We left Nantes ready for new adventures on our way to Portugal. But we didn’t expect our beloved motorcycle to fail us like this; not only we had to change the bearing that broke on Saturday in the afternoon, but also because of that we were stuck in Porto, waiting for Monday and for Gaia to get fixed. Well, you know what they say: if life gives you lemons… Was it a good or a bad thing? Just read and see for yourself!
Our first stop after Nantes was Bordeaux. After seeing a price of a camping side (around 35 euro per night!), we’ve decided to find another place to put our tent. Nick had an idea to go and ask a guy at a tenis court/football pitch place. With a mixture of French, English and Spanish everything was settled nicely, we could set our tent in the corner and no one minded.
We made only one show in the city centre, with a lot of people and very poor financial appreciation. Oh well, that’s France for you, right? Still, it was enough to have a nice dinner, amazing ice-cream, fuel and some savings. However, our good moods were spoiled when we got to our tent and discovered it was all covered in hundreds of ants. This whole side of the grass appeared to be a huge anthill. Nick had to move a tent, but I still had nightmares about them crawling all over us…
The next day we had to check a tyre as it was acting out lately, losing air quite fast (one bar every 24 hours). The mechanics tried to find a puncture.
Unfortunately the puncture must be so tiny it cannot be found. We’re just gonna have to remember to fill the tyre every day before departures.
That evening we stopped close to San Sebastian (Spain), at a camping place. We had a pretty tough trip, it was hot and traffic jams were horrible, even for a motorcycle. We also had to drive next to this fatal accident that gave me chills. It was good to just stop and have some safe rest in an ant-free area. :) Not to mention a shower!
Well rested and prepared for a hot weather we left San Sebastian. We were very close to Portugal but we decided to divide our trip for two days anyway, just to enjoy the ride and the views. Eventually we stopped in Ricobayo, a charming small village close to a Portuguese border. We also found there a few anthills, but the ants were way bigger than the ones in Bordeaux. Scary. O_O
We put our tent next to a cliff leading to a lake. Sunset put on a very kitsch yet somehow beautiful spectacle for us, which was not easy to capture with our shabby camera though.
It was great to enjoy a dinner surrounded by a choir of crickets and starry sky. Even though I was sitting inside the tent (what if a wandering ant crawl over my leg?!) I felt relaxed and calm, just to wake up in the morning to a sound that I really don’t like, a sound that gives me the creeps and makes me very nervous. Buzzing of wasps. It got the the point that I couldn’t sleep anymore, I looked outside and… wasps, wasps, wasps everywhere! It looked like they wanted to make a hive out of Gaia. They were all around the motorcycle. A LOT of them. On the verge of panic I strongly requested to leave this place immediately. Scared and ashamed, I got out of the tent and moved to a proper distance. Nick was angry. Not fair. What can I do, it’s a phobia, I can deal with one or two wasps, but the entire group? Nope.
We ate breakfast at a village square, filled up the tyre and got moving further. After a short while we have finally made it – Portugal!
The views were truly spectacular as the river Douro is a natural border between Spain and Portugal. We were riding through a beautiful scenery of dams, hills and serpentine roads.
We stopped for a cup of tea and coffee and kept going in great moods.
That was until around 40km before we reached Porto… Our motorcycle started to behave weird. A loud noise was coming from the back tyre. It got the point that it became dangerous to keep going, especially on a highway where we couldn’t exceed 60km/h. There was no choice, we had to stop and call for help.
We were worried that we would have to spend half of our India savings to transport and fix Gaia. Our biggest problem at the time though was the fact that we couldn’t get help. XD No one was answering at 112, the number from the booth didn’t work and other number was only in with a machine speaking Portuguese. Hot and resigned we slowly got off highway by ourselves. We tried to find a mechanic, but it was Saturday afternoon so everything was already closed. What to do…?
We made a decision to get to Porto through local roads, slowly, 30km/h. It took us a long time, but we made it to a camping side in Madalena, close to our destination. We rested there, let Gaia be and took a taxi to work.
Our usual working place, Ribeira, was full of people, but there were also other artists performing. We did only one show and were very disappointed. We had a big crowd of people, cheering and having fun, but the money was even worse than in Bordeaux. If we had Gaia fixed, we would just leave this place the next morning…
Sad and with low spirits we went for a glass of port wine to the same restaurant we went to last year on our way to Tenerife. Even the waitress was the same and she recognized us! We told her about our motorcycle and she gave us the address and phone numbers to BMW mechanics in Porto. Tipsy and tired we treated ourselves to our favourite Portuguese delicacy – pastel de nata. It was fresh, warm and delicious!
On Sunday we had a mission to look for a parafin oil for our Fire Shows. We couldn’t do anything about the motorcycle until Monday, so we just took a few hours walk and we managed to find our performance fuel. It was a tough walk in the sun so afterwards we went to chill by the beach.
It was colder than expected, the wind was freezing! There was no way we could swim.
This evening we figured out another system to work. Turned out that it was more worth for us to make circle shows and not to depend on audience from terraces. We made three shows and altogether the money was quite okay. Maybe it was good we stayed? We figured out that because of so many people walking by, we can make a show every half an hour and then the money will be good.
To celebrate and feel a bit like during holidays we went for dinner to a restaurant, Tabernina de Manel. It was THE BEST CHOICE ever! The waiter was very easy-going and you could tell he knew what he was talking about while helping us choose something. He offered us the Golden Medal port wine, the 10 years old one. It was quite expensive so we took only one glass and when we tried it…. Wow. Simply, wow. It had this ruby-gold colour and an aftertaste of walnuts. Not to mention how strong it was, haha. ^^ As for food department we both order cod fish, Portuguese specialty, but prepared in a different way. The quality and taste far surpassed our expectations. Also at the end a bartender exchanged our coins for papers and asked us to come again tomorrow. In great moods we returned to our tent and had a good night sleep.
Monday! Finally! We took Gaia and slowly rode to a mechanic. Luckily the only thing that had to be changed was bearing in the rear tyre. Not so luckily they didn’t have a part on the premises, which meant we had to go back on foot and pick up our motorcycle the next day.
We started our search for the bus stop. We walked around in a scorching heat and eventually one boy took pity on us and walked us to the place where the bus stops. Yes, that’s right, not really to a bus stop – to a place where the bus stops. It wasn’t any different from a normal street, but locals new that’s the place. If you’re not a resident there and you don’t know, well, that’s your loss.
It took us a really long time to go back to the camping side. The bus made a lot of stops on the way, so after about 15 minutes ride we decided to get off and take a subway. From the stop we still had some walk left, but on the way you could even have a rest in a nice armchair, supposedly placed in a well. ;D
We were knackered when we got to our tent, but we didn’t have much time to rest. Shortly before sunset we left to work again, this time focusing more on circle shows and actually having a lot of fun, despite the exhaustion. We went to the same restaurant again, this time for desserts. Funny thing is the we couldn’t find them on the menu and when we asked they said that they don’t have the menu for desserts, they simply bring them to you. A minute later the waiter showed up with a tray with four jars and described to us their contents. We chose a chocolate-chocolate-chocolaty one (three layers of different kind of chocolaty cream) and a small glass of port wine. You know this scene from Ratatouille, when the rat eats some very delicious food? That’s what we were going through, smiling and disappearing for a moment in our own world of pleasure.
When our spoons hit the bottom of the jar, we’ve realised we are actually hungry. We didn’t want to spent too much though, so our waiter offered us a dish so rich that even divided in two should be a challenge to eat. That’s what we did and oh dear… I didn’t finish it, although I really wanted to! It was this typical Portuguese sandwich (originally from Porto) called Francesinha, drowning in melted cheese and tomato-beer sauce. Amazing. A symphony of tastes.
On Tuesday we got our Gaia back. We packed our stuff and left to Germany, planning to do a 2200km distance in two days. However we left too late and due to a hot weather the journey was really hard. We jumped into a lake in Ricobayo, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to continue. The water was so refreshing!
One hundred kilometers before San Sebastian Nick decided to stop for a night as he was falling asleep while driving. We wild camped close to the main road and left the next morning. And that’s when Nick dropped our phone from a motorcycle…………………..
The mobile was beyond saving. It wouldn’t be all so bad if we didn’t need the GPS system. We had to write down numbers of roads and cities on a piece of paper if we wanted to smoothly cross France. It took a lot of time, especially when you suddenly have roadworks and have to alter the route.
Nick was very stubborn though and so we were going- first in a scorching heat and then freezing our asses off while crossing mountains at night. I think somewhere around Switzerland, that is around 6.00am, I had a “falling asleep crisis”, but eventually we made it to Konstanz. 22 hours of driving. NEVER. AGAIN.
But hey, there we are, chilling, swimming, working, training.
We even got a new phone.
India plan is still on the table, especially after the weekend which was very rewarding. Fingers crossed!