Portugal

Day 2161 Wednesday 14th September
On the plane I managed to sleep a little, when I woke it was really strange to think of my bike being on board as well. Waking more, my nose said there was food smells, by now I had not eaten for sixteen hours. They took so long in serving the food I thought it had been pre booked and it was not coming my way. Before too long the usual airplane ‘food’ arrived, pasta or chicken? Sticking to a veggie diet the pasta was ok, hot, and a bread roll to go.
Kind of sleeping on and off through the flight, and very thankful the guy in front did not recline his chair into my face, I woke and watched the sun come up, even though it was only three thirty in the morning for me. They say it’s best to get the sun and start to acclimatize your body clock to the new time zone. Yes, lost seven hours.
I had checked the weather in Lisbon before I left and till Friday it’s meant be warm and sunny, the sunrise did not disappoint and a beautiful morning dawned. Not to sure what fellow passengers thought of having my window blind up though…..
Having no checked bags I walked through all the long lines and outside into a huge cloud of cigarette smoke, and an enormous line to get a cab. Using my G.P.S. I walked to the second terminal, en route to the cargo sheds, only to find I could not walk any further than terminal two. However I did get a cab at the much quieter terminal which took me to the cargo sheds for six bucks fifty, I gave him ten as I would still be waiting in line at terminal one.
I had got here so fast the bike had not even been entered onto the computer.
The warehouse admin guys were awesome, the ground staff, a whole lot less interested, must be on a salary and not looking for tips.
As always when someone else handles my paper work there is a mistake, common to me now. The guys in Toronto had written my British address as the consignee address and used it also as shipped from and to. It should have been the Indian Line camp site and Lisbon airport or some such. One lady was worried about it, thankfully another not so worried, she just asked her boss who did not care that much. The more laid back lady simply could not understand how the bike had got to Toronto. When I explained I had ridden out of Europe six years ago and now am bringing a British registered bike back she kinda understood though she could not comprehend why a person would want to do this. On days like these neither do I. I’m bringing the bike back into Europe, like me at the airport, it should be easy. The solution was a signed letter from myself stating what I had been doing for six years, that was that.
I received the bike, on its skid, as a guy called Miguel stopped to chat, he was into bikes, fast bikes, we talked as the warehouse guys slowly got the skid into position. When it was off the cart Miguel went and turned the bike and pushed it out for me, it was then we noticed the broken front indicator, he taped it for me, though I reckon it could be repaired later with adhesive. He helped me re-connect the battery and generally was a good guy. I thanked him for his help as I was tired from the flight and lack of sleep.
As I sorted my gear and got my gear on for riding I emptied my new hold all, even folded flat it would be heavy and bulky, so I asked Miguel if he would like it. He was surprised and looked delighted, I thought of the fork truck driver in Toronto, found my deserving soul!
I can’t emphasize enough how strange it feels to be riding in Europe. I was grateful that they rode on the right, at least that was still normal. Sounds daft, yet it was comforting.
The main road north did not have any gas stations so I got off just before the toll gate and filled. I was surprised that it took nineteen liters, shocked it cost thirty Euros, welcome home! Although, the gas in the states was at best ninety one octane, this was ninety five. Could have ninety eight octane if I wished, however that would have been blowing the budget!
Taking the quieter back roads to the ocean camp I had planned was surreal, last week I was on deserted interstate highways, now on tiny European country roads with white painted houses topped with red clay pan tile roofs. As often in Europe old guys sat in the sunshine watching the world go by.
I stopped at a huge food store and bought shrimp, muscles, onion, potato and garlic. The food on the plane was ok, however not enough, even for me!
Taking a wrong turn I climbed high onto a hill side from which I got a fantastic view of the ocean, not seen it since Vancouver almost six months back.
In the town of Ericeira I took the through town route, following the GPS and a black Mercedes station wagon, I wound through old cobbled streets passing small shops and houses, if not for the Merc I would have thought this was for pedestrians and not a road. Unknown to him he got me through ok!
The camp was good, aside from having dirt and no grass to set my ‘house’ apon. Soon the tent was up and supper was cooking, the sea food was wonderful, I had a crusty roll with my beer as it cooked.
Watching an English registered car leaving the camp was a little of a surprise, not having seen the large bright yellow plate for years, I guess the surfer dudes will travel for waves, the beach here is awesome.
I took a walk to watch the sun set over the ocean, I had not seen that since Wickham. So many memories, the slow transition of riding through Europe to Britain is better for me than flying direct, that would have been to much of a shock.
I went sleep at dusk, sounds daft, I was mentally exhausted!! The time difference not helping.

 

Day 2162 Thursday 15th September
Woke at one A.M. I listened to other campers finishing their evening, then to a light rain, bugger, getting out of my sleeping bag liner and setting the cover on the bike and wishing I had done the same for the tent. Luckily it did not last long. But a stern reminder that I need to set the tent more fully and put its hat on.
Listening to the ocean as the rain diminished was a pleasant way to get back to sleep again.
Waking at first light, cold, I got the sleeping bag out and was back in sleep mode ’till ten, which should be five A.M.!
The toilets to my surprise had no paper and a trash can for used paper, as in Southern America, however there they emptied the bins often, here they were slightly overflowing. Reckon if it were my job I would be around three or four times a day.
Still no bird song, a few sparrows chirping, be nice to hear the songbirds again.
I did my laundry and washed my self as every thing stank. I walked into town and bought a lump of fish to cook in my stock from yesterday. With onion, mushrooms and potato it made a good feed.
Sleeping once again from dusk till one am I wrote a couple of emails then slept till half seven.

Day 2163 Friday 16th September
On the road by ten was good, I followed the local roads for hours, winding through pretty villages, with old crumbling churches and homes. Often as on Route Sixty Six the trail went cold and I had to backtrack to get back to my route, by two P.M. I was very lost. Managing to get the off line mapping program on my mini pad to show where I was by getting the GPS co-ordinates off the Garmin e-trex, put them into the search function on the maps, which then showed me where I was. I jumped onto A eight then A one, north to Portal where I found a cheap municipal campground.
While wanting to stay off the highway all the signs all ‘say follow me to the big roads’.
As Spain is not far away I once again will try to hug the coast and find wild camping.

Day 2164 Saturday 17th September
Think I may have adjusted to European time, woke at half six to sparrows farting and cheeping, dogs barking, and the surf, bliss. It’s a damp morning, fresh, not cold, like last night. There is a snail half way up the inner tent, must remember to remove it before packing up!
While making my oaties and tea the sun warmed up the ground made a mist rise giving soft edges to the landscape and buildings. The snail had slid away elsewhere by the time I packed the tent.
On the road by nine was early for me, I found more of the coast roads at last, yesterday morning was good but I failed to keep off the highways. Today was different, for hours I rode between thirty and seventy clicks, through bustling Saturday morning markets, deserted back roads, always within sight of the ocean and frequently catching the salty smells when the wind allowed it.
After one hundred and seventy clicks I saw a road sign to Spain so stopping in Caminha at a river side camp ground by one thirty, it was an early finish to the day, however a very pleasant one. Having enough food for the night, though I could not resist the tuna in a local store, the shrimps caught my eye as well…. With all this good feed reckon I’ll skip breakie.
This week was a record for being hooted at, twice, and while in traffic a couple of teenagers showed me the blog site on my their computer tablet, they must have got the web address off the top box lid and googled it, how cool is that!
I ate all the shrimp mid arvo and cooked the tuna for supper, while only eating half I kept the last remains for a strange breakie.
Found a snail on my mini pad tonight, can’t be the same one, can it?

Day 2165 Sunday 18th September
Waking early I got showed, the water was very warm as I was first one in.
As I could not eat all my supper I had caramelized onion and tuna for breakie at seven, odd but yum.
While rolling the tent to go into its bag I found a snail on the ground sheet, pulling it off and placing it in a nearby hedge I wondered if it could possibly be the same one….. Got going by eight into a beautiful morning, fresh and a chilly twelve degrees, however with the rising sun it warmed. The road past the river estuary and it was very picturesque, with the back drop of high hills and fishing boats mirrored in the still, blue water.
Managing to stay on N thirteen and off the highway I enjoyed the small roads and quaint towns. However in on I found myself bouncing down cobbled streets thinking where has the road gone! Turning sharp ninety degree right and left turns. At a large steel girder river bridge I stopped to check the route, surprise, I was at the border with Spain. The steep drop to the river below, as often in many countries that was the natural boarder. Two more countries to go, then Britain….

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