Day 17, Braga to Vila Real — 132 km

I hate to do this, but I think I’m going to finish up Portugal this week. I will decide the best course of action tomorrow.

The weather is making this simply horrendous. We get moments of beauty, but mostly it’s just very hard. It doesn’t help at all that we’re not getting proper meals. Restaurant times are much stricter than in Spain. We keep missing lunchtime by minutes only to wait far too long for things to be open for dinner.

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Today we bought our prepaid SIM cards for Portugal, had a misunderstanding with the woman in the kiosk next to where our bikes were parked, then hit the road to Guimaraes, which was supposed to be a charming old city with a dominating castle. Traffic was awful getting there, so instead of stopping, we decided to head for Amarante and an interesting modern art museum I had really wanted to see.

We arrived and parked next to the flooded river, only to find that the Museum was on its lunch break, so we went to the nearest snackbar to eat something. Surprisingly, those little sandwiches were delicious, the bread excellent.

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We went back to the museum, but were told it was closed. Dick had misread the guidebook and I had not fully read the sign on the door.

We drove south to the Douro river, which ends at Oporto, and along which are beautiful roads and lots and lots of vineyards growing the grapes used to make Port wine (which I adore). It was a beautiful route, and would have been much better on a dryer day.

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After following the river east for a while, we veered back up north towards Vila Real, where we’d planned two nights at a campsite with a small bungalow.

Small is right! If it were a parking hut, we’d have a hard time fitting both bikes in here!

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The views from here are lovely, though, and there was some very nice vinho verde available in the bar/restaurant (and a disappointing meal).

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Tomorrow we have arranged to spend the day on a private tour, possibly by boat as well as by car, to go to some wineries and to hear about the area. I think this will make everything all better.

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