N222 - The best road in the world! (Potugal)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tigerswift, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Portugal
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    The start of the N222:
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    Despite its small size, Portugal is undeniably a country rich in places of rare beauty. In both the natural sphere and in the level of human creation, there are many examples we can cite. And to cross these scenarios, we find roads... many of them considered "monuments", not only by the surrounding landscape, but also by the route graph itself. For this reason, there are several roads, already considered as iconic, by lovers of motorized vehicles. EN2, that we already ride it (https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-longest-road-of-portugal.1278776/#post-34186527), the longest in Portugal and running from north to south, will perhaps be the most famous at the moment, but there are many others that are part of the wish list of motorcyclists and other drivers. One of them is the N222, which starts at the west coast, in Vila Nova de Gaia and ends in the east interior, in Almendra, near the border with Spain. It is on this route, that exists a section of road distinguished by AVIS company as "The best road for driving the world", which we had the pleasure of riding last October, and we will speak on this thread.

    We had arrived in Vila Nova de Gaia the day before, with the intention of starting the trip early in the morning. The beginning of this route (0Km) is in the middle of a urban area, at the roundabout of Santo Ovídeo in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, and being a weekday, we faced the rush hour and a flood of vehicles. Nothing that was not solved peacefully... in few minutes, we were already in a rural scenery. In addition to the usual and inevitable stops to calm the caffeine addiction, we had marked several POI's along the route, mostly, real cinematographic scenarios. The N222, drawn on the south bank of the Douro river, adapted to the whims of geography and a few kilometres after we began the journey, there he was majestic and meandering, breaking the mountains around it. It is an amazing image, more for those who are a pillion, because the driver can not even take his eyes off the road. The first half of the N222, coupled with great beauty, is also quite dangerous. We encountered narrow roads and poor tarmac, often with ongoing road works and badly signposted, in addition to the already expected curves and counter curves of poor visibility. To this panorama, also the agricultural vehicles are crowding the roads, mainly at this time of the year, in which wine grape harvests are in their peak.
    #1
  2. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Portugal
    The first stop of the day was in the Carrapatelo Dam, where the work of nature is fused with the work of man. Located between the districts of Porto and Viseu, it uses the Douro river as a source of hydroelectric energy. This dam was the first in Portugal to house an interior navigation lock. basically, is a kind of elevator/chamber that allows boats to cross zones of different altitudes in the river, making it navigable. Admirable and at the same time bit scary.

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    We returned to the road and to the curves lined with lush vegetation, soon after we stop again at the dock of Porto Antigo in Cinfães. Wonderful... even wonderful (probably this will be one of the most repeated adjectives throughout this chronicle)! The dock of Porto Antigo, is located in the Carrapatelo reservoir, serving as shelter for several boats, namely recreational. In addition to the magnanimous presence of the father Douro river, one of its affluent, the Bestança river, flourishes here. Despite the various tourist facilities, such as hotels and bars, the quay was almost deserted, which further enhanced our contemplation. The sun shining, the stillness of the river, the houses on the slopes along the banks, a bridge in the distance... simply... wonderful (we warned you! :)).

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    A few kilometres later, we stopped again on a quay, this time in Caldas de Aregos, where a number of leasure boats were moored, a tourist vessel similar to so many others that we saw on the Douro waters. Curiously, there were hardly any tourists, to contrast with what we would find later.

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  3. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Portugal
    We continue our journey, always accompanied by the characteristic terraces carved on the slopes of the Douro river and its glorious vineyards, mothers of one of the most famous wines in the world, Port Wine! And because wine is not made by itself, there are also numerous farms of agricultural production along the way and most of them also offer accommodation and other tourist experiences aimed at the art of winemaking. Unfortunately, this was a program that we did not try, but that will be on the list of things to do! Another interesting itinerary, which we also missed, because time is not enough for everything, is the Romanesque Route, which also passes through this area, and houses an interesting set of monuments, namely the churches. Another route is the viewpoints, which are numerous here and although we did not stop at all, we had some as unmissable points of the trip. One of them, well documented in all the guides of the Douro, is São Leonardo da Galafura viewpoint, at 640 meters of altitude, this would be our next stop. For that, we had to cross the river to the North bank and climb the steep roads that took us almost to the sky. Yes, to heaven! Because when we arrived at the viewpoint, that was the sensation we had: that we were looking at that divine landscape through a window in the sky. For many photographs or videos that we had already seen, nothing could compare to the reality, the grandeur of that scenario. Intoxicated by such beauty, we decided to try one more of the wonders that this course has to offer: the gastronomy and we delighted with a superb meal, in the restaurant San Leonardo, magnificently accompanied by a red wine obviously of the region. Besides the view and the quality of the food, we can not fail to emphasize the friendliness with which we were served in this restaurant, which we recommend with our closed eyes.

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    To finish this first stage of the N222, we still had the right to one more adrenaline smell. We embarked on a radical journey between the vineyards, by narrow and bumpy roads, at a vertiginous altitude. Already safer, we said goodbye to the passengers of a train that passed in the village of Covelinhas and followed to the dam of Régua, soon after we went to the city, known as the capital of the demarcated region of the Douro and where we would spend the night: Peso da Régua . This city, belonging to the district of Vila Real, arose from the union of two different localities, the Peso, settlement that developed in the slope, the present high part of the city and Régua, low part of the city, that extended along the margin of the Douro and that grew with the arrival of the railroad. At the moment, it has an important tourist component linked to the wines of the Douro, in particular to the Port wine.

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    After we have conveniently accommodated our motorcycle and enjoyed ourselves to some rest, we went on a ride, this time walking through the streets of the city, enjoying a privileged location on the banks of the river. The pier of Peso da Régua is a point of departure and arrival of numerous huge cruises that sail in the Douro and was full of tourists. The hours passed quickly and as we walked along the riverbank, the sun began to hide. And so ended the day, on the banks of the Douro, under the watchful eye of Don, the "lord" of Sandeman, standing majestically on one of the city slopes.

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    Here is the video of this first day of tour:


    If you liked the video subscribe to our Youtube channel, to see more videos of our trips.
    https://www.youtube.com/user/rakmarc
    #3
    flei, Rhode trip, tart and 5 others like this.
  4. Knobbly Studios

    Knobbly Studios Knob

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2019
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    DE
    So beautiful! Excited for this RR!! Thanks for doing these.
    #4
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  5. Tigerswift

    Tigerswift Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Portugal
    We wake up in Peso da Régua for the 2nd stage of the N222 and although the day before we have been marvelled by the road, the landscape and the natural charms that frame it, we were looking forward to this 2nd part of the trip. It is not every day that we can ride on "the best road in the world" and the expectation was high. Was it really such a spectacular road? That's what we were going to find out...

    We left Peso da Régua, crossing again the bridge over the Douro river and we followed the south bank. Up to the village of Pinhão would be around 27 km and 93 curves, alternated with exciting straights. And it is precisely these angular curves, which along with the length of the straight road, have given this road the title of the best in the world to drive a motorized vehicle (by the AVIS international company), by applying an algorithm created for that purpose. In addition to the spectacular complexity of the course, we must again highlight the landscape that surrounds it and that certainly contributes to the drivers pleasure. We fast arrived to Pinhão, ready to claim that it is indeed a fantastic road, but we leave here an equally a warning, since the straights invite speed, but the with closed curves and the limit visibility, it demands driving even more carefully!

    We crossed the Douro again, to the north bank to visit the village of Pinhão. Lovely! It nestles in the Douro valley, with its "Rabelos" boats giving a special colour to the river while around them, rise majestic hillsides, populated by sinuous roads, vineyards of wineturism and spectacular viewpoints. And the train station? The station is magnificent, decorated with 24 beautiful panels of tiles that portray the life in the Douro, giving special emphasis to the wine grapes harvest.

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    We left Pinhão to go up those steep slopes and winding roads. In these situations, it can not be said that the course is always pleasant, but the destiny compensates. We stopped at Casal de Loivos viewpoint, one of the many viewpoints that can be found in this region and that offers a spectacular view of the river and the village of Pinhão.

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    Along the way, and the further we headed east, the landscape changed and although the terraces and vineyards continued to dominate, the olive and almond trees began to gain ground. Also the altitude of the slopes began to soften. Still, we found more and more viewpoints along the way, in a short detour from the main route. This was the case of the viewpoint of São Salvador do Mundo, shortly after the city of São João da Pesqueira. Again, we were breathless with the brutal landscape from the top of its nearly 500 meters of altitude and steep slope. The steep slopes, with the river running in its bosom, are of a dramatic, overwhelming intensity. Besides the natural beauty, the viewpoint is considered the largest sanctuary of the "Alto Douro Vinhateiro", housing a set of chapels that rise along the hill, the oldest dating from the sixteenth century. The feeling we have in these places is unique and inexplicable. The natural beauty, the grandeur, the tranquillity that hangs in the air... impressive.

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    After a while continued to roll, always accompanied by a radiant sun that cheers any motorcycle ride. The scenery maintained the rural tone and we continued to cross with workers in the vines and olive groves. And perhaps it was here, between the city of São João da Pesqueira and the city of Foz Côa, that we most appreciated the road. Wide road, with good tarmac, inviting straights and a generous amount of good visibility curves, provided perhaps the most pleasant route to drive. The pleasure of the road, by the road!

    The odometer did not stop and we strode to the finish line, but we still had some stops along the way. We entered Vila Nova de Foz Côa and left again the good roads, so that we would go down steep "goat paths" that would take us along the banks of the Côa river and the ruins of the old railroad stop. The station was closed in 1988 and is currently abandoned and in poor condition, which made us a bit sad. Despite this degradation, the place is frequented by tourists who make river or pedestrian walks, which could be an incentive for the rehabilitation of the space.

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    A few kilometres away, we stop again to visit the Côa Museum, integrated in the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley, one of the largest and most important rock art sites in the world, discovered in 2004 and which was at risk of being submerged by the works of the Foz Côa dam. Archaeological exploration of the site continues to take place and extends across a considerable cross-border area.

    In addition to the park itself, an open-air museum, where the true "exhibition" can be found, we can find also the museum's building. It got various reproductions of the engravings and a very interesting approach to them and at various levels, such as the issues of the environment and territory or of art, culture and spirituality. As we can read in a Unesco report, "The Upper Paleolithic Cave Art of the Côa Valley is an outstanding illustration of the rapid development of the creative genius of man / woman at the dawn of their cultural development; [...] is an extraordinary demonstration of the social, economic and spiritual life of the first ancestor of humanity. " Unfortunately we did not have the chance to do the guided tour of the park, but we definitely recommend a visit to the museum.

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    We were almost at the end of our journey, when we stopped again by a bridge over the Côa River for an impromptu lunch. The last stop before Almendra and the sign 222, which marks the end of the road with the same name, the N222. The sun was shining brightly and it was in an atypical heat, for the time of the year, that we made the last kilometres of our route through one of the best and most beautiful roads in the world, which happened to be in Portugal. :)

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    Here is the video of this first day of tour:


    If you liked the video, please, subscribe to our Youtube channel, to see more videos of our tours.
    https://www.youtube.com/user/rakmarc
    #5
    RedDogAlberta and flei like this.
  6. Espsanto

    Espsanto n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2017
    Oddometer:
    4
    Well done,Mário! One astonishong trip in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, classified as a Unesco World Heritage: The Douro Valley.:wings
    #6
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  7. Tripletreat

    Tripletreat Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,043
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Excellent! I hope to personally experience that road this July!
    #7
    Tigerswift likes this.