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Part holiday, part work trip to Portugal

Mon July 12th

This journey has a purpose to sort out some plots of land that I own with my deceased partner Clive. Whilst  poor Clive died 2.5 years ago , his children and I have failed to sell these 6 plots of land that we own in the middle of Portugal near Penela.  This really is not a journey I wanted to do now but it is necessary to get paperwork and maps correct. The lawyer that Clive’s children appointed told me I had to come as she did not know where the plots were. The children do not as they have never been ( and don’t seem interested) and I am the best hope . I last saw the plots many years ago!!! So if I was to do this trip now it had to be via motorcycle, in my mind!!! Ferry to Santander and then 500 miles across to Portugal.  Covid paperwork was tricky and I prayed I had got it all. The coming  back ??? Ever changing rules. But armed with my 2 vaccination cert plus gov letter plus health form for Spain I set off to stay with my son in Hampshire ready for early morning dash to Portsmouth tomorrow. 

Thunderstorms were the forecast as I set off finally about 2.30pm to do the 190 miles to near Alton, Hampshire, from Norfolk. Some rain, and as I approached the M25 the sky over London was black as the ace of spades. M25 was dry until the last 5 mins as I turned away from London down the M3. New boots promptly leaked in that 5 mins…under my instep!! I could feel it flood in!! Not impressed,  TCX , as this is the second pair…first pair leaked and got sent back to be replaced for free. But I was lucky as London  was having 2 inches of rain in one hour with all sorts of flooding. Got to Sam and then it rained again!!

Tuesday July 13th

Off early to be at Portsmouth by 7am. Ferry 9am but very lengthy check in as you can imagine. So over an hour queueing  but papers in order….whew…and I proceed on board. Late leaving but only half an hour.

Apparently  about 1/3 full because of Covid. Masks as you walk around. I have a big 4 berth cabin to myself. It was all that was available when I made by rather late booking. But it is nice!! Enjoying relaxing inside, but weather is still nasty even now as we steam past France. Soon I should get some sun…I hope!!

Wed 14th July

Weather still not good …looks rainy. Eat my paid for breakfast. Supper and breakfast come free with the ticket.  2.30pm Spanish time we arrive on time. The only oddity is that a man comes round  the car deck taking our temperature.  We bikers chat together till finally unloading starts. Normal disembarkation…no bike’s papers checked, not interested to see if we have GB sticker, nor fluorescent jackets etc.

Up and over the hills as I head for Leon where I have booked an hotel. The ride takes 3 hours nearly on duel carriageway.  Harvest has begun , and after the hills countryside looks dry. Weather improves slowly and temp goes from 16c to 24c. At long last I can see the sun which is really nice after many days at home in cloud , and I gently begin to enjoy the fact that I have made it into Spain. Hotel is good, big room with a bath which I enjoy! Walk out towards the centre  and past the Parador Hotel..a mere £245 a night. Last stood here looking at a vintage car rally that had gathered in front..with Clive. I have a delicious glass of wine for 2.3 euros and then an excellent pizza. All set up for long day tomorrow.

Thurs 15th July

I wake and see that its only 8c outside! 300 plus miles to do I am ready to leave by 8.30am and it is now 12c. The weather looks OK so hope the temperature climbs rapidly as do not have too many warm clothes.

It does and choosing  side roads I head for Portugal to go over the border on a minor road. Farmland gives way to scrub and hills. The road is wonderful, empty and sweeping bends. Great motorcycling.  A hold up for road works and I am in Portugal. Wow.! Its a national park along the border and I opt for the N221. It is far more twisty than on the map but quite lovely. The river Douro is below as I go round bend after bend. No traffic, a few  motorcycles…

But it takes a while. Whilst I have plenty of time it turns into a very long day. My choice to do side roads, but even when I got on more main roads the going was not that quick because of very constant speed limits in villages with one village running into the next. At 30mph you are not getting anywhere fast. I was better off on my bends. In the meantime it was getting hotter and hotter. Really pleasant as it reached 30c but after that not so. Finally topped out at 38c!!. The Portugese have traffic lights in each village that turn red if you approach over the speed limit..so no getting away with speeding some of the time.

Finally reach my hotel near Penela. They would not let me in because they could not read the bar code on the Covid cert.!! I sat outside while they sort help, hot and bothered with my luggage. Eventually I was allowed in but it has worried me re booking another hotel. I have only booked 2 nights here not knowing how long it will take with the lawyer tomorrow.

Friday 16th July

The appointment to meet at 10am moves to 10.30am. I wait in the hot sun, by my bike. I have motorcycling jeans on and a t shirt but motorbike jacket to wear as well. Lawyer plus another arrives. Off we go to look at the plots of land. They are now so overgrown. For this we could be fined. All the plots need to be cleared but if we sell these 2 then that is no longer our problem here. It becomes evident very quickly to me that the buyer has got us round his little finger. He has built an illegal ..no planning… house on an adjacent plot. He needs our plots to make things legal. That should mean that we can charge a premium. Not so, for Victoria accepted his paltry offer in England thinking that this was a useless rustic plot and not worth much. Thus our buyer who now wanted the other plot 6 as well, was in the driving seat for that. No-one would want that plot 6 with him around. He is a Russian jew…quote from him..” I am half jew so that makes me mean with money and half Russian makes me nasty”. He was also in league with a local who was demonstrating where our boundaries were…haha. This was really why the lawyer was walking around recording the boundaries so we could make a map at the council this afternoon. Price was negotiated one way….Ivan the terrible did not negotiate! I was absolutely powerless.

So in the afternoon I motorbiked off to Ansaio to meet lawyer at the council. 2pm appointment. I sat in the shade of a tree waiting and waiting. No point taking a walk, it was 38c and I had jeans on and carrying a bag and motorbike jkt. She eventually turned up an hour and a half late. But very surprisingly we did succeed. Council computer kept failing but on we pressed with the lady at the desk and eventually a map was drawn on screen. It passed as a sort of record of the plots. No way accurate. It did not matter to us. With lawyer present it was legal!!

Back to hotel, super hot still and then later out to have a drink with Clive’s old friends across the road from his villa. Nice to see them again and they have offered to help with organising land clearance.

Saturday  17th July

Take a short motorcycle ride to near Praia da Barra near Averio to be near a beach for the weekend. Check into a decidedly hippy hotel and feel a bit old!! But they are very friendly and soon I have hired a bicycle and am off exploring this extensive bit of beach. Its busy, but have not got bather on so do a bit of paddling in the pretty cool sea. In the evening the hotel laid on a barbecue. Very good and I spend the evening talking to a German  guy who could have been my son in age!!!. Virus curfew at 10.30pm but I hear voices much of the night.

The hotel looks good here but it is an oasis in the middle of industrial land.! 

Sunday 18th July

An obvious late start for many here it seems but I had ordered breakfast  at 9am. Good one. Disappointingly cloudy and quite cool. Note it is 24c back home and going to rise to 27c while here it is 18c and forecast to rise  to 20c !! 

I have booked my covid test in Condexia for Tuesday morning. I have meetings with Notary and lawyer on Monday. I finally hire a bicycle again  and explore ending up in Aveiro. Bit of local tourism happening…boat trips on the waterways etc. I watch life go by for a while and then cycle home past the flamingoes. They have good cycle tracks though quite tricky to get yourself  on them with duel carriageways involved.

Boats on the canals in Aveiro.

In the evening young  german and I chat again. 

Monday 19th July

Off on bike quite early…8am  to make 10am meeting in Penela. No toll motorway as do not have the right payment method. Its cool..my usual 18c.  Pop into my Penela hotel to give them my luggage that sits on the seat. Safe there. Meeting has now been delayed till 10.30am so get cup of tea at hotel. Into town. Have to meet with Ivan the terrible…this is where he hands over the money for the land…in cash for he is Moldavian!! Next meeting at Penela council offices. I go off to Gloria and David and together we walk our remaining plots of land and agree actions, ie clearance  is needed.  Two cups of tea later its back to Penela and the final deed reading with all present including an interpreter for me. Done…

In the evening have a last meal in dining room…Good food.

Tuesday 20th July

Late start. Got to be in Condeixa for covid test at 11.30am. Get there a bit early to find the place. …private clinic kind of place. Settle for anti gen test costing 25 euros.  Pray that what I read was correct and that this will do. It is what we call a lateral flow test. Very nice people. Then on I go. Long way to my booked hotel in Spain…I sort of want to get out of Portugal today. I have 6.5hrs riding ahead of me, 300 odd miles. Cannot do tolls as do not have right electronic ticket so Google maps told to exclude tolls and off we go. Weather warms…climbs briefly to 38c but then wavers as I go up and down with the hills. Portugal is really quite mountainous. There are spreading villages everywhere but as I get north it is less populated. I end up back in the national park near the border. It is .ovely here and the road is superb for biking or driving. Sweeping bends and great scenery.

Into Spain and still lovely. But I have lost an hour..Spanish time…and it is 7.30pm before I arrive. I am starving…had no food all day….just cup of tea and a drink. I had gone for a few short stops every hour. …just 10 mins each time!!

Walked into Ponferrada and found somewhere to eat. Not great but did the job. This town famous for its castle and Knight templars.

Ponferrada castle.

Wednesday 21st July

Went by the castle as I set off at 9.45am. Oiled the chain of the bike and checked oil. Should be an easier day! 4.5 hrs riding time. Choose a road that runs along the Picos mts but not over. Good choice. Found lovely spot to stop. Weather good ! Ferry leaves at 5.30pm, need to be there by 3.30pm to do lengthy check  in. Filled in passenger locator form last night. My Covid test in Portugal came through negative. Whew. 

As I near Santander , coming up over the mts I can see cloud below. Time to stop for another and last time before descending into cloud which I do. Hopefully nearly made it. Its not quite so cold in Santander as it looked from above. Spanish queue at the port looks chaotic but somehow get through and my paperwork…on the phone…passes. Find a biker from my trip outbound. ! Only 3 of us this time.  

The ship seems to be pretty full of couples coming back to the UK for the first time for a while and others who are moving back for good. Brexit has upset their lives. Many have problems with cars that they have not been able to get taxed or MOT’ ed in England. One had transported his mobile home to the boat at a cost of £4000. Interesting. I once again have a large 4 berth cabin to myself.

Thursday 22nd July

The heatwave back home continues but will start breaking down as I arrive back! I have watched with some jealousy the weather in the UK. It has been hot, hotter sometimes than Portugal. Hey ho.. Ship docks at 7.15 apparently. Enjoying the peace and quiet and especially an aft deck in the afternoon which a few of us discovered. For the first time I sat in the sun and got a sunburnt face  !!

We arrived on time and it was not too long before I was off and getting petrol before heading all the way to Norfolk , mostly in the dark. Fantastic full moon. I took a photo but it was useless.

Probably did about 2000 miles. 

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