Motorcycle Spain & Portugal – sunshine & warm roads. Part 4.

Motorcycle Spain & Portugal – sunshine & warm roads. Part 4.

It was time to move on from my overnight stay in Braganca and that I wrote about in Part 3 It was time for me to head further south and down to the town of Mantiegas in the Centro Region of Portugal.

Once again the weather was set fair and my short stay at the Hotel Santa Apolonia had left me feeling refreshed and looking forward to the day.

I was familiar with my destination of Mantiegas, as I had stayed there for a couple of nights the last time I had been in Portugal.

It was something of a no brainer for me to head that way, as some of the roads in the Serra da Estrela mountains had been calling me back for some time. In fact, I had said to myself when I left Mantiegas the last time that I would come back and ride those roads again.

Set for the day

I always make sure I eat breakfast when I’m away on the bike, partly as I never quite know at what time I will eat again during the day.

The offerings at the Santa Apolonia were good, and as is the norm in Portugal there was a rich variety of cakes available, but it was way too early in the day for me to sample those.

I tend to be more of a cereal, toast, orange and couple of cups of coffee sort of person. Any which way I left well refreshed, ready for the day and with high expectations.

Heading west before heading south

I was off and on the road before 09:15 and selecting Braganca as an overnight stop turned out to be just right.

I was on decent roads within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel. My destination for the next couple of days was south of the morning starting point. I had decided that rather than make a direct route there, I would first of all head west for about 60 miles or so to a place called Chaves.

Chaves has a fascinating history and has had human settlements there since Roman times. Add to that, a rich and chequered history of being invaded, including incursions from Islamic, Germanic, French and Spanish forces as well as being invaded by the Moors from North Africa and there’s a lot that has happened in that part of the world.

Interesting but …

As interesting as Chaves might be, that wasn’t why I was heading that way. I suppose a theme that should be obvious by now is that I had travelled to Spain and Portugal primarily to ride my bike in warm weather and on good roads. I wasn’t on any sort of cultural/educational journey although I suppose it’s almost impossible to travel this way and not learn things.

I knew I would have no problem in finding good roads if I made my way to Chaves and only at that point turning south in the direction of Mirandela before making a route down to Mantiegas.

I had a brilliant days riding, did just shy of 200 miles with a temperature high of 32c, the lowest temperature of the day was as I was getting ready to leave just after 09:00am and even then it was around the 12c mark – so all in all a fine day to be on a bike.

Picture set from the ride south

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Not quite without incident

Although the days riding had been quite brilliant there were a couple of ‘events’ that I wouldn’t repeat from choice.

Getting a buzz

The first of these was when I felt an insect hit my face. Even though these things happen in an instant my brain had registered it as probably a bee or wasp and I was very aware it was still in my helmet. The prospect of a throat sting had me looking to reduce my speed and stop safely as soon as I was able to.

Once stopped it was gloves off and helmet off to find that it was indeed a wasp still in my helmet. It was still alive – presumably (and thankfully) it was still  stunned from the impact, which allowed me to to get rid of it from my helmet without too much trouble.

You can see the wasp in the picture on the left

Dead end

The second unwanted event of the day, was when I took a wrong turn, and ended up on an unmade road that very quickly became a dead end (unless I wanted to try to ride across a sort of plowed field).

There wasn’t enough room for me to make a u turn, the road had quite an incline and added to that, a quite horrible camber.

I had to get off my bike to turn it round. Of itself that probably sounds a quick and easy thing to do – but let me tell you it wasn’t.

The camber was such that I could barely reach the ground on one side of the bike, it was hot,  plus 30c and I felt for all the world that I was going to ‘drop’ my bike.

Thankfully I didn’t and it left me very hot, sweaty, uncomfortable and relieved … along with this anecdote of course.

Mantiegas and the Caso do Comendador

Although I had stayed in Mantiegas previously I decided to stay in different accommodation. Last time I had stayed at the Hotel Berne, which was really good and more than met my needs.  But this time I had found a property that looked beyond quirky and so seemed irresistible.

I booked the Caso do Comendador for a couple of nights. It’s a place with a heck of a back story. It accommodates just a maximum of 12 people. The property is pretty impressive and is absolutely packed full of fascinating antiques with some incredible wooden items with remarkable and intricate inlaid patterns.

I’d recommend this place for a number of reasons: it’s different and quirky, superb parking in the garage and a joy to sit on the terrace enjoying a decent glass if wine and in the warmth of the evening sun.

It’s a different sort of place and the floors creak

There’s even a chapel and museum (on the upper floor) in memory of the late daughter of the owners. Additionally the web site suggests that

…  you can also get involved in a painting and even lace and sewing studio, piano lessons can also be provided. You can also wear some haute couture pieces from the time for a unique photo shoot, thus taking with you a memory, and in this way also becoming part of our history.

The above are not options I took up!

Picture set from my evening in Mantiegas

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The reason I came back this way

Mantiegas is located in the Serra da Estrela Mountains. These mountains reach the highest points in mainland Portugal and as such provide for some great riding. This was the precise reason why I had decided return to this town again for a couple of nights

I’d like to think and hope that at some point I’ll be down that way again.

After enjoying a relatively late breakfast, and as I was about to go down to the garage to get my bike (I had been given single use of a locked garage with remote controlled door etc.) I saw a pretty impressive line-up of cars.

I went and had a chat with some of the drivers, who were very clearly having a great time.

They were from the Netherlands and were heading up into the mountains and then onto Lisbon for a few days to play golf.

Although cars are not quite my thing it was easy to appreciate that they were driving some decent machines.

Fine furniture, fine property and fine cars

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Expectations fully met in the Serra da Estrela National Park

The pictures in the gallery below are from a pretty much perfect ride.

I headed off to Covilha, then O’Cortico, Santa Velha and onto Seia and the N339,  It’s one of those roads that if you’re a biker and headed down that way, you really should consider checking it out.

I’ve done it before, and it was so good that I did some of it both ways on this trip. You probably wont ne surprised that I want to do  it again. It really is that good.

Pictures from the Serra da Estrela

Hopefully the jam packed picture gallery below, for which I make no apology at all speaks for itself.

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It had been a great day on the bike

After what had been a superb and satisfying days riding I had a walk into town, a beer, a wander round and then bought my evening meal from a local supermarket.

For those of a certain age the words Paw Patrol may possibly have no meaning at all. In my case and due to my three year old grandson I’m very familiar with the genre, which in turn meant I couldn’t not buy the tube of sweets with the figure of Chase on it which I spotted at the supermarket till.

Chase then became a pretty much daily feature of pictures that were sent home – so watch out for him in later posts from this trip.

Er… who is Chase?

Chase is one of the seven main characters in the Paw Patrol line up.

Apparently he is a German Shepherd puppy as well as being a police and traffic cop dog AND a super spy police dog. I understand his key responsibilities are to keep things in line and direct/warn traffic when an emergency happens. But he’s multi skilled and can also track missing animals or people, and if you’re wondering how he does that – it’s pretty obviously by using his spy gear.

Click here to go to Part 5 – for another night in Portugal before sun kissed roads of wonderful Andalusia