After another night sleeping without a tent I woke up (again) to my sleeping bag soaked with morning dew. The early sunrise did however work its magic and by 7:45 AM everything was dry enough to be packed away.
The days ride began with a downhill blast and a pit stop for some breakfast. It was a picturesque spot by a river crossing and a short way over the water was today’s challenge, an eight mile climb up 600+ metres.
When I began the climb the sun was already quite high in the sky. With no clouds or shade to offer comfort it was a very sweaty ascent. I knew that if I stopped peddling I would never find the strength to get going again, so the entire hill was tackled without pause. Atop the hill was Guarda – the highest city in continental Portugal at 1056 metres above sea level. I booked myself two nights at the cities municipal campsite for a total of €7.
You may recall that both of my tent poles had broken earlier in this trip and were being held together with duct-tape. Well, in the attempt to pitch my tent today a seam tore wide open. Maybe it held a grudge against me for its lack of use these past couple of weeks…
Any attempt to pitch the tent caused the tear to widen and within a very short amount of time the tent was useless. So it seemed that I would be sleeping without a tent once more!
During my stay in Guarda I would purchase myself a small cheap tent (that is still intact four years later), briefly explore the old city, take naps and spend far too much time at a cafe that sold large glasses of wine for 50 cents.
When the time came to leave Guarda after a fairly lazy couple of days, it was a long and drawn out goodbye. I just couldn’t seem to pry myself away from that cafe…
I finally set off at 5:30 PM when the sun was lowering itself to the horizon. The 22 miles (35 KM) of cycling flew by almost effortlessly, in part due to gravity and in part due to a quantity of wine. I stopped near a place called Sabugal, I’d had a quick rinse off in the lake and was excited to try out my new tent. That was right up until the stars came out. The light pollution was so minimal I could see faint whispers of our Milky Way along with numerous shooting stars. The new tent would just have to wait, I was sleeping under that night sky.
Waking up to the sunrise, on the shoreline of a lake after a night of stargazing, was a great way to celebrate two months on the bike. I was well rested and only a couple days away from my destination, Idanha-a-nova. I was in high spirits and excited for the festival. I was also excited to see my friends who would meet me there. They had chosen the easy route (or lazy route, depending how you look at it 😉) and would be flying into Lisbon to catch the bus.
Feeling adventurous I took the morning to explore a nearby hilltop castle. Pushing my bike up the stairs was a nightmare, but fortunately I discovered there was also a road – so zooming back down was a treat!
The mostly downhill ride continued until it was time to escape the heat and find somewhere to siesta. The spot I chose was a park in a small remote village, with a cold beer and a couple of very large but friendly dogs.
Of course I didn’t leave until the dogs left. I suspected that they were stray, the way they wandered around together gave the impression that they were their own pack. But they also weren’t hungry dogs, so I believe that someone in the village was caring for them. Nevertheless It was time for me to continue the final leg of my journey. I saw my first road sign to Idanha-a-nova and I knew Boom festival was drawing ever closer.