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Supporting appealmobile on his world travels

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Viveiro to Lagos

The weather was foul the day I left for Santiago and I left late due to needing tobacco and it was a fiesta. Eventually the tabac opened and I was on my way. I rode over the heights of Galicia and eventually the rain stopped enough to enjoy the ride.
I arrived in Santiago and as quaint as it is with it's narrow cobbled streets I was not impressed with the touristic side of it.
However the evening it livened up but I felt out of place with my moped and tramplike appearance.
Definitely a place that you need cash for.
Santiago was not my type of town in respect to how I was travelling.
7pm onwards the bars were heaving with respectably dressed people with money. Not really a place for a bedraggled hobo on a moto.

However I was forced to spend some time there while I sorted out getting the bike going again after fuelling up.
I was lucky enought to finish up in a bar run by two men with a combined age of 130 years plus.
Once the bike spluttered into action I was off in a flash and heading back to the coast.
I was riding in the dark again which I had said I wouldn't do on this ride.
Worse was the fog I encountered of the sea that was clinging to the headlands to the South of Santiago.
I eventually arrived at Villagarcia and once I found a shelter was off to the bar.

A view of the bay from the bar
My shelter this night was by a playground right next to the harbour wall.
The street cleaner woke me early and after the usual half hour of pushing the bike to get it firing I was off along the coast to Vigo, via Pontevedra.

Pontevedra was a difficult place to find a way through but I eventually managed to escape the other side and hit the peninsular to the North of Vigo. The peninsular is home to some lovely beaches and views of the bay.
I have always wanted to visit Vigo since a friend told me of their time there, and it lived up to their description.
It's not a particularly posy city and it's people are very warm. I stopped for a couple of beers and was reminded of the difference in costs between town and country when I came to pay.
I left and rode around the bay on a beautiful sunny day. It reminded me of Mulranney on the West of Ireland but with heat and sun.

The southern side of the bay has some lovely beaches that I imagine are a welcome relief after a hot days work in the city.

If I ever had to live in a city then Vigo would be the place.

Leaving the bay view the road wound it's way around the headland and along the west facing coastline, before heading back inland to cross the river MiƱo that divides Spain from Portugal. This was a fantastic feeling to be taking the bike to another country and a new experience of Northern Portugal for myself

I was heading for a small resort called Esposende. Esposende is a small town on the coast lying on a river entrance that is home to a samll Marina. That is all I saw as I arrived in the dark and it took me a while to realise the street I entered was not the main town and that if I left the town and came in the far end I wiould find the shopping centre and a couple of reasonable bars. The one I settled on was cheap with a small glass of beer at 60 cents. Just across the road was a samll grocers where I went to get my daily tin of Sardines at 67 cents.
I decided not to try and start the bike after my evening in the bar and instead pushed it through the town and eventually the front where I found a covered paved area outside some shops and close to a cafe for my morning coffee.
It was dark as I walked to the Marina and couldn't see what lay beyond, but I could hear the roar of the Atlantic as wave after wave belly flopped onto the beach that lay beyonder the river in the distance. Several tiomes in the night I woke and was terrified by this monster that roared beyond the blackness.

Again signs were in short supply and finding a route out over the only bridge allowed for my moped proved difficult but after following my nose and the suns position fell onto the bridge that would take me south.
The other side was equally difficult as the motorway is the priority for the route signs and it took me some while to find a route through the connurbations to the south of the river and arrive atEspinho.
It was a baking hot day and as I pulled up I realised I was leaking oil from a hole in the clutch cover due to the kick start bolt wearing a hole through the casing. It was the difficulty changing gears that aleted me to it and once more the plastic padding came to the rescue.
A couple of beers there and I was back on the road south following the coast an the rail line to Aveiro. There are two spits of land to the west of Aveirto which look unconnected so I had to start coming inland to pass through Aveiro, however after crossing the river there I found myself heading up a blind alley and finished up at the Northen most point of the southern spit of land with no way out except to return and pick the route up again south away from the beach.
My intended destination for a stop was Figueira de Foz, whiere I arrived at the end of the afternoon, but arriving there got bad feelings about the place. I stopped to quench my thirst and as per usual the bike wouldn't start again. I was parked on the pavement fixing it when an old guy about 80 in a uniform approached asking me for money for parking. He had a badge saying he was the port parking officer and yet we wen't in the port. He pursued me until I gave in and gave him 60 cents in change, which didn't satisfy him, even thouhg it went into his back pocket. He kept on harping about a Euro and chasing other motorists who were stopping to go to the restaurants near the bar. It wasn't just him as while I was fixing the bike I thought this guy had broken into a parked car and was trying to hotwire it. I watched him fiddling under the dashboard and then realised it was a taxi and it was his cab. All perfectly humorous and innocent events but I decided I wasn't happy and would prefer a smaller village for sleeping so headed off to Praia de Vierra.
Leaving Figueira de Foz I missed the bridge that I was permitted to travel over and finished up on the motorway. A car blasted his horn at me within 50 yards and I was ignoring him but he persisted and having got me to stop told me I had lost my trainers off the back of the bike.
I had them under the luggage netting to dry out after the rain in Galicia. I decided it wasn't worth riding back the wrong way on the hard shoulder and continued on the motorway, cross the river and exit the first junction.
I then managed to spend two hours riding around in the dark in a war zone in the sandhillish area  to the south.
I took the wrong turn to the coast and finished up wandering around lanes in the pitch black. These lanes kept coming to crossroads which I would guess at and follow the lightest shade of dark in the sky which was the west. I just kept coming round in circles and then suddenly I was deafened as three or four bombers flew low level right above me.
I was wandering around a military air base and these bombers were practising night flights and either the same 4-5 planes were taking off and landing again or there were at least 16 planes that flew directly above me.
It wasn't until I returned to the main road by chance and then found the right way into Vierra  that I came across signs to the base whick re-assured me that World War Three hadnt kicked off while I had been away.
Vieira was so small with only a couple of bars and very little in the way of shelter for sleeping. I stopped nonetheless and deposited myself in the one bar that was open. I was so tired tonight that I left there at 11 and just curled up under the trees on a bench in the square and spent the night there.

The following morning, I was back in the bar for my three cups of 60 cent coffee, before chasing the bike round the back alleys to start the bike.Once started I went down to the praia and watched the waves pounding the shore before leaving for Nazare further down the coast. I was low on fuel and was getting a little concerned as the road cut its way through the Parque Natural of the area. The parque is a whole stretch of pine woods and sandhills a bit like Freshfiel Nature Reseve but seems endless, and the road just disappears into the vanishing point of perspectivity. This is an excellent area for anyone who wants to cycle for a couple of weeks as the two lane cycle path runs the whole length of the road and is separated from it by a verge.

I arrived in Nazare. A pleasant small resort with a sweeping beach with a couple of headlands at each end. At one end is a venicular tram up to the top of the cliff where I imagine one can walk out to the point of the cliffs.
Walking was not on my agenda as today was designated a bath day, so off to the beach with my bag and down to the edge where the waves still had enough force to make me rethink about swimming and settle for a stand up bath.
Change of clothes and back for my first sandwich of the ride nad a couple of cups of wonderful cheap coffee.
The next port of call was the beach of Sao Martinho do Porto, a lovely quiet beach that is lagoon like with a narrow entrance that calms the ocean in to a pleasant and safe looking beach for swimming, although I was not in the mood for another bath so soon.

I followed the road on over the headland to Foz do Arehlo before cutting back in to Caldhas da Raihna. situated east of a quiet inlet with what appears to be shallow beaches. 
For a small town, Caldhas da Raihna was quite busy and there were roadworks that made escaping difficult.

Once done I passed by the walled town of Olbidos.I would have stopped here and had a look around, but my camera battery was dead and I would have been very frustrated not to record the visit. I decided to continue on to the coast, so I worked my way back to the coast at Lourinha, having missed the turning to Peniche.
I found a bar in the early afternoon sun that was packed by locals most of whom were there with their own motos. One stood out a Zundapp 50cc so I stopped to look and share a drink with them.
They were very welcoming and after a couple of beers I agreed a price of 200 euros for the Zundapp which I will return in February to collect.

Off down to to Ericeira for the night
The road followed over the headlands which concealed small beaches inlaid into the steep cliff faces. It certainly is a stunning coastline and the jewel for me was Ericeira, where I arrived early evening in time to charge my phone and camera at a cafe on the cliff top overlooking the harbour and the setting sun.

This was beach immediately below my bedroom at Ericeira. The bedroom was a small paved square in the open overlooking the harbour and the beach, where I imagine people sit and chat during the day. The cafe where I sat and enjoyed a couple of beers and watched the setting sun while my phone charged away, was just to the left.
I found a bar that put Liverpool v Napoli on for me and there was at least one other semi Liverpool fan who was also a Benfica supporter for the other half.
It was a bad first half brightened up by the second half performance of Stevie that at least had me happy as I went in search of a sleeping area.

The sunset from the cafe terrace.
The followingmorning I awoke to the sound of the ocean below me and waited for the cafe that were so helpul the night before to open. Coffees done I had the easiest of times pushing the bike down the steep road to the beach to get it started. It was also another beautiful Portugese sunny day to set off for Lisboa

I rode down the N247to Sintra where I branched off to visit Cabo Roca. It was a cool morning in the shadows of the headland of the Nacional Parque there. I finally arrived at a typical Cornish landscape and situated there was the lighthouse of Cabo Roca. It was unfortunate that I couldn't stop for more than 10 minutes anywhere due to the difficulty in starting the bike when it cooled down. I took a couple of pictures and then continued around the coast to Cascais, which seemed a pleasant but posie little resort on the mouth of the natural harbour of Lisboa. The road which is a dual carriageway and quite rare for Portugal, follows the water all the way into Lisboa and the bridge is visible for the vast majority of it.
I stopped at a vantage point to get a photo and decide if mopeds were allowed over or whether I would need to catch the ferry. I decided the ferry was the only option as the height of the bridge would have required a days ride to get across. Although it was a hot sunny day by the coast the wind was quite cool and I was riding with both coats on and still felt cold for the most part of the ride. There was really only about two hours of the day in the afternoon when it was comfortable and that was generally more than 800 yards away from the coast. It took what seemed an age to reach the ferry terminal, but I was surprised to find that the ferry was only 1.60 euros.

I thought I would include myself in a picture from the ferry to prove it was me riding

Getting off the other side at Almada I quickly started to follow the sun to get back to the coast which would take me round to Setubal. I came to Costa caprica with some lovely sand stonw cliffs and beach shack cafes and bars but no exit out South. I had to return 10 kms to get back onto the N10 for the direction of Sesimbra and then Setubal.

.I had travelled in a roundabout way to Santana and was on the way to being re-united with the coast again. The road out from Santana climbed high and you got occasional glimpses of the sea to the right. I saw the sign for Portinho and followed it down to the bottom of the headland. It was a blind alley but one I'm glad I took.

There wasn't much there except for this lovely restaurant, so after taking my pihoto I returned to the top road and in to Setubal.

At the bottom in Portinho there was a set of traffic lights to allow traffic to enter and exit without confronting each other on the narrow road at the bottom of the descent.

Setubal was just visible around the headland as was the spit of land that the ferry sailed to and avoided the longer journey around the inland lake formed behind the spit.

I soon found the ferry and was dismayed to find that it cost 6.50 euros, but to hell with the cost. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the sun was boucing off the water as I arrived at the terminal.

Looking back towards Portinho as we sailed across the stretch of water between Setubal and the spit of sand dunes and woods on the other side of the river Sado.

On arriving on the opposite side the bike had cooled and wouldn't start, so I had to wheel it off nad push it up the steep incline of the embarcation access road.

I got it started and it spluttered to life and rode the distance to Sines in no time.

It was getting dark and I wanted to arrive in Sines for sunset but it was pushing it.

I eventually arrived in Sines just as the sun was setting. The sky reflected on the calmness of the ocean leaving the most incredible coloured turqouise sea on the horizon.

I tried to find a vantage point on the road to get a photo, but by the time I had, the colour had gone from the sea, but I was left with the most beautiful sky I had seen.

Sines is the energy hub of Portugal and there were pipelines crisscrossing all over.

I parked in the town centre and was so hungry bought myself a tin of beans. I peeld the lid off and drank the lot in minutes. I was walking around looking for a bar when I stumbled into a black bar. It wasn't till I sat down I was aware I was the only white in there. They were looking at me with a certain amount of curiousity or suspicion, but as I re-ordered the novelty wore off and I was being greeted by new arrivals the same as them.

I had been there a couple of hours when a couple of Energy engineers from Germany entered the bar. They were familiar with the bar as they had worked there quite a lot. I heard them discussing whiskeys, so decided  I would offer them the benefit of my knowledge and expertise on the subject and we finished up knocking back several glasses of Famous Grouse.

They left and as I went to follow I realised I was absolutely wrecked for the first time on this ride. I tried to walk back to the bike as I had just left it roadside with all my gear and still hadn't located a sleeping place.
That was sorted for me, when as I went to cross a carpark, I missed the three foot drop at the side and went sprawling onto the gravel, finishing up behind a parked van. I had no energy left to get up, so just curled up and went to sleep.

I woke a couple of hours later and remembered where my bike was so set off to get my sleeping bag and find somewhere a bit more 'private'. I did manage to locate a small back alley that ran behind the shops where there were a couple of houses, so I nestled myself up against somebodys house and fell sound asleep.

I woke the next morning without any rude awakenings from the locals, got myself a coffee and set off for Sagres

Having spent a good evening with the couple of German engineers at Angelas bar, I commenced the final stretch to Sagres on a sunny morning.
The route is a largely uninteresting stretch, except for the final 30 kms, which travels through the rolling hills of the Parque Natural of SW Portugal.
Rolling hills twisting roads, sunshine and a scarcity of cars made this stretch a bikers paradise.
The moment arrived for me, when after climbing one hill I saw the Atlantic straight ahead of me to the south and also more importantly to the west and the east.
I knew I had made it or at least the bike had.
Down to Sagres and a cheese and ham toasty and a couple of beers to celebrate before heading to the futhermost point of Cabo de Sao Vincente
The problems started again and the bike spluttered to the furthermost tip before eventually kicking into life and acting as a normal bike should behave.
Leaving Sagres to head for Lagos the bike suddenly cut out and I presumed it was the usual plug problem.
I pulled over and removed the plug.
However the engine had overheated and the plug had almost welded itself to the cylinder head and in the process of removing it I managed to remove the thread out of the head too..
I was 12 kms out from Lagos and in spite of a number of British plated cars looking at me struggling, none cared to stop to offer any assistance. Nor did any Portugese either for that matter, although they all tooted their horns, out of sympathy I guess.
There was only one thing left to do and that was to push it to Lagos.
I arrived at 8pm dripping in sweat but managed to find a resting place in the covered market area near the bus station.
I shared this area for three nights with a strange woman who I believed to be a schizophrenic with tourettes.
I asked her the first night if she was Portugese and she immediately started telling me about lizards snakes, rattazinhos and mouses, but I got the feeling she was talking about 'them', the authorities or people who were out to get her. After an hour she told me I was OK as I understood.
I was woken in this covered area in the middle of the night by her, as she shouted at imaginary people.
The following day I saw her on many occasions in the small square in the town, screaming abuse at anyone she passed.
She totally blanked me when she walked pat me for which I am grateful and having said that she didn't scream or rant at me either.

I managed to arrange somewhere to lock the bike up, which cost me 30 Euros and then find the English pub called Fools and Horses to watch the Chelsea game. There were only four of us and we were all supporting the reds. One of my fellow supporters was a scouser called Eddy who had lived there for twenty years or more. After I explained the story of the ride he immediately went and ordered me chicken nuggets and chips with a dip.

It was a good night but the weather had turned and it was back for an early night in the market area with mad Mary.

The following day I asked eddy in the pub to lend me the tools necessary to remove the cylinder head and arranged with Walter whose house the bike was located at, to get the head off before  I left for Faro on the Wednesday and the flight hiome. Walter told me Tuesday was a good day so I spent the day walking around Lagos waiting for tools to arrive.

Apart from Mad Mary, theres not a lot happening at this time of the year so I finished up during one of the dry periods, having a kip on the beach.

The weather didn't hold so I finished up back at the Fools and Horses where I met a couple of German lads and proceeded to have a good night there.

I returned to the market and Mad Mary only appeared fleetingly, had a rant at noboby then disappeared.

I wonder where she spent that night as it was the windiest and wettest night I had known during the whole ride

This was Mad Mary giving one of the locals down the banks.
 I use the word Mad in the context of her being angry rather than her mental state and hope that doesn't cause anyone any offence

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