370 miles and 11 days in Portugal
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.
We entered Portugal at a town called Elvas which had this enormous structure pictured above.
The fruit trees in Portugal were bountiful and often lined roads, mandarin, orange, and pomegranate being the most common.
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.
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.
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.
Because of the sharpness of the rims, the motion of pumping up the tire sawed a hole near the tube.
That evening we camped in a field of cork trees. And the next day, we were in Lisbon.
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.
And from the Lisbon waterfront we quickly left the city behind on an inexpensive ferry to the next peninsula. The bike was free!
And after 30 kilometers we took yet another ferry to yet another peninsula!
After some easy camping on the sand in temperate weather we started our journey down the coast!
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.
In the morning we headed inland a bit to cut off some excess miles.
We cycled through deep valleys of eucalyptus, rolling hills and small farms. Below, stacked cork.
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.
In the morning, Andrew rode out 30 kilometers with us along some of the wealthiest areas of the Algarve.
It is an incredibly beautiful area and full of posh neighborhoods and beautiful beaches.
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.
And finally, our last ferry taking us across a river into Spain!
Portugal is well worth a visit on a bicycle. And now back to Spain after 11 days in Portugal.