Inland Portugal, Lisbon, the West Coast and the Algarve.

370 miles and 11 days in Portugal

Portugal map

Portugal is a small nation on the tip of the Iberian peninsula but is one of the world’s oldest nations.  We found the people to be friendly, the food fresh and local and the roads generally empty.

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We entered Portugal at a town called Elvas which had this enormous structure pictured above.

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The fruit trees in Portugal were bountiful and often lined roads, mandarin, orange, and pomegranate being the most common.

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Inland Portugal was sparsely populated and we had or choice of great camping spots.  Although the days were generally warm, the nights sometimes got quite frosty here in late November.

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Our trips are interrupted daily with several breaks that include a small coffee and a lot of sunshine.  Thankfully we had unseasonably sunny weather our entire time in Portugal.

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Our trip in Portugal began with difficult lesson, on our second day heading west to Lisbon we awoke in the middle of an open field covered in frost.  Although it was a cold morning the sun eventually thawed out the landscape and gave a way to a brilliant sunny day with a nice tailwind.  We were cruising through small villages and had already put in half our planned kilometers by 11:30 when I felt some low tire pressure and, eager to be proactive about maintaining our new bicycle, signaled to my copilot that I was going to stop and top up the air pressure.  I finished the front and was starting on the rear when a sickening rush of air emptied the whole tube.   Extracting it, I found that I had ripped the tube at the base of the valve by apparently pumping it too violently.  We employed the spare, and, more gingerly inflating the tire, the exact same fate befell this tube and the disheartening hiss of air, with sullen and resounding exactness, sealed in an entirely new situation in which we were completely stranded.  It came as such a shock, in part because there really had been nothing wrong to begin with, that it took a few agonizing moments before full acceptance was achieved. But just after the unfortunate event, a figure appeared in the distance approached on two legs and was soon revealed to a ragged but shiny eyed man carrying a plastic bag over his shoulder with a long stick.  He had walked from France he told us, to the Atlantic and was on his way home.  After we exchanged a few words he looked over our bike and left us with the parting words, “You have a lot of stuff.”  It was clear it was our time to walk.  We walked 3 miles to the next town with our bike but there was no bike shop and no bus running as it was Sunday.  We walked 3 more miles, slept and then walked another 12 miles the next day.

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Because of the sharpness of the rims, the motion of pumping up the tire sawed a hole near the tube.

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That evening we camped in a field of cork trees.   And the next day, we were in Lisbon.

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In Lisbon we stayed with a young couple from Warmshowers and had the privilege of being their first guests.  Tiago and Daniela cooked us a wonderful dinner and let us do laundry.  Tiago gave a great map of the coast.  in a year and a half they are planning to cycle from Northern Canada to the tip of South America.  In the morning we learned that we needed a new tire, probably the result of all the walking on a flat tire.

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And from the Lisbon waterfront we quickly left the city behind on an inexpensive ferry to the next peninsula.  The bike was free!

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And after 30 kilometers we took yet another ferry to yet another peninsula!

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After some easy camping on the sand in temperate weather we started our journey down the coast!

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That evening we stayed with another Warmshower’s guest, Sylvain.  At 28 years old, Sylvain was an aspiring long-distance barefoot runner.  He cooked us an incredible Moroccan dinner in a tagine.

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In the morning we headed inland a bit to cut off some excess miles.

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We cycled through deep valleys of eucalyptus, rolling hills and small farms.  Below, stacked cork.

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Finally we got to the infamous Algarve, the southern most province of Portugal.  The area is said to be as much British as it is Portuguese, and true to form, our host that evening was a British couple.  Andrew and Cheryl had recently moved to the Algarve from central Portugal.  They were a fascinating couple an we talked with them late into the evening about life, sobriety, exercise and inspiration.

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In the morning, Andrew rode out 30 kilometers with us along some of the wealthiest areas of the Algarve.  POR_7871

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It is an incredibly beautiful area and full of posh neighborhoods and beautiful beaches.

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Our last day we rode past some gypsies like many others we had seen while in Portugal.  I can’t help but feeling a certain affinity for them as we share a similar lifestyle.

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And finally, our last ferry taking us across a river into Spain!

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Portugal is well worth a visit on a bicycle.  And now back to Spain after 11 days in Portugal.

20 responses to “Inland Portugal, Lisbon, the West Coast and the Algarve.

    • Yeah I kind of felt the same way until I went… Southern Portugal really is one of those places where everything is ideal for a short vacation or a long retirement.

  1. Glad you like my country, next time visit the north too, lots more people and cars, but also beautiful.
    Also you kinda misses the most beautifull piece of Alentejo coast by going inland where you did.

    Good luck on your journey.

    • Yeah I thought we might miss something there but we struck inland due to a timing issue. Fortunately the inland area down there was also gorgeous. I’ll be coming back for sure though. What an awesome country!

  2. Wow, so different and so beautiful is our world, you two just manage to find these places. Keep up the exploring time that you have. You are both amazing people and I love you both :) Onward…..

  3. Reblogged this on Teaching, Travel, and Text and commented:
    I love this blog, but really am interested in the post, because of the location. Lisbon is on the list of Spring Break vacation possibilities…and the very fact of mentioning “Spring Break” alongside this beautiful blog seems a bit inappropriate – although that’s not quite the right word for it.

    • I guess it depends what you do with your spring break! Yeah, Lisbon would definitely be a wonderful place to visit as would the south coast.

    • Thanks! we have decided to go to Morocco now! Let us know of some good places to cycle through if you get the chance!

  4. Nice! I enjoyed your pictures & story. I have just returned from a cycling journey with a friend from Vienna to the Black Sea. I had the same thing with the tube! I was luckier though, it only happened to one (I didn’t dare touch the other), but I went all in a silly flutter when it happened & lost all logical thought! It took my friend a little while to reinforce all I had to do was change the tube :)

  5. Just discovered your site. Great pictures – we just hiked the “Fisherman’s trail” in Sept. which is along the coast where you were.
    I will continue to follow your adventures.

  6. Opa! oi, we’ll talk more about Portugal. Also, I’m curious about your time restrictions – is this a sprint, or a marathon ; ) ??? : )
    Morocco! Whoa! Have fun! Sorry to read about the flat tube1, flat tube2, and long bikewalk… so it goes. Go Broncos

  7. Reblogged this on Ecuador Galore and commented:
    The Free Life by Bike couple are living out my fantasy – albeit mine would be on a recumbent trike. Love the Mediterranean region since I once lived in Greece for two years. Portugal is on my bucket list and after looking at these great photos I’m ready to go.

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