Peneda-Gerês National Park - Porto, Portugal
One of the amazing things about visiting Europe is that you can travel by air at a far lower cost than I’m used to in America. Despite being an almost 3 hour flight, round trip from Berlin to Porto, Portugal was only $135! There is no excuse not to get away for an ultra weekend when in Europe since there is almost always a low-cost fare to a destination with a cool place to run. In addition, the drive from the airport to the national park was only about an hour. I got in late on Friday night so stayed at a Comfort Inn just outside the airport. Saturday morning I woke up, had breakfast, and headed to the national park to run. It was mid-January, so the weather wasn’t great, but that also kept everyone away, so had all the amazing waterfalls to myself. Besides the waterfalls and surprisingly lush landscape for January there were also amazing granite buildings, small villages and old cart paths. I slept in too late and darkness came too quickly for an ultra distance day, but the constant cold rain provided another dimension to keep it challenging. On the PR 14 route, I still got in 3500 feet (1066m) on a 12 mile (20k) course, not bad for the conditions.
I also cannot recommend enough the Pousada Geres-Caniçada hotel. It had an amazing view over the valley and a quaint fireplace for a nice place to chill after the run. The hotel staff didn’t bat an eye either when I walked in soaked from my day’s adventure. I highly recommend this area as an option for your next ultrarunning destination.