In Baiona: an interim report - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

September 22, 2019 to September 23, 2019

In Baiona: an interim report

But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true, I was made for you
            Brandi Carlisle, The Story

We’ve just sat down at our window-side table at a bayfront restaurant in beautiful Baiona.  We’re anxious for the waiter to take our order, so we can each head to the washroom and clean up after sharing an unusually intimate moment - the sort of unique-to-you experience that for better or worse enriches your day and makes it special, one that will cement the day firmly into place in your mental photo album.

We are, of course, the first diners tonight.  We’re opening the restaurant, and soon after we’re seated the sound track comes to life and startles us by opening with Brandi Carlisle’s perhaps best loved song, The Story.  It’s one with a special meaning for us, and throws us back to reminiscing on the time we first saw her perform at Mississippi Studios when it was still a very small, intimate venue and she was still a new, relatively unknown artist.  We were seated in the second row, and weren’t here to see her - we’re here to hear the lead performer, someone we’ve long since forgotten the name of.  She’s performing solo on acoustic guitar and is just the opener.  She of course stole the show.

The song resonates with me tonight, because I’ve been thinking a lot about stories lately.  I feel so grateful for the stories I’ve been able to accumulate over the years and above all that I have someone to share them with and help keep them alive - primarily with Rachael of course, but with you as well.  Thank you for sharing our journey with us!

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To Pontevedra

The hotel in Pontevedra was fine (except for the bed, which collapsed with a broken leg), but the WiFi was very poor - so poor that it was impossible to upload photos.  Rather than post the day without photos, I postponed journaling it until we arrived in Baiona.

The hotel in Baiona is very nice, and has a bed with four solid legs.  The WiFi is still weak, but better - good enough that with patience I manage to upload at least a few photos.  Baiona is a wonderful place and we’ve decided to stay here a second night, so the WiFi situation will be poor tomorrow too.

I don’t want to go too long though, or I’ll forget everything and folks will start wondering if we fell into the ocean.  So the plan is to post an interim report with a few highlights of these two days and come back with more compete posts for them when we find faster upload service.

So, to Pontevedra.  It is another beautiful ride, similar to our ride to Cambados - mostly on very quiet roads and lanes, often sharing the way with a stream of caminoistas going the other way toward Santiago.  Lovely cycling, great weather.  Modest hills that somehow manage to add up to nearly 2,000’ although we’re never more than 200 feet above sea level.

After Cambados, Pontevedra disappoints us at first - it’s larger, denser, less immediately appealing.  We change our opinion though after going for a riverside walk before dinner.  It is a wonderful walking city with a riverside promenade that extends along both banks of the Lérez River, which empties into Pontevedra bay just a mile or two to the west.  The banks are stitched together by four or five graceful and easily walkable bridges, giving the town a feeling a bit like Portland’s river front.

Walking back through the historical center on the way back to our restaurant hotel we pause to admire the basilica, a notable stop on the Portuguese Camino.  It’s a festive scene, with music from a band performing at a bar in the plaza below rising up and animating the crowd looking down on them.

By the time we retire for the night after enjoying a fine meal at our hotel, our opinion of Pontevedra is completely transformed.  Like Cambados, it feels very livable and like a place we’d be happy to revisit for a longer stay.

Anna and Paxton sit next to us at breakfast again his morning, radiating youth, enthusiasm and excitement. We’re quite envious.
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Like our ride to Cambados, much of today’s route follows quiet green lanes like this one.
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Pontevedra Bay. Pontevedra is around the bend at the head of the bay, still about seven miles off.
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A pair of boats mired in one of the estuaries that line Pontevedra Bay.
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Entering Pontevedra, crossing the Lérez over the Ponte des Correntes.
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Feeling the music, in front of Santa Maria a Major basilica.
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Ride stats today: 32 miles, 1,900’; for the tour: 69 miles, 3,400’

To Baiona

After two prefect cycling days, We can’t really complain about the quality of today’s ride to Baiona; but we do anyway.  In fact, we don’t really care for the first twenty miles at all.  The five or six miles south of Pontevedra are a confused mess as we do our best to find quiet alternatives to the unpleasantly busy and narrow N-550.  Eventually we give up on that and stick with N-550, which at least has a better shoulder now, most of the way to Vigo.  There isn’t much to see and get excited about unless you like scenes of heavy traffic and huge trucks.  I come away from the first hour with only a single photo, of a chestnut tree I was impressed by.  It will help me remember the crunching sound of our tires crushing acorns as we weave between the more forbidding chestnut husks that fill the rural pathways. 

We’re seeing ripening chestnuts everywhere. I wonder how long it will be before we find roasted chestnut vendors in the village squares.
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At Redondela we finally leave the N-550, cut across town and pick up another busy highway, the N-552.  In Redondela is a scene I wish I’d photographed - our route takes us up a short, super-steep street and through a narrow tunnel.  Much too steep to bike, and hard enough to push our loaded bikes.  This spot is on the Camino route, and we have to stop and make way on the narrow sidewalk for oncoming walkers.  At one point Rachael squeals with delight when she realizes that one of the walkers is giving her a push from behind to help her up the slope.

For the rest of the day we follow the south shore of Vigo Bay, which sounds scenic but isn’t quite.  Instead, it’s a long and slow traverse of Vigo, a busy, congested, un-bike friendly city.  We slow down, put on our Taiwan brains and weave between double parked cars for the next five miles while I invent a new urban cycling misery rating scale.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate this spring’s agony in Potenza the top score, a ten.  Palermo is less awful, perhaps an 8.  I’d put Vigo in between there somewhere, along with Taichung.  Better than Potenza at least, but worse than Palermo.

The impressive Vigo bridge. Great to look at, but not sufficient reason to want to bike across the city.
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Finally escaping Vigo, things pick up considerably when we come across an appealing cycle path along a small stream, the Rego Lageros. Lovely trees, magpies and wagtails hopping around on the grass, picnic benches.  We stop for lunch, start biking again, and then reluctantly part ways when it angles off in the wrong direction.

The Rego Lageros bike path; we were sorry to part ways with it.
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After this though, the ride steadily improves.  First, we stumble across an astonishing religeous structure near Negron, quite unlike any we’ve seen before.  I haven’t figured out what it is yet and I’m tired of waiting for photos to upload anyway, so you’ll have to wait awhile to see it.

The final six miles of the day are spectacular and make the rest of the day worth it to have gotten us here.  Starting in Negron, there is a promenade/cycleway that follows the small, perfect Bay of Baiona (Baiona, an ancient name dating back over 2,000 years, apparently means good bay)  all the way to the town of Baiona, passing stunning beaches and bird-filled estuaries.  Up until now we’ve been quickening our pace because rain seems imminent; but right as we hit the waterfront the weather improves and we enjoy a delightful ride to our hotel just south of town.  

Looking across one of the small estuaries lining the Bay of Baiona.
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Looking back to the interior from the bay. We’re lucky today - it’s sunny here, but gloomy just a few miles inland.
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Entering Baiona
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Baiona itself is almost shockingly pretty.  We love it immediately and start considering staying here a second night, stealing one from the two night stay we planned for our next stop.  After consulting the very volatile weather report (which seems significantly different every time we consult it), we conclude that tomorrow could be a wet ride so we might as well stay here.

The view from our hotel window, although this is taken from across the street because there’s a utility pole in front of our window that mars the view a bit.
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So, two nights in Baiona it is.  We rest up in our hotel room for a bit, and then walk back along the waterfront toward town.  With a couple of hours on our hands before the first restaurants open, we’re in no rush and have no set plan for how to fill the minutes.  Then, I look up and am delighted to see a small tern just over our heads, needling south into the wind.  

Then, a small curse from my side.  For the next twenty minutes I do my best to clean the tern shit from Rachael’s hair, using a small shred of paper towel, a smaller bit of toilet paper, bare fingers, and spit.  After doing my best, I scramble down the rocks to the water to wash my hands, gingerly kneel down on my naked knees on the coarse granite between the mussels and barnacles, and reach down to rinse my hands just as a wave comes in and washes over both of my shoes.  We’re a mile from the hotel room, so I can look forward to an evening of wet shoes and soggy socks during dinner.

Just one of those small, intimate moments that for better or worse will help us remember the day.  Bike touring, at its most memorable.

The view tonight from our hotel window. We’ve made the right choice to be sitting tomorrow out, from the looks of it.
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Ride stats today: 38 miles, 2,000’; for the tour: 107 miles, 5,400’

Today's ride: 70 miles (113 km)
Total: 107 miles (172 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 8
Jacquie GaudetYup, that was a memorable "intimate moment"! I suspect your memories will each be slightly different...
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2 months ago
Jen GrumbyHow cool that you got to see Brandi Carlisle at Mississippi Studios!

Tern shit in hair and the removal of it, though? Not cool! Especially when combined with and unexpected shoe-soaking.

But definitely a story worth sharing. And one you'll certainly remember for a long while.
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2 months ago
Angela NaefI so appreciate that you share your stories and journey with us! Your wonderful photographs are also greatly appreciated, Thank You!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonThanks so much, Angela, and thanks for following along with us! Hopefully we’ll get to see some actual bicycle activity happening soon too.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekWe saw Brandi Carlisle at the Roseland a few years ago as part of a big New Year's show. She was great.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekAch! I think we were at that show, but I don’t remember seeing you and Jen there. Or was it at the Crystal Ballroom? I forget now for sure.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonThe show we went to at the Roseland was headlined by Collective Soul and included KT Tunstall and David Gray.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekWell, no wonder we didn’t spot you then. Wrong concert. And I’ve never heard of any of those other dudes.
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1 month ago