About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Merida, Spain 176k***


Yesterday I was riding across Portugal! Today I’m (Charlie and I) are riding across Spain! Fun, fun, fun! We left Evora, a city worth coming back to, at 8:09AM, taking a couple of pix of the aqueduct and walls of the city on the way out.

Then it was a Sunday morning ride under clear blue skies, perfect temperatures, along more rural Portuguese roads to Villa Vicosa for breakfast. Here’s a typical road shot riding though the countryside in Portugal.

We’re kind of planning the route to go through cool places, and Villa Vicosa – home to a locally famous seminary – fit in. It has a locally famous fortress now filled with gardens, which we didn’t have time to check out, and a wide main street which was full of people milling around on a Sunday morning.

There were a number of cafes along the street/town square, but our timing wasn’t right. Breakfasts are rarely cooked affairs, and all meals are offered only in specific time slots. Lunch is 12 – 2 or so, and supper/dinner never is available before 8PM in Spain and Portugal (except maybe big cities/big hotels).

Something you can’t see here is the marble accented sidewalks. For perhaps 10km before and after Villa Vicosa we rode past dozens of marble quarries and outdoor storage areas of the polished product. Here’s a typical pit.

It’s a lot larger than it might look. Those are buildings at the base of those cranes. Since we couldn’t get a meal in town, we stopped at a grocery store on the outskirts, and then rode a long cobblestone (main) road to the next town, Borba, where we ate in a little park.

After lunch it was more countryside heading toward the Spanish border. A constant sight were these huge bird nests on top of poles and buildings.

How this nest stays anchored up there in a windstorm is hard to determine. The cranes (or whatever) that live in these things are relatively large and are probably sitting on their springtime clutches of new eggs. At least they don’t attack like the magpies in Australia.

Charlie doesn’t notice things like hills, wind, borders, etc., so I had to call out to him to stop at the non-descript border crossing. We were on a frontage road next to the highway, and I stood on the concrete bridge railing so Charlie could take the official border crossing photo.

We decided to take a break here, so I took a picture of Charlie and of the official marker on the old bridge.

From this point we entered Badajoz, Spain, a mid-sized industrial design city that seemed to have no visual or cultural merit. It was now around 4:30PM, and if there was anything attractive about the place, we would have stayed there. We decide to press on another 60km to Merida. Though we rode into dusk, it was a great decision. See tomorrow’s update.

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