To Viano dol Castelo Portugal 84km
To Porto 80km
Sometimes it's just a hard slog, uphill, into a cold, wet, headwind. Sounds just like life. And a few days lately have been exactly that. But then you hit a beautiful coastline, and your whole outlook changes.
I've reached the Atlantic Ocean proper, not just some "Bay", and it's spectacular. There's sort of a grey haze about, as expected. The sea is rough, and pounding onto a rocky shoreline, as expected. The landscape is sort of sparse, and villages weather beaten and grey, as expected. What I didn't expect was, for it to capture my focus and attention. Suddenly, I was having fun again. Following gravel tracks, tiny narrow village streets, noticing lighthouses, fishing boats, tiny "Westcoast like" cottages. It was great, and it hardly rained all day.....
Lately, and also in Turkey, I have been guilty of allowing my focus to stray to things much too far in the future. In Turkey, it was Europe, and seeing Juliet. In Spain, it's been getting to Lisbon and flying to the USA. This makes for long hard days of cycling, where progress seems so slow. Yes, those are my "goals", but it's so much better to focus on the small steps you need to make to obtain those goals. Focus on the "Now". Focus on today's adventure, and today's opportunity for fun.
I caught a ferry across a river, and reached my fortieth country, Portugal. You wouldn't think it would be much different from Spain, but immediately I started noticing differences. There are not as many cyclists, but they don't have to wear helmets. The 1.5m rule for vehicles and cyclists, if it is a rule here, is disregarded. Wow, you don't realise what you have, until you don't have it anymore. The roads are not in as good condition, and signage is lacking. Now that's normally not too big a problem, but when it's raining as hard as it was today, my phone navigation app is useless, so signage becomes important. Twice I ended up on motorway on ramps.....scarey. In Spain it was also possible to do this, with just a few seconds inattention, but a sign usually grabbed your focus. Not so in Portugal. At one stage I ended up on a very busy dual carriageway for 5km, which was not pleasant.......
But I made it safely to Porto. Wow. This is a big city, over three million soles, and tons of history. I don't think it has ever really registered to me before, but for alot of people it is the centre of their life. That's what I'm finding so fascinating about this amazing adventure. Learning every day. I'm going to stay two nights, and do a "free" walking tour.
(If anyone is contemplating walking the Camino Santiago, I would recommend the Coastal Route from Lisbon...... stunning, and very quiet.)