Hot Springs, Critical Mass and Squat with a view: Biketour in Ourense

After a long and never-ending downhill, the Biketour arrived in Ourense. A major point on our route-planning map were the hot springs in the city, which we were much looking forward to visit (as we decided to take a route that would not pass by the other nicer hot springs in the Gerês National Park). The original plan was to stay for two full days wild-camping next to the springs, but when we discovered that the springs were in between two motorways and a national road in a steep river valley next to an industrial area, we were very happy to be invited last-minute to sleep in a squat called A Casa Negra on the other end of the city.

Getting to the squat was quite hard with our stuff, as it was a long uphill to the very edge of the city. But the happier we were to get away from the loud and busy streets, and the view was the most amazing.

A lot of Biketour people enjoyed a long evening of city life with a small party at the squat, but there was also an uncomfortable element to it with some macho behaviour and loud and drunk shouting by some locals from the squat. This made us discuss leaving earlier than planned the next morning, but there were also some people who really needed a rest day, so in the end we settled for a compromise of only staying for one day, having acitivities in the city during that day and part of the group spending the night at the springs instead of the squat.

In the afternoon we met to do a Critical Mass through the city centre, and a lot of people seemed to enjoyed our appearance even when we shouted things like “el coche contamina” (cars contaminate) and “un bici más” (one more bike). There were particularly a lot of old people sitting on benches on the side of the road and smiling and clapping when we passed, but their looks changed quite fast when we stopped next to a dumpster to dig out huge piles of pastries and eating them on the spot.

The final destination of the Critical Mass was the hot springs. Along a several kilometers long promenade next to the river there were lots of medium-size pools with hot water and lots of people in them. We went further and further, hoping to find one with less people, but in the end there was no other option than to share a pool with others who may or may not have enjoyed the presence of our naked bodies under the rising full moon. While no one was complaining or even gave us a bad look, police arrived after a not so long time telling us that we have to cover at least our genitals. It seems like if you want to be at least topless in the country where the tolerance ends where nudity begins, you first have to shock everyone with your naked bodies, so that when the police comes and you cover your genitals, the people are so relieved that they don’t even notice the naked breasts anymore.

Unfortunately it seems that the pipes that bring the hot water into the pools are turned off at night, so the water turned colder and colder, and the bravest of the brave finally left the pools shaking from the cold around 3 o’clock in the night.

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