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Motorcycle Tours - Page 3

Port wine is perhaps what Portugal does best, but good food to accompany that wine is not found at random. The indigenous Portuguese diet is meat, fish, and boiled potatoes. Thankfully, Julian has found the best places to eat. It's still meat, fish and potatoes, but at least it's very good. Bracing ourselves for the retracing of our steps across the temporary scaffolding as we take our leave from Pinaho the next morning, we come upon the ferry, still moored to the bank, and watch as an attractive woman steps from a BMW sedan and walks down to talk to the captain. She places her hands together in the universal plea for expediency: palms together, fingers pointing upward. Please, please, please. The captain then theatrically waves all of us on, and is later heard apologizing to the government minister in the rear of the BMW.

We follow the Douro westward to Porto. The road clings to the cliff and when we reach the halfway point and cross the river, I'm dizzy from the winding road. Motocadia supplies Triumph Sprint RS motorcycles, a good compromise of comfort and handling, but my camera gear has so weighed down the rear of the bike that in corners it feels like concrete has been strapped to the rear of the seat.

Porto is preceded by the smell of the ocean and we abruptly come out from under a bridge and burst into a big European city. Terraces hang with laundry and the sidewalks are teeming with people, colour, and life. In honour of my surname, we visit Graham's for a sampling tour of its port, and the summation of my research for nascent port drinkers is this: stay away from the sweet. It is the dry ports that have a more complex character that may not at first be apparent. In a logbook I find a beautifully eloquent description of Graham's port, written by Master of Wine Michael Broadbent in 1873. The supposed appearance of phylloxera, which causes so much terror, is now put down to the effect of severe frosts which affected the leaves. A change from a grave manner to gay was visible amongst the farmers. A good vintage.

Our trip ends with a ride down the coast to the modern Hotel Miramar in seaside Nazare, but not before we ride the most spectacular road. At Oliveira we take the N227, a road with perfect pavement, banked corners, and a flowing rhythm like a mountain brook. But this is my heartbreak - it's raining, so we potter along and the weather finally clears when we've gone too far to retrace our route. The poor weather continues once we arrive in Nazare, but the next day, a non-riding day, is sunny and warm and the ocean beckons.

If you, like me, loathe the idea of group any- thing, then you'll be as impressed as I am at the palatability of Motocadia's tours. Julian is an accommodating host in the proper English way, which means he knows when to drop out of the way. And he's picky (once again, in that English way) and likes good food, wine, and impeccable lodging. Group sizes are small and prices start at around 2,300 Euros for a couple on a bike for a week, but ask him for details because I'm still aggrieved that it rained. If you go and ride N227 in the dry, don't dare drop me a line. As for Portugal, by all means go, and go now, because it won't stay this refreshingly untouched forever.




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