Crossing Borders

Leaving Santiago was odd. I didn’t want to leave. It is so lovely. However, a journey is not a journey if you stay in the same place.

Given the time limitations I thought I would blast down to Vigo on the motorway, about 6 euro for the privilege. All good until, unlike the forecast suggest, it started to rain.

Immediately that Travis song came to me – “Why does it pi$$ down on me when you really could do without it” I think the corus was, or words to that effect.

My Kevlar jeans are either designed waterproof or they are so covered in oil I have made them so. Probably due a wash to be fair. However they kept me dry.

I came off the toll motorway at Pontevedra. It didn’t look overly appealing so I head via A roads to Vigo. A big city but difficult to get around. Just a tea and pee stop.

I thought I would head to the national park north of Braga. I routed via Google maps and ticked the box to avoid motorways. It might as well have said ‘off road adventure’. Some were fit for dog walking and nothing much else. Definitely not a road. My beautiful honda is looking like she needs a good bath.

Anyhow we managed. Towards the Portuguese border I notice the road number N101. Not again!
It was a lovely road to be fair, however the curse seems to linger.

I head up through the park on the desserted N230 towards Lindoso. The Romans definitely didn’t build these stretches of tarmac. [Lindoso is home to a castle and some strange looking things that look like tombs on stilts]

I inadvertently ride straight past the chosen destination and into Espanol again. I use a farmer’s side road to turn around and back ‘exactly’ the way I came from. The best part of a kilometre in after numerous tight corners and there is this silver Merc on my side of the road. My helmet fills with expletives. Wait! It is me. I am on the wrong side! A momentary lapse and 30 years of habit over power the senses. That could have been sooooo much worse! Lesson learnt! The what ifs are still playing a loop in my mind.

I find Lindoso. It is eerie. I am just about to set off and a young Portuguese couple pull up. Early 30s at the most. They speak impeccable English. We chat about the tombs, they are are actually drying houses for corn/wheat and are elevated to stop mice eating the crop as it dries they tell me.

They mention Brexit. I wince. The girl was in England for a few years. She says her friends are leaving too, they feel unwelcome. They struggle to understand any benefit to the UK, although they did add that immigration is an issue from the criminal element, as it is in Portugal. A case for law and order, not massive economic decisions. Their work is testament to the impact apparently.

The guy asks about my trip. I tell him that I am heading to Braga. He says, if I have time, to try a mountain pass from the Spanish side into Portugal, he shows me on a well worn iPhone. A biker himself, he says it is well worth the time. I am in no rush, so why not.

He starts to give me a restaurant recommendation in Braga, I say that I am “vegetariano”. He laughs. “You’re in the wrong country for that!”
We shake hands and wish each other well, “Obrigado” I muster.

I realise riding away that it’s the first face to face conversation that I had all week, bar hotel receptionists.

I find the suggested pass, via another Google ‘off road adventure’ route. What a place. It’s a narrow pass that is tolled in the summer, at such time you cannot even stop to take pictures.

It’s best described as Strines Moor times a big number. Hard to explain.

To be honest, as lovely as it is, I am fatigued. Nothing food wise since breakfast. Braga next stop.

It is a good ride in places apart from the very frequent 50kph regions which the Portuguese drivers ignore.

Eventually I get to the hotel, albeit after some confusion (Google maps showing pictures of another building).

Barga is a fabulous place.

Pity the UK do not seem to cherish their history and architecture like other countries, especially outside of London.

The amount of traffic around Braga, in particular the stadium, makes me question what is occurring. A few seconds of googling reveals that Braga are hosting Glasgow Rangers. Oh eek.

7,000 away fans apparently. The main square and surrounding areas post match would support that.

My significantly better half stipulated that I should eat cake on my birthday. I dueley accepted the request. Braga, famous for cake it seems. Creme caramel in a filo pastry. It would never have accommodated 47 candles but it was absolutely gorgeous.

A Thai restaurant with lots of veggie options dismisses any fears of going hungry.

I think it wise to head back to the hotel after a post food wander. The centre bars are teeming with Glaswegians. I have never met a bad one, however their reputation precedes them. Probably best avoided. Euphoria and beer can bring out the worst in people.

I arrive back. The hotel is full of them! They are all very well behaved; so far!!.