That’s Portuguese for hola!

We had a fantastic time in Galicia, cycled right round the rugged coast and came into Santiago from the West, ate pilgrim cake and octopus, drank Alborino wine and enjoyed wonderful deserted sandy coves tucked away in the rocky coast.

The going has become much easier now as we head down the coast of Portugal, straight and flat roads but sometimes bumpy cobbles jar our teeth and rears. We’ve spent a couple of days in Porto, drinking port on the waterfront and munching barbecued chestnuts from newspaper cones, enjoyed a funicular ride up to a temple overlooking Viana do Castello and are now somewhere south of Figueira Da Foz.

Hello folks, Sorry about the lack of updates but it just became too much of a chore having to look for a net connection when we had serious lazing around to do. I have continued writing the journal which will be dumped on the net at some point when I can face the tedious task of typing it all up.

By way of a quick update we spent a week in a lovely hotel in Bilbao with Ange and Kerry’s Mum Sonia who flew out to be with us for a while, we had a great time visiting the Gugenheim museum and enjoying the sights and sounds of the yearly fiesta ‘Asta Negusia’ which had the streets heaving. We ventured into the wonderful Picos de Europa mountains in Asturias, and I developed a completely unprecedented taste for their famed  ’sidra’ or cider.

We’ve continued Slowly West along the coast and are now in Viveiro near the North Western tip of Spain, soon to head South toward Portugal, probably dropping into Santiago de Compostela since we’ve seen many pilgrims trudging that way as we’ve repeatedly found ourselves on the coastal ‘Camino de Santiago’ along our way.

Thanks for your attention and apologies again if you were enjoying the witterings of our blog, there will be more to see presently!

We treated ourselves to a wonderful continental breakfast, excellent coffee, fresh orange juice and apricot marmalade on the first toast we’ve had since leaving England.
The Spanish lads that had returned noisily to their tent at 5.30 in the morning slept fitfully as we packed up, carefully making as much noise as possible. I managed to find three or four things to throw into the bin next to their pitch, having to repeatedly slam the lid to make sure it was shut. The sun was shining as we left the site but the peak of the mountain had cloud rolling across it above us. I joked with Kez that our road was going up there and we laughed at the absurdity of the notion before realising a little further on that our road was indeed taking us directly up to the top. We cycled some and pushed some as masochistic health nuts puffed their way past in sweaty lycra, but before too long we were high up on the peak of Igueldo in a completely different climate from two hours ago. Clouds swept across the ridge driven by the cold wind sweeping up over the craggy coastline from the Atlantic. Horses with thick manes huddled against the weather as we passed, and occasionally through the rolling grey murk we could spy little points of glinting light that were sunlit yachts floating serenely in the ocean to the North, like faint apparitions from another dimension. We continued along the ridge enjoying the dramatic views and introducing ourselves to furry faced donkeys before the descent started. Pretty soon our brakes were being tested to the limit as we carefully cruised down out of the cloud, around hairpin bends, past noisy streams rushing down the mountain, through cold dark rocky clefts and views across the valley to the South where the motorway took the more sensible route around the mountains. By the time we reached the bottom my hot brake pads were squealing like a sick violin hurting my ears, and our hands were aching from holding the brake levers. Soon we found the turning to our camp site which hilariously swept steeply up to the high cliffs above the town. Halfway up, taking a breather, we spied the towns other camp site far below, just round the corner from where we’d started the climb. We decided to continue up anyway having come this far, and we were pleased with our pitch once we’d finally checked in. A sheltered grassy corner with a wall just the right height to sit on with a bottle of wine.

we took the main road out of Hondarribia and over Monte Jaizkebel. Being Sunday the traffic wasn’t too horrendous, and the steady gradient of the highway made the long climb more manageable. Even so Kez was less than ecstatic about reaching her first proper mountain pass, demanding breathlessly that it should definitely be the last. The long descent did nothing to cheer her as we coasted at fair speed down the dual carriageway taking heart from the fact that other cyclists were taking the same route, but still a bit unnerved at having to negotiate sliproads with traffic joining from the right. Things got worse when getting confused by the signs, lane changes and flyovers we coasted merrily through a tunnel and found ourselves at the start of a motorway with no obvious way to get off. The crash barriers were too high to lift the loaded bikes over so there was nothing for it but to remove all the panniers, roll them underneath, throw the bikes over the top then squeeze through ourselves, and down the spikey slippy verge beyond. The place was a maze of new roads and roadworks that left the GPS totally confused, but the mild peril of finding ourselves on a motorway seemed to cheer Kez up a bit as I took us back and forth on a cycleway trying to find our way down into the streets of Donostia-San Sabastian. Eventually we made it through the industrial outskirts and towerblocked suburbs finding ourselves in the smart bay area and stopped on the busy promenade to gaze at the beautiful bay. Kez had had enough of the traffic and hubbub though and the realisation that camp site was near the top of Mount Igueldo didn’t really sink in until we’d heaved and pushed our bikes upwards for three miles, albeit with wonderful views of the dramatic rocky coast and sparkling blue ocean that heaved and foamed around inaccessible boulder strewn beaches hundreds of feet below us. Drinks and tapas in the camp site bar were well deserved after a tough day. A short one tomorrow, hopefully all downhill.

The night wasn’t one of the best apart from teenager racket, the annoying noise of squeaky airbeds and snoring from tents right next to us, there was some very heavy rain that caused various commotions as campers tried to batten down their hatches at around 3am. We tried to lay in since we weren’t leaving today but the sudden loud woosh of an airbed being uncorked in the tent next to us woke Kez with a start that made her swear out loud about peoples lack of consideration for others. We cheered ourselves with superb espressos from the bar and were just eyeing up two large glazed and chocolate dipped croissants that were sitting on the bar next to us when someone beat us to them, and we sadly watched them being carried away to a table at the back of the bar. We walked back into town and spent some time looking at the items and prices in the ‘Dia’ supermercado before finding the rest of the town busy with open shops and heaving cafés. A small bookshop had our camp site guide and we sat on the side of the bay to study it while people swam, sunbathed and tried unsuccessfully to net the fish that swam around them. We walked up into the old town enoyed views of the mountains through ruined fortifications and lunched on a nice salad with an assortment of Iberico meats in a restaurant at the top of the town. We managed to avoid sitting in our tiny pitch with the noisy campers all evening by making full use of the camp site bar until we were too tipsy to care.

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