We left Rota at 12:30 Monday afternoon headed to Lisbon. It was a poor choice, the
temperature was near 100 F. We were half cooked by the time we made it through the
traffic jam in Seville. We stopped for the night at Évora in Portugal and made it
to Nuno's store about noon the next day. (Nuno is the great guy who stored our bike
while we returned to the USA for Kathy's chemotherapy.) He called some more members
of the GoldWing Clube de Portugal and we went to his family's restaurant for a huge
lunch. It was an excellent meal. Afterwards we went to a nearby campground and
The next day we rode up to Porto and met with Tim, his wife Julie (Americans missionaries
in Portugal) and Carlos and his wife Nela. They are all members of the GoldWing
Clube de Portugal. In fact Carlos is the President of the club. (Those of you reading
this who are leading a Chapter of the GWRRA will have sympathy for him. He is a
great guy who tries very very hard to please all the members, a chore that is impossible
to complete, and it bothers him.) We went to the same seafood restaurant we had
eaten at the last time we were here. The food was just as great. Tim, Julie, Carlos,
Nela, Kathy, myself and 3 other of their friends (from the USA) ate a huge platter
of excellent shellfish. We stayed with Carlos and his family for a few days, visiting
the sights and resting in their fine house.
On Thursday Carlos held a BBQ for us and invited several club members, friends and
family to join us. We had excellent food followed by Fado,
the famous Portuguese music. It is a sad music about sad events in ones life, similar
to the Blues in idea but totally different in sound. With that soulful music we
drank Aquardente, the potent Portuguese liquor that is similar to moonshine in the
USA, but it is now legitimate and sold in stores.
On Friday Carlos, Tim and I took a short ride (120 miles) through the mountains of
northern Portugal. We traveled up switchback one-lane cobblestone roads,
over the top of the mountains, past canyons, lakes and waterfalls with swimming holes
beneath, through a National Park,
and into Spain. Shortly after we entered Spain we went through a small village that
had some of the old stone granaries. This is where the farmer used to store his
corn and grain to keep the mice and birds from eating it before he could. These
are totally made of stone, the posts, floor, roof, all is stone. We went on into
Spain to fill the gas tanks instead of turning around at the border in the pass. Gas
in Spain is about 30 cents cheaper per liter than in Portugal, in other words, it
is about $6 a gallon instead of $7.
We got back home late and then Carlos and I worked on installing the passenger armrests
on a friend's GoldWing until midnight.
On Saturday the Club was having a ride up the Douro River to a small wine village. The
Douro River area is a huge wine producing area making Port wine. It is a very mountainous
region with steep sided valleys and canyons. The roads twist and turn along hillsides
and through little villages. These villages were built when a horse or mule was
the main transportation, so roads are narrow and wind through the hills like a broken
backed snake. The boat in the picture is what was used to transport the wine to
the city of Porto before power boats were available. Today it gives tours.
The ride consisted of about 75 miles of windy switch-backed road each way. The average
speed is about 30 mph with some stretches even slower. We had a wine tasting in
an ancient Port winery with fantastic painted tile walls depicting work scenes from
the 1800's, lunch in an open air restaurant
and a tour of a typical wine village from the 1800's. This village was losing its
young people and had died. At one time it had been a self-supporting village of
a hundred or so people, but with the 20th Century its residents had moved on to bigger
and better places. A rich man, who was born in the village, has bought it; lock,
stock and barrel. And he is fixing it up to be a destination resort. A quiet one,
it is a long way from any kind of modern entertainment. He is repairing and improving
the original stone homes with electricity and indoor plumbing, repairing the roofs,
windows, floors, walls, etc. and doing a nice job. But they are still just stone
huts the same size that the residents lived in, with the too undersized doorways
and ceilings for an American sized person like me. We were given a tour and then
sat around and drank beer and wine.
We left late in the evening and we finally got back to Carlos' house about 11:00
PM and talked 'til midnight.
On Sunday we were planning to leave about 10:00 and go to Évora in southern Portugal
by going through the mountains. But it was raining so we delayed. Anyway Carlos
wanted us to join him and his family for their traditional Sunday dinner with his
entire family, right down to the grandkids. After another good meal we finally got
underway about 2:30 PM. We took the fast toll road south to avoid the rainy mountains
and got into town about 6:00. We have returned to Évora to get the clutch replaced
before we get into the Alps. We have too many miles of trailer pulling through the
mountains of the western USA and the clutch is starting to slip under heavy use. Jose,
the international representative for the GoldWing Clube de Portugal owns the Honda
shop in Évora so it works out great for us.
Next we head toward Denmark and the first ever GWRRA European WingDing.