I am starting to become restless. After 5 weeks of “slowing down” it is about time to hit the road again. I’m “in” for new discoveries. In the evening I have a farewell drink with the permanent residents of the Quinta in the warm kitchen of Albert and Agnes. I will return again. Maybe Sylvester. We will see. My first travelling companion has signed in and it is agreed that I pick her up on Christmas Day at the airport of Bilbao and after 2 weeks will drop her at the airport of Porto. So I have time for more than a month to explore the beautiful coastline of northern Portugal and northern Spain. Coimbra and Porto will be skipped for time being because these two interesting places will come on a later moment.

I leave the Quinta under a sunny sky. As usual, the small country roads have my preference. It is a joy to sit on the throne of Piggy again. The view is exquisite. The further north I proceed the hillier it gets. The road winds through beautiful scenery. The main wine region of Portugal, the Douro. The vines areadorned in a beautiful autumn color palette. Meanwhile, the sky clouds and creates mist and light drizzle in the highest parts. The road descends quickly to the Douro river after which it rises again into the clouds on the same steep and winding way.The area is so beautiful with all the colors that I constantly look out for a place to park the truck safely, but as always, I have to skip the scenic spots and if there is some parking space then it is just not worth to take a photo. The road is narrow, winding and often steep. So all hands on deck. In the corner of my eyes I see a large open space next to a cemetery. It’s time to find a camping spot. There is already a parked camper. It turns out to be a Belgian couple. He’s 4×4 enthusiast and has already undertaken many extreme tours. I am treated with a cup of coffee with real Belgian chocolates with nuts and raisins on it. Home made on the road. It turns out that originally he is a chocolatier. What a nice meetings you can have!

Unfortunately the weather is not optimal to explore the Douro region extensively, but I might get a second chance in a few weeks. Yet, I pay a visit to Amarante and Braga in northern Portugal. Close to Braga is the pilgrim site Bom Jesus do Monte. The interesting church is reached by a pilgrim route and finally a zigzag stairway going up via the “Escadaria dos Cinco Sentidos, so the stairs of the five senses. At each level you will find a statue where water flows out of the mouth, nose, ears and eyes. Dear readers, Click the bold words for more information. It’s all too much to describe in the blog

Via Ponte de Lima, with its ancient Roman bridge over the river Lima I reach Galicia, the northwestern tip of Spain.

It is always interesting to discover the differences between two countries immediately. Portugal ignores high trucks with extended mirrors. The trees and bushes are not pruned down the road so I have to use Piggy as a pruner regularly. It has a camouflage color, but with bushes on roof and mirrors I get more questions whether it is a military truck. It is a nuisance that the mirrors regularly are being pushed into a different position on the right side of the truck. To adjust the mirrors of a big truck on your own is nearly impossible. 10 times climbing in and out of the truck to fine-tune the position is no exception. It drives you crazy. Fortunately, this problem does not exist in Spain. Here the trees and bushes along the side are neatly shaved. But in Spain I have to deal with another problem that does not exist in Portugal.

In recent years Spain has invested a lot in its road network. I.e. extended or rerouted. The result is that my navigation device is not up to date and sends me literally into the woods. What is a beautiful forest road in the beginning will start narrowing very slowly into a forest path. I am slowly led into a trap. At every turn I hope it gets better. But here the good Spanish shaving work of the bushes already has stopped. Piggy is converted into a real army truck again and the mirrors are pushed in all directions. A lot of noise of breaking branches. When I reach a hidden cottage I see a face half hidden behind a wall. Not again civil war?

I dare not go further. Returning is impossible and driving backwards eather. I show my good intentions known so that the man finally comes in sight. He seems very friendly. In Galicia they speak a special kind of Spanish. It has many similarities with Portuguese. I give myself a 3 (1-10 rate) for my Spanish,for my Portuguese a 1. But Galician to me is completely unintelligible. Fortunately, there is such a thing as body language and so he accompanies me through a mud path and a 30% slope to a small opening in the forest where I manage to turn. I had to use all tricks: 4×4, differential lock, low gearing and above all remain stoically. His path is now shaved neatly anyway and the ground again lightly ploughed. 1 cm away from his “one stone” wall. Piggy will definitively have won this armwrestling, but I will not allow it. The friendly man helps me with adjusting the mirrors so that I can go on the road safely again. But also in the city things can go wrong, as in A Coruna. Some streets have changed into a promenade or adjusted for one-way traffic without my navigation system knows about it. Same trap effect can also occur in the center of a town. Here, not timid people, but shoppers watching very interested in seeing how this job going to be done. No one who bothers to help. There is only one solution: Designate a capable-looking person who will help me to come out of here. Usually this works.

Meanwhile, I’ve landed in Gijon. In the northern Spanish region of Asturias.

I reached this place following the beautiful rocky shores. Occasionally I go inland, such as Santiago de Compostela. In this season it is pretty quiet there. There are always some pilgrims who are now reaching their destination on foot or by bike. A fun and sporty people. Of course recognized by sturdy walkers, cap, backpack and a long cane.

Furthermore, there is much to tell about the beautiful coastline and quaint fishing villages on my journey, but this blog takes many hours.

I can tell you that it is also a culinary discovery. In Galicia and Asturia, the specialties are i.a. percebes. Boiled barnacles. Pretty pricey, because they are picked in the surf on the rocks. There are sometimes deaths. Furthermore, it is also Pulpo a Feira on the menu. Fried octopus tentacles in a spicy sauce. In this region you can find many “Sidreria”. Pubs where you can drink cider.

A full bottle for 2.50 Euro. The glass is poured for you by holding the bottle high above the head and the glass as low as possible. An experienced waiter can do this without spilling. You should drink the sparkling fluid quickly because otherwise the bubbles are gone. A very good way of spending the evening

In the meantime, the shortest day of the year is coming soon. So far I did not experience much cold and had relatively little rain. This morning I saw under a clear sky that higher mountains of Asturia are snow-covered. A pretty view.

I wonder how the Picos de Europa look like. In about 2 days I will be there.

Dear followers, I wish you all already

A Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2017