BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 19 April 2013

We're off to Leiria to visit fellow Pinguino Hugo.

Thursday 11/4/13

It rained pretty heavily last night and this was the view that greeted us this morning. Not really what you want to see when you have a full day of riding in front of you.

Come on guys, it is springtime isn't it?

Oh well, there's nothing for it other than to gear up and go splash in the puddles. Suzanne and I agreed that avoiding the boring motorway and choosing the scenic back roads route was a good idea, even though it was wet. So off we went. It turned out to be a very good decision.

We headed out of Penafiel and into the countryside. After about thirty minutes the weather eased right off and we had no rain and dry roads for the rest of the day. It was overcast but not wet. I was pretty happy about that. The ride was another typical Portuguese ride. Winding roads climbing big hills, then dropping down into lush valleys, all dotted with little villages and some bigger towns. I don't think it could be much better.

We rode along the edge of a large river for a while and found this huge angel statue at one of the crossings.

If only.

I've tried to find out what it is and what it represents, but without any success. When I find out I'll update the blog.

It was a very scenic and enjoyable ride...

Terrace farming is everywhere.

Fantastic roads along a winding river. The houses along this road had the best views.

Another cool 50cc Femel. This one is a late model with liquid cooling and alloy wheels. Check out the race fairing.

A local church covered in tiles.

Looks like drop bear country.

How is this? Stainless steel gutters and down pipes.

After a few hours riding we stopped for a very relaxing lunch. We were in no hurry because we were heading for our Pinguino friend Hugo's house in Leiria for an overnight stop and he won't be home from work til at least six o'clock.

After lunch the sun broke through the clouds and made the rest of the day very pleasant.

The buildings here are anything but ordinary.

As always, storks are everywhere. I find these birds really interesting. They are much bigger than I imagined and they build their nests out in the open and on top of anything that had any height, except trees. I guess when you're this big, landing in a tree presents certain problems.

These guys were nesting on top of a motor way gantry...

Nice legs.

Scruffy looking bird.

 A baby stork? If storks deliver babies, who delivers baby storks?

Special poles built for storks to nest on. I guess these are supposed to keep the birds off the motor way signs.

We've seen a lot of storks flying and I've decided they are really lazy birds. They glide on the air currents and it is truly rare to see one flapping it's wings. We saw three together the other day and I'm guessing it was mum and dad teaching junior to fly. It was a warm and fuzzy moment.

A bit further down the road we stopped of in Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal, for a quick look around. The boats were cool but what really caught our eye was the lovely architecture. This is a really pretty town.

I wonder why Aveiro is called the Venice of Portugal?

The odd boat or two.

Wedgewood building?

This is my style of building. Nice.

All the buildings were in very good repair.

Real inner city living.

We made it to Leiria at about five thirty and after a bit of "dazed and confused" navigation found Hugo's house. We were a little early and Hugo wasn't home from work, so we found the local store and stocked up on some supplies. When we got back Hugo was there with a huge, friendly smile to greet us. It was so nice, it felt like we'd just come home. 

Hugo has a lovely home. It was a pleasure to be in and I wish we had more time to visit. He also had the best lawnmower...

Meet Hugo's lawnmowers.

We sat and chatted while waiting for Sonya, Hugo's girlfriend, to arrive. Once Sonya was there, we were off to dinner.

Dinner was pretty special and the food was amazing. Hugo took us to a restaurant that overlooked the castle and it's lit up at night time so it looked spectacular. Not a bad backdrop to enjoy good food and great friends. 

Say hello to Hugo and the giggling Sonya, a couple of gems.

After a wonderful dinner (thank you Hugo) we then went on a historical walking tour of Leiria, including the bar where Hugo moonlights as a security guard sometimes. It's also where he met Sonya. This is a very cool town and the buildings and history are stunning.

A small part of our view over dinner.

The town church...

...and the bell tower which is located fifty metres up the hill.
What the?

Hugo's second place of work.
Oh, OK, just one drink.

The town square. Very nice.

The castle a little closer up.

Ah, young love. I remember when Suzanne used to piggyback me like this.

 Hugo told us about a local artist who has painted the story of a tryst between a local woman and a priest around the town.

Life imitates art.

Today was another day that made us feel so lucky that we have been able to do this trip. We met Hugo in January and three months later we were greeted like old friends. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, many times, motorcyclists are the best people. Thank you Hugo. Thank you Sonya. We had a great night.

I hope we can repay your warmth and hospitality one day.

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