George Johnston: May 27th

I biked from Redondela to Ponte de Lima, which wasn’t on the Camino de Santiago route after crossing the Portuguese border at Tui/Veneca.  Many walkers took that route too, since it’s an interesting city with a bridge dating from Roman times. I had passed some other small Roman bridges earlier in the day crossing streams on unpaved roads through the forest.   I got into the hostel late so I waited to visit the bridge until departure the next morning.  I started off on a fairly straight line toward Porto, but the hills were wearing me down.  I noticed a railroad near the route that was a little out of the way, but following railroads generally avoids mountains and it worked out well for me.  I had booked two nights at the hostel in Porto so I didn’t have to worry about arrival time.


I biked in to the Porto city center the next morning, where I had found online reports on a good quick cobbler, so I stopped by his shop to see if he could repair on of my bike bags that had split  a couple of seams.  He did it quickly while I waited and only charged 10 euros which seem to be a good deal.   My electric razor’s batteries quit taking a charge so I tried to find a shop that could repair it, but the shop that has looked promising on line had gone out of business, so I’ll try somewhere else.  I spent the rest of the day seeing the sights of central Porto.  It is a pretty city, but all hills and lots of one way streets which didn’t work well for biking.  The water front was nicer for me. The hostel had a large group of high school students coming in Thursday night and had been reported full, but they found I could keep my bed for one more night with my Portuguese  roommates, two young men doing internships in Porto.  


The next day I went out to the suburb of Matosinhos which had a Decathlon sports store which I had seen in London had good tires for my bike. The rear had worn out after 2,600 km.  The water front bike and walking trail along the beaches and past an old fortress to there were my favorite part of the area.


Friday morning with my new tire installed  I headed south out of Porto and started with a long steep climb up into the city on the other side of the city.  That took a lot of time and walking. There may have been an easier route that followed the other bank of the river and climbed more gradually, but the GPS didn’t suggest that.  The rest of the day the terrain was better and I made 100.6 km and arrived at a B & B called the Canhota, which means water wheel, in the town of Mira.  I got a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast there and continued on the next morning.  The ride started well with flat roads and a tail wind and I made good progress early.  I was getting back to the route of the pilgrimage route and passed near some of the cities, but didn’t see any walkers.  The terrain got tougher in the middle of the day, but flatten out later and the tailwind grew stronger, so I decided to shoot for the last of cities before Lisbon on my Camino de Santiago t-shirt, Caldas de Rainha, which means bath of the queen.  There were hot mineral baths there that had improved a queen’s health, so the town got that name. I arrived around 9;00 pm but there was still light and I went to a budget hotel I had seen online, but it  turned out to be closed.  I checked online again and found a better one nearby.  It had a room listed for 48 euros and looked very attractive so I went in and asked if the still had that room available.  They said yes, but that was the rate for two, so it would be on 40 single.  Everything was attractive and well maintained, and even had a pool.  The served the best breakfast I had since England which even had bacon and eggs, something I hadn’t seen on the continent.  It was easily the  best of the trip though at two or three were more expensive.  As I had ridden 145 km that day I felt I’d earned a treat.  I did have some leg cramp problems in the night,  so I took it easy in the morning an didn’t check out until after 11:00.


On again the day started out climbing hills, but instead of one big hill, it was many smaller ones.  I had less than 100 km to go to Lisbon and I knew the road followed a river and railroad later, so I just patiently walked the hills.  I had many only 25 km around 3:30, but the road from there had been newly upgraded and speed picked up quickly.  I new there was plenty of accommodation available around Lisbon, so I waited until I got near the airport about 12 km north of the city center to pick something.  I found a hostel near the airport and book in for three days, so I can bike in to see the city without going into the city with my baggage.


I haven’t yet decided what to do from here yet, but I do want to be in Rota, Spain the first Tuesday in June to try to get a navy flight to Naples.

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