51km Castelo Branco to Paradanta
Our “to do” list was growing rather large so this morning we set off to get a few things done: first a shopping trip to refill our panniers. Peanut butter, check. Bananas, check. Large quantities of cheese, check. Chorizo sausage, check. Once we got everything needed to sustain two hungry cyclists and managed to stuff all our new treasures into our bags, we went in search of an internet cafe to update the site. We finally found one, but no thanks to the grumpy and useless policeman who we asked for directions. Our recent experiences have led us to conclude that Portugal has the least helpful police force of the trip so far. Of course by the time we were done all this it was well past lunch so we returned to the little restaurant we found the day before for more grilled fish, salad and wine. Budget be damned.
It threw us well over what we’re aiming to spend a day but the food was so good. To make it up we’ll wild camp for a week if we have to. Much though we admire Alastair Humphreys (his site was the original inspiration for our own trip), we are just not willing to live on banana sandwiches for four years. We’d rather travel for a shorter time but enjoy a few nice things along the way, especially where food is concerned. By this time the afternoon was slowly ticking away and we thought we’d better get on the road, if we’d any hope of getting anywhere. Of course we chose another mountainous route and climbed a series of hills all the way to the mountain-top village of São Vicente da Beira, passing en route through fields filled with huge glacial boulders and several shepherds out with their flocks. More cobblestones awaited us as we bumped our way into the centre of São Vicente in search of water. We cursed the cobblestones, which make for fairly uncomfortable riding and seem to be in every Portuguese town. Happily we easily found a water fountain to refill our bottles and then we saw a post office. Hurrah! We mailed off a few presents for family that have been in our panniers for far too long and felt quite pleased that we’d finished the last thing on our list. Only a small last climb awaited us and then the treat at the end of the day was gliding along the top of the Serra da Gardunha mountain range before starting our descent towards Fundão. After checking several tracks and trails, we finally found a wild camping spot partway down the mountain. It should make for a nice downhill run to start the day tomorrow!