Iberian Peninsula – Summary

DSCF0730On second October 2016, I went down to the Iberian Peninsula to ride some trails I looked forward to since quiet some time.
Some pro & cons after eight months on the peninsula:

Pro’s:

  • Endless possibilities for off-road riding.
  • For those times you are on the road; Spain (together with Sweden) has the best drivers in the world. They wait patiently behind you to overtake and when they do, they give you ample space.
  • Incredible variety of landscapes from sierra’s to deserts to coast lines.
  • I’m not a “people fan”, but the Spaniards & Portugese really are super amiable people.
  • History. Towns like Salamanca, Merida, Elvas, Caceres, Santiago, Figueres, ….
  • More or less budget friendly.
  • Easy to find well equipped bicycle shops.
  • The climate (also see “con’s”).

Con’s:

  • Dogs: When camping, you’ll hear them almost everywhere. In Portugal they’re often running loose.
  • Food: Disappointing. We have the idea Mediterranean kitchen is super good. It’s almost always coming with (bad) fries, no or minimal vegetables and the portions are way too small for a hungry cyclist.
  • Sorry to say, but Portugese drivers are, bizarrely enough, the opposite of their Spanish neighbours and are very often suicide misiles.
  • The climate: Dec., Jan. & Feb, only the coast in Alicante & Murcia has more or less guaranteed good weather – although there was snow in January ! Rest of the peninsula can (and often will be) cold and wet. Summers can be too hot & dry for cycling.

Highlights:

  • Las Bardenas Reales
  • Parque Natural del Alto Tajo
  • The Atlantic Coast in Southern Portugal
  • The Extremadura (everything: the nature, the towns)
  • Galician coast
  • Sierra de Montserrat

Below the map of my route from Oct. 2016 till May 2017:

And a map off all my cycling on the peninsula so far:

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