Albufeira - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 6, 2019

Albufeira

Lagos has definitely spoiled us.  It will probably take a few days for its glow to wear off, so we don’t just go to bed at night or wake up in the morning wondering why we didn’t stay in Lagos longer and just make up the time elsewhere.

Like today.  Today was just fine, really.  It had its ups and downs, and its pros and cons.  But at the end of the day we find ourselves in Albufeira, an attractive enough if overtouristy coastal town that I imagine I’d feel differently about it if we’d arrived here earlier in the tour.  Nice enough, but Lagos it’s not.

On the up side: the weather was beautiful - warm, sunny, a nice tailwind blowing us east along the Algarve coast.  It looks like we’re in for a spell of this and are due to get blown all way back into Spain.  Hard to believe this is early November.  

And, much of the ride were very nice, scenic.  Especially attractive were the first seven miles out of Lagos, when we followed the coastline (and, for a while, we’re literally ON the coast - or, I should say, literally on the littoral) on a quiet road/path/trail.  It would have made a nice outing from Lagos, after which we could have just returned and spent the night there again!

And, best of all, we saw storks!  We knew that some of Iberia’s stork population is overwintering now, and have been watching in vain for them ever since leaving Zamora weeks ago.  It looks like maybe they all land here in the Algarve and decide there’s no pressing need to skirt the Mediterranean after all.  Who can blame them?

On the other hand, the Algarve coast is a bit busier than we’ve been experiencing for the last month, and the coastal towns feel more touristy and built up.  Lots of large resort hotels and golf courses.  We’ve gotten so spoiled over the last month from the solitude and serenity of Extremadura and the Alentejo.

And we quibbled a bit with the Ecovia, which we followed off and on today.  I’d say that about a fifth of the day was spent on unpaved surfaces, sometimes unnecessarily so.  It looks like the route planners gratuitously throw in a stretch of course sand and gravel just for the fun of it when a perfectly pleasant empty country lane is not far away.

And, we could have done with a bit less of Albufeira’s party atmosphere, with its crowds of young revelers singing from its bars late into the evening.  It made me think a bit of Seaside, back home.  This place must be really crazy in season, if it’s like this in November.

But these are just quibbles.  Really, it was a very nice day to ride, in a very nice place to ride, with the best company I could hope for.  I’m such a lucky guy!

One last photo from the cliff walks, sent to us by Maria. We all have blue shoes!
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Leaving Paula’s Apartments, in Lagos. As much as we liked Isabel and Marek personally, we were sorry we couldn’t have stayed at Paula’s place for three nights. Or for a week. Or for . . .
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Biking along the harbor, leaving Lagos. For having been here three nights, we didn’t actually see much of the city itself. We really needed at least another day.
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Lagos, disappearing behind a bird cloud.
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We found the quiet, flat route out of town - following the water line beneath the golf course. Oh, and a fact check: this isn’t the Mediterranean after all, which doesn’t start until Gibraltar. This is still the Atlantic.
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Video sound track: May I Suggest, by Susan Werner

Oh, my gosh! The Algarve has a wintering stork population! We saw dozens of them today. I think I recognize this pair from Zamora - it’s probably why they weren’t in such a hurry to head south, because they didn’t have far to go.
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Jen GrumbyCan you tell by the leg bands that it's the same pair?

That would be worth a 5-day AFD bonus to see the same storks twice.

Handsome birds!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyNo, I was going by the orange beak and legs. The black and white feathers tipped me off too - I’m sure they’re the same pair.
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1 month ago
Ponte Velho, the long bridge across the Arade River, at Portimão. It looks like a huge river here, but it’s really short. It’s just very broad at its mouth.
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The bridge across the Arade has a separate bike/pedestrian lane that has been stapled on to both sides, which is great - the traffic lane looks suicidal. The bike lane is unnerving enough though - it feels like your wheel could drop into the gap on either side of the steel plates if you screw up.
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Portimão, from the Arade bridge.
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Paschal, the attractive bedroom community across the river from Portimão. If you lived here and your job was in the city, you could commute across that bridge every day on your bike!
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In Parchal, just hanging out with his cart apparently. We saw another of these wheeling down the street here, and you can too if you watch today’s video closely.
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We biked a fair chunk of today’s ride on the Ecovia, and experienced a few stretches like this. In places the routing makes some very curious choices in our opinion.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesHave often thought that bike route planners should be required to state the parameters that guide their route choice. Things like, given a choice always take the hillier way, or, make sure to route around rather than through every place that might have services a cyclist would want, or, an ever favourite, even 50 metres on a slightly trafficked road is to be avoided in favour of a 10 km detour on a gravel singletrack over hills.
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1 month ago
Steep and rough enough that walking is advised in spots. I should have followed my own advice - I tried to power up one of these rises, lost momentum and traction, and fell over.
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For lunch we sat on the bluff above the cliffs at Armação de Pêra, keeping ourselves a healthy distance back from the precipice.
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The view from our tiny balcony at Maria’s Guest House, in Albufeira. This is 5th of October Street, which ends in that short tunnel that passes through the ridge to the beach access.
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Albufeira’s long, golden sand beach.
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The center of town sits about a hundred feet above the beach, atop sandstone cliffs. You can reach the beach by climbing the stairs, or by walking to the low end of the sloping town, or by taking the elevator.
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There’s a nice promenade along the top of the cliffs, but the place really isn’t quite as idyllic as it looks here. Even this far off season it feels quite touristy, and a bit of a party town. There’s a volleyball game on the beach, and a sundown massage parlor on the sand above the high tide line.
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If you look hard enough, you can find scenic patches of the old city that haven’t been overrun by the tourism veneer. This is the passageway to the Old Church, but when I followed it I couldn’t find the church.
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Same street, but still no church.
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I do like the chimneys here, as I have throughout Portugal. It’s a great country for chimney aficionados.
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Color riot
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The beach itself is the nicest feature of Albufeira, I thought - very nice to walk along the shore at sundown, dodging incoming waves, watching dogs run in the surf and a few stray folks sitting on the sand scrolling through texts on their phones.
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Ride stats today: 36 miles, 1,800’; for the tour: 1,380 miles, 74,000’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 1,380 miles (2,221 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Jen GrumbyNice song with the video, Rachael!
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1 month ago
Angela NaefIve been enjoying the videos and I love the Spanish/Latin American music. This song was lovely as well, who was the musician?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Angela NaefOh,I left the credit out! Thanks for keeping me honest, Angela. May I Suggest, by Susan Werner - one of our favorite songs.
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1 month ago