About Our Next (2012) Trip

Friday 25 May 2012

In my wildest dreams of yester-year I would have never imagined we would do a bicycle tour.  Going across country…….are you crazy?!?

Never mind, it’s really is a rhetorical question.

So, here we are three long trips later, planning on doing it yet again.

Our “intended” course begins in Lisbon, Portugal, follows the Atlantic Ocean south until we reach the Straits of Gibraltar; then with the coastline on our right, we will head to Rome, Italy.

That being said, as we prepare for this (and every) trip, we each have specific tasks to get us ready.  One of Jerry’s many tasks is figuring out the course, something I don’t really concern myself with (just no time for such a luxury) until we actually head out.  Well the “ignorance is bliss” was ruined the other day when some said, “There is no easy way over the Pyrenees, is there?”……….WHAT!! This trip will prove to be a mountainous challenge, pardon the pun, especially after last year’s dedicated bike paths and relatively flat (ie: NO mountains) course.  “If ya’ scared, just say ya’ scared”……… ok, SCARED!!  As for how many miles??  From the map below, it looks like a long, long way!

We hope you will join us all along the way and as always, we look forward to hearing comments from you.

 

 

And So It Begins

Saturday 26 May 2012

Wow, this is tough to start….. and I do mean the blog AND the ride.  Arrived in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday morning and miraculously made the very wise decision to get a taxi to our hotel, instead of putting the bikes together in the airport and riding into town.  It took us almost a half an hour to get there by taxi and that’s at 100 mph; but we made it to our hotel safely.  Our hotel is quietly nestled between the small towns of Estoril and Cascais, all easily accessed by the a huge boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean.The area is much like what Del Mar is to San Diego, charming, spectacular weather, lots of shops and restaurants, but a lot less expensive and the view from our room……let’s just say, we took a lot of pictures from the balcony.

So far, we’ve found Portugal magical and seductive, yet the people are warm, friendly and very helpful.  Our first day, we wandered up and down the streets of Cascais in a jet-lagged stupor, yet enjoyed the sites and whimsy of this delightful town.

We however, enjoyed the waterfront the most, note the walled in swimming pool.

As much as we’d like to spend many more hours walking the streets, we are tired.  We find a quaint side-street restaurant, and even before ordering are enjoying fresh baked breads and local cheese and olives.

We’re going to turn in for the evening, but will show you more of Portugal tomorrow.

 

 

Lisbon, Portugal – Friday, May 25

Sunday 27 May 2012

Twelve glorious hours of sleep does wonders for the soul; hopefully for our venture into to the City, too.  Lisbon is a grand city  filled with beautiful architectureand relaxed and laid back restaurants (Lisa, notice the beanbag chairs)

yet the churches are not the scale we were used to seeing in northern Europe.What was the most dramatic was the steepness of the streetsstraight up and down!

The contrast in what the city offered was striking yet not disturbing in it’s incongruence.

We enjoyed small cafesand majestic squares, beautiful flowersand expansive wine stores,but my favorite;this gentleman probably sat here for hours feeding the pigeons.  It was a grand day in Lisbon, but we needed to call it a day!  We’ll see you tomorrow.

Cascais & Estoril, Portugal – Saturday, May 26

Sunday 27 May 2012

Saturday is market day is Cascais, so we strolled into town to see what it was about, passing many beautiful homes along the way.

The market offered lots of local fare:  fruits and vegetables, flowers,cheese, bread, olives and lots of fresh fish (many we did not recognize). We strolled the streets, poking our head in a few interesting shopsand watching the children enjoy the beautiful day. Continuing along to the seaside, we watched sailboats enjoy the crisp breeze, people play on the beach and everyone enjoying their Saturday. As we headed back to our hotel, we stopped for an afternoon snack of chilled gazpacho and fresh tuna sandwich ……we better start biking soon!!  But not without a quick walk to Estoril.Once again the wide boardwalk made the walk an easy one.Estoril seemed to have a much more local flavor; not as many tourists,but still a magnificent coastline.On our walk back to our hotel, we were treated to a sky writer,a nice ending to a lovely few days.  As the afternoon comes to a close, we begin our final preparations for the upcoming day….Yes, we are finally going to get on a bike and ride!

Day 1, Sunday, May 27 – Cascais to Setubal, Portugal

Monday 28 May 2012

I will have to admitted I was a bit intimidated and concerned by the hills that I saw through the window as we flew in the other day.  That and knowing our training had not included anything but flat land, plus a new bike and cobblestones.   There, all the whining is done; let’s get this started.

Our first 16 miles to the Port of Lisbon was along the coast road with no shoulder, in fact not even a white line to ride on, but the drivers are very courteous to bicycles so it was no problem.  We did have a lot going for us though, beautiful sunshine, cool breeze to our back and some beautiful sights along the way and it really was SO good to be back on the bicycle.

As we pulled away we were able to catch a final glimpse of Lisbonand the hills that stood before us.

The hills turned out to be not so bad in the beginning.  The morning was filled with the smell of Eucalyptus trees and every kind of meat being grilled on outdoor fire pits.  Luckily the small villages were few and far between.

After a quick picnic lunch the hills began, but they wound through wine fieldsso we were pleasantly distracted.

Our last climb finished with a drop into the town of Setúbal. We checked in, quickly took a shower and were out of the door again to stroll the streets in the fabulous weather. Actually, we had no particular reason or anything to see to leave so quickly, but it was worth it nonetheless.  Though there were people everywhere, it wasn’t loud, no particular chaos, just everyone enjoying the day.

The town was in the middle of a festival of “choco”, which we thought was chocolate; better yet…..octopus/squid; which they consider to be the same animal?!  The town of Sentubal is also know for their fish, “best port for fresh fish”.  We of course, must test their theory.  On our first lap around the town we stop for some fresh squid, to help them celebrate.  We opted for the grilled instead of fried and were quite (delightfully) surprised…..the squid came with INK (and boiled potatoes) and it was Fabulous! Needless to say, our lips, teeth, smiles were black.  Do you realize how impossible it is NOT to smile when you know you look like your made-up for Halloween?!

Managed to put a few hours of touring in

in between our 3:00 ‘inking’ and dinner, since we were not at all hungry.

We were pulled into a restaurant by a very gregarious waiter, who insisted we try the wonderful fish……..his recommendations were ‘spot on’. Thank goodness we were not hungry!

You wouldn’t think 45 miles would cause us to eat so much, but we were tired and we have a long few months ahead of us, so off to bed.

Day 2, Monday, May 28 – Setubal to Porto Covo, Portugal

Monday 28 May 2012

Once again our day began with fabulous sunshine and a breeze to our back.  We catch a glimpse of an old nunnery on the hill on our ferry ride across the Rio Sado to Tróia, a peninsula of land that resembles the Outer Banks (before development). On the ferry we met a group of bikers from Norway, whom we passed as they took a break.Loblolly pines, Eucalyptus and pastel colored scrub brush stretched for miles in every direction. It was more than ten miles before we saw any civilization and that was just a small village that worked the rice fields that were now covering the sand.  Rice fields melted into wine and citrus crops.

How anything can grow in the sand is amazing!

The aggressive hills returned after lunch and this time we were treated to a close look at Cork trees with their bark removed.We also met Hans and Anna from Holland.We had thought to stop for the day in Sines, but Hans advised heading to the next town, so we continued to Porto Covo.  Five miles before our destination, we hit the coast;what a Fabulous recommendation.  It took us a while to get to our hotel as we stopped for so many pictures (even more at the bottom).

The town of Porto Covo is very neat and clean, but odd; we’ve tried to figure out a better description, but can’t put our finger on it.Seems as if all the color and personality is hidden inside. Of course, this did not keep us from enjoying the town, vistas and food.  As the wind picked up and the sun began to set, we strolled back to our room to rest after our 51 miles.  Apparently, we have a long and arduous day ahead of us.

Day 3, Tuesday, May 29 – Porto Covo to Aljezur, Portugal

Monday 28 May 2012

This ride in southern Europe is so different from our previous European adventure.   Gone are the castles and cathedrals, instead we enjoy the beauty of the countryside and the majesty of the mountains and the sea.

Another cool and beautiful morning; though the sun was warm the sea breeze kept the morning air near 60.As we biked out of our village this morning, so too did we bike away from the sea. When we turned south, we could see the ocean in the distance, either the blue from the sea or the cloud bank that was hovering off the coast.  We were also bordered by mountains to our east, hopefully they would not get too close.With the exception of crazy Hans (did we mention he does the JFK 50 Miler, every year) & Anna that we met yesterday, the only bikers we’ve seen have been road/racing bikers.  They always greet us with enthusiastic waves and the drivers with happy honks.

The countryside, once again, proved to be beautiful

occasionally dipping down to a coveand then climbing the gently rolling hills,

at some points, however, the only way we knew we were climbing is the strain on our legs.

After one such climb that seemed to go on forever, we decided to take a lunch break and rest our legs.  Immediately after lunch we were greeted with a five mile fly down, sounds great at the time, but we knew we would pay….and dearly.  Sure enough the two mile climb to follow was steep with sharp hairpin turns.

At one rest during our climb, we were pushed with a nice breeze whipping up from the sea, so forging on was a little easier.  Thankfully, at noon we had decided to stay in a town only 15-20 miles away, because the afternoon hills looked to be very challenging….INDEED!

Our hotel was lovely, with a roof top view of the hills of the town,of which there were plenty.

Once we checked in, we took a short stroll around the town, found an old churchand an old farmer, still working the land!

Since arriving at our hotel, we have been smelling the delightful smells from the kitchen of the attached restaurant.  So we knew we had to travel no further than down two flights of stairs for dinner.  It was SO worth the trip!  Oddly enough (to us, anyway) salmon has been on the menu every night since arriving in Portugal.  Independently, we both decided to order it…….it was THE most incredible meal we’ve had so far….perfectly cooked and deliciously accompanied, I didn’t even long for ice cream!!

50+ miles today and steep hills in our very near future, time to turn in.