Aljezur, and some transitions - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

November 2, 2019

Aljezur, and some transitions

We’re staying in a hostel, something we don’t do so often because we tend to prefer more privacy, but it ends up as a positive experience.  Over breakfast we enjoy comparing trip notes with Cilia and Valissa, a bright and adventurous young French couple from somewhere near Strasbourg.  They’re traveling by bicycle also, following the coastline from Lisbon to Faro, and are off today for Lagos - a longer ride than we decided to take on today because again we’re uncertain about the rains.  Might as well keep our days short for now so we have a better chance of fitting a dry ride in.

Hostel Nature is a nice place - clean, new, friendly, with a green conscience.  The owner, whose name slips me at the moment, is new to Zambujeira - she and her partner took on this place just three months ago, after moving here from Karlsruhe.  It looks like a lovely place to live.

Valissa and Celia, from Strasbourg; and our host, from Karlsruhe. All, being well educated Europeans, speak passable English. We, being cloddish Americans, speak pretty much zip in anything but our own language.
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Today’s ride

We’re at a transition point in our tour, in several regards.  We’re at exactly the halfway point of our 13 week tour.  We’ll leave the Alentejo today and crossing into the Algarve.  We’re leaving the Atlantic Ocean behind and are angling southeast to the Mediterranean.  And, after six weeks of a generally southern trajectory, we reorient ourselves and head east for the remainder of the tour.

Like yesterday, today’s ride doesn’t amount to much.  Another short twenty miler, but with a bit more climbing than yesterday.  A fair amount more climbing actually, much of it that we’ll spend walking rather than biking because the roads are too steep and the surface too jarring to pedal.  

We were wishing we were doing more walking here, so we’re getting what we wished for I guess.  We forgot however to specify that we prefer walking without pushing loaded bicycles.  Be careful what you wish for.

Other than that though, it was a fine ride.  Other than the rough dip and climb at Carvalhal Beach and the trek up through Odeceixe, most of the day’s ride was on lovely and quiet if undramatic roads.  Mostly, we were grateful that we stayed dry.  There were more than a few times today when it occurred to me how mad Rachael would be at me for picking this route if we were pushing up these slopes in the rain and biking through sandy puddles.

And don’t fail to watch today’s video - it’s a good report on today’s road conditions.

Leaving Zambujeira do Mar, we stop at the mirador on the way out of town for a last look for this tour at the awesome Atlantic.
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Is that you, Valissa? Zooming in, we can just make out her and Celia, who has just turned the corner and passed from view. We’re maybe a quarter mile behind them, but it will take us fifteen minutes to reach that spot. Very slow going here.
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OK, well here’s our real last look at the Atlantic. We’ve dropped down by Carvalhal beach, just two miles south of Zambujeira, before climbing away from the sea and turning inland for the rest of the day.
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Ron SuchanekYou didn't forget GBO, did you?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekGBO? GBO who?
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1 month ago
This is why Cilia and Valissa were pushing their bikes. Steep, and a godawful surface. Is there a name for this? Cinder block and dirt? Malmetalled Road? We’ve seldom been so happy to find ourselves on a sandy dirt road as when we topped out and came to the end of this mess.
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Gregory GarceauI can't believe that's a road. It looks more like a long, wide rumble strip--only bumpier. Car tires must make a frightening roar every time one goes by.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauIt’s a record setter, alright. And you’re right about the car tires, especially going uphill when they’re powering to keep momentum.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyI don't usually curse, but this "road" is worthy of a couple expletives.

Dadgummit blah!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyDadgummit!? I think we’re going to have to start censoring or pre-screening some of this input. And blah? Goodness gracious!
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyMrs. Grumby and her long stream of profanities, bleeped again!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup. Don’t expect to slip one like this past us again in the future. We’ve got our eyes on you know.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekOh, I can only imagine the stream of colorful, hyphenated utterances coming from my mouth.
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1 month ago
Not what we expected to find at the top of this climb. We’ve taken a wrong turn apparently and landed in Africa.
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Ron SuchanekYou should scratch his belly. They like that
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekThat was my plan, actually. It was a shame the chain link fence got in the way. I could have scaled it of course but we’ve done our time staring at the wrong side of a fence on this tour.
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1 month ago
Such amazing animals. Hard to believe they’re real.
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Crossing the Seixe River, we leave the Alentejo behind and enter a new province, the Algarve.
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Odeceixe, a typical Portuguese town - steep, narrow, cobblestone streets. We’re starting to get used to them, barely.
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The windmill stands at the highest point in Odeceixe. It’s fairly recent, built in 1896, and apparently flour is still being milled here. Apparently not a wind powered mill any more though.
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Looking down the Seixe River from upper Odeceixe. The Ocean is just a few miles to the west of here, on the other side of theat ridge.
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We enjoy Odeceixe so much that we decide to walk through it to have a more leisurely look.
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Aljezur

Continuing with our newly normal routine, we arrive in Aljezur before one - too early to check in to the hotel, but just right for grabbing a light lunch somewhere.  Over tuna salads we catch up on journals and keep a wary eye on the weather, then hurriedly pack up and dash to our nearby hotel when showers begin.

An hour or so later, we venture back out again for a walking tour of this small, ancient town.  Aljezur is a modest but interesting place, just large enough for a leisurely afternoon’s exploration.  It’s an ancient settlement, dating back to the Iron or possibly even the Bronze Age; but its more modern history began with the Moorish occupation.  They built the castle a thousand years ago to protect the port, and held it as the last Moorish outpost in the Algarve until it fell to the Christians in 1249.

For dinner, we took a leisurely 100 yard stroll to the surprisingly sophisticated Varzea restaurant, where we celebrated the various transitions and the completion of 2,000 kilometers. Rachael raved at length about her butternut squash soup, possibly the best soup she remembers having anywhere.

Tomorrow, Lagos and the Mediterranean!

Bougainvillea? I didn’t know it came in white.
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Old Aljezur has Arab roots, and its narrow, twisted lanes reflect it.
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Looking back from Aljezur’s Castle hill to the new town, Aljezur Vila Nova.
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Old Aljezur, from the castle.
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Not too much remains of the ruined Moorish castle. A great spot from which to stand and survey the domain though.
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Aljezur Vila Nova and the ruins of the castle walls.
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The view south toward the Mediterranean, I think. I’m not sure of my bearings here.
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Looking west toward the Atlantic down the course of the Aljezur River. Note how gloomy it’s getting to the far right. We should probably get down off of this hill soon.
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One of the more accessible streets in old Aljezur. Most are far too narrow and twisted for cars to navigate.
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Trapped! We walked down this short street trying to find our way down off the hill, and this vicious beast harassed us out of his turf. When we came to a dead end and turned back, he was still there waiting for us. Yikes!
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Ron SuchanekHoly crap! I'm glad you escaped the clutches of that bloodthirsty beast. When Jen and I encounter wildlife, I always recommend that she stays and distracts the animal while I run and get help.
Or, you could ride with our friend Gay, who can turn a slobbering pack of wild reservation dogs away with a simple "Got, you dogs! Go home or I'll ring your head off! Go on!"
https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/porridge/springfield-to-pickstown-herding-dogs-on-empty-roads-in-indian-country/
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1 month ago
Old Aljezur’s maze of streets and walkways is quite confusing. We puzzled a bit on how to find our way down from the hill.
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It’s hard to envision that this little place was once an important port town, and that the Aljezur River was wide and deep enough to support large ships. We’re looking here at the site of the ancient loading dock.
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Get your ducks in a row.
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Aljezur Castle
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Steve Miller/GrampiesAre you sure, really sure, that you have the right Gps track in here?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesLooks right to me. Why do you ask?
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonFunny, very funny. You don't usually get so off the track as to be an ocean and a continent away from reality.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI think I was disoriented by the ostrich and zebras and didn’t really know where we were for sure.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Steve Miller/Grampies Very observant! I thought something looked familiar about that track.
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1 month ago
Or maybe it was more like this.
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Ride stats today: 20 miles, 1,300’; for the tour: 1,318 miles, 70,000’

Today's ride: 20 miles (32 km)
Total: 1,320 miles (2,124 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jen GrumbyGlad you got that "road" on video, Rachael. It really does make the dirt road look quite pleasant.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThat’s true!
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekI'm loving this journal and Portugal.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekWe’ve been thinking about the Gumbys quite a bit on this tour. Portugal is a place they’d both love, I think. They could bring the GBO along for a family reunion tour.
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1 month ago