The 3rd Journey
August - September 2005
"Down the Portuguese Coast"

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

As I said already, Tine, Carles, Tim, Wilma and myself wanted to cycle south... Actually we wanted to cycle to and through Marocco, but the fact that Wilma just had so little Time and I didn't want to be in Ireland too late made us just cycle along the portuguese Coast, and what means just... It was great!

We left the van in front of the police station in Vianna do Costello in the north of Portugal. The Porter was so nice and said he keeps an eye on it. There are also nice policemen out there.

Thank you man!

The beginning was pretty smooth and so we cruised along and had the one and other stop at various bars along the road. When it came to the night we noticed how difficult it actually is to be in such a big group, cause one said we could stay here, but someone else didn't like the place and so on, but we finally found a good spot. And then, what the F**k was that, in the south, it was the north of the south, but still the south, RAIN... Something we didn't expect at all. Tim and Wilma had their tent but Tine, Carles and I had just the roof of a tent and started building a construction as we were used to from the Danube trip, out of our bikes, brunches and so on.

And somehow the weather didn't recover... It even got worse. A real storm came up...So the first days were very slow and demotivating. Whenever it started raining we escaped into a bar and tried to enjoyed ourselves on some drinks... The night we spent in a half built house, cause we didn't want to get up twice a night again to adjust our tent construct.

But of cause every bad side has it good as well, cause when it is nice stormy for a few days at the Atlantic Coast the waves get really big and strong. And so as soon the rain stopped and it got a bit warmer again, Tim had o have a go on the surfboard he was dragging as a trailer behind. And we had to jump into the waves as well, and I tell you they were strong! And great! But we got slowed down like so many times afterwards as well, by a coast guard... He blow his whistle and said we can't go skinny dipping here, in fact you can't go skinny dipping anywhere, cause there are everywhere coast guards and Portugal is a very catholic country. I even say the Irish are pagan compared to the Portuguese... But anyway, we enjoys the waves with our swimming gear as well.

So after that start shock the weather got really fine and soon we started to complain about the heat. This is the way it is... But the advantage of cycling where we cycled, was that we could jump into the ocean whenever we wanted. And we did. So it turned out to become a real beach holiday and we didn't get forward at all. But who cares. It is is great on the beach, and we had lots of it. Everywhere, in our trousers, food, between the teeth... But it was alright as long we could sleep and have bunfires every night on the beach.

But finally we arrived in Porto! And had a Port in Porto, next to all the Gambas, Calamares, Sardinas and God knows what... except for Wilma, she had a nice tortilla. This is why I never could become a vegetarian, and no vegetarian can tell me that he or she doesn't really mind. I mean specially in a country like Portugal, and even there along the coast, where every chipper, every bar or restaurant just sells fish, and fresh out of the ocean, we've seen them netfishing in the traditionell way on the beach, I mean one has to enjoy the local food. But I gave up to explain... And Tim and Wilma who are both vegetarian had a special hard time, cause Carles is the biggest meat-junky and Tine and I also never say no...

But with full stomachs and a few Portos we cycled on. We didn't want to stay in Porto for the night, cause somehow no one of us had the feeling we were cycling, so many stops we made. And we still had a good bit in front of us. Along the way closer and closer to Lisbon we came to the nicest beaches, and specially we found a few where there was no Coast guard...

And I thought I had seen bad roads in Bulgaria and Romania, but to be honest, if you cycle the coast road in the north of Portugal, the roads are even worse. I mean not a single patch that doesn't shake your guts. And so it came as it had to come and Tim's construction to pull the surfboard behind lost a wheel. And of cause in the middle of nowhere, and just 10Min before he was telling people how good it is to have a surfboard along when you cycle... So shit happens and nothing could be done except to put all that stuff that was on the board onto the other bikes, Tim took the board underneath the arm and I took the guitar. It's the best, cycling and you even have music on board! And into the next garage and we got it welded again.

As we came closer to Lisboa, the villages got bigger and bigger. The roads improved (!) and everything became pretty posh and it got pretty hard to find a place to stay for the night. We nearly found one spot, but somehow no one really liked it, I mean it would have been tempting... It was an old closed down huge hotel. You could see lots of people were having all kind of partys, sessions and knows the devil what kind of rituals were held there... Already when we arrived, it was dark, we were welcomed by some black and white photos of young women that were lying all in front of the door... and above the old fireplace there was a writing with charcoal "Semantra 7 days"... You have to be in a house like that, and then you have to think yourself what it could mean... But we didn't want to stay and so off we were...

And finally we cycled over the main square in Lisboa! And here we wanted to stay for the night! We just arrived and someone wanted to sell me something to smoke, it smelled nice, looked good and then I payed the price for a very good magic trick. I kept my eyes all the time on his fingers, but he gave me shit all... Very good you nasty bugger!

And here we stayed in the Americano Residencial, such a cheap dump but with three stars and it did the job. So after a good shower we went out to have our second big Dinner on our trip. And here it started that the Vegetarian Problems caught up with us again... Lisboa is full of restaurants but the portuguese don't eat vegetarian, or better they just do as a side dish. And this was all Wilma and Tim could eat... And so we were running from one restaurant to the other and back again, so that half of Lisboa's waiters knew us already by name and we finally went into the wrong one. But to pass so many restaurants when you are nearly starving is impossible. Food was good but the waiter pissed of with us. And afterwards we went through a couple of bars, and got wasted. There are some really nice bars in Lisboa!And also the people are really nice, everyone is in a chatty mood and it is a peaceful atmosphere above the city.

The next day we were all pretty hangover... And because I didn't have anything to wash like the rest, I replaced the chain on Tine's bike. But to give you an advice: Don't do it when you're hungover. Finally I got it done,we through the old chain away and and off we were. At least into the next Cafe to have a proper coffee. And there we stayed quite a while and waited until the noon sun was gone. When we wanted to leave Lisboa Tine complained about here chain again and we noticed that your man in the bike shop sold us a slidely too small chain... So what else could we do than to go back to the hotel and ask whether they found a chain by any chance and they led us into the back yard where we could look through the garbage. Not a nice thing to do, but we didn't want to stay the whole holy sunday in Lisboa... Found, Fixed, Off we've been....

On our way south from Lisboa we again had a few problems with too many different opinions and routines, Carles couldn't coupe with not to have a huge dinner at Lunchtime, Wilma couldn't coupe with side dishes when we wanted to eat something nice somewhere, Tine got furious when the batteries for her camera were empty again after 5 pictures and Tim got pissed off when I was cycling away with the bottle of wine because I couldn't coupe with the slow speed we made...

We tried to find solutions for everyone! Carles got his rescue Lunch packet, Tine got a 20pack batteries, Tim his own bottle of wine, I always cycled to the next town ahead to wait in the first bar on the right hand side but only Wilma wasn't too happy... But what can you do?

After a while the differences between us got bigger and after a big bottle of wine at the fire and a few sharp words we decided the next morning to split up and cycle in two groups. Tine, Carles and I and Tim and Wilma. It was the best solution and the first thing we did was to buy a huge chicken and have a fine roasted chicken! Yeah! And also we now had the chance to cycle offroad. Tim couldn't because of his trailer, and so we tried to cycle always on top the cliffs of the Algarve. And they are the most amazing cliffs I've ever seen. There are caves going from 20m away from the edge all the way down and you can see the water splashing onto the shore. But it is also very touristy. And you here can hear every language you want... And it is a surfers paradise, you have vast beaches and the most incredible waves. The only thing is, the water is freezing co ld... But that's alright when you get roasted in the sun.

And finally we reached Cap Suficiente, or how ever it's called. The southest point of the westcoast and the destination we wanted to reach. In the next town eastwards we met up with Tim and Wilma again and brought Wilma to the train station, because she had to fly back to write exams. Now we just had to get rid of her bike, and this was a bigger act than we expected, cause we thought we wrap it up in a bit of cardboard and send it to the post office in Vianna do Costello where we can pick it up again... Theoretically no problem, but the parcel was 5kg too heavy, and so we had to put it onto Tim's surfboard construction and take it along. At the next city we swapped everything, Tim took Wilma's bike, threw everything except the frame of his bike away and could send it now by post.

Just after we made up our minds over a cup of coffee to cycle still a bit further east, and hopped back onto our bikes, there was this hill, it was not really a hill, but I had to push hard into the pedal of my bike, and there she said no further! The crank shaft broke and I had just one pedal left... End of it! This time I couldn't just fiddle around with a bit of metal...That was it... I think she said, it's time to go to Ireland again and give her a general maintenance. And so I got Tim's click pedal and still drove them away to the next bus station which was in Lagoa and we all took the bus back to Vianna do Costello. We wanted anyway, but somehow it seems to be impossible to take bikes along on the bus, and after we wrapped all the bikes into neat parcels the first bus took us as far as Porto, where we had to stay for the night. It was great, cause everyone wanted to sleep and in that bar we'd been the whole evening it was pretty comfy and so we agreed that I can drink as much I want out of the community purse to keep the barkeeper busy and the rest can sleep and so I was drinking with the people in the bar until they wanted to go home and soon later our bus would leave, but here comes the biggest problem we had on that trip! I think it is a problem with car fumes. Cause the bus station in Porto is inside a building and there is no chance for the exhaust fumes to get out. Now imagine that there is one station chief or however he calls himself, that breathes the fumes every day... His brain must be nearly completely dead! And so he acted as well. He didn't want us to take the bikes onto the bus, the driver wouldn't have mind, but when it came nearly to a fight I jumped without the bike alone onto the bus, picked up the van and drove back to Porto. The police had been there and gave out to the station officer, very good police in Portugal... and at least we got our money back.


That's it man, it was a after all the shit we had with too many different opinions a great trip. But next time I will watch out that we are all at the same pace...


And here we drove again