Monday noon, I'm sitting with Portuguese colleagues nex to a big steak and fries for less than 8 €. It's one of those pubs that serves something different every day, but it's always a piece of meat and fish. One that I would never found by my own in my life and where the locals go for their daily lunches. We talk about what male team of IT people always talks about when they meet without women: why other solutions are worse than ours, even though ours do not work. After a fruitful exchange of arguments, the topic breaks off and an awkward silence follows.
Someone asks why I extended my stay in Lisbon to almost two weeks and what I intend to do. So I start the story of how I took my 16'' wheel folding bike with me and using free Friday I went for a trip. When I left Lisbon, I used two ferries, I traveled 200km south, then a bit east through the highest mountain in the Algarve, then a little north to Almodovar, then further east, to the border with Spain, south to the coast and west to Faro. Everyone is looking at me as I'm some kind of weirdo. The way I looked at them when I mentioned that the island of Sao Miguel, which is pretty close, is the most beautiful place in the world (here's a post about it) in which I was, and none of them ever went there. Although if I think about it, my story could actually be somewhat abstract.
In general, I could take a road bike with me. Then I would also have to take my bicycle clothes, SPDs, a bicycle suitcase, some saddlebags, organize transports with them, find a place that will store such things - in short: a standard holiday. I did not want to do it this time. Especially, that in my list of bicycle cities, Lisbon is in my ranking probably where Las Vegas - at the very end. So I took a folding bike (a Brompton) and a helmet. Everything else had to be organized in the style of YOLO. To avoid unnecessary stories, let's get to the details.
Day 0 - Warsaw
I went to the airport with Uber. A suitcase (or rather a bag) with a bicycle and clothes fits into the small Renault Megane trunk. I am flying with TAP Portugal lines - hand luggage + registered up to 23kg. A bag with Brompton + essential clothes weighs 20.1kg, so if I gave up one of my panties, it would probably pass even in low-cost lines, where the limit is 3kg lower. The problem could be the sum of dimensions, which can not exceed 158cm, but some wise head invented the suitcase (Vincita) with exactly 158,5cm + wheels, which can be detached and put inside.
In the gate, lady looks at me with a cunning eye. Looks at me and then at the suitcase. Surely the bicycle drawn on it and the inscription "FRAGILE" motivated her to ask the question: "Is this sports equipment?". Well, as a man taught that if someone asks you a troublesome question, you must deny or say nothing - so I am silent and wait for the situation to develop. Our eyes are crossed, time is moving forward, people in the back are becoming impatient. The nice lady loses this fight and adds: "Just an undersized luggage like that? Ordinary? " So I go to Koterski (polish movie director) and repeat: "Well, this baggage". Then there's another question, whether I'm still carrying anything extra, I'm saying yes: a bike pannier. Nice move for me.
With suitcases I go to room with oversize equipment, but without unnecessary complications. Then it turns out that everything was pointless, as in TAP airlines the sports equipment is not additionally paid if it falls under the criteria of checked baggage.
Then just a quick look from the airplane window as my bicycle gets flipped by the strength of human muscles from the car to the luggage compartment, 4 hours with the crying child and I am at my destination - in Lisbon.
Day 0 (a little later) - Lisbon
I am waiting for the luggage next to the tape with oversize luggage - it never arrives. While in Warsaw it was "oversized" luggage, here it is already ordinary. It drives out on a standard lane and rides around unwanted by anyone. It never stops to amaze me how is it, that luggage do not leave the tape in strange hands. But it does not matter - I am on here and all my belongings also!
I unpack my bike, fold my suitcase (inside there are still clothes, a camera and a computer), I put it on the back trunk, I tie it with a string, put a bag on the handlebar and go to the hotel. I leave the suitcase at the destination hotel where I have overnight accommodation for a week from Sunday (currently its Thursday evening) - Sao Pedro Hotel ** - approx. 70E per night. The service was a bit surprised but did not make any problems. Then I go with the bike and the pannier to the apartment found with the help of "sort by price and choose the one with a private bathroom".
Moving around in Lisbon is a drama. About the city itself I already wrote on this blog With the soul on my shoulder I reach the address indicated by navigation, then make 3 loops around the building to find the entrance and attack my place (Rosa Douro - approx. 30E per day). Ridiculously small (like most places in this city), but sufficient. An additional plus is the rich neighborhood of kebabs, of course I can not let them go. You live once, and yet a kebab before a long bike ride has never hurt anyone, right? I'm only worried about the card hanging on the toilet with the word "no toilet paper".
The housing trend is easily noticeable. In Slovenia there was a bedroom in kitchen room, in the Bieszczady Mountains we had a barrel so small that it was possible to have head in the bedroom, hand in the hall and kitchen, and foot outside. In Lisbon I can sleep in bed and with the right pressure at the same time pee to the toilet. A beautiful change after the biggest pain of Bieszczady barrel, when the bathroom was 70 meters away.
I'm going to sleep happy.
Everything in this text is irrelevant. Digression over all digressions.
You can read previous entry about Lisbon. You can visit museums, admire architecture, admire bridges, enter elevators, go to Fatima or Sintra, ride ferries, ride trams, buy chestnuts and drugs and do lots of other things. However, all this does not matter. The main reason why I am sitting here after returning from Faro is simple and it is called Pasteis de Belemand in it: Pasteis de nata.
Quoting Wikipedia: French pudding muffins characteristic for Portuguese cuisine, originate from the Lisbon Hieronymite monastery in Belem. Okay, there are obviously more reasons, of course. For example, classic meat in a pub that looks completely inconspicuous: Pastelaria Lobafo. Or huge steaks in an equally inconspicuous-looking Gonçalo's. Or fish in O Táxi. Or other dishes, in other inconspicuous pubs. Damnnnnn, but I would be fat if I lived here!
The worst part is that locals mention that the north of the country is a food paradise. Portions are big, cheap and good.
Day 1. Lisbon - Rogil
199,4km; 1480m; 8: 58h
I'm leaving a few minutes before dawn. That's later than planned, but I'm on the verge and nothing matters. The more so because I forgot what hours the ferries run, which I have to sail that day.
In my magic bag on the handlebar I have following equipment:
- one cycling jersey (the other one I wear, together with a sweatshirt), one thermal T-shirt (I do not know why, I did not use it), one civil t-shirt (mainly for sleeping)
- 3 pairs of trousers (one for sleeping, one for washing, one for riding - Yes, I am riding in pants and jeans) and 2 and a half pairs of socks. What happened to the 6th sock, I do not know until today. It's a pity because I liked them. Even worse, it was probably Panda's sock, which I have appropriated to myself (you come back! - Panda's note)
- half a pair of cycling gloves and it is very painful. I remember how one of them fell out close to hotel - I do not remember raising it. It was not enough that they were great (Adidas), they were a key element of the outfit, because the Brompton grips hurt a bit while riding longer ... and they were Pandas ... (you curl! - Panda)
- front lamp, position light (+2 mounted on the bike),
- two power banks and 3 cables (small usb, garmin, USB-C)
- two cameras: Sony RX0 and GoPro 7 black
- two bottles of 0.7l and bananas and bars (ordinary, cheap)
- 16 "tube (because I believe that the nearest store selling such, is quite far away) and Vittoria Pit Stop repair spray.
- ultralight, because without it I do not move anywhere
What did I miss?
- Oil, because after 400km drivetrain began to creak unpleasantly and I felt fleeing watts.
- Second glove and sixth sock
- Cycling pad in trousers. I think I'm going through this little fortune and I'm going to order jeans with an insert at Crank.
- A plastic, tourist spoon-knife. My hotel feasts would take on a new taste - literally. Madness in grocery stores would have no end. Because, unfortunately, eating yogurt with a lid formed into a spoon is very hard.
I'm going wrong way just from the start, because leaving the hotel I turned in the wrong direction - a big success. To the first ferry that will take me out of the city (because the bridges are not available for bikes) I am going direction-wise. This is a serious mistake, because I land in Alfama - a district that consists of incredibly steep driveways, cobblestones and tram tracks. In a nutshell: the essence of everything that is worst for a man with a bicycle.
To the place where the ferries leave, I ride about 6km in wheels and a thousand in my back and wrists. I have 7 minutes left, but ships to the other side of the river are so often that planning does not make sense anyway. These 7 minutes seems like enough time for me to buy a ticket for less than 3 € in the machine, but it's not as easy as I thought. Before I find the place where the credit card is inserted, the machine throws a "timeout" and I have to start from the beginning. The second time I get to almost the moment I enter the pin, but again I can not do it. Ultimately, I pay in cash - for the first time since time immemorial.
The ferry is coming, a swarm of people is pouring out of it - a real throng. Then comes a dozen or so. It's probably a bit like trains near Warsaw - people move only one way at a given time. I am landing in Barreiro and I am starting the ride. Nothing special - some cars, light hills, rather main roads, somewhere in the distance begin to appear serious hills.
Generally, it is a pity to describe the keyboard, although in a town there is such a gem like 600 meters with an average of 23% - that's what Strava says, I do not remember that. In the area of the 15th kilometer it gets a little better, because I get to these hills - so it is green, there are descents and driveways (exactly one) and I have the impression that if I lived in Lisbon and practiced road driving, I would come here.
Strava mentions something about 400-meter (upright) climbs, and Google Street View suggests that they are very pretty. I'd like to check it out. If you're in Lisbon, you want to go, and you're not going to Sintra like everyone else - it's probably the right place here!
I arrive to the town of Setubal, where ferries and catamarans to Troy leave. I'm doing some strange maneuver because I'm going down the street and following the signs "vehicles and pedestrians with vehicles" instead of "pedestrians". I land this way at the car gates and as if I have never set up a short queue between the cars until I reach the ticket booth. It's only later that I realize that it does not make sense, because the pedestrians have a separate, normal entrance - no matter, it's too late. I buy a ticket, I find out that the ferry is in 35 minutes and I pass through a barrier behind which there is no turning back.
I will not be able to have breakfast in the city on this day - I will spend half an hour looking at the sea. If I was going to follow the signs "pedestrian" I would sail away after a few minutes (no people with bicycles are allowed on the catamaran, but I think that the squad would pass). So I am waiting for the unfortunate half hour, and then the next half I flow. I have to admit - quite nice attraction.
There is even the Troia - Foia segment on Strava. It's nearly 200km long and has been defeated by exactly 100 people - all on the same day. A moment of searching through the Internet and it turns out that it is an annual, unofficial event in February and in 2018 it was already the 6th time. Who knows - maybe a good reason to go here in 2019?
I get off on such a promontory where nothing but beaches and trees is there. Such a little Hel, only narrower, in warm countries and after a terrible apocalypse. Here I am also beginning a crusade of loneliness. From the moment in which I said good-bye (visually) to people on the ferry, any signs of civilization begin to disappear. I'm driving on really empty roads, really poor areas, really good asphalt.
Sometimes the coast, then through fields, forests, falling villages and crops. I see animals, destroyed houses, shit, sometimes something industrial or a stall on the side of the road with things that I do not know who and what they might need. . I do not know if I imagined Portugal like that. One thing is for sure. I do not remember how many shops I saw that day, but I can count them on one hand.
I leave the district of Setubal and enter the district of Beja ... he he he
How many people do I pass from leaving the ferry to reach the area around Sines, which is located at the hundredth kilometer? I do not know - probably a dozen or so cars, 3 groups of panniers and one group of road cyclists, for whom I sit on the wheel for a long time. I mean, I would like to, but instead of pulling on me, they go next to me and talk. My ego falls out of the overflow at the moment when they ask if it is an electrician, because several of them have dropped out of the group.
Sines is one of those larger cities, there is an industrial port, beaches, mass of houses. You can see, however, that everything lives only in the season. There is also a supermarket complex, but I decide to go around it and stay in a smaller store ... there was not a smaller store. I go to some observation hill by the road, I take a picture of a strange elevator known from the Canary Islands, which takes tourists to the beach from the houses located on the cliff and go on.
Appears some 10 kilometers of the best road of the day and not only because it blows in my back and I keep still over 30km / h. Here I am entering a surfers' paradise. A beautiful asphalt road led by cliffs, which illusively reminds me of the way no. 1 in California. Parking with camper, surf schools and this characteristic atmosphere of people-grooms. I get a message from Panda about a shark attack off the coast of Australia ... I wave the surfers. If it were not for a slightly slipping weather, I would think that America. I stop to look at the ocean a couple of times and make me feel that it's too cold for a break on the beach. On the other hand, when there are no tourists, the roads are empty. I go further, I drive a bit deep inland (although close enough that most of the time I see the ocean somewhere in the distance) and nothing changes that day.
Maybe except that on the 150th kilometer of the route I manage to finally return to the store and I can buy a brunch-dinner and fill the water bottles. The coach would be proud that two bottles were enough for me 9 hours of travel;) By the way, I'm also starting to look for a hotel - it's bad ...
The choice is small and the prices are rather high. Maybe by surfers, maybe over the weekend - I do not know. Eventually I stay at a hotel with a beautiful name Alcatruz (he probably owes it to the size of the rooms). I probably could go further, but it gets dark outside, and 200km is a nice and round number. Besides, I have to leave something for the next days. Somewhere along the way, I also pass a sign that I am entering the famous Algarve region. From that moment, it becomes steeper. Exactly where the sign was placed, the 2km drive starts with an average of 5%. Laugh this.
The first day was OK. He had very good fragments, but most of them were very average. A bit like our memorable tour Milan - San Remo. You ride and you have the impression that somewhere else, even quite close, is better. However, this is a good introduction to the local atmosphere and omnipresent emptiness.
Day 2. Rogil - Almodovar
140.2 km; 2666m; 8: 34h
The worst thing is when a person thinks. A little bit astonished by the fact that 200 kilometers on the bunker went so simply, I decided to modify the route a bit. I bounce east, towards the best, supposedly, cycling regions in the country. I decide to change both its beginning, heading for slightly less major roads, as well as its end, or to make some kilometers north - towards the town of Almodovar. Some kind of she seemed to me. It took me some time to think that the name of the place reminds me not of the village, and thus - probably it is not as big as I thought.
It was a hard day.
I quickly realized that what seemed flat on the height profile was not flat at all. The hills, which are several meters wide, seem to be vertical. I am riding a complete end of the world. At times, so much that even the asphalt disappears, and the surface replaces it, which looks like a good road through a coarse milling machine. It's so bad that I sometimes bum. In front of me I see mountains, big enough that their peaks are covered by clouds - I wonder if I will eat so high. Deep down I know well.
Now I will tell you something funny. At the 8th kilometer, the uphill starts, which ends at kilometer 43. I get about 900 meters of elevation this way. It is really nice - the landscape changes a couple of times and it's quite diametrically opposed. My goal for this day is Foia, the highest peak of the area.
Everything would be really beautiful, the road would be empty and pleasant, civilization practically lacking, and even if the buildings are some, they seem deserted. There are some wrecks on the side of the road, probably people who broke down here and waited for help. The problem is dogs. And not just backyard, ordinary, barking-scary. There are hardkory dogs here. Virtually every building has here on the short dog tie next to each other. As you can easily guess, these dogs are crazy. I have the impression that they also run away. I say goodbye to life a couple of times on the way. I will not run away, I do not run away, it's not a highway. If he bites me something, he'll find me in the spring. The worst thing is that due to the lack of SPDs, it's hard to pedal at the same time, and with the other leg, to chase away those beings from hell. It is not difficult to guess - I survived, but the trauma remained for the entire trip.
At a time when I do not think about being torn to shreds, I relish the area because it is really good. I arrive in the vicinity of Monchique, where I find short for Foia - as it turns out, the trip becomes even better thanks to him. The last 16km has an average of 5% - I was tired of it, but it was worth it. Foia - look - it's like that mini Teide. At the top, a strategic ball, parking lot, people, the main road leading to the top (with which my links only at the very end). A classic place for a photo and drive away. From the profile it came out that now almost all the time from the hill.
Oh how wrong I was. The driveway to Foia was the easiest part of the tour that day. What happened next was the chapel.
Let's start with the fact that just as in the morning I was cold in a sweatshirt, so it was definitely too warm in my short sleeve now. Immediately after the end of the downhill, I was attacked by 2.5km with an average of 7%, although I would have said that the percentage was there from 15. Then the exit and again the driveway, a little smaller. Then again. Of course, the stores are missing, and the entire civilization was packed on the main road during the convention. Who would stop at the exit !?
Then it was supposed to be flat - there were almost 30 kilometers of continuous, very delicate driveway, after which a beautiful nightmare began. The wall appeared to his eyes. Then one more. And one more. And one more. Yes to death. These are very short walls of a dozen or so percent. I imagine that if I had incredible power in my legs, I could run over them like a roller coaster ... but I do not have one. So I'm hugging myself with a change. The views compensate everything - it's great. At some point, I realize that the average driving time is around 13km / h on that day. I do not think I've ever been in this life so long, so slowly. But it's nothing, these areas are really great!
Overcoming steep walls on Brompton is easy and difficult at the same time. On one hand, the position makes a bit of a problem, on the other -riding snake-style is super easy thanks to the maneuverability of this bike. I would even say that it is too agile and repeatedly turning 180 degrees within the road makes it possible to drive up indefinitely without moving forward a bit.
From the hills, I descend north to Almodovar and flatness above me (which flatness does not show at all).
I do not hide, I'm starting to panic. My stomach begins to stick to the back, and the bottles are over (classic "on Maciek" - Panda). Google Mapsy show that Almodovar is not as big as I thought, and entering "grocery store" shows that the nearest is more than 2 hours driving from the place where I am. A bit boring.
I'm landing in a hotel Serafim. Hotel disputes (probably a dozen or so rooms), but the movement is confirmed by the fact that the door and gate are closed, and to get there, you have to call the intercom, which is connected to the cell phone at the reception, which says it will be in a moment and after 5 minutes arrives by car. If not for the fact that I patted him half an hour earlier on the booking, in my life I would not have guessed that it was open. A nice lady settles with me in cash, shows me how the climate works (you have to hit with your hand) and tells me to leave the keys somewhere in the morning, because she sleeps long on Sundays.
On this day I was sure about one thing: I will return to Algavre for 100% with the road bike for all the surrounding hills. So many, so empty, so steep, with such good views and such good asphalt roads, I have not seen for a long time.
In the evening I arrange a food feast, because as it turned out, I defeated the entire route without stops in the store - that is what I had at hand in my bag. It must have been very big water bottles ... In the shop I also learn for the first time that in most places you can not pay the card. I mean, it's a card, but some Portuguese - international Visas and Master Cards do not work. During the entire stay, it causes a lot of complications.
Day 3. Almodovar - Faro
177.7 km; 1637m; 8: 10h
It is not how it suppose to be. On the last day I have definitely less kilometers than I expected - some 75. Maybe in the mountains, but what is 75km? So I decide to change the route. Give up the best and the most beautiful hills in the area, which I had a substitute the day before and visit a slightly different area. I make such a funny loop smiling at myself and under my breath. In Faro I had to check in before 4pm, because then the penultimate train to Lisbon leaves. The last one is 2 hours later, but you know how it is when you aim for the last one. It's easy to stay on the ice.
So I am still moving after the darkroom. In the city, I pass two cars. The passing of the next two takes me several dozen kilometers. I do not know if for the first 100km I passed more than 10 cars and 5 people (not including panniers).
The beginning is moderate - the route is waving all the time, the asphalt is different. Negligent movement allows me to drive the entire width of the roadway and effectively avoid imperfections. After yesterday's hills there is no trace, somewhere far away, new ones appear on the horizon, but in general, there is emptiness all the way to the horizon. After 20km I take the side road off the main road. What awaits me now is the best tens of kilometers (in a relatively flat category) since I remember. Only me, perfect asphalt and trees and small hills to the horizon. If I catch my slippers - I will die. How wild dogs catch me (luckily, only foxes run through me), nobody will help.
Then again the main, but still empty road. I arrive to Alcoutim - a city separated from Spain by a river. To tell the truth, I wanted to hook up to Spain, as a rule, but the network of roads is run so that it would be impossible. Seriously, it seems to me that over a distance of almost 80km, there is no place where you could cross the border with your bike. It's hard to be almost like being a body ...
I'm going along a road along the river - it's not difficult to guess - empty. Sometimes a little higher, sometimes lower, sometimes closer, sometimes further, but still along. I'm passing some older panniers and maybe two cars. In the area of 110km I cross the highway and can be considered to be on the coast - the worst part of the trip awaits me. I suspected it would be so, but my knees would not let me think about going back through the mountains and reaching Faro the same day at the same time.
My goal is such a promontory, most in the south-east of the country - it looked like a good pier on the map. And actually - it is a pier, full of anglers. Probably the ugliest I've ever seen in my life, as well as the entire neighborhood. Maybe in the summer, maybe when the sky is blue, the gypsies do not smoke at the sea of a bonfire, and the mass of people ... no, I doubt that even in the summer it was nice. I have a little over 50 km to Faro.
This is the longest 50km of this trip. I'm driving along the main road along the coast. Sometimes I try to bounce back into land, but it does not change anything. The road is smaller, but also more holey. Probably it would be good to try to figure out a good return, which does not lead through the hills (which are certainly perfect).
So I drive with a huge headwind, among cars, the main road that from time to time bends slowing me down to the speed of walking. The reflection to the village of Tavira temporarily saved the situation, because somehow it was so different - nice. As in these classic, Italian, coastal towns. People at the tables, some musicians will sound "Hotel California", nice buildings. Unfortunately, I leave Tavira and continue my dramas.
My ideal plan did not assume such disgust or wind. The large stock of time shrinks unexpectedly quickly and at times I doubt whether I will make it. I arrive at the Faro station at 15.47 - I have the perfect 13 minutes of train depot. I stand in line with the face of the most time-honored man and stand. A few minutes before departure, I get to the window, I am asking for a ticket for the nearest train to Lisbon, and the kind lady tells me:
- Moday, 8:30 - everything is fully booked.
I examine tsss, all places, all occupied trains. That's not what my plan foresaw. I walk away from the window, make a loop around the station and go to another window with you inside. This tells me that the nearest train (if I want to take the bike) is still later than Monday 8.30. I leave disgusted. The plus is that there is a bus station next to the train station. It turns out that there are fewer people who drive, even if they drive the same length of time. The nearest in 30 minutes. Chad, I'm just going to eat a poppy and wash in the sink.
I'm happy to throw the bike into the luggage compartment, packed into the legendary Ikea - Dimpa bag, which I took all the way with me and try to get on the bus. I can not do it, people with a ticket from the Internet have priority - bad luck, it's a lot of people that day. Luk closes, the bus fires, and I shout to the driver that I want my bike, because I still need it.
After a while, they put up an additional bus, I jump in first, right after throwing the bike. Again some people do not fit in, but that's not my problem anymore. I'm going back to Lisbon to eat cookies for a week.
Bad luck, I visited Lisbon in a week when the Web Summit takes place here - so there are tens of thousands more people coming. It disturbs the perception of the city a bit, and the flights are probably more occupied. I pay exactly as much for a flight to Los Angeles three weeks later.
A cheap flight to Lisbon with a normal airline is about 700-800 PLN from Warsaw in two directions (TAP Portugal). With a bit of luck, RyanAir can be reached from Berlin for less than PLN 100 one way. A good price from Poland Ryan is PLN 200-400 from various airports, but it also happened for 130.
Accommodation usually costs from about PLN 60-80 per night in a hostel and about PLN 100 per night in a hotel (the farther from the coast, the cheaper). A reasonable hotel in Almodovar cost 25 euros, in Rogil 45euro, in Lisbon 60E, and an ordinary room to revive around 35 euros.
A large traditional lunch in Lisbon, in a local pub is about 8-10euro (you can honestly eat), a kebab with 3-4euro. The cheapest and the best is of course in random pubs in the villages, but how to find good, no one knows. Apparently in the north (Porto height) it's hard to hit badly.
In stores, a little more expensive than in Warsaw - Biedronek, despite the fact that the local, there is no ;-)
Is it nice?
(quoting a comment from Strava)
I spent almost 26 hours on the bike for 3 days in the saddle. All of them in jeans, pants and sneakers. It would seem like a bit of a hardcore, but it was not bad. I already know that on such an expedition the average speed can be taken at the level of 25km / h, when it is flat and correspondingly less, with each inclination. I also know how long you can ride Bromptom and not fall out of the comfort zone. I think I became a fan (though I do not know for how long) of spending holidays.
Can I recommend the route? I will not repeat it, as if I had to - I would probably start at Sines. For sure, I will be back for a few days with the Algarve highway, because there is potential!
The tour was a certain experiment that explained many doubts to me. I am ready for next adventures and soon we will be moving with Panda for 3 weeks for the ocean! But soon .... ;-)