Route 66 conjures up the famous highway traversing the United States of America, from Los Angeles on the west coast to Chicago on Lake Michigan in the north east of the country.
Here in Portugal there is a road that is comparable to the US’ Route 66 and also to Argentina’s Ruta Nacional 40. The EN2 runs from Chaves, in the north of the country on the Spanish border, to Faro in the south.
The EN2 is Portugal’s longest road — it is in fact one of only three roads in the world that links one end of a country to the other — and passes through four mountain ranges and over 11 rivers. Classified in 1945, many parts of it are built on former Roman routes.
For many years the EN2 was the primary link between the north and the south of Portugal however, with alternatives such as motorways and improvements made in train links, the road lost its importance over time.
In 2016 the idea of promoting the route for tourists to enjoy was officially unveiled and, at just shy of 740kms in length, the drive along the EN2 is one that encompasses four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, wine regions, natural spas and thermal springs together with places that seem untouched by modern life.
A yellow passport has been available which holders could have stamped along the route; at restaurants, sites of interest and of course hotels. However, it seems that these are now difficult to get hold of and therefore an app was created by four university students and which is available on PlayStore. Called EN2, this digital passport can also be “stamped” using QR codes along the route.
To discover more about the route and its history, for €20, you can also buy a book online. A definite bonus as it suggests places to eat and stay.
In September of this year, a group of four British cyclists are planning to set a world record by cycling Portugal’s Route 66 in 20 hours or less. The goal is to cycle as a four-man solo relay whereby only one cyclist is cycling at any one time. Called Team Blanco Enduro, the members range in age from 37 to 54 and hope to inspire others to enjoy Portugal as a cycling destination.
For more information on the challenge you can find the team @TeamBlanco on Facebook.
Image ©Fernando Pereira | Pixabay