Sand, salt and sangria (and Silvia!). We’ve just returned from a 3 biking day excursion to explore the eastern Algarve, all the way to Spain. Quaint airBnB (=small) in old town centres. The route is much easier to follow than the western section and it’s mostly flat because it’s a salt marsh. Sand: some of the longest most perfect beaches anywhere, some remote, and all unpopulated in February. Salt: much of the land looks like the cranberry fields near Vancouver but is actually fields for recovering salt which is piled up everywhere! Sangria: what can I say except yummm! Ride 30km, find a 3km long flour-sand beach, and lift your glass of sangria to the beautiful day!
Cork. You know it as wine stoppers. Or maybe fishing floats? Flooring? How about purses, shoes, dresses, hats, even umbrellas? Cork, the bark of the cork oak tree, is removed in slabs from the trunk, without harming the tree. It takes 50 years to get the first harvest and then every 9 years there after. Most often used for preserving bottled wine around the world, it is sometimes considered the most important export from Portugal. But imagine a wardrobe of….cork!
Grab your honey and hug her by the menhir. Évora is a historic city in south central Portugal and the “Alentejo” region. As well as a Roman temples, Christian Cathedral (and chapel made of human bones) it has several sites of Neolithic stone ovals which predate Stonehenge. These stones or “menhirs” were only discovered as recently as 1960!
Lagos is the western end of the Algarve and the departure point for 15th century Portuguese like Prince Henry “the Navigator” who led expeditions to Africa. Of course not to miss an merchandising opportunity this was the beginning of the slave trade. For over 300 years millions of Africans were sold into northern Europe, and throughout the Americas. A photo here of the Lagos town square, monument to the Navigator and the site of the first slave auction.
The Choupana and Cataplana. Choupana is a “ hut” and this roadside diner serves huge portions of suckling pig (love the crispy skin!) to truckers. We could hardly finish one between us even after riding all morning. After a 60km day of trail searching and rolling hills local favourite “cataplana” so much we gave some away to table mates. Come for the sun and stay for the food and wine.
Beaches! Birthdays! and Bullrings! And all in a single day. Where else but Portugal? Beautiful weather and sharing a birthday with our favourite squeeze and friends. Next up…two days to the end of land…and some food you MUST try.
So many kind and encouraging responses to the blog during our Indochina bicycle adventure in November 2019, we’re going to do it again! Follow us as we experience Portugal! Spain! Gibraltar! and Morocco! We hope you will comment (see comment section, below) and share your experiences with us too.
The “Algarve” is the region of Portugal which occupies the southern Atlantic coast. The weather should be mostly clear, and temperature mid to high ‘teens. Perfect cycling conditions! We will be centred in Albufeira which is the midway point of the Portuguese southern coast.
Our tandem bicycle is now 20 years old and needed some refurbishing after the pounding in Indochina. It travelled safely to Portugal in the specially designed box pictured here. Twenty-five hours air and ground transfer door to door we arrived at our aparatment hotel at 3 am and began to settle in. Haven’t travelled on a 747 since Wardair took us to Hawaii, like, half a life-time ago. Who remembers that!