Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Madmen across the Water – Part 2 – Portugal 21

Mark and Scott test their newly-rebuilt engines

Mark and Scott test their newly-rebuilt engines

Killing time before the Powerboat competition at the weekend, Miki and I decided to set off on the bikes and explore the surrounding area. But not before I was co-opted onto the British National Team to assist in lowering two of their craft into the water. They were testing the new engines after completely rebuilding them this week. Apparently they’d blown them up in competition in Lisbon last week!

We headed out of Barca d’Alva and almost immediately regretted it. Our muscles howled in protest, and we realised just how strenuous our trip down into the ravine at Miranda had really been. But this is the only way to combat it; ride through the pain!

Sure enough, it got a little easier, and we discovered an old railway track which led us to a host of delights including a vast abandoned railway station, and a huge freight warehouse. Beyond was the sidings, leading to an enormous iron turntable that serviced the three-arched, brick built engine sheds.

Engine sheds Barca de Alva

Engine sheds Barca de Alva

An enormous melancholy hangs in the air here, as one imagines a bygone era, with a bustling station and gleaming engines emerging from their slumber into the sunlight. The whoooosh of steam and the piercing whistle echoing across the water. But now, it is only the ghosts of plumes of steam curling into the rafters, and the turntable’s burden is simply the rust of ages. How sad when these railways fall into decline.

Miki on the tracks

Miki on the tracks

We half-rode, half-pulled, our bikes along the track, beyond a rockfall in the cutting and around a bend to reveal the old iron bridge spanning the river. Not the Douro, this time, but a tributary, the Rio Agueda, the Spanish border abandoning its grand mistress, and running away south now, following this lesser waterway.

Kev on railway bridge into Spain

Kev on railway bridge into Spain

We crossed the nearby roadbridge and entered Spain again, just for the hell of it, because we could. Perhaps we are all Madmen across the Water, the Powerboat competitors, hurtling across it, or us, crossing rivers wherever we find them. Something deep in the human psyche draws us to water. It pleases us, calms us, revives us. Water constitutes the majority of our being, and from water we came. Does that evolutionary thread still connect us? I’d like to think so.

Kev points the way to Portugal

Kev points the way to Portugal

As we steal another night of electricity, and watch the grand river cruisers come and go at this, the farthest navigable point of the Douro, we once again ponder whether to leave for a day or two, returning for the competition, or simply stay here by the water. Breakfast is had, and the jury’s still out…..

View of Barca from the old station

View of Barca from the old station

Kev Moore

 

 

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July 19, 2008 - Posted by | culture, fun, humor, life, personal, travel, writing | , , , , , , ,

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