To bring our 3 week stay in Portugal to a crescendo, we had decided to spend our final day in the Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês. Not only was this National Park supposed to be one of the most beautiful in Portugal, but it would also enable us to take the scenic route into Spain. As we left Ponte De Lima the sun was shining and if we made good the supposed driving time of just over one and a half hours we should be able to get a hike in before the day was out. The drive to Geres did not disappoint. Passing through a few small villages it wasn’t long before we were making our way up into the mountain and then back down small winding roads until we came to a beautiful lake. Stopping off for a pee and a quick coffee, Olof commented on how his tooth ache had returned and the pain killers weren’t working anymore, so he opted for an Ice cream to see if this would ease the pain. By the time we had reached Geres Olof was now starting to go crazy with the pain, the only thing that seemed to ease it was by holding cold water in his mouth, there was no other option but to take the SOS pills that the first dentist in Sintra had prescribed. So the hike was cancelled as Olof curled up in bed. This did give me the opportunity to plan our first few days in Spain. In total we agreed that we would spend around three weeks travelling along the north of Spain, through Galicia, Asturias, Rioja, the Basque Country before making our final stop in Catalonia. Nothing yet was planned, but what I did know was that before we truly got stuck into this quest, after all these years of working like a dog, I wanted to take an overly long holiday, enjoy the country side, eat lots of good Spanish food which all had to be accompanied with a decent glass (or two) of Rioja. But before I started to plan Spain I was curious to know why the dentist had said the painkillers were for SOS only. Googling the name I soon found out why, they had been banned in many countries, Sweden been one of them, so they had to go in the bin.
When Olof woke we headed into town to get some fresh air, first taking a stroll around Jardim Da Praceta Honorio de Lima but as the rain started to trickle down on us we headed to the local thermal baths, but they close on a Sunday it would seem. Infact it would seem that the entire town was already off season.
Now worried about Olof’s pain we sought some new meds and called the dentist in Coimbra to see if we should return to him before moving into Spain. He confirmed that the pain was normal, that we shouldn’t worry, to pop some pills and have the stitches removed in a week. So our stay in Peneda- Gerês didn’t turn out quite as planned, we didn’t get to put on our hiking boots and as the weather took a turn for the worse, we accepted the fact that I should take this “down time” opportunity to plan our moves across Spain whilst Olof got some rest.
The next morning, Olof had a little bit more of a spring in his step and after breakfast we started the drive along the N308 into Spain. It was a beautiful journey, heading north out of town the road turned into an old cobbled lane, twisting up into the mountain pass. It was illegal to stop and park the car on this route, by way to protect the national park, so I drove as slow as possible all the way to the Spanish Border, passing only one other car on route, we had to stop mid way to pay a 1.50€ park entrance fee, other than that we saw no one. It was such a shame to have missed a hiking opportunity here as the forest was beautiful but c’est la vie.
The old border crossing manning stations where empty and within the blink of an eye it was adeus Portugal, Hola Espania.