Wellingtons footsteps…

Posted by on 14, May 2017 in 2017 - Rock to ???, Portugal, Spain, Tilly the Tandem

Wellingtons footsteps…

Lisbon to Badajoz (Spain).  6 days, 256km, 1848m climb.  Total 1569km 8200m climb

We are always surprised at how a line on a map that separates two countries can make so much difference to lifestyles.

Crossing from Portugal, where the restaurants closed around 9pm in Alves to Spain where they hardly opened before 9pm less than 15km away just seems so odd. And of course it’s much harder to get used to if you’re not used to the whole siesta and stay up late thing.

We’d got used to eating at (for us) a normal time and getting to bed early so we could start cycling early before it got too hot as we’d slowly cycled through Portugal. Our route from Lisbon had seen us visiting some gorgeous towns and following in Wellingtons footsteps, or boots perhaps! It seems no matters where you travel you’ll find a memorial to British soldiers fighting in some foreign field. In this case allied with Portugal (the oldest millitary alliance in the world) and fighting the French (who else) to liberate Portugal and Spain from Napoleon. The two border towns of Alvas and Badajoz set on hills staring at each other 20km away are fabulous walled cities, Alvas is more of a town, but with the best preserved military defences of that time in the world and hardly a tourist in sight.

Badajoz isn’t quite so well preserved, possibly thanks to Wellingtons suicidal assault and victory. But the whole border area is littered with gorgeous walled towns and cities which we will visit as we progress northwards – Plasencia, Caceres and Estremoz to name a few and you could spend months here just visiting castles and ancient towns, not to mention Roman aqueducts and remains.

The cycle route from Lisbon had been ‘challenging’ and quite how it gets marked as a route we don’t know. Some roads are deep sand that would challenge a land rover and another section was through overgrown grass that came up to our knees. Mind you, we ploughed through that like an ice breaker and it was quite fun!

Crossing back into Spain we immediately hit a proper cycle path – a sign of things to come perhaps? And shorty after nearly hit a fence blocking it as we were both distracted by a very suggestive billboard by the road!

Unfortunately the cycle routes we’ve chosen here aren’t all lovely smooth tracks but they are bettered than Portugal and when we have to venture back on to the road the drivers are fabulous and almost always pass us on the opposite side of the central white line in the road. They have to give us 1.5m clearance or risk a fine, but they do far better than that and are a great relief after the Portugese.

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