Trancoso to Almeida

In total about 56km and 1000m climbing. Two rather strenuous and relentless hills, both of which I dismounted at times when the gradient was about 8 to 9%. A steel bike and a pannier added to the strain and load. The best part was after the first hill when I rode along the plateau for several kms with fantastic panorama. The last big climb was up to my final destination for the day : Almeida. Psychology I was not up to riding the more so as the final road into the village became busier. So I walked the last 2 km.

The basic accommodation to date is just that! But as I have declared before I am a man of simple tastes and needs so a clean bed, a soft pillow and a hot shower are all I ask and expect. All of them are invariably dark, the lights off and at times cold literally as well as a “lack of warmth” figuratively. Often there is a certain smell! That in Trancoso gave the distinct impression that the septic tank, partially blocked for months was on the verge of absolute blockage and as I was the only guest that night any movement on my part was destined to be “the strain that broke the cistern’s bend”. 

The hostel at Almeida, in darkness had a rather musty odour. I had booked before on line but there was no evidence of any awareness. Breakfast is always from 8 to 10am.

There are as well 2 universal characteristics of the bathrooms in these basic establishments. Firstly the toilet paper holder is without fail screwed on the wall behind you. Not even off to one side but a full 180 degrees behind your left shoulder, small consolation if left handed but doubly difficult if more commonly right hand dominant. So when paper called for, one either has to, whilst still seated, rotate torso 180 degrees which unless you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is otherwise anatomically and orthopaedically impossible after about the age of 45.

The second relates to the shower hardware. European showers have the shower rose attached to a coiled steel hose allowing one to hold it in one hand and “free wheel” thus to direct the water to every nook and bodily crevice. There is the option of placing it in a wall holder and thus freeing up both hands. Sounds architecturally sound! Sadly I have yet to find a shower hose holder that “stays up” so to speak. Like a drunken adolescent in a brothel, the initially erect hose majestically wilts after a delay of several seconds, so directing the stream of hot water to a point on the wall behind you at about chest level. 

The roads were very quiet even though they appeared to be relatively important. I guess similar to those in the Adelaide Hills but without the traffic! 

I was also amazed by the apparently deserted motorways which I crossed over by bridge on several occasions. During the whole day I would say that I was passed by a half a dozen cars and overtaken only twice, by a farmer’s tractor and lastly by a donkey cart!


Question: how can a Portuguese dog detect a foreigner on a bike from 2km away? Barking dogs which occasionally run out the gate and disconcertingly snap at one’s pedalling feet are ubiquitous in the European coubtryside. Surely they can’t hear or see one coming from 1 or 2 km? The beast is less likely to become aggressive if one is walking!

Various pictures of the cycle route day 2


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