Friday, December 28, 2007


With a generous layer of frost on the windshield and only a short drive to our cycling destination Reserva Natural da Serra Malcata, we decided to spend the first few chilly hours of the day taking a closer look at the castles in Sortelha and nearby Setubal. It is amazing what can be accomplished with an army of slaves. I am still waiting for the novelty of castles to wear off. It's fun to see how unique each place is in terms of style, layout and use of natural resources. Erik likes to climb everything that is within reach, as well as some things that are just beyond.
As we were getting ready to start the bike ride, Erik realized that he left his shoes at our place in Sortelha. For the sake of time, he elected to ride in his Adidas shoes on his clip-in pedals. Our ride took us up a frost-covered forestry road with fantastic views of the valley. It was cool to see the tiny little towns scattered around in the distance - and pick out where we had come from or travelled. It was clear from our vantage point that no square inch of land went to waste. Even though we were in a nature reserve, it was tree farming territory, carved up with cut lines and dirt roads. As usual, Erik indulged his need to explore and took us downhill on a cut line. We expected that it would eventually intersect with another road but, after descending for some time, that became less probable and the cutline less ridable. We bailed on a lateral cutline, rather than hiking back up. That, too, eventually became difficult to ride and questionable as a path back to civilization. I rode what I could until we came across an overgrown section - overgrown with rose bushes - and I bailed. I knew at the time that I would laugh about it later, but it was hard to laugh at that moment when I had thorny branches wrapped around my arms and legs, and stuck in my helmet, butt, and my palms. Getting unwrapped was slow and painful. We eventually made it out, but my thirst for adventure was fully satiated.
We found ourselves on the road later than expected and had to revise our resting destination. We ultimately settled on Manteigas, a ski town at the edge of the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrala. Erik masterfully navigated up what I felt more closely resembled a one-way sidewalk than a two-way string of streets, only to discover that I missed spotting the b&b that we were seeking. So, he went back and did it a second time, only to learn that it was full, as were many of the local hotels. In contrast to all of the other regions we've visited this week, it is peak season here.
We found a spot at a restored granite mountain house, which has slightly less character than our prior destinations, but beats the peugeot. We kept dinner simple, dining in with artesanal cheese, fresh bread sardines, and ONE bottle of wine. Simple, but delicious.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home