Now I can get on the road again.. yay! I'm going to Portugal!~! I've been looking forward to this as it's one of the main countries I wanted to see in Europe. As normal I follow the back routes from southern Spain into South Portugal. Not sure where I'll end up today, don't really care. One of those days I'm just happy to ride wherever the wind blows.
Always castles around here.. castles castles castles... If only I could find a Spanish Prince who would like an Aussie/American Princess!! ;-) Awww come on.. I heard you laughing.. Anything is possible in my world! ;-)))
This is the land of the stork. I notice many telephone poles or anything up high, they've got that big nest. Now I understand why Storks are used in baby stories. They could easily pick a baby up and fly it up to the nest and be tucked away.
Long slow day riding, but this is just a part of the world I connect to, really love it here. Really beautiful countryside. I see the next castle coming up and I'm tired enough to pull into town and figure out where to stay tonight. I see a sign for camping.. yay! I follow the signs all the way up the village until I passed right through.. not sure how I missed it.. go back and try again.. rode right pass all the old timers sitting along the village street watching the world go by so, but still no luck with campground. There is one other sign in town that says "Hotel Rural".. I see a Harley parked outside and decide to at least go ask about where the camping might be. (Usually most hotels have somebody inside that can speak English no matter where I stop in the world.. it's my little "need to know" technique!)
Well the guy behind the counter wasn't real sure why they have camping signs in town as he's never seen one either. So I ask about a room, because we are very rural and I heard from everyone that Portugal is much more affordable to get around. He told me a room was 105 Euro.. and I go "Ha!!" Sorry, no way.. not in my budget..so much for that! Then he brings the price down, and I explain, not possible but thank you.. I'm not on a holiday, it's a long world trip and I'm a budget traveler. He eventually ends up at 45 Euro. This is still far more than I pay for accommodation, but for one, this place is so good looking and authentic Portugal. Two, this is the night of my 1 year anniversary for being on the road.. !!! I shouldn't do it.. hadn't thought to do anything special for the anniversary, but since the opportunity presented itself.. ;-)
So have a look where I'm staying tonight!
I'm so excited to stay in this place I hardly wanted to leave the room and waste a single moment here. However, I was also very excited to explore this Portuguese village by foot (this is always a different experience than the bike), I took a quick shower and ran out the door.
The name of this town I ended up in is called Portel and here's a look around including the castle that drew me in.
A very common sight all through Spain and Portugal. These are the boys sitting around watching the world go by...
Oh dear, I love this village. I think I found the best place to get my Portugal experience I had been imagining for so long.
Came back to the hotel, and the director who checked me in, Miguel, I didn't realize is the owner of that Harley parked out front. He said he leaves tomorrow morning for his first 20 day holiday on the bike and asked me where I'm headed. I said North. He asked if he could ride along for a while. Okay, must be an all right guy, gave me such a great discount on a room, why not? So we make a plan to meet in the morning.
First stop, guess what, is a Castle!! Reguengos de Monsaraz to be precise. An absolutely gorgeous and charming place. As with most castles, they are more than just a castle "house". Inside the walls are more homes, shops etc. as a medieval era protected village. Lucky we don't have to live behind the walls anymore.. or do we?? (I think they're just more invisible these days..)
It's very small, but I really loved our walk around. I can only just imagine what it would have been like in the day.
This is just plain lucky.. to be shown around the land of Portugal by a Portuguese man.. who doesn't know of my travels on facebook or the blog.. just a really nice guy who happens to ride a motorcycle I met the night before.. and look where I am today.. I love my life! ;-)
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And into Evora for more................... Roman ruins!
Gotta be quick.. Miguel has organized us a lunch in a 5 star hotel he knows.....
Seriously??!! Have a look at me.. can't do that..! But it's part of his business and needs to meet his business friends there. Oh well, it's their hotel, if they want a grubby ol' moto girl in the building, there ya go! ;-) You can only imagine what a great meal we had.. so good! Local wine! Plus desert!! SPOILED!! I'm happy.. Had a 4 star night and a 5 star day.. seriously happy!
After lunch I went for a wander around the town outside the gates while they discussed more important Portuguese secret mens business. I'd spy and listen on them if I could, but I haven't caught on to the language quite yet on day 2.. ha!
The tunnel into the old town is now managed by a stop light.. to replace the silver armored men and a little red stop sign (sword?) Just my imagination..!
Same on the inside.. of coarse!
Another quick stop, where Miguel wanted to call into his favorite sweet shop and bring out some traditional Portuguese candy... good man!!!! SMART man!! ;-)
I didn't realize when Miguel wanted to plan a ride with me today, that he would plan so much! The day continues after that late lunch to cross a mountain pass at over 2000 meters. It's called Serra da Estrela and is Portugal's highest mountain peak.. I wouldn't put it in Everest category, but with that extremely strong cold wind, I'll give it respect.
My photos don't come close to describing how pretty of a mountain pass this was. It was super duper windy and so cold.. we took the quickest little snaps and kept going. I wasn't so bad, I had heated hand grips, but Miguel was not so good with very little for warmth.
Sheez! We did over 400 km with a late start.. many stops to explore and a very long lunch. Big day!! Back down the other side of the mountain we make it to Miguel's home town of Viseu. He organized another top hotel for me to stay in town, and after dinner went back to his Mom's house to stay.. with plans to ride a bit more together tomorrow.. See you!