In and out of Portugal

Portugal was a flash, maybe like an emotion from a vivid dream you try to hold onto the whole next day. As I write this I am sitting in northern Portugal, but in about 20 minutes of riding we will be in Spain. After assembling the bikes in the Lisbon Airport baggage claim area we rode to a hostel I booked a few nights previous. Although saying we just rode to the hostel would cheapen the experience quite a bit. We got lost, separated and after several hours of fumbling through the twisted streets with no names we made it to the hostel. I made it there first and after carrying my bicycle and panniers up 4 stories I collapsed on the bed exhausted from not sleeping in maybe 24 hours. But, I knew I couldn’t fall asleep yet. I turned on the two way radios Jason and I bought and I stuck my head out the window overlooking the red cobblestone street. “Jason, you come in!” Here I am leaning out the window holding a walky talky and frantically looking through a pair of binoculars. If the girl that checked me into the hostel didn’t already think i was weird, all it would take was for her to see this. Jason found his way and we went for a walk. We got lost again and decided that the safest thing would be to make our way back, drink 1 euro bottles of wine and listen to the radio.


We were going to stay another day but decided that those few hours we spent getting lost and drunk on wine in the city were enough. We saddled up and started trudging our way out of Lisbon. Once out of city limits and on country roads any anxiety we had was lifted. You may notice we do not have many pictures of Lisbon, there is a reason for that, we were trying to get out of there as soon as possible. Cities are not friendly places for bikes. Camping has been incredible, every evening we have been fortunate to find great stealth spots. Our total lodging cost for the entirety of Portugal: $20.30 euro. After riding many miles through skinny village roads, down into vineyards then back up into more skinny village roads we made it to the coast. It is difficult to describe the majesty of the cliffs and the perfect 15 foot groundswell slamming up against the stone walls. So here is a picture.

Jason about to be swallowed by the sea.

I ended up getting food poisoning on day 3. I in no way can blame any particular restaurant on the count of we have yet to eat in any. We have sourced all of our food so far from markets. Turns out meat and cheese doesn’t last as long in the panniers as I had hoped. I stayed up for most of the night shaking and vomiting by a big fire Jason had built. Slow recovery the next day but we were still able to do some miles.

Yesterday morning we went through Porto and crossed a breathtaking bridge. Porto is possibly the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It would have been lovely to stay for a few days to loiter in cafes and get lost in the streets. But being on bikes and anxious from the city and not speaking a lick of Portuguese ( not even “hello” for the first 2 days) we decided to hoof it out of the city asap. There is a certain terror that comes with biking through a city no matter how stunning it is. Maybe one day I’ll go back to Porto, get a hotel overlooking the river and drink too much wine and write a book, but for now I will keep biking. On to Spain I suppose.


4 thoughts on “In and out of Portugal

  1. Great pics. Great description. Looks like your launch into Europe, with some turbulence, was successful. You’re alive and not in jail! 🙂


  2. As the father of two adventurous young men, the oldest, “rolling the earth” and the youngest serving in the Marine Corp., I find my hair is quickly turning gray. All the same , I am a proud father!


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