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Thread: In search of the Portugese Stelvio

  1. #1
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    In search of the Portugese Stelvio

    After some discussion out small group (and becoming smaller) decided to make full use of our Brittany Ferries friends & family discount card before the annual membership expired and head south again, this article in Ride magazine played a small part in the choice of destination as did the promise of fair weather (more of which later-and often) the magazine article in question;


    The dates didn't suit or appeal to all of our group so this year only 4 bikes and 5 people were confirmed to go, earlier discussions had suggested 6 or 7 bikes but as time passed the ferry booking was amended and amended again, less than a week before our ferry was due to depart Portsmouth for Santander another of our group cancelled, we would be 3 bikes and 4 people which should make staying together almost impossible.............

    We were due to get Brittany Ferries vessel Cap Finistere from Portsmouth on Friday July 15th arriving 17.30 the next day, all 4 of us met at the terminal and boarded the vessel in short order, we noted the crew now appear to use 2 straps to secure bikes on the car deck the first over the seat with a large blue cushion placed on the riders seat and a second shorter strap from the frame or pillion footpeg on the left side down to the same securing eye on the deck, perhaps we could start another thread along the side or centre stand thread, 1 strap or 2 straps ?
    Bikes secured we found our cabins and retired to the bar.


    We arrived to a bright and sunny Santander (for a change) the next day, weather forecasts were suggesting something of a heatwave further south during the week or so we would be in Spain and Portugal over and above the expected warm summer weather We had pre planned routes for the next 8 days with hotel waypoints included, we took the routes from Ride magazine's excellent Portugal supplement and modified them to suit our needs and booked our hotels through booking dot com which gave us some flexibility due to the free cancellation policy.

    Arriving Santander;


    Local pilot boarding the ferry;


    The Ride magazine routes can be found here; http://www.ride.co.uk/routes-1/tour-2016
    As stated we had modified them to average out at between 210-250 miles per day with the exception of day 1 (140 miles from Santander to Sahagun Spain) and day 7 which was to be only 115 miles

    Day 1 Saturday 16th
    From Santander to Sahagun 137 miles
    approximately 3 hours 20 minutes, by the time we had cleared the ferry port and hit the road the Sun was beginning to go down, we enjoyed a coffee stop in a little village in The Picos


    I had been experimenting with a Go Pro mounted to the pannier to capture some stills on the road with mixed results......


    nonetheless the roads were fantastic and the scenery great


    n fading light we arrived at our hotel around 9pm
    Hotel; https://www.booking.com/hotel/es/pue...219ae7c;dcid=2

    Day 2 Sunday 17th
    Sahagun Spain to Vila Real Portugal,
    245 miles approx 6hours 30 mins
    We began using the Morecast weather app which when you input your start and destination points and departure time gives you a route weather forecast ours looked like this

    We were on the road early and happened across these castle ruins, being off road gods we headed off piste for a look
    Off road god and pillion........


    Waitrose Off road god


    A couple of old ruins and the castle remains......


    We pressed on along a mixture of road types from fast open roads to mile after mile of single track roads and endless switchbacks all the while the temperature climbing into the mid 30's then we happened upon a rural restaurant an air conditioned oasis where we enjoyed menu of the day for 11 euros which comprised some locallly sourced tapas dishes a tuna salad and a small dessert and as much iced water as we could manage-excellent value





    A view from the restaurant car park


    There was no shade in which to park the bikes........


    And by the time we emerged from lunch the temperature had climbed 5 degrees to 40 a theme which would continue for many days.

    We arrived at our hotel Miracorgo very late in the afternoon and after a dip in the hotel pool went in search of an evening meal around a near deserted Vila Real

    we eventually found a restaraunt (the only one open in the town seemingly) and dined very well for less than 20 euro per head including drinks
    Hotel; https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/mir...219ae7c;dcid=2

    Day 3 Monday 18th
    Villa Real to Constancia
    , 240 miles approx 7 hours 10 mins
    Given the predicted temperatures forecast we were up and breakfasted and on the road a little after 9am to try and make some progress before the temperatures soared,
    This forecast proved inaccurate as I entered the departure time incorrectly the temperatures we experinced were a little higher than those in the pic but you get the general idea


    We enjoyed more single track switchbacks and then a most welcome open road blast up a mountainside not dissimilar to the B500


    Then the roads narrowed again and we followed the banks of a river enjoying the relative coolness offered by the overhanging tree canopy, we stopped for a coffee around midday and enjoyed the shade of a pavement cafe whilst the bikes baked......


    True to form by the time we got kitted up to ride on the temperature had risen another 3 degrees or so.........I was using a BMW Airshell jacket with full mesh panels to the body and upper arms and Trailguard trousers minus liners with vents to the thigh area, both performed well and were a good choice the only problem was that the temperature of the air passing through the vents was similar to ambient although increased road speed helped a little..........


    At some point we got split up which isn't easy when there are only 3 in the group so I pressed on and entered the hotel waypoint via fastest route as I was convinced the other 2 were ahead..........along 50 miles of boring empty motorway I messed about with the Go Pro with the bike set on cruise control



    I was in fact ahead of the other 2 and arrived at the Manor house hotel and former convent in Constancia first


    Having checked in and showered I went to check out the facilities, cookie & Angi and Oscar had not yet arrived when I discovered the pool area so I ordered beers and sent them a pic to encourage them to hurry up


    Our hotel for the night Quinta de Santa Barbara
    https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/qui...324cd03;dcid=2

    Day 4
    Constancia to Serpa
    , 233 miles or approx 6 hours
    We enjoyed a great evening meal at the Quinta de Santa Barbara although the restaurant service had been more than a touch Fawlty Towers
    Another early start and another hot day beckoned, today's route would take us as far South as we were going although not to the South coast as per the Ride magazine route, we had enjoyed a variety of roads that were mainly tight and technical going so far with the odd stretch of mountain pass and motorway thrown in, during the morning we had ridden along the N222 through terraced Olive groves which some motoring mags would have you believe is the best driving road in Europe, it's good-so good that I appear not to have any pictures and quite demanding but I'm not sure it deserves such high praise, good-yes, enjoyable-certainly but the best? hmmmmmmm
    It had been enjoyable so far but quite grueling in these high temperatures and I began to wonder when we might experience the sort of Stelvio type passes the article alluded to.......
    We enjoyed a brisk ride during the morning and covered a lot of ground quickly, we stopped to refuel and to take on refreshments and enjoyed more fast paced twisting roads and fantastic views along the N2 N263 and N265 having lost the others (again.........due to an an unannounced fuel stop I think) I detoured to an old hilltop castle






    We re-grouped in time for a lunch stop, obligatory food pics........




    Before continuing to the hotel for the night, billed as Agro Turismo (Farm B&B/Hotel) the hotel was excellent the hosts welcoming and of course, it had a pool


    Our host Teresa not only booked us a table at the best restaurant in town she also gave us a lift there and dropped us at a great bar she also picked us up and drove us back at the end of the evening meal

    Monte de Morena Agro Turismo hotel; https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/mon...324cd03;dcid=2
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  3. #3
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    Fab report

    Pity I missed this year's sojourn
    JohnnyBoxer



    So many roads...........So little time......

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyBoxer View Post
    Fab report

    Pity I missed this year's sojourn
    A pity it was a great trip if a little warm.......but the dates didn't suit everyone, there's more to come..........
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  5. #5
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    Day 5 Tuesday 20th
    Serpa to Estreito, 206 miles or 6 hours
    As per usual we are fed and watered and packed and ready to roll before 9am, our route North today would prove to be the best of the trip (so far) taking us through rolling countryside with twists and turns and numerous climbs and descents........
    we had shaded tree lined roads


    Cambered corners......



    Cobbled roads........


    The odd castle thrown in for good measure.......


    I regretted riding through the gates almost instantly, the narrow paths were steep and slippery with nowhere to turn around with mine and the bike's temperature climbing rapidly I was lucky to find an escape route


    The roads and the views continued to impress


    We stopped in a near deserted little town in search of lunch, a small cafe bar appeared empty at first glance but the owner ushered into a cooler room at the back of the bar where half the population of the town appeared to be having lunch, menu of the day for 4 please.........
    Langoustine for starters.......


    Wild Boar steak for main course.........


    Suitably refreshed we pressed on, we passed through the National Park Serra de Sao Mamede the riding here was the best yet, some of the roads were in the process of being resurfaced the majority of it completed in the finest smoothest black asphalt you could wish for the corners were for the most part constant radius with a few degrees of camber thrown in, the best riding of the trip so far.....again!
    We found the small hotel and checked in.........


    You'll never guess...........they had a pool, gnarly Adventure riders? Pah


    We wandered down to the village in search of food and beer not necessarily in that order, and found the Rotunda of the town


    Which, fortunately for us has a cafe named after it and situated across the road, whilst our hosts prepared the food we watched the world go by (such as it is Estreito) whilst sipping a cold Super Bock


    Our hotel for the night, Casa de Campo S Torcato Moradal; https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/s-t...324cd03;dcid=2 A nice hotel but serious Basil Fawlty issues with the elderly owner, nice place shame about the people who run it.

    Day 6 Wednesday 21st
    Estreito to Aguiar de Beira 209 miles or 5 hours 25mins
    Following a protracted and almost farcical checkout from our hotel our start was later than planned but we were moving by 9.30am with the temperature at about 30 degrees........
    We retraced our steps to the main road along the wonderfully surfaced mountain roads and headed for the National Park Serra de Estrella, could this be the fabled Portugese Stelvio? It's a fantastic road climbing to around 2000metres, we had the road virtually to ourselves (we would find out why later.....)

    From single track roads through terraced Olive groves and cork tree farms


    A mere 1000 metres a nice entree for what was to follow.......




    Soon we entered the Serra de Estrella National Park and began the climb, the route was fast and flowing along empty roads


    We arrived at a cafe/souvenir shop near the summit and stopped for a coffee


    The mirrored glass of the cafe doing a great job of reflecting the heat of the sun


    Our route in the distance


    We enjoyed a great ride down not seeing another vehicle in either direction, then discovered why, the road was blocked due to subsidence, we could either retrace our steps or navigate around the barriers, we chose the latter, unstoppable...........


    The pictures should tell the story of how good a day's riding this was, as enjoyable as any European pass I've ridden and all the better for being virtually traffic free.














    What a great day's riding, we arrived the Hotel do Vale (as cookie noted he wasn't there.......)


    They had a pool which was nice but no pics sorry

    Hotel do Vale
    https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/do-...324cd03;dcid=2
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    Looks like a good route you choose. Thanks for sharing, I plan a Portugal trip soon so very timely- thanks.

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    Day 7 Thursday 22nd
    Aguiar de Beira to Chaves 115 miles or 3 hours 21 mins
    Today would be our easiest and shortest riding day the nearest thing we got to a rest day, Morecast suggested it might be a tad cooler than we'd become used to of late


    Following a couple of hours on country roads we stopped for a coffee where the decision was made to enter the hotel waypoint by fastest route and enjoy a leisurely afternoon, some go-pro stills taken on the route;
    Cookie & Angi on board the KTM


    Oscar on unstoppable.....


    Yours truly......


    We arrived at Chaves in good time and checked in to the hotel Forte de Sao Francisco, a hotel in a fort


    And they had a pool and a poolside bar, that's me for the afternoon


    An evening of beer and pizza ensued and it made for a nice change

    Hotel Forte de Sao Francisco, Chaves.
    https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/for...324cd03;dcid=2

    Day 8 Friday 23rd
    Chavez (Portugal) to Astorga (Spain) 228 miles or 6 hours 8 mins
    Another early start, we were fed and watered and on the road at around 9am, we followed winding country roads and entered the National Park Serra de Montesinho at first the route was fast and enjoyable (pic courtesy of cookie,thanks mate.......)



    Then route became tight and twisty and progress was slow we could see our ETA for the hotel slipping further and further away as it was difficult to maintain a high enough average speed, over a coffee we devised a plan to cut some of the route, coffee stop........


    We arrived in Astorga mid afternoon to a Hotel located in the town's main piazza, there was no pool sadly
    Angi lead us on a walking tour of the city's sights which features Gaudi architecture, if only there were an informed architect among our group who could tell us a little more about these fantastic buildings eh Dave?
    Some sights from our walk, every 3rd item on the walking tour list was punctuated with a stop at a nearby bar










    We dined on Tapas that night and because we were Brits in Spain we wore Sombrero's and carried a straw donkey around with us, or maybe we didn't


    Day 9 Saturday 24th
    Astorga to Santander 228 miles ish.......
    Our last day in Spain and our mission is to get to Santander in good time for our 4.30pm ferry departure, Oscar lead and being a local lead us on a fast route to a point where we could drop into the Picos and spend a couple of hours there before heading to Santander, after the briefest of coffee stops on the outskirts of the Picos


    It was great to finish the trip among scenery like this


    A great trip, thanks to the guys who made it and commiserations to those who didn't

    Hotel Astur Plaza, Astorga; https://www.booking.com/hotel/es/ast...324cd03;dcid=2
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  8. #8
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    Enjoying this Steve....
    Perfekt ist nicht gut genug.

    UKGSER-A place where I've wasted so much time, learned so much, laughed a lot and cried a few times.

    Every bed of roses has pricks in it!

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    A good RR and some very good pictures and weather, enjoying it.

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    Superb ride and report

  11. #11
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    great report, as ever

    i'll post up some more pics later
    Ready To >> Rest

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    Looks great Steve!
    Thanks very much!

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    Great report. Thanks for it and the graet pics.
    Dream of doing a fair part of something like this but the costs put me off a bit.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash View Post
    Enjoying this Steve....
    Cheers Ash it was a belter

    Quote Originally Posted by leedude03 View Post
    A good RR and some very good pictures and weather, enjoying it.
    Cheers

    Quote Originally Posted by patzx12 View Post
    Superb ride and report
    Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    great report, as ever

    i'll post up some more pics later
    Cheers mate, fill your boots

    Quote Originally Posted by timeandtide View Post
    Looks great Steve!
    Thanks very much!
    You're very welcome Rich

    Quote Originally Posted by Joca View Post
    Great report. Thanks for it and the graet pics.
    Dream of doing a fair part of something like this but the costs put me off a bit.
    Go for it, the ferry crossing is not cheap but we found that hotels, meals, restaurants & beer were very cheap, fuel is more expensive than in the U.K. but not by too much, it is a great place to ride we saw hardly any bikes the whole trip which was something of a surprise to me having read Ride magazine's excellent report I thought we might see a lot of U.K. bikers
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joca View Post
    Great report. Thanks for it and the graet pics.
    Dream of doing a fair part of something like this but the costs put me off a bit.
    ferry was a bit steep, but portugal is really cheap. the great meal steve refers to at €20 per head was actually €13 a head, but we felt we couldn't give the bloke that little, so we paid €20. steaks looked like something fred flintstone might have too
    Ready To >> Rest

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    Nice one, Steve.

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