Published: June 2nd 2011June 1st 2011
Now, this is more like it. We got to see the countryside today -- no locking us in a closet while Bill and Gerri go sightseeing. (Tramp is still sulking about that.) Yep, today was truly a lovely bike touring day.
Oh, this is Lady speaking. Gerri is busy eating pizza, so I’m taking over the blog entry this evening. Yesterday, Tramp introduced himself; today it is my turn. I was nearly a virgin when this trip began, less than 50 miles on my lovely white aluminum frame.
Gerri has three bikes -- her red road bike (that goes much faster than I), her old blue touring bike (which now resides in Arizona), and me. Yeah, three bikes -- red, white, and blue. Kinda patriotic, don’t ya think? In honor of American freedom and the freedom she has experienced touring the world on her bike, Gerri christened me Lady Liberty. Though Tramp and I rarely compete against each other, I gotta tell you that I have 30 gears; he has only 27. However, I am slightly mismatched, of course. After Sunday’s run-in with the taxi, I now sport mismatched shift levers. Oh well, Gerri seems to be handling that okay.
Today was definitely the best day since we began. We went at least 100 kilometers, with A LOT of climbing. Somehow, it always seems as if we ascend much more than we descend. We left Ericeira a little after 8, cycling along the coast for a while and then turning inland, where the hills became much less steep. Cycled through Torres Vedras, Obidos, Caldas da Rainha and eventually here to Alcobaca. Much of the ride was on N-8, a secondary road with light to moderate traffic and even a shoulder in some areas. Saw the ocean for quite a while, then intensively cultivated farmland -- olives, corn, grapes, and eucalyptus trees (no koala bears!!). Around noon, we stopped in a small town for lunch. Bill and Gerri let me and Tramp rest in the shade while they went in and ordered lunch, The plato de dia was 8.50; Bill and Gerri ordered one to share. They were first served a basket of delicious bread and some local olives. Then a plate of potatoes, beans, carrots, beef (I think), various sausages, and cabbage. There was so much food, the two of them could not finish it!!!
I gotta tell you all that the two of them were a bit slower after lunch than before. Maybe it was the heat; maybe the food in their bellies, or maybe just that the climbs got steeper and longer. Whatever, I can’t figure out what they moan and groan about. Tramp and I are doing all the real work.
Needless to say, they were tired when we finally arrived here in Alcobaca. Gerri asked directions to the municipal campismo. Three young guys on bikes showed us the way -- only to find it to be fechado (closed). They then showed us to what we believe may be the nicest/cheapest hotel in town. It’s clean and has unlimited hot water. B and G walked to a local pizza and are now enjoying pizza, Pepsi, and iced tea -- with gelo (ice) courtesy of the hotel. Tramp and I are locked in a large room and are resting, preparing for tomorrow’s ride.
A few facts about the culture of Portugal:
1. Many of the old homes, maybe even most of them, are covered with beautiful azuelos (tiles) in lovely colors.
2. Many of the restrooms do not provide toilet paper, and you do not flush the paper -- you place it in the trash can.
3. Many of the people we’ve met speak at least rudimentary English, much better than Bill and Gerri’s Portuguese, I must say.
4. Folks outside the city are much friendlier than those in the city.
5. The cities themselves and the drivers in cities are NOT bicycle friendly. We did, however, see several cyclists today out here in the countryside. Met one German bicycle tourist who was quite slow.
6. Unlike much of central Europe, Portugal does seem to have gas stations with convenience stores and rest rooms that they don’t seem to mind our using. Gerri’s bladder says thank you.
Well, tomorrow is another day. Headed for Tomar, just 50 miles away. Hopefully, that campground is aberto (open.)