*not actually official at all.
Portugal, in contrast, remains a favourite place to visit. The people have a tinge of amity and engagement that reminds me a bit of Australia: helpful, but not too much so. Staying with Sao near Ericiera was as much a treat as always – the best breakfast fruit bowl in the country. A larger one was pressed on us as we left: “I got up early to pick them, I know you like the fruit.”
From there we rolled up through the Minho, green, green Portugal. This was a new landscape to the Glamorous Companion, though I’d visited it years ago with my friend Bonga. In retrospect I’m a bit embarrassed that we didn’t explore more, even just in surfing terms: we surfed pretty much the same break every day, in an area I now know is rich in waves. Mostly I surfed standup, but once in a while I managed to find an un-lifeguarded beach and get out on the mat. Image below, shot by the GC from the comfort of her beach towel – which is why it’s rather distant.
One change in Portugal: the people have, in general, got tremendously fat. It was like Chubby Night at Brighton’s Wild Fruit night club, all day, every day. I think they must have spent the EU cash on cakes. The country’s similarly bloated with empty property: beautiful modernist apartments and houses, all unoccupied, all for sale. Someone somewhere made a bundle on this, but it’s not – of course – ordinary Portuguese, who are suffering badly.
The Basque lands always feel like a good place to be, and after a not-particularly wonderful time in the rest of Spain, it was very welcome to reach them. The coast road between Zumaia and Zarautz is an Amalfi? What Amalfi? treat, and the campsite in Zaratutz is a real gem. A few days there to recharge in the sunshine, and now we’re in the Pyrenees, waiting for Wiggins with about… actually, I have no idea how many other people. We’re camped in an enterprising farmer’s field near the top of the Col de Peyresourde, and there must be at least 1000 other camper vans within sight already, more arriving all the time. I can see about 10% of the col from where I’m sitting. Go figure.
I rode up the col this morning, feeling slightly out of place among the lycra and carbon fibre, then sat in the sun at lunchtime, alternately writing and watching the amateur riders going up and down the route the pros will travel at double-quick time on Wednesday. All the lovely bikes on display gave me that terrible itchy-credit-card feeling.
Oh no, not again.