Posted by: paulgilders | May 17, 2012

The Douro Valley (and associated hills)

We have spent the last week or so making our way slowly westwards down the eastern Douro valley. Unfortunately, navigation along this section of the river is open to boat and train, but not to vehicles, which of course means that we’ve had to go up over some significant hills and then back down to the valley. It has not been easy riding – demanding, but also very enjoyable.

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The landscape is dominated by artificial terraces of almond trees and grape vines, which continue to be extended along some incredibly steep slopes. We also pass through villages every 5-10km, where we are able to stop for water or iced tea.

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Unfortunately, as we head west towards the coast, the roads slowly get busier, so we are trying to find more backroads, but this is not always possible due to limited river crossings and passes.

We have also not been able to camp much – either due to a lack of campsites or because they have not yet opened for the season. It is frustrating to be carrying so much weight over the mountains and then not be able to use it!

However, our hotel stops have also been generally good experiences. Our best stop yet was a hotel in Pinhão, which we reached late in the day after a gruelling mountainous stage.

You can see the town in the distance here.

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We got two rooms with balconies overlooking the river for €45 and we could even see the trains go by!

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After 3 big days of riding, we are currently staying in the beautiful town of Amarante. To get here we climbed 800 metres over a pass. It took us about 3 hours to cover the 10km ascent and we pushed the bikes for about the last 2 km. The descent was incredible.

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At Amarante, we have finally found camping by the river and can afford to take a few days break before making our way to the coast.

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One of the good things about cycling is that you can afford to have a hearty meals. Here is our breakfast this morning. Today is market day, so we will be hoping to find some more excellent fruit and veg.

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Responses

  1. AT last – a picture of all the yummy food. Looks vaguely familiar – hummm – amazing how most things can be found throughout the world . The ubiquitous croissant, muesli forever, coffee, and who can do without a bit of country bread and fruit. Champions. Enjoy!


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