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Sevilla

Seville is a lively city and is already buzzing with tourists at this time of the year. The first day we went for a bike ride through the city and stopped at the Plaza de España.

The park next to it, Parque María Luisa, was closed for the most part dew to storms that had passed within the days before. Instead we went past some of the pavilions of the world fair Ibero-Americana of 1929.

We had already seen a flamenco band with dancer on the Plaza de España and were lucky to see another show on our way back to the hostel.

The next day we took part in almost every hostel activity there was. We started with a tour through the city in which we covered almost every important monument and its history. The group with our guide Adela in front of the General Archive of the Indies.

One of the most impressive sights of Sevilla is the the cathedral with the Giralda, which once was a minaret intended for the chief mosque. After the christian conquest of the city, it was converted into a bell tower.

We left the tour halfway through, not because it was boring, but we enjoy exploring on our own. Many streets are unique as are many of the buildings and around every corner there seems to be something interesting to see.

In the evening there was a free dinner at the hostel. Which turned out to be good, but not enough for two hungry cyclists. Luckily we still had some rice and papas bravas left in the fridge from our lunch. After dinner we went to a flamenco show. With around 20 people from the hostel it was not always easy to navigate through the city without losing some of the pack once in a while. The place was already packed when we arrived. The show itself was unplugged. It took a while until the room became quiet and one could appreciate the music. But on the other hand this created an atmosphere of attention that made the experience more intense.

We felt rested when we left Seville and recharged with all the social interaction, that we missed a bit in the weeks before while camping.

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food travel

Crossing into España

We crossed the river Guadiana from Vila Real to Ayamonte and stopped at playa Taray for the night. We still had some ingredients left from the last time we made pizza and decided to give it another go on the camp stove. Although the heat is more difficult to control and it burns more quickly, they turned out great again.

After the mixed experience with the ecovia, this continued on the spanish side with de vía verde del litoral. This time it was at least foreseeable as mentioned on their webpage that the cyclepath would be in disrepair. After the weather turned wet and wetter, sometimes it was enough to cruise around the puddles of water,

but in some places the path was so muddy or a bridge was closed, that any advancement was almost impossible.

We arrived in Huelva and spontaneously decided to board a train to Sevilla. For one, because of the weather forecast and to advance a little after more rest days then planned because of the rain.

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Algarve

In Carrapateira we stayed two days without leaving the guesthouse much. The one time we left with courage after seeing some rays of sunlight as well as bits of blue sky lasted about half an hour in which we got to see some of the rugged coastline.

In Lagos we had to overcome some inundation from all the rain along the path to the cliffs.

And then walked almost as far as the lighthouse to have a view of the coastline towards Lagos.

On the farthest point of our walk we stopped a while to watch the change in light and pattern on the breaking waves.

Our next stop was Faro where we first strolled through the historic centre while messing around,

and then went on to see peacocks in the park of Alameda.

The ecovia, part of the Eurovelo cycle network, east of Faro is mostly a disaster, especially after rain. The parts inbetween Luz de Tavira and Tavira as well as Conceição and Vila Real de Santo Antonio are good. East of Tavira as well as east of Faro are closed bridges, marches or other obstacles that make it sometimes impossible to continue. We stayed at the campsite in Fuseta in lovely company. Mostly retired people that escaped the cold weather father north in Europe. Malcolm was an outstanding example. He let us cook and weather the rain in the vestibule of his second camper that was usually reserved for family visiting. Being protected from the rain and having a camp kitchen at our disposal made our plan to make pizza easier. It is still a hassle making the base in a pan and then get everything cooked well and the cheese melting before the underside gets burnt but it turned out oh so well.

The smell of pine trees has been a good companion on many days in Portugal like here on our last kilometers to Monte Gordo.

From here we took a quick walk to the beach before setting up camp.

We made good use of the empty terrace of the closed restaurant in the campground to cook and stayed the next day in our tent for the first half of the day and in a small cafe in town for the second half as it continued to rain outside. And we started to wonder if we had formed an idea of cycling in southern Portugal and Spain that had more sun and warmth in it than reality could offer.

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Setúbal – Alentejo

The Setúbal península lies just south of Lisbon. We had our first peek at the Atlantic in the afternoon before setting up camp for the first time. The nights were still very cold and it didn’t help that I forgot to buy alcohol for our stove and so we had to do with some greasy lukewarm meal in the restaurant of the campground.

The next day we continued along the coast, bought alcohol in the pharmacy and took advantage of the break to drink a coffee in a busy cafe during lunch hour while it was raining outside. The coffee in Portugal is good and cheap. This might be a reason it took us sometime to find a coffee filter as people are less inclined to prepare their own coffee and so there is less demand in filters than in coffee shops.

Shortly after we had our first real test of our navigation system. I had relied on paper maps for all my previous travels but am now equipped with a smartphone and an assortment of apps. Not many apps let you plan a route offline and I started with the well-known maps.me

It has a lot of details and is easy to use but it might lead you to paths that are less suited for a loaded touring bike. After some pushing through sand we got to a path that was mostly rideable and it continued to be a mixed bag. Some frustrating moments alternated with blissful cycling through the woods.

On our way to Laguna de Albufeira we found a spot we liked and decided to wild camp.

We had some serious climbing to do until we reached the coast again just short of Sesimbra.

In Setúbal we stayed with Margareta from Belgium whom we had contacted through couchsurfing.

It was a lovely experience and we stayed an extra day with her and Jacinto. We were treated to a Curry the first night and had a walk through the historic center the following day and visited the market hall.

In the evening Jacinto was introducing us to Portuguese music. Which he was doing with such enthusiasm that I forgot the rather long search in the afternoon for a new crankset for Andrea’s bicycle to equip it with some lower gears for climbing. Thank you Margareta & Jacinto for a wonderful stay!

The next morning started with a boat ride over the Rio Sado. For lunch we stopped at Carvalhal where we got a box full of treats from the pastelería.

We passed on the offer to visit the local rice museum but took a path through the rice paddies where a lot of birds had their home or stopped for the winter. A lot of storks among them and their huge nests, now an unfamiliar sight in Germany, are still present here. The path was going along the dunes and when it was getting close to the evening, we made the extra effort to push the bike uphill through the sand to enjoy this view.

The sunset was spectacular as well.

Around Sines, we had to cross an industrial park before taking the road along Praia de Sao Torpes.

In Vila Nova de Mílfontes we took our first stroll on the beach.

In Zambujeira do mar we stayed an extra day before passing Odeceixe. The forecast began to look really grim and we decided to look for accommodation in Carrapateira. We had another lovely stretch through woodlands when it started to rain and would continue until we reached our guest house. The rain gear held up well but we were still glad to get out of our cycling cloth and to take a hot shower. The weather stayed like this for some time and we changed our travel plans slightly and decided to weather the storm with some company in hostels in Lagos and Faro.

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Lisboa

After the blog was sleeping for more than two years, it is time to open a new chapter.

After meeting Andrea in Cafayate during my last trip in Southamerica and living in Argentina for a good while, this is the story of our travel by bicycle through Europe.

We flew from Rosario to Madrid and then took a train to Lisbon where we stayed for a week. My sister was sending us our two bicycles and all the equipment and so we had almost everything to start our trip.

Although the winter was still responsible for rather short days and a cold wind, the hours with sun were already pleasant enough to explore the city. Almost every walk you take in Lisbon evolves stairs but also takes you past some beautiful views over the city like here at Santa Lucia.

Close to the mirador passes the old tramline which takes you through the historic heart of Alfama.

We bought the rest of the equipment and assembled the bicycles in time before two friends from Argentina arrived and stayed with us for a couple of days: Paula and Agustín.

Together we explored Lisbon and went for a day trip to Sintra. Where you have enchanted gardens where beautiful princesses dwell in their towers,

but also evil kings watch over their lands.

One of our favourite places became the market where we found most of our missing equipment. It is just next to the church of Santa Engracia, the National Pantheon.

When we walked through the city we always took sufficient breaks to not got tired of doing too much.

On the 10th of February we finally mounted our bicycles and rode our first kilometers along the Tejo river

 

before crossing it by boat. The post will be about cycling along the coast towards the south through the region Alentejo.