In Vigo: a pause for assessment - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

September 29, 2019

In Vigo: a pause for assessment

Taking stock

So far, this isn’t shaping up as one of those charmed Team Anderson Excellent Adventures, where all the weather is fair, all the bikeways are smooth, and all the destinations are above average.  We’re already twelve days into the tour now but we’ve only biked on five of them, rolling up a mere 165 miles.  It feels like we’ve hardly gotten started, but the tour is an eighth over all ready.

Well, actually, all the destinations so far have been above average - great, even.  As have been the meals, as a whole.  We’re really eating exceptionally well.  And, if you don’t count the odd patch of excruciating Portuguese cobblestones to be rattled across or an occasional distressingly narrow bridge to be crossed, the riding has been fine too.  Really, the main thing has been the adversities that are starting to add up:

  1. On day two, almost as soon as we shipped our bags off to Valencia, we discovered a packing error.  We shipped the mount for Rachael’s GoPro off to Valencia with our suitcases, not retrievable until three months into the future.  Fortunately we were able to order a replacement from Amazon and have it delivered to a hotel down the road, but for the first few weeks of the tour we’ll be without video.  Sad!
  2. On day four, my principal camera metamorphosed itself into a brick.  It has some sort of mechanical problem that prevents its lens from opening and closing, so it’s now useless.  It’s too valuable to just toss, so I’ll take it to a camera repair shop to see if it’s salvageable - but that’s a winter project for after we’re home in Portland.  For the next few months then, I’ll carry around this brick and its now equally useless charger as penance for not taking better care of it.  Fortunately I still have my superzoom, which is more versatile but isn’t as good in low light.  Good enough for the rest of the tour though, as long as I don’t break it too.
  3. On day seven, we were informed by UPS that our suitcases had inexplicably been rejected by our hotel in Valencia and were returned to sender.  Bye bye, 143.80 euros.
  4. On day eight, I caught a bad cold.
  5. On day twelve, while departing from the bus in Vigo, Rachael realized that her raincoat was missing, apparently left behind somewhere in Braga.  This would be the nice, new Columbia Sportsware jacket that she just bought earlier this summer to replace one that had outlived its usefulness.

The bus to Vigo

After a couple of days of beautiful weather here in Braga, it is grey and almost misty as we bike across town to the bus terminal, a mile away.  We arrive almost a half hour early, as had been advised to me yesterday, but there’s nothing to do but wait until the international bus from Porto pulls into its slip at one minute before the scheduled departure.

I hand the driver our tickets and wait for instructions.  The instructions are to hand over the bicycle tickets as well, but there are none.  He speaks very limited English, but I think I manage to convey to him that the agent said this was sufficient and that Lisbon had been notified and had given their OK. 

He doesn’t look unfriendly or skeptical, but I think he’s trying to express regrets that there’s nothing he can do for us if we don’t have bike tickets.  Uh, oh.

After a few iterations of this, he suddenly whips out the phone and presumably calls Lisbon.  A minute of conversation transpires, and then he returns to us and still seems to be saying no.  I’m beginning to feel sick when he beckons us to follow him to the side of the bus and opens a luggage compartment for us to toss the bikes into.  Phew!

Never one to waste an idle moment, Rachael works in a few stretches while we wait for our bus to arrive.
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On the bus! Hooray!!
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Somewhere near Valença
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It’s a fast, comfortable ride on the bus, and probably better than the train, which would have taken two hours longer and involved a transfer.  We don’t see much - we’re just on the expressway, and it’s grey and intermittently showery anyway.

We arrive in Vigo about 12:30, after losing an hour changing time zones.  It’s lightly misting when we leave for our hotel, a mile and a half away.  A mile later, we’re back where we started from, with still an hour and a half  to go.  Our GPS route took a loop to bring us up to the secondary road that borders on the bus terminal, but one floor above the arrival deck.  Had we known what we were doing we could have saved some time by just taking the elevator up a flight at the start.

It’s starting to rain in earnest when we arrive at our hotel.  We make a quick dash to a nearby restaurant for a nice lunch, but then just head back to our room and stay indoors and dry for the next few hours.  The weather is surprising - it rains all afternoon and into the early evening, at times quite heavily - but every time we consult the weather forecast we see that it’s actually dry today.  Very strange.

Finally the rain slackens a bit and we leave the hotel on the day’s big excursion - a walk to the nearby train station, to establish when we can catch a train to Ponferrada that accepts bicycles.  It’s a pleasant walk there, along one of those long, tree-lined ribbon parks you find everywhere in Europe but rarely in the US.

The Parque de Alameda. Europe can really spoil you.
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Patrick O'HaraThat's funny. I sat in this same park waiting for Sue to come back from looking for a hotel just two months ago! Sounds like some obstacles slowing you down a bit. But, knowing Team Anderson, you'll be off to the races soon. Enjoying following along.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonSounds like we found a less interesting hotel than you did, but it had its good side. Clean, quiet, no noisy drunks.
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2 months ago

The agent at this station speaks no English either, but she is at least inclined to be helpful.  It helps that I know at least a few words of Spanish myself.  I tell her that we want tickets to Ponferrada, traveling tomorrow with bicycles.  She pulls out a pen and paper, and starts copying down departure times.  Fifteen times later she’s still at it, but finally turns the long list to me and indicates I should pick one.

This doesn’t look right.  There can’t be that many departures to Ponferrada tomorrow.  To test this out I ask how long they take (using Google Translate this time), and she indicates about forty minutes. That really can’t be right..

I ask for the pen and paper, and write down the name of our destination.  Oh, Ponferrada!  She smiles, having thought I was trying to go to nearby Pontevedra, the bridge town we stayed at last week.  This time she writes down only five times, which looks correct to me.  She turns the list to me again to pick one, and then pauses.  Con bicicleta?  Si!  She then circles the 2:35 departure and suggests we pick that one, since it’s the only one that accepts bicycles.

Back to the shelter of our room, where we hide out until dinner and then dash out again.  We have a casual dinner of fresh sole sitting outdoors in a long, open covered area that looks like it may be used as a market at times.  We enjoy our waiter, a personable young man who reminds us in style and appearance of Elizabeth’s son Vance.  He speaks some English and wants to chat a bit, maybe for the practice.  He indicates that today’s weather is no surprise - Vigo receives rain 250 days of the year, he claims.

Pretty place, but not quite to our liking.  We’re ready to move on to the drier interior.  Eliza Doolittle was wrong, we think.  The rain in Spain falls mainly on the coast, though it doesn’t rhyme as well.

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Jacquie Gaudet"Our GPS route took a loop to bring us up to the secondary road that borders on the bus terminal, but one floor above the arrival deck." I think your GPS must have been talking to mine because that's the sort of thing it would do. Someday I'll learn to *always* check the route it's calculated before I start riding.
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2 months ago
Suzanne GibsonSorry about your camera, but certainly not your fault with all those cobbles shaking the bejesus out of it.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonAggravating alright, but that’s why I carry two cameras now. And I’m sure you’re right - blame it on the cobblestones.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesSitting here at my comfy desk, with fast wifi and wood stove nearby, I marvel at how many life skills are needed in cycle touring. Ponferrada, Pontevedra, etc. etc., good work!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesIt’s a jungle out here, for sure. Good exercise for the aging brain though, so we’ve no complaints. More interesting than the NYT crossword puzzle.
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2 months ago