Day 42: Espinho to Apulia - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 19, 2024

Day 42: Espinho to Apulia

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We know cycle touring can be dangerous, but how about restaurant dining? This morning breakfast at the hotel was in the adjoining restaurant, where they had set up the buffet at one end of the room. I went to that end to survey the offerings, and had my back to the room, when I heard a loud scraping of what I took to be a chair dragged on the floor, from the direction of Dodie, who was at the far end of the room. The bar man, who was on my right, leapt forward, and I assumed he was going to instruct Dodie on how to silently drag the chairs. Only then did I turn around, to see the yellow form of Dodie, sprawled on the floor.

What happened? Dodie had installed ourselves at a table at the far end, and was walking toward me, to also see what was on offer. This distracted her from a deep well that was part of one of the entrances. See:

Dodie had been coming from where the camera is now to take the shot.
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The scraping I heard was not a moving chair, but a table helping to break Dodie's fall!

Dodie did not crack her head or break a rib this time. But the total toll is: severely bruised arm, bruised rib, twisted knee, bruised ankle. In short, she's fine!
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Angela NaefOuch! That looks painful, hope you heal quickly.
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Angela NaefI am sure it will be fine in a few days, once the bruising has subsided. Thank you for the kind thought.
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4 weeks ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYikes, Dodie! But, at least you CAN ride a bicycle..Me? Not yet ;(
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretWe like that you are saying "not yet" about bicycke riding, and not "never again". Recovery takes time. You will get there.
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4 weeks ago
Susan CarpenterSo sorry Dodie - I hope that you are not in too much pain and that everything heals quickly
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4 weeks ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks Steve! Please ride “ for me”, carefully 😬
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4 weeks ago
Sue PriceOuch indeed!!! Dodie, better stick to cycling - it's a lot safer, lol! Glad you are ok!
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Susan CarpenterRight back at you!
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4 weeks ago
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Karen PoretAbout face and forward march!
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4 weeks ago
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Very near to Porto there is a stretch of shore called the Lavadores Beach. It's an area where all sorts of granite formations are stacked up, and for about a km there are a series of info panels explaining in complicated geological terms what it is all about.

This is called the Moorish Stone. It was the most understandable of the items on the shore. It has the underlying story that a Moorish lady was made to pile stones on the beach as a punishment for something. But the sea kept tumbling them back. Consequently she got the idea of stacking them. Silly story. The "scientific" version has some blither about the fracture being due to decompression of rock due to erosion, whatever that means.
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These are called the boulders of chaos.
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This school class came out for a geology lecture.
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Karen PoretThe three males in the center seem to be paying more attention to the camera and not focusing on the instructor….
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4 weeks ago
More Ruddy Turnstones?
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They sure are cute.
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These houses are well outside Porto, and are not Porto style. Interesting, though.

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Porto is situated where the Douro River enters the sea. The main town is one the right bank. When approaching, as we were, coming north up the coast, you therefore turn a corner  and find yourself on the left bank of the Douro. This left bank does not contain the fabulous postcard houses, the cathedral, or the other fabulous bits of Porto, but it does afford the best view of those things, across the river. Also, because the Eiffel designed Luis bridge is so accessible, the fun things at the riverfront on the right bank are matched with other fun things just over the bridge on the left bank.

We came in, as mentioned, on the left bank, and had a whale of a time looking across the river and also enjoying some left bank things, before we crossed on the bridge, and had a whale of a time on the other side as well.

This bridge, closer to the mouth than the Luis Bridge, would have saved us much time and lost us much fun, had we used it to bypass Porto and get on with the tour.
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These boats, maybe real maybe replicas, represent the transport of wine barrels down the river, the many Port bottlers that were and still are established here. Today the boats are used for river tours.
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A bit of a harrowing way to proceed upriver toward the bridge.
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That will be our bridge.
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Some boat works are still ongoing, on this side of the river.

I would think all the work is restorations.
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Both banks have scads of restaurants and food outlets. Here is one with gelato, and also some unique versions of the famous egg tarte.

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Orange, lemon, lime, chocolate, and caipirinha (maybe also mostly lime.)
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Also fish, chicken, and beef.
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There was a market with tourist stuff.
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In fact, a whole street full of restaurants and fun.
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Looking across now, to the other side:

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The cathedral
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The Clerigos tower.
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The ferry arrives. Even assuming we could put our bikes on here, the bridge is close and will be faster.
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This place caught my eye. It is a very fancied up seller of cod cakes. These are legitimately famous, and I watched Mark Weins eating them at a storied restaurant in Lisbon.   

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Here they are set out like jewellery.
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The inside of the place is really fancy.
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Karen PoretIs that an organ atop the railing above the staircase?
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretCould be. The decor was designed for the space and is fairly recent. Maybe the "organ" is meant to allude to a church like space. The interior was a curiously beautiful blend of modern and old looking features, with the rich red colouring, the wrought iron staircases, the library of old books, etc.
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4 weeks ago
I thought these were great. They have a crispy outside and a potato/cod blend inside, with a core of tangy cheese. 5 euros - worth it, I thought.
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Next door, believe it or not, was a whole shop for canned sardines. But it was not like they had all different varieties and flavours. Rather they had different cans, one for each of many calendar years. It's a weird premise that I don't get.

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A wall of sardine cans.
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Karen PoretMonterey, CA alternative on the Spanish coast :)
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4 weeks ago
Our year.
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Back outside, looking toward the bridge, we see the banners of each of the port bottlers. 

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Here is a typical restaurant on the left bank.
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It's all fish, but could be good!
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Is this cute gull a juvenile?
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We are approaching the Luis I bridge. It was designed not actually by Eiffel but by his colleague Teophile Seyrig.
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Crossing the bridge
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That's the funicular, a fast but not so cheap way to get up the Porto hill.
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Here is the main river frontage of Porto. It is so lively and beautiful!
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The balconied buildings that help to make the postcards great.
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So many restaurants along this way. Last time, I think, it was raining and these were all closed.
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We sat to eat our lunch, and were approached by two unrelated people, both with the Usual Questions. Here is Joe Wambold a real sweetie, cyclist from Michigan.
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We didn't catch the name or photo of the other girl - a lone cyclist from Montpelier, France.  Unlike us, she had no specific plans about where she was going next. But given that she came through southern Spain and up to here, we can bet we'll meet her again on the Camino.

Looking up a side street from the river front.
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More of those special buildings.
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As we began to make our way along the right bank and toward the sea, so we could turn right and head north, it was not alway clear where best to go with the bikes. The concrete between the tracks on the sidewalk looked good, and other cyclists were there, but as you see, Dodie chose the road.

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Karen PoretProbably because she already fell once in between the space earlier! Falling on a bicycle would not have been good..
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretI do not trust my ability to rapidly get out of the way without catching a wheel in the rails and going down!
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4 weeks ago
Waaa, the road was a good choice. These trolleys mean business.
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Almost at the sea again
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This is one of several forts that we would find along the coast from here north.
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Now we entered Matosinhos, one of the many surfing capitals along this coast.

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Well now, here is wide open cycling territory.
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That appears to be a cruise ship terminal.
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Dodie got her Camino stamp, from Matosinhos.
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A kind of random monument, commemorating if we have it right, the arrival of a carving of Jesus, in 124. The added cachet is that a spring appeared suddenly here, in 1733, and is either in or is recognized by, the smaller building beside the arch. The arch was put up in 1758.

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A spring appeared here
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We had to cross the Ponte Movel, at the Porto harbour. It was a bit confusing about how to get on and off the bridge, but we did well. I recall last time, we got lost for quite a long time.
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The Boa Nova lighthouse could be seen for 52 kms, helping to change the former designation of this as the Black Coast for the many shipwrecks.
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Last time we were here, the system of boardwalks along the sand, part of Eurovelo 1, were a major pain for us.  We kept running into Camino walkers on the narrow ways, and there were even steps, creating long carries for us, at several points. This time we carefully avoided all boardwalks, but it was sometimes a trade for roads with traffic or roads made from cobbles.

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Looks nice, but naw.
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A Portuguese "man of war" in Vila do Conde.
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Another lighthouse
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and another fort.
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From about this point, for  the last 25 km of the ride, things were really tough. We were on a busy road coming in to Vila do Conde, and had to ride the sidewalk, switching sides of the road looking for better conditions. Next we had a stretch of really narrow road, with lots of traffic. Cars would go around us, directly toward oncoming traffic, and we saw some of the  nearest misses ever in the head on collision game. After a while we traded the being crowded off the road thing for roads  with extensive sections of cobble, not only jarring us, but slowing us down considerably. The sun was setting as we arrived in Apulia, and launched the hunt for the owner to see us into our "CMB Guesthouse" room. The room itself turned out to be very nice, and with an ocean view. We should be able to rest up for what could be a long ride tomorrow as well!

Mostly car free now, but jarring, as we near Apulia.
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Today's ride: 81 km (50 miles)
Total: 2,090 km (1,298 miles)

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