5 November 2009

Spain to Portugal

After my return from the Democratic Republic of Congo I fly back to Spain where I meet Susan and her bicycle. The weather proves to be moody in late October and we soon find ourselves cycling in pouring rain and dense fog.
The temperatures have also dropped and we are happy to have packed gloves and warm jackets and often seek shelter in a small bar or cafe to warm up. Our trip takes us southwest of Santiago into the Canyon de Sil, a magnificent gorge (when you have the chance to see it...).

In Galicia one can still see lots of old grain storages built from stone and local wood with slated roofs. They are elevated on pillars to prevent rodents from attacking the harvest. During another heavy rainfall we luckily find a birdwatching tower on a riverside to stay for the night and dry our clothes and the thoroughly soaked tent. There are chestnut trees all over the place... everybody is harvesting the big brown nuts which are then roasted or steamed. The forests are also full of mushrooms and the branches of the fruit trees heavy with unpicked fruit.

Along the Mino river we make our way to Portugal through a mountainous region and head for the Atlantic ocean. We follow the wide sandy beaches until we reach Porto, capital of the famous port wine. The architecture here in Portugal features lots of tilework. Churches are sometimes fully decorated with beautiful blue and white tile paintings. Houses are less fancyfull but still clearly stand out. They often have some kind of kitchen-sink atmosphere to me. But still, it's a very nice change to the usual cement walls in other countries.

From Porto we head further south along the coast towards Lisbon and hit more rainy weather. Time is running short as we are scheduled to fly to Chad for Medecins Sans Frontieres once more. So we stop this leg of the trip in a smaller place called Leiria, dry our stuff and park the bicycles with a nice man who promises to keep them safe until we return in a few months...

1 comment:

  1. I love your Portugual pictures. I have just returned from there myself. I would have loved to have traveled the country by bike but it's hard to find traveling companions (american) that are willing to pedal with me.