Coimbra to Santa Comba Dão – 59km
Santa Comba Dão to Viseu – 51km
There is a dusting of snow on the rooftops in Viseu seen from our hotel window this morning! Again (see LEJOG 2015), we have gone from cycling in 25C to 1C over the course of a week! At least, we have now solved the problem of wet feet (Gore-tex socks) and hands (Sealskinz and Gore-tex waterproof gloves).
The route from Coimbra to Viseu was lovely, following the N110 and N2 along the Rio Mondago, past farmyards and groves of pine, eucalyptus, orange and olive trees, fragrant in the early morning mist. Our only cycling challenges were in the stretch between Raiva and Santa Comba Dão, where we weren’t allowed on the IP3, so had to find a longer, hillier alternative.
It took us a while to locate the Ecopista Do Dão, an old railroad recently converted into a wonderful 49km walking/cycling path between Santa Comba Dão and Viseu. The start/end of the trail is near the railway station for Santa Comba Dão, across the Rio Dão (a tributary of the Rio Mondago). Our B&B near Santa Comba Dão, the Vale Martinho, located a few kms south of the trail (straight up!), was a 200-year old stone farmhouse, with a modern addition. The owner, Faizal, moved to Portugal from Mozambique with his family when he was thirteen. His grandparents were originally from Goa in India. Faizal also runs a restaurant near the B&B, where he serves Indian and African dishes, as well as Portuguese. His plan is to move the restaurant to the B&B, which would be primarily for guests and small parties with reservations. We had an interesting conversation about a number of subjects, including the Portuguese economy, the EU and Brexit.
We woke to the sound of heavy rain, which was almost monsoon-like as we cycled up to the restaurant for breakfast. We could feel the temperature dropping, later registering 1.6C on our Garmin. Back on the Ecopista Do Dão, we had an easy, if chilly, ride, with frequent showers verging on freezing rain. We stopped for lunch and to warm up at a restaurant in the old Farminhão Station. We should note here that, in many of the smaller restaurants, there is a fixed menu, not necessarily written down, and primarily meat focussed. In this case, a quick look at the menu suggested no fish or vegetarian options. Having a bit more confidence now, we asked if we could have tosta mista sin carne (toasted ham and cheese without the ham!) e salada. The owner suggested we might also like the sopa de peixe (today was Swordfish), just being prepared, which was delicious and worth waiting for!
Just after checking in to our hotel in Viseu, it began to snow! We will take a couple of days off to enjoy this ancient city before heading east towards Spain. Hopefully, the weather will improve!
ps: For those who have inquired, the Right to Dissent is now available in print on Amazon (with many thanks to our son, Christopher, for help in formatting and e-publishing). This is not a sales pitch, as Lois does not receive royalties (the book was written as a pro bono project for Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada) and nor does LRWC make a profit on sales, as it is priced so as to be as accessible as possible. But, we would appreciate spreading the word to those who might benefit from a greater understanding of human rights concerning the right to protest.