To Nazarè 120km
To Santa Cruz 98km
Everyman, his wife, his family, and her dog, was at the beach..... but the dog..... I apologise already if I offend, but European women and their dogs.... Ladies.... Dogs have legs and can walk and run. They don't need to be carried. They also have fur, hair or wool. They don't need clothes. And please.... train your dog's not to yap yap yap at cyclists. Three rat like animals came through a cat flap , shoulder to shoulder. I think they were dogs, they yapped, but they were dressed in so many layers of clothing, I couldnt tell, and they were exhausted after chasing me for 10m. I was scared to put my foot down, in case I squashed them.....
So the beaches, or should I say the car parks above the beaches were crowded. Hardly anyone was on the sand, and the only people in the sea were a couple of body boarders. They all got out of the city, because it was a "sunny Sunday". I had problems though. I had a route planned, around the coast, but the road was closed. I had to climb over a ridge, but that hooked up with a very complicated dual carriageway heading to one of the bridges. I ended up in the hospital grounds...... so skipped along some footpaths, around some one way corners, the wrong way, down a short muddy track, and down a very narrow cobbled street, with a couple of steps, down a very quiet, traffic free valley, and finally hit the coast road again. Yeha.
I've got to say, cycling in sunshine is alot more pleasant than in rain. All day I stayed off major roads, finding obscure back lanes, passing through eucalyptus forest, farmland, cabbage patches, and olive trees. It was fun. As I rode through yet another cobbled main street of a small village, I realised how lucky I am. So many of my friends would love to be doing this, and here I am. ..."Ho hum.... another pretty little village.....Ho hum...", and then I realised that I've only got a couple more days of these amazing European villages, and then I will be cycling through the "new world" villages of the USA. That's why I decided to climb up to my last European Castle. It was very steep, and it hurt, and I sneaked in through the castle wall through a gate that said "No Entry", onto really ugly, bouncy cobbles. I bounced through a few streets, dodging tourists. There were 100s of them. The village was amazing. Dodging the tourists, and bouncing along the cobbles wasn't. I headed out again, through the main gates, past a Knight in Armour, a Medieval Doctor in a mask, and a Wizard with a huge sword, .... and the ticket booth where there was a queue of tourists waiting to pay to get into the village, and twenty something buses.....
The Mtb Orienteering World Champs are in Portugal in July. I reckon I stumbled upon the competition area. Km after km of beautiful tracked forest. If it wasn't the area, it should be. And through the area, covered in well spaced conifer and eucalyptus, was a very quiet road, with an amazing unused cycle track. What an incredible day, of wonderful traffic free, scenery watching, sunny and warm cycling. This Atlantic Coast is turning out to be some of the most enjoyable cycling of this whole trip.
I've noticed another difference between Portugal and Spain. In Spain, and France, and Italy, every supermarket had a "begger" standing outside the door. In Italy, this was often an African, who offer to carry your groceries. In France and Spain it was usually an European. In Portugal, so far, no begger outside supermarkets
. All these countries do have traffic lights just before small villages. They show as Red, and as you approach, if you're not breaking the speed limit, the change to flashing Amber. However, here in Portugal, they don't register Fiona and I, so stay Red. We do what most the locals do...... ignore the lights, and keep on going.
I was on a ferry, crossing an inlet, and a local cyclist came over to chat. I love these times. He offered to show me a route through the next town. He also asked to borrow my pump. The pump worked really well, but every time we screwed it off, it took the valve out as well, and the tyre ended up dead flat. Damn. Eventually, we solved the problem, two of us holding various parts of the pump, tyre and valve. I'm not sure the tyre was all that firm in the end though. He offered to buy me a meal. Lovely locals.
Yesterday, after 120km, I'm looking for somewhere to stay. I come to a roundabout. To the left, and uphill, is a campsite. To the right, and downhill, is signposted Bombeiros. Bombeiros are Medic/Firefighters. The two services are combined. I had heard from other cyclists, that sometimes they will let you stay at their base. Yippee. I've been invited to sleep over. Hot showers, kitchen, games room, TV room, lounge and bar, and at least 30 beds, and at no cost. However, the night crew all decided to sleep in the same room as me, and although they had zero call outs, all five of them snored like troopers.......