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Northern Portugal

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November ’03

Another quickie, one week mini tour of Northern Portugal.

I had left my bike at a friend’s house near Porto who kindly offered to keep my Guzzi over the winter. I began my journey by heading northwest to Braga, a city famous for its beautiful churches. Under damp skies, I then veered southeast towards the Duoro River valley.

First sight of the River Duoro…

As many of you know, the Duoro River is famous for its port wines. I’m a port lover so I made effort to sample the local product. Only grapes grown at a certain elevation along the valley are exposed to the proper temperatures to become port wine. The other grapes are made into other varieties of wine. The port grown here and exported to England helped finance the defense of Portugal from desirous Spanish kings.

approaching a small town who’s name escapes me now…

Earlier generations spent years of backbreaking labor to cut terraces into the valley. The terraces still require quite a bit of work to maintain them.

near Resende, an overlook high above the river…

again near Resende…sunset over the Rio Duoro

I found a nice hotel along the riverside and enjoyed a nice meal. The Portuguese have a sweet tooth with all sorts of sweet breads and pastries!

The following day dawned with the promise of blue skies. I continued following the road along the Duoro eastward towards Peso de Regua. The road along the river is a twisty bit of fun, recently repaved with funds from the European Union. You’ll rarely need anything more than second and third gears but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable! At one point, I made a wrong turn and was heading south. I finally stopped to ask two motorcycle cops escorting a wide load. I don’t speak Portuguese but with my Spanish, I managed to ask directions. The officer became very animated, making snaking motions with his hand and pointing me back in the direction from which I came. Ya gotta love a country where the moto cops tell you where the enjoyable twisties are!

Back on track, I make my way towards Peso de Regua, climbing up out of the Duoro valley…

I head towards the northeast corner of Portugal along a stretch of motorway. Normally, freeways are drab and boring but this stretch was one of the exceptions. Climbing and swooping among the hills…a real high-speed curve-fest. I finally make to to Braganca where I stop for lunch. Portuguese cuisine is hearty-fare. Lots of meats and poultry and veggies. I find a grill with steaks sizzling on an open pit. Too hard to resist. Afterwards, I turn west, back towards the coast. The roads along the Spanish frontier in the north of Portugal are great. Little traffic and lots of fast sweeping curves. Motorcycle country.

Fall colors near the Montesinho National Park…

I take a hotel room near Chavez. You don’t mock the motorcycle weather gods for four days in November without paying the price. On my last day, the bill came due and the skies opened up. It was one of those frog-drowners as they say. I slogged back to Porto via the back roads. Finally made it back to my friend’s house. I really enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious nature of the Portuguese people and the beautiful countryside.

Duoro Route Map

Written by orsonstravels

March 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm