Once again we set out to do a half day and ended up putting in a fair number of kilometers. We rose early from our bed in the hotel room overlooking the gorge carved out by the Douro river and headed straight down to the internet cafe to make the most of our last chance at Portugal’s free web access. That took the entire morning so we didn’t hit the road until the early afternoon, by which time the sun was beating down on our heads for the “welcome to Spain” climb – a hike of several kilometers from the dam at river level, which also marks the border between Spain and Portugal, to a plateau at the top. We were urged on though by the sight of a man in a racing wheelchair also pushing his way up the steep road. If he could do it (and by the look of the muscles in his arms we had no doubt he would succeed) than we could make it too. At first the scenery was very similar to Portugal but we soon got tangled in Spain’s roads, which seem to be much less favourable to cyclists. We struggled sometimes to find quiet alternatives to busy routes and often came up against signs barring cyclists from one road or another. This affected us as we tried to find a place to pitch the tent for the night. The sun was sinking quickly below the horizon and what looked like a quiet road on our map turned out to be quite the opposite: busy and filled with industrial estates. At the very last moment, as we were contemplating cycling in the dark, we found an old corn field. We can still hear the busy road but we are well away from traffic and hidden from view so we shouldn’t be bothered for the night.
23rd April 2007 at 1:17 pm #
Road notes: The hotel we stayed in was the Residencial Flor do Douro, 7 Ru do Mercado Municipal. It is just a couple streets away from the tourist office and there are several similar hotels in the area. A double room should not cost more than 30-35 euros. The ZA324 road from Miranda do Douro is pretty quiet and nice for cycling, with lots of wild camping potential until you hit the N122, which is very busy. It has a wide shoulder so you can cycle on it but any camping would be best done before you get to the N122. Zamora had signs for a campground but we didn’t pass it so can’t offer any advice on its price or quality. East of Zamora, the N122 remains busy with little wild camping potential for the first few kilometers, although we did manage to find something in a pinch.
What we spent: €7 groceries, €30 hotel
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