Day 4, Wednesday, May 30 – Aljezur to Sagres, Portugal

Wednesday 30 May 2012

We were greeted at breakfast by blooming cactus, that had been closed tightly last evening.

It was much warmer today at 75, but then we got a much later start since the breakfast did not begin until 9 am; and we were not ready to give up the fresh baked bread and delicious coffee.  The hills we knew we’d run into today, began right away and were with us our entire ride, but it was a glorious morning.  The topography of rolling hills filled with lush green trees was beautiful.

It was not long into the ride when we knew we had turned toward to the coast; the unmistakable wind from the Atlantic and a 10 degree drop in temperature.  We couldn’t really see the sea, but we knew it was there in the distance. The rest of the ride remained cool from the ocean breeze at our back :-).  As we crested one hill the vista changed dramtically; 

gone was the lush vegetation but the hills remained.The sky has been incredible all day, so one shot dedicated to the clouds in the sky.

Just before we reached Vila do Bispo, we dropped from the hills and had an incredible wind assisted 8K to Sagres; we are SO going to suffer biking into this wind tomorrow, but that’s a long way away from right now.

The terrain on our five mile whip to the end was very wind worn,obvious in town as well.A quick ride around the center circle and we found a nice place to stay and our bikes to rest.Though the view from our room was spectacular, we had purposely made our ride short today as we wanted to see the other sites of the southwestern most point of Europe; the beginning of the famed Algarve!  Since the lighthouse (Rota Ste. Vicente) was four miles away, we jumped on our bikes and slowly fought the headwind out to the point.Incredible viewswell worth the struggle.On the ride back we caught a glimpse of one of the many spectacular beaches in this area.

We made a quick stop at an incredible Portugal artesian pottery shop, but since I’d already purchased my Portugal souvenir from this nice couple

there was no more shopping to be done, not to mention the weight of carrying pottery the rest of the trip.  The only thing left to do was a couple shots the townthen dinner.  Italian tonight, followed by one very delicious piece of chocolate cake.And though we cannot see the sun set directly, we can capture it’s glow on the cliffside.Tomorrow after our five mile backtrack, we head east for our trek through the Algarve.

Day 5, Thursday, May 31 – Sagres to Armacao de Pera, Portugal

Friday 1 June 2012

We awoke this morning to no wind and warm temps. Being right on the sea offered no comfort; it was a warm 78.  But no wind meant our climb out of Sagres would not be as tough; or so we thought.  Even without yesterday’s 30 mph winds in our face we still managed only 5 mph in some spots, plus a picture or two.

Luckily, it was only a 5 mile backtrack.

It was a tough ride though, up and down and up and down again in blazing sun.  With the ride along their state route, there was not much of an opportunity for good pictures.  Luckily, a couple hours into our ride as the haze overtook the sun and the rising temps eased, we went through the city of Lagos and along their port.We biked for about an hour with minimal climbing, which was a reliefbut that is about the time the clouds started building and wind picked up….in our face.

After being beaten up by the wind for a few hours, we stopped five miles short of our 50 mile goal.  Dropping a couple of miles into town, we found a place right on the ocean with a spectacular view from our balcony.

The “tourist season” doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks, but you’d think there would be at least a few people enjoying the massive boardwalk.Not even that many people on the beaches

I ventured a toe in the water, but that’s it, too Cold!

One more picture of the beach and then we need to eat.

Dora, at the front desk, recommended a restaurant she owns with her husband, Jose.  Usually a risk, but this was an exception; the food at Restaurante M.B.M. was divine and the presentation impressive…..highly recommend it, if you ever find yourself in Armacao de Pêra.

That’s it for today, our legs are tired and tummies full.

Day 6, Friday, June 1 – Armacao de Pera to Tavira, Portugal

Saturday 2 June 2012

Today, on our hike out of town, we were greeted with an enthusiastic honk from a car that had slowed beside us…….it was our host from last night, wishing us a good trip.  It was a warm cheerful smile to the cold, overcast and very windy morning we were riding in to.  From our room we could not tell the direction of the wind, but knew as soon as we were on our course, it was going to be a long day. The city of Armacão de Pêra has a lot of high rises, on the beach and several miles inland, but not much else to see.Once again, we rode along the highway, but with the wind in our face as strong as it was, we saw very little for the struggle of biking the hills into the wind. It is a good thing the two of us enjoy biking as much as we do; tough to understand for many , but it’s good to be in the saddle…..maybe not for 5+ hours, though.  Given our course, however, it seems this trip will be more of a ‘destination’ ride; not as much scenery along the way, but hopefully, the towns we stay in.

We passed many orange and tangerine orchardsas well as stands selling two and an half pound bags for just over $1.00.

Needing a break and Faro just up ahead, we took a turn into town.  Managed to find a nice park bench along the water and out of the wind for lunch.

Faro has a nice waterfront with a pretty park and center square.

Much like yesterday, for an hour after lunch the ride was ‘relatively’ flat, still a head wind, but not as much climbing; always appreciated.  But the break did not last long!  Our course did turn slightly north, so the headwind we’d been facing all day, was slightly off our shoulder; we’ll take it.

Thankfully, the town we had planned to stay in was at the 50 mile mark, so we could stop for the day.  Travia is a quaint port town, where we were fortunate to find a room by the water.  A stroll around the town

and a shot of one of the doors the town is famous for.

And lastly, another great choice for dinner, which began with a scrumptious octopus salad.That’s all for today, good night!

Day 7, Saturday, June 2 – Tavira, Portugal to Huelva, Spain

Monday 4 June 2012

We left this morning to a cool (70 degrees) no wind (yippee) overcast morning.

It seemed as if overnight we transitioned into rural roads, less traffic, taller trees and everything just seemed greener.Stopping to take pictures was easier, so I was finally able to capture these lush bushes that have lined the roads for days.

It took us only a couple of hours to reach the end of our ride in and a ferry to The half hour wait for the ferry and the 20 minute ride gave us an opportunity to catch a couple of photos of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal and a first look at Spain We will miss the friendly people and delicious wines of Portugal; let’s see what Espana has to offer.

The port of Ayamonte was colorful and loaded with tourists; but unfortunately, we spent a good hour + trying to communicate (she spoke NO English) with the internet provider, so we could have some kind of computer map in Spain, so not much touring of the town.  Once on the road, we noticed the homes to be much larger, but mostly miles and miles of farms, our favorite was the fragrance of the strawberry fields After what seemed like hours of riding in the middle of nowhere we run into this young man selling potatoes and cherries (a curious combination)Though he spoke no English, these two were able to communicate enough to relay a shortcut to our destination….let’s ‘hope’ Jerry understood as it was already past 3 pm and we had quite a ways left to any kind of town.  It was a wonderful new course on a newly paved road through a forrest of pines. Even though the shortcut probably shaved an hour off our ride, we did not get to our hotel until 5 pm and we were tired after five hours of biking.  But we had to see the city.  Seemed as if everyone was out for a Saturday afternoon stroll or coffee.
But a parade we were not expecting, Robyn this one’s for you. 

parade in Huelva, Spain

After an hour of touring, we needed to have dinner before we feel asleep…this is when we were told that the restaurants did not open until 8:00 PM…..are you kidding??  We stopped in our hotel and she said the restaurant around the corner would be open in 10 minutes, that we could wait for.  And though it was the only choice, we could not have chosen better.  First an incredible bottle of wine and home baked bread, followed by a Huge side salad

and then dinner,which I can only describe as delicious.  A complimentary toast from the restaurant was a perfect ending to our day.

 

End of Week 1

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Cascias, Portugal to Huelva, Spain

329 miles

not even going to count the bottles of wine!

Day 8, Sunday, June 3 – Huelva to Sevilla, Spain

Monday 4 June 2012

Sunday morning, our favorite time to ride. Though we wanted to get an early start to the morning, we had to wait for the 8:00 am breakfast to open.  Got to the breakfast room a little early and luckily they were open, so we managed to get on our bikes by 8:45.

It was a cool and windy morning, though with the high rises of the city, we could not yet tell the direction of the wind. After about a 20 minute “non-scheduled tour” of the town, we decided to stop and ask directions.  The Bomberos (firemen)

could not have been more helpful and would have chatted with us (in Spanish, of course) all day, but we wanted to get going; especially after they told us our time had changed at the Portugese /Spanish border and not at the Pryanese Mountains ahead of us……now we really had a late start to our long day; it was now 10:15 not 9:15.  So both last night AND this morning we were waiting on a clock that was already an hour ahead of us……oopps!

Our first two hours were “relatively” flat and with the wind slightly to our back we were making up time, taking pics along the way. 

We’ve seen a lot of storks, many more than on last year’s tour, but when you have the option of stork condos every 200 feet, you can stack a lot more birds in a much shorter distance.  In between the miles and miles of fields, we entered the quaint town of Niebla, but we were not expecting a castle, of sorts.

We biked through the gates,but not much further than the canons that were now on display at the parameter.

The rolling hills added their roll around noon, but the landscape still offered vineyards and cork/oak tree groves.

Took a quick lunch break and re-fueling in the shade of a gas station.  Somehow managed to position that break immediately before a TWO mile climb…..great for the digestion; also good for beautiful scenery The extra water was going to come in handy; with no shade and a glaring sun the second half of the ride was going to be hot.  We had several serious climbs in which we watched the temperature gauge rise as we did…..102 was our max.  It cooled on our down hills, thankfully

We reached 40 miles at 3:00 (we’d lost an hour, after all) and accessed whether we had another 15 kilometers in us to get into Sevilla, keeping in mind we did not know the terrain or where we would be staying once we got there.  So, of course, we said let’s go for it.  We were ecstatic when we got our first glimpse of the city

and thought we’d be checked in and taking a much needed shower within the half hour.  It took us two more hours, two bridges and a bike rest to get to that point.

But it was worth it (b.t.w. the 15K turned out to be 32K = 20 miles) then we realized again, the restaurants did not open until 8:00.  This time we were on real time, so 8 pm meant another hour.  Managed to find a British pub

WAIT it’s good!  They had great tapas, which normally would not satisfy us in the least.  So we started with a small nachos (Spanish, right?) and then three other delicious plates. We waddled back to our room for a good long rest, tomorrow is a day off and a tour of Sevilla.

 

Day 9, Monday, June 4 – Day Off in Sevilla, Spain

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Never quite understand the term “day off” when we walk almost as many miles as we bike in order to see all the sights, but that is why we are here, so off we go to see Spain’s fourth largest city.  We will try not to post the close to 200 pictures “we” took today, but it will be tough.

Our first stop is the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza (bull fighting ring), which is now a museum dedicated to the sport; but there are still matadors everywhere.

The streets are beautifuland there are grand buildings everywhere, this one is Hotel Alfonso XIII.And they are huge, this building covered an entire city block (a large city block); this is the Patios de la CartugaThe attention to detail is amazing.We strolled through a park, cooled by huge treesand adorned with statues.Sevilla’s most visited attraction is Plaze de Espana and we can see why, spectacular!

This building really does go on and on forever, yet every inch has remarkable detail.Hope you’re clicking on these to see the pictures bigger

This is the ceiling of the covered walkway that goes the length of the building.Ok, two more pictures (there will be more below, too)and then we’ll move on.They’ve done a fabulous job of lining the streets with trees and there seem to be gardens everywhere.We needed a break and refreshment and just happened to find a nice local place.  Wasn’t planning on anything more than water/beer, but the octopus salad was too tempting to pass up and most delicious.Refreshed and ready for more, we are upon the Weathervane at Catedral de Sevilla.This is the largest cathedral we have ever seen.  Found this aerial view that gives some idea of it’s size.Every corner you turned there was more cathedral.

We continued along the shaded (note the covers above) streets, window shopping and people watching.   One last refreshment stop and the Best Sangria we’ve ever had.Thanks for sharing our tour, see you on the road tomorrow.