Posted by: brendaintheboro | February 27, 2022

Portugal February 2022 – Part One

Well, after a lot of hassle, I finally got to Portugal.

I had booked with KLM , that has a free bikes policy. Unfortuately, once at Amsterdam, they transfered me to a Transavia flight that needed to be paid for in advance. However, because I had booked with KLM, I could not prebook , so ended up at the airport where I was able to pay. This was probably OK in February, but when the holiday season gets underway, it is very much up to the airlines if they will actually allow the bicycle on board the flight.

So , I got to Leeds Bradford airport very early, with a print out of all the documents needed, PCR test, proof of vaccination and a print out from KLM telling me to pay at the airport, which i did. Boy was I glad to get onto the flight. At check in , I was asked to pay £48.50p for the bike and then go to oversize luggage and wait. And I waited for 10 minutes and no one came. Another security chap told me to go and ask again, which I did twice before anyone showed up. It was stressful for me and I probably will never fly with a bicycle again.

So the flight was uneventful and touchdown in Amsterdam went well. I was so pleased that all my luggage had been checked through and I didnt have to recover anything and go through it all again.

After a couple of hours , I departed Amsterdam and after a couple of hours disembarked into a bright and sunny Porto airport and was so pleased to see my bike in the cardboard box that a local cycle shop had given me.

A lovely lady cleaner, took the box away for me and I got a taxi to the Rivoli Cinema Hostel in the centre of Porto where I was meet up with my friend Jill , who had stayed there on a previous occassion. The staff there were wonderful and locked my Dahon away and carried my luggage up a few flights of stairs, to the very clean room.

So the next thing was to buy some camping gas for our stoves. Jill had gone off in search for some but wasn’t really finding any. I did a google search and found a camping shop about half and hours walk away , so off i went too.

It was a well stocked shop and had this lovely display .

camping shop display of how things used to be

I was glad to have walked about and will share a few things that interested me in the architecture. The window grills above doors were so varied and I took loads of photos as I am sure they will make super quilt inspitation.

window grlls and tiles
more grills and tiles

On the morning of Saturday 5th February, they very kindly agreed to let us have breakfast early but it was very misty outside. Being on the Dahon, it was a new way of packing and I lost a strap so had to borrow 2 from Jill in order to strap my tent onto the seat post. My son had loaned me a rucksack and some bike packing pods too.

So out into the dampness at about 9am we ventured.

the two bicycles and I

So it was fairly cool when we left and went down to the river but thats when we had our first ‘detour’ . A very kind older cyclist took us to a footbridge that was obscured by scaffolding as its is under repair. So we walked across and then down to the riverside. This is the Douro river and has a number of bridges but most are not open to cyclists. Jill has a Facebook friend who had sent her a route that was absolutley beautiful. It took us through a nature reserve and then out onto the Atlantic coast.

Boats on the river as the mist lifts
Dahon fully loaded
on the Atlantic coast

The weather was now beautiful , like a summers day in England. We ride on to Espinho and I got some food suplies. There had been a misunderstanding on the previous day and so between us we ended up with 12 gas canisters!! We would need to do a lot of cooing to get through them all.

The route took us inland through a delightful wooded area with acacia trees which had beautiful yellow flowers. These are also called mimosa trees and are good for bees making honey. From here we came to the N327 which was fine as the traffic was light and gave us room. Most of the time!! However , one nearly took out Jill as it swung right in front of her turning right across her path. Only sudden braking saved her from being hurt.

We were then onto the canal de Ovar and on into Torreira. Jill’s FB friend had offered us a place to stay for the night in his family’s holiday flat. As we rode along , we stopped at a promenade cafe for orange juice for me and the friend popped up. He had seen us riding along and came across and he had a coffee. He didnt join Jill in her beer as he had sliced his leg on a chain saw and was on antibiotics.

Sunday 6th February 2022

Both Jill and I are early risers and so we were uo and packed. I had noticed on of my brakes wasn’t too good. I checked and the brake bloks had become loose and slipped down on the rim. So using DS1’s multitool, I was able to sort it.

Then to the local bakers ( padaria) where I had hot milk and some sort of swiss roll type cake. It was delicious.

sunrise at Torriera

Then using the same road we headed south along an inland sea area that had fish farms but i couldnt find out what sort of fish were being cultivated

Aveiro Lagoon

We were passed by many road cyclists who gave us lots of whoops and hollers in friendly greeting. We didnt realise we were close to the ferry and had a stop for a rest before carrying on.

We had a bit of a wait as the next ferry wasn’t until 11.40am in Sao Jacinto but it gave us time to sit and chat.

on the ferry to Aveiro

We had a few miles to cycle to meet up with our friend Margaret who had got the plane on Saturday and then taken a train to Aveiro .

Barra

We came across this sign. As we had been to the isle of Barra in Scotland last year, this quite amused us as the place could not have been more different as it was warm and obviously a holiday hot spot.

Margaret was already at a cafe and I ordered a calzone. It was huge so I cut it in half and kept the rest for later in the day.

Farol de Barra

Once again, we were on the road until we came to Eurovelo 1 which I have to say in this part was potholed and gravelly. It might be ok on a gravel or mountain bike but not so good on folding bicycles

We found a couple of likely wild camping spots but it was too early and we carried on down to near Praia de Mair and found a dead in road. We saw a very old toothless lady on a rusty clunking single speed bicycle ride up to the road end and then turn around. We followed after her but after some houses the route became very sandy and too hard to push through. So about turn and we found a desolate field and got the tents up. We were all asleep before 8pn lulled by the sound of the sea.

Monday 7th February

I did not have a good night. It was cold but i just didnt feel too well. When the sun came up, the frost was heavy on our tents and we packed them away frozen.

unclear image of the frost

We rode up to the beach and got the tents out to dry off while we had some breakfast. I really was not feeling good and Jill was concerned i might be dehydrated or have a bladder injection.

So we carried on down into Praia De Mair and found a municipal campsite that was open. It wasnt the best site I have been too, but the receptionist chap was very helpful, I really was not feeling at all well and made sure I was well hydrated and rested up. I note in my journal that I was already thinking of getting a train as I didnt want to hold the other girls up.

Tuesday 8th February

Feeling much better, we set off again heading south but we got mixed up and had another ‘detour’ almost ending up back where we started. This was through woodland and under a couple of wooden covered bridges into Figueira da Foz .

Jill had taken another way in the town and Margaret and I were shown a bit of a path off road which took us up to and across a couple of large road bridges. The roads didnt have cycle tracks and were fairly busy but vehicles gave us room.

We had a brief stop to buy fruit just before Gala and rode alongside a waterway. Later on we met up again and road through small villages and there were orange trees everywhere. Margaret is tall and she was able to pick oranges and lemons straight off the tree. Oh what a difference to those sold in the shops in the UK

Then it was on to a mid-day stop.

It was here that Jill suddely realised she had lost not only here jacket but also her bag that conatined all her money, cards and documents. Disaster loomed.

So Margaret and I went in and I had hot milk and Margaret her coffee. We waited a while while Jill retraced her route to try to find her stuff. I have to say I prayed and so did she. Miraculously, even though she lost her way, she did find everything on a wall. Phew ! that was close. She told us to carry on and she woud meet us later.

Margaret and I set off in the by now hot sunshine. I know why I tend to stay in northern Europe. I dont do heat so well. There were major road works going on so to avoid them we turned off. An elderly lady told us not to go that way but we were following a Komoot route. We came to a 10% climb and I was whacked. Margaret came back and helped me push up the that hill.

Margaret could see how tired I was and looked up a campsite near Coimbrao.

We contacted Jill and told her where we were going. She had gone another way and met uo with a Dutch chap who was a Brompton enthusiast and he called out to her. It was a good job he did , as they anded uo with him pushng her bike across about 6 Kms of sand. They both came into the site, run by a German couple, an hour or so after us. Nils had set off to walk so was very lightly loaded – he had a tent but the German lady loaned him a blanket to put inside his bivvy bag. He survived the night after Jill cooked for him. He had picked up his bike for 40E in Porto and was doing really well.

Wednesday 10th February 2022

Setting out not too long after sunrise, we headed westwars for a shortway, until we came to a no through road sign. Jill, ever the adventerer, encouraged us to follow a lorry down the hill. This took us through delapidated villagers and then onto a good cycle route down into Vieira De Leira which is a very nice seaside resort. In the season, it would be packed , but we were able to stop and get a hot drink easily in a cafe. I have to say, the cakes were all delicious and enormous in size and much less expensive than in the UK.

I was very impressed by this mural of a widow grieving for loss seafarers who risk their lives fishing.

Greiving widow mural in Vieira de Leira

We rode up the promenade to see what we thouht were beach huts. They were actually stalls for the summer sales .

summer sales stalls

i loved the colours and the shape of this typical fishing boat.

typical Portuguese fishing boat.

Then it was off again following Eurovelo 1 on a good surface but alongside many acres of fire damaged trees. In 2017, there were tremenous forest fires which affected large areas across the country. We saw areas that had dead trees standing but they are being taken down. The bird life has been devistated in these areas and i suspect insect life too. However, plants like gorse are colonising between these trees.

fire damaged trees and new undergrowth
dead trees being removed
wood piles

Somewhere along this route , we came to a very well heeled village, were we again stopped for refreshment. There was a wonderful south facing garden on a hill, that had many hot weather plants.

Carrying on to came to an area that had living pine trees and once again we saw many birds. Some were tiny and some were large raptors so there must have been lots of other creatures too.

At one point Jill became concerned because I was so slow and asked if I could manage to get to Navare. Yes I could – I dug deep and carried on. Down a huge twisting hill to Navare. Margaret was afaid her brakes would burn out i, it was so steep. Unfortuantely , at the bottom, we found out the Jill had told us not to come down as the campsite was up at the top. Oh NO!!

Well I knew i would never make it, so got myself a taxi and so did Margaret. When we got to caming Orbitur, Margaret asked if I wanted to get a chalet. Yes I did. So we decided on 2 nights there in a splendid well appointed chalet with bedrom, living room and small kitchen. I was exhausted at this point.


Responses

  1. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that travel stress. You did well. The unnecessary hill at the end was a blow as well. The whole report makes me glad that I am a wimp and don’t do adventure. Hats off to you. You are a hero.

    • Thanks TP. Not a hero, more bonkers!! I should have more sense at my age

  2. And this is just part one! Hats off to you – an inspiration to us all!

  3. Can’t believe the loads on those bikes!

  4. I feel tired just reading that. You are amazing.

  5. You are amazing Brenda! I was tired just reading that. It is a great write up. x


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