On day# 4, I was welcomed by a fabulous breakfast of bread, cake, cheese and honey and even received a surprise lunch pack from my host. After having said goodbye to my friendly host, I cycled downhill into Riello. Riello was still asleep, so I carried on my cycle towards Portugal.
Day#4 was going to be the longest day of the trip, in the end I would cycle 230km in total over hilly terrain. One thing I learned quickly in Spain is that Spain isn't flat at all, so after approx. 10 km into the cycle I was already climbing again to a height of 1300m ... But then it was all gradually downhill leaving the Cantabrian mountains behind me heading towards my first destination of the day, Astorga.
Astorga is located in the province of Leon and is a gateway for anyone walking the French route, the most popular path and via de la plata route. Astorga is the European birthplace of chocolate, and the chocolate museum is worth a visit. The town is also famous for the 19th century Episcopal palace which was designed by the Spanish Catalan architect Gaudi.
After having admired the buildings, I climbed back in the saddle for a cycle through the rolling hills between Astorga and the Portuguese border. These hills became gradually steeper and steeper, and the milage of the day was taking it's toll on the legs, but the scenery kept me going. One thing which mesmerized me was the amount of butterflies which were all sitting on the warm tarmac, all flying away just in time when I got to close for their own good. But butterflies were not the only animals which crossed my path, the area north of the Portuguese border has many deer, all of them enjoying the wild landscape of this region.
The air was filled with the smell of flowers, cars were almost non existent and the views were fabulous, ... and to top it all off, the sun was providing me with a pleasant 23 degrees.
When you select your route in this region, you have to be very careful... a lot of the roads are untarmacced and can get very rough at times slowing your progress down to a snail pace, especially when you are trying to cover a decent distance.
When I arrived in the village of Brandilanes from where I would cross into Portugal, i discovered that the road was blocked for traffic. My next best option was a 20km detour in order to cross the border which as it turned out was my only option.
Crossing the border into Portugal, the sun started to set in the distance. A goat herder was gathering his goats together with his dog who decided it was more fun to run after a lonely cyclist while ignoring the calls of his owner.
The lonely cyclist, me in this case, started to cycle a good bit faster as the dog was the size of a small horse. Escaping the dog, I pushed myself out of the valley up the last climb of the day.
I had forgotten that there was an hour difference between Spain and Portugal, and by the time I arrived at my accommodation for the night (Casas Campo Cimo da Quinta) it was 8:30pm.
I was welcomed by a friendly girl who showed me to my room which turned out to be a 2 bedroom apartment.