The dog thing is ridiculous here. This morning in Pinhao we were awoken at quarter past six by somebody driving around with a trailer full of yippy little creatures making noises that belonged not to dogs, but to tortured budgies. Tonight in Alijo we are staying next door to a concrete enclosure of yet more impossibly high-pitched animals and the sleep prospects are not good. As much as we wanted a decent meal in Spain, we want a decent night's sleep in Portugal. We made the mistake of opening the windows in our room and were quickly inundated with swarms of flies. A quick trip into town stocked us up with plenty of fly paper and now we are having some fun collecting tiny corpses on a bit of sticky paper. It's like watching the footy, only much better.
We stopped considering Poland as a potential place to live - it's not that we particularly disliked anything about it, we just didn't particularly like anything about it either (well there were the cherries, and the nice cake shop, but that's not really enough) - it didn't really grab us as somewhere we wanted to live. Portugal is different - it grabs us in lots of ways. The food is fantastic (we really do applaud the quality of the baking in particular), people are friendly, and there are some lovely houses here. However, we have found there to be certain things lacking from what we would consider to be quality of life for us - the concept of peace and quiet seems completely foreign to most people. The idea of making any effort to ward off swarms of flies is also foreign to most cafe owners - (but that's also true in Spain). We are probably experiencing the noise problem a lot because we are staying in residencials which are almost invariably on busy main streets of towns, and put you in close confinement with other people. I can see the problem being greatly reduced by enough double glazing and / or distance from busy areas, in fact that would be essential to our being able to live here - but if the real problem is that we're just incompatible with Portugal, it would likely catch up with us eventually. I suppose we are doing what we came here to do, which is find out what life is like in Portugal.
Today we cycled north again from the Douro. The gradients stopped being completely insane - still mostly an uphill day, and still pretty average by mountain standards, but it was nice to feel the effects of having built up a lot more strength over the past few days, and be able to climb a little more easily (although I don't think Dgym's legs were really up for anything more than holding up his laptop today)