Part of the advantages of our journey around the world is that we can re-connect with friends that used to be “so far away.”
In Switzerland, we were able to meet Claire and her family and they kindly let us stay for a night at their beautiful home in a small town, called Weitzekon, just outside Zurich.
Claire was a spectacular host despite hubby, Silas, being away for business and the kids home due to the summer holidays.
We had a delicious veg dinner on their balcony with a gorgeous view. I was so impressed with how Claire whipped up this healthy delicious dinner in only an hour or so. With a couple of beers and a few glasses of sparkling to celebrate seeing each other after 7 years we called it a night.
Silas, sorry we dropped by while you were away…we hope to see you on our trip back or perhaps somewhere else 😉
Somehow we forgot to take pictures but we got some video footage..
Check it out here: https://youtu.be/SXzl-37w4Cs
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF MOUNTAIN ROADS…
After a short day trip to the cool viewpoint on top of the Bachtel tower we said goodbye to Claire and the kids and headed straight to Furka Pass. Basically, Furka Pass is THE road to ride if you are on a motorbike.
Our riding started out with a beautiful warm sunny day, but sadly, it started raining so our ride was slower than we would have wanted, but it was still exhilarating and the view was beautiful.
After completing the famed Furka Pass we headed to Kandersteg, a small town tucked in the mountains which the weather forecast said was going to be dry and sunny.
We had visions of camping on the mountain side with the cool air and the sun shining.
But this was not to be so…
Shows you can’t always count on the weather forecast to be accurate. It was grey, gloomy and rainy and foggy when we drove into Kandersteg. Our camping plans went out the window but we found a cozy hostel with really kind Portuguese staff that let us have an 8 bed-room for the price of a private double room.
We decided that we were going to ride straight from Kandersteg, Switzerland all the way to the border of Portugal…
This meant riding overnight through France and the north of Spain (about 2000km)
We did have a lovely pit-stop to see the Chillon Castle where a kind soul returned our bike keys to us. We have no idea where we lost them, perhaps they fell out of Stefan’s pocket, but we were so thankful the guy took the time to find us and return them.
Our intended ride from Switzerland to Portugal didn’t work out so well. Theride started out ok, but after 11pm the wind got stronger and colder. From a comfortable temperature of around 26 degrees when the sun was out, it dropped to below 12 degrees. We survived the verrrrrry cold night drive (dropped to around 10degrees and we didn’t have our winter gear on) but had to stop in Burgos, Spain after completing 1400km.
Watch our video to see Stefan sleeping on the grass with an emergency blanket at a gas stop… https://youtu.be/SXzl-37w4Cs
100euros of French and Spanish tolls and too many coffee stops later, we crawled into a hotel in Burgos, Spain.
Burgos was a pleasant surprise. It was quaint small town with a lot to see. It has its own magnificent cathedral, called the Burgos Cathedral and an old walking street with many cozy and cheap restaurants to get a bite to eat at.
For 12euros we were able to get a delicious meal, complete with a bread basket and salad for a starter, half roast chicken for the main course, a dessert and a half a litre of beer or large glass of wine.
After recharging and having a good night sleep we were back on the road determined to reach Portugal this time around.
We learned our lesson. No more overnight rides. It isn’t safe and it isn’t worth the discomfort.
Around 415km later (which seem really short after our 1400km journey) we crossed the Portuguese border, into Chaves, and had the cheapest and best camping spot we have had so far…only 11 euros! No coins needed for the warm showers and there was even a pool we could use for 3 euros.
We didn’t have time to take a dip in the pool as we already had booked our appointment to get the keys for our apartment in Porto, Portugal.
It seems that the best experiences happen spontaneously. We didn’t plan to stop in Chaves, or even in Burgos, but we are glad we did because we got to see 2 beautiful towns that weren’t on our itinerary.
PORTO, THE LAND OF PORT
If you plan to visit Portugal, Porto is a must see.
We are glad we decided to stay in Porto for 4 days and 3 nights.
There was so much to see and do, we could have easily stayed a week.
Riding in Porto is a challenge. The whole city is on a hill (or mountain) and there are basically NO STRAIGHT ROADS IN PORTO! You really need to be alert and know how to start and stop on inclined roads.
The Porto locals also drive a bit crazy. They drive faster than you would expect on the cobbled stone roads and some of the intersections in the old town can have 5-6 different roads meeting and sometimes there isn’t a traffic light or sign to let you know if you can go, need to give way, turn left or right or anything! You just need to know where you are going and take your chance…
We were so surprised not to witness any accidents while we were there.
It is also a great city to stay fit. Just walking along the streets for a couple of hours will give you a wonderful workout.
One memorable experience was getting in the #1 rated restaurant in Trip Advisor for dinner.
We arrived in Porto a bit late in the afternoon and after getting our keys for our apartment and settling in, we didn’t have time to make a reservation.
But we went ahead and gave it a shot. Tapabento is exactly what they say it is. It is THE BEST tapa restaurant we have been to—EVER!
The portions were huge. The flavor was exquisite and the owner was a wonderful lady.
We rocked up without a reservation, and found out the place was fully booked. But after hearing about our arduous journey of the last few days she squeezed us in between bookings. There was an hour before the next reservation and she said we could take the spot if we were quick diners. It was a quick and delicious affair, but I am glad Stefan persevered to get us in.
Porto is the land of Port and wine-tasting. Seriously, every other shop is a wine shop and offers a wine tasting.
We learned a bit about Port and about how it is the “youngest” aged wine and that is why it is still so sweet. The “Port” grapes such as the Touriga Nacional is not actually grown or brewed in Porto but because Porto was the city that first started exporting Port internationally, it was named Porto and is internationally acclaimed as the capital of the Port brewing empire.
The demarcation for the official Port producing area is mainly along the Douro River.
We took a short cruise along the Douro river and got to marvel at the amazing vineyard terraces covering all the hills along side which we’ll talk about more in our next post.
Read our next post about our vineyard camping and a forest fire 😉