their uses... :thumb
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    Somehow Matt reminded me of a certain monument in the Danish capital... :augie
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    Talk dirty to me, Possu... [​IMG]
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    The lads' cabin, obviously
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    Jimmy and Gareth started early with the vinho...
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    The day's riding to Monsanto in body armour only had left me with a strange waffle-pattern suntan... :rolleyes
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    And then it was time for our last Portuguese feast -
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    Guess what was on the menu?
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    Master chefs Susana and Telmo excelled themselves in the kitchen and at the barbecue
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    ... and they had a very grateful audience: happy, appreciative and absolutely stuffed at the end of the meal
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    Hang on, some still managed to squeeze a dessert in... :rolleyes
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    ... and a few bottles of the excellent 'Montes Ermos' - for the way home to the cabins, of course
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    Would we all get back to Santander and catch our ferry the next day?

    Don't miss the last episode...
  18. GFJ

    GFJ Adventurer

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    Pumpy, Matt

    Big thanks for taking the effort to post your RR and pics.

    Really enjoyed reading a slightly different perspective on it.

    It is almost as if I were there!

    Gareth
  19. ullukk

    ullukk Been here awhile

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    Just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours or so reading this great ride report, excellent stuff!!.
  20. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Thanks for posting this report!! I'll be in Portugal in May on my bike for a few weeks.