We woke up to sun and by the time we finished our breakfast and were loading up the bikes, it was warm enough to done some short sleeves; the first time since we arrived.
After a fair bit of deliberation and waffling back and forth, we FINALLY came to the conclusion that it would be good to extend our exploration of the Alentejo area (wine country) and interior of Portugal. I won’t go into detail explaining why I wrote finally in capital letters but will suffice it to say when you don’t have a specific plan some days decisions are harder than others. As Ger would say, the thing about spontaneous travel is that you still need to plan, you just have to do it on the fly and that takes time out of the day, which he also says that I have to learn to accept.
Evora to Reguengos de Monsaraz (February 10, 2018 / 38.59 km / 156m / LINK TO ROUTE)
Our destination, Reguengos Monsaraz, would involve a light day of bike riding; only 40 km and a mere elevation gain of 200 metres. Oh my gosh , and what a great day to cycle tour it was; sun, beautiful scenery, rows and rows of grapes, birds, trees, rolling hills and a great bike lane. We even got to our guest house early, about 1:30. The owner of our guest house wasn’t there yet and wouldn’t be until 3pm, so we unloaded the bikes, putting all the panniers in a pile behind the house and covering them up with the tarp and set out to explore the town, looking for a spot to have an espresso.
Reguengos de Monsaraz to Ferreira do Alentejo (February 12, 2018 / 83.46 km / 720m / LINK TO ROUTE)
We rode through some diverse scenery today, climbing up and over small passes and dropping into an area of lakes and forest. From there we found our way to Portel and took the old road to Vidigueria, which paralleled the new highway so it wasn’t terribly exciting. After lunch in a small local curb side restaurant in Vidigueria, we set off for Ferreira via Cuba, a town in the middle of nowhere with no relation, other than the name, to the country Cuba. But we had to get a picture anyway.
We picked the first place we came across in Ferreira (Casa do Infante) and it turned out to be a beautiful old building with very friendly hosts. We changed and were about to set off in search of dinner when our host came out, and we proceeded to have a very animated discussion on where and how to go for dinner, with our host speaking Portuguese and Mary and I speaking English. But we got the message… mostly. We sat down and waited for 10 minutes and then he and his wife loaded us into their car and took us to a restaurant. They walked us to the corner, pointed the direction home, then brought us in to the restaurant, introduced us to the host there, and then left. I think the issue was that they couldn’t explain where exactly the restaurant was, so it was easier to take us there. Very thoughtful and appreciated! We had a great meal and walked home. Once again, as we had experienced several times on this trip all ready, we were the only ones’ on the street and joked that it was only the bronze statue and us hanging out in Ferreira do Alentejo. It was a pretty amazing statue but unfortunately we were unable to engage.
Ferreira do Alentejo to Sines (February 13, 2018 / 77.83 km / 582m / LINK TO ROUTE)
This was a most interesting day of riding, with the first 25 kms being a slight downhill, followed by some serious climbing and then dropping into Sintra on some backroads that ended up being dirt trails.
At the top of the climb this day was a city called Santiago do Cacem where we found some lunch and coffee. As we pulled out of town, we could see the sea and our destination about 25 kms away. I had poured over the maps in the days before looking for a route into Sines that was open to cyclists as it seemed like the only roads in and out were the “A” type roads that we weren’t allowed on. But I found one, set up the route on Ride with GPS and that was what we followed. As we got closer to the city, the route took us past massive fuel storage tanks and refineries before the road turned from pavement to gravel to dirt and then narrowed into a trail stuck between the storage facility and the big road. In the end, it did dump us back on another proper gravel road which we followed up the hill above Sines and through a wind farm before dropping us down again through an industrial area and into the city.
Comments from Mary: Yes this was one of the many round about, back road ways that Ger has navigated us through. Most of the time I am wondering where the heck we are going and then I think to myself that this is exactly what I love about cycle touring. You never know where you might find yourself riding!
Sines to Vila Nova de Milfontes (February 14, 2018 / 33.51 km / 223m / LINK TO ROUTE)
Another beautiful day greeted us as left Sintra on a bike path that took us out past the ports and industrial area. Once the bike path ended we spent a couple of Kilometres on the main road before we were able to get onto a side road along the coast to Porto Covo. I had looked at it on google street view and hesitated taking it because of the condition of the road, but since the google car had been there, they repaved the entire stretch. We stopped in a little grocery store in Porto Covo and had our Valentine lunch looking out at the sea. From there, we left town riding past row after row of new condos being built. This is definitely a hot spot for tourists… but not in winter.
We made it to our workaway placement by about 3pm, and started a completely different type of week that you can read about in the workaway blog.
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