First morning in Portugal, there is one hours time difference with Spain so now breakfast is yet another hour later. The morning was cold and very foggy.
The breakfast buffet was really massive with everything a hungry cyclist could want. I have found something called Algarve Ecovia that is supposed to be a trail/route that runs along the Algarve coast.
I also found some different sets of GPX files of the track that I could load in to my GPS. The track seems to consist of a series of walking tracks that are loosely nit together, so there is a mix of sand, mud, gravel and bad roads. I am lucky to have the track on my GPS as there are very few signs at all.
The countryside outside the tourist towns is very beautiful but rough, there are places where people seems to live in sheds or abandoned houses. The quality of the roads are nothing like Spain, it’s really bumpy and rough. The traffic along the Algarve coast is horrible, I think this picture describes it better than any words can.
It’s a lethal mix of locals and people on holiday, the only thing they have in common is that there is absolutely no slowing down ever, the speed on the roads is truly amazing. Also there seems to be no two drivers that can agree on where on the road to drive, some drive with their left wheels over the center line and some drive with their right wheels on the shoulder.
Everybody drives really close to each other. The result is that you can meet a group of cars going 80-100 km/h with 2-3 meters distance spread out over 75% of the available road.
Roundabouts are designed for maximum speed, the shoulder disappears 1-2 meters before the roundabout, so drivers are used to going fast, looking left and driving very far right when going in to roundabouts. This is not the place to be cycling. Unfortunately there is not always a connection between the tracks of Algarve Ecovia so from time to time I am forced out on the N-125 road. This is not a pleasant experience. I have no plan on where to stop for the night but when I am getting near Faro there are some clouds on the sky that looks like rain, so I decide to stop in Faro.
I find a great little hotel that offers me to park the bike in their garage. With the added hour before everything opens for dinner I decide to buy dinner at the supermarket and eat in my room. Making it an early night listening to the rain pouring down.
Faro in rain is not very great. They tell me that they didn’t have any rain in a long time, that would explain why the streets are slippery like ice. This does of course not slow traffic down. I take a walk around Faro and then to the shopping mall Forum Algarve. It’s probably a great idea to have an outdoors shopping mall all the days when it does not rain.
I have lunch at a global chain of restaurants well known for their delicious and tasty food. After walking back to the hotel in the rain I spent the rest of the day resting.
The rain has turned the unpaved parts of the track in to mud so biking is slow and hard today. There are many people out on their MTB today, it seems to be a popular Sunday activity. The track goes through many tourist villages, there are many turns and up and downs, with the heat slowly picking up it becomes quite hard to bike. There are some mountains a bit inland and there are some very dark clouds hanging over them, but the coast itself is very sunny.
The bike has started to make noises and seems to be as tired as I am, I am so near the South West corner of EU now, tomorrow I will reach Sagres and the journey from North East to South West will be completed. The Algarve Ecovia sometimes even run across the beach, sand is really fun with a heavy touring bike.
When I near Portimao I see a swank hotel by the river, I am very tired so the threshold for accommodation cost has gone up a bit. I get the same price as on Internet so I check-in, they even have an elevator from the garage to my the floor where I am staying. What a luxury. There is a buffet dinner, it seems like there are many people staying here on an all inclusive regimen.
I have never seen people eat so much, the food was not at all very good so I am guessing they haven’t eaten anything since lunch or breakfast. Today I decided to take the train back to Spain, the Algarve Ecovia is a once in a lifetime experience in the sense that once is enough.
This is the day when I will reach Sagres, 133 days of travel over 5 months. I start off by following the Algarve Ecovia track, but the person who made these GPX files has a death wish, the track goes over a railroad bridge (for the second time).
I am not going to lift my bike up on the track and roll it on the railroad track over a bridge. I have to backtrack about 10 kilometers and decide to take the N-125 for the rest of the journey. The N-125 was just boring and the last 10 km or so was very windy.
Once in Sagres I shop around for accommodation, I am staying 3 days to enjoy the end of my journey to the South West corner of Europe. Now all I have to do is bike back or something. I end up in a B&B that offered a very nice room and great breakfast buffet at a great price.
I woke up hearing the rain pounding the windows, it was a really hard rain. I still decided to take a walk around town and suited up in my rain clothes. The rain and wind made it feel like standing in a car wash, sometimes the wind almost blew me over. Even with the rain and wind the views from the old fort was great, the bad weather made the landscape look very dramatic.
When I got back from the walk I was soaking wet, I guess there is just so much rain Goretex can withstand. The weather was so bad this day that I stayed in the hotel for the rest of the day and even had dinner in their pizzeria.
The morning was a bit foggy and chilly but the sunshine soon sorted that out. I biked to the Cabo San Vincente, just a few kilometers away. I was not sure if that or Sagres was the most South West corner of Europe so I decided to not take any chances.
The coast line is very dramatic and beautiful. It’s crowded with surfers in all kinds of crazy vehicles.
Tomorrow the slow return to Stockholm will begin