Vila Nova de Milfontes - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 31, 2019

Vila Nova de Milfontes

Today’s Ride

We’re elated when we wake up this morning and see that the weather forecast has improved.  We had been thinking we’d stay over in Ourique a second night - a nice quiet town with lime trees, swarms of English sparrows, one decent enough restaurant but not many other obvious attractions that we can see.  Much more interesting to spend the afternoon exploring at the coast, we imagine.  I lock myself in a time box and blitz yesterday’s blog, and we roll out of town on the dot at 8:45.

It’s uniformly grey but dry when we start biking west into a mild headwind that will persist all the way to the coast.  The land is pretty, gradually growing greener and more varied as we progress.  Bright, lacy pine trees stand sentinel along the roadside, supplanting the eucalyptus; then are themselves replaced by cork oaks and then ash.  Rolling fields hold the bucolic delights we’ve grown used to in the last ten days: grazing cattle, sheep on the move, scattered villages.  

All very pretty, but we don’t slow down much to appreciate it.  We’re on a mission to reach the coast dry in time for lunch.  And in any case we aren’t on a road that promotes a leisurely ride - it’s a bit busier than we’d like, and we have to keep alert to traffic.  We picked this route because it’s the most direct, but with more time we’d have followed a quieter one.

Leaving Ourique, the Pork Capitol of Alentejo. It’s grey on the horizon in all directions, but dry. For now.
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Westward, ho!
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That Rachael, slowing us down for a photo again; and on a day when we’re in a hurry, too! As if we didn’t have enough sheep shots already in this journal.
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Ron SuchanekGeez, again???
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1 month ago
Sheep thrills.
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Bill ShaneyfeltBaaaaaad... :-)
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1 month ago
Tall, lacy pines replace the eucalyptus along the roadside.
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Beautiful country, worth a slower look than its getting from us today.
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The land steadily trends greener as we near the ocean.
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Video sound track: Angel Eyes, by Raz

About halfway into the ride, we see the forecast for what it is - a forecast, not a promise.  It begins misting lightly, then a bit more so.  It never breaks out into full rain, but we don’t trust it and stop to bring out the protection.  Better to do it now where we have shelter and aren’t rushed than in a panic when it really turns wet.

The rain never does hit, but as we cross the final high rise before descending to the coast we encounter a band of fog, dense enough that we consider stopping to break out the lights.  It’s not quite bad enough to be worth stopping for though; and not far past the summit it thins out and soon disappears, along with the mist.  Even though it’s still overcast, the last four miles are fast breezy descent that go a long ways toward drying us out.  

We arrive in our town for the night, pull in at the first inviting cafe we pass, and settle in for lunch.   A nice place.  I have the plat de jour, a steaming bowl of rice with broiled chicken scraps; and Rachael has a pork sandwich.  We have plenty of time - we arrived at 12:30, and check in at our hotel isn’t until two.  A bit after one, Rachael finishes her lunch and decides to use the time by going to the grocery store only five minutes away while I finish off my glass of wine.

A half hour later, she’s still out.  Then forty five minutes.  My phone is dead from using it as a GPS, so I can’t contact her.  I’m starting to get worried, but there’s nothing to be done but stay put as the cafe starts thinning out.  Ten minutes later she finally shows up, looking harried.  Her phone’s GPS was no help, and she’s been spending the last half hour wandering the streets of this tiny place trying to find her way back.

In an abundance of caution, we stop to add more protection and wait a few minutes to see which way the mist goes. Almost immediately it damps off and we start cycling again.
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Where’s Rachael?
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Vila Nova de Milfontes

It really is delightful to be here.  Milfontes is a modest but historical place at the mouth of the small Mira River, a shorty that rises in the hills just east of here.  After showering and resting up a bit, we walk down to the river’s edge and then follow it out to the lighthouse point, a low rise with steep cliffs dropping to the mouth of the river on one side, and partially vegetated sand dunes sloping to the ocean on the other.

For the next two hours we take our time, loving everything we see - the boat-filled mouth of the river, the ruined castle, cats everywhere, impressive cliffs, crashing waves.  It’s all great, even on this grey day that threatens rain.  We stay out until dusk, when the air turns misty and threatens rain and we quicken our pace back to the room.

At the end of the day we return to the river’s edge and enjoy a fine meal - vegetable soup, followed by grilled sea bass (One fish for two, our server asks?  When we look uncertain, she walks off and returns with the largish fish she has in mind for us.  Yes, that looks sufficient.), topped off with a delicious almond cake that seems like a less sweet version of baclava.

Wonderful to be at the coast again!  We’ll be here for the next week, following it south and then east back to the Spanish border.  Our plan is for short cycling days, with the afternoons spent wandering the shoreline.

In Vila Nova de Milfontes
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A row of cabins on the harbor front. Not sure what these are - storage units of some sort?
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The mouth of the Mira River. There’s apparently a small ferry that crosses here, maybe for foot passengers. I think one of the historic caminos came this way and pilgrims were boated across.
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In Vila Nova de Milfontes
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This next week along the coast is going to be beautiful - especially if the sun returns!
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Looking across the mouth of the Mira River.
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Cats everywhere in this town! Must be something interesting up there that’s caught their attention.
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A Eurasian collared dove. I’ve got a bird streak going - three days in a row!
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Jen GrumbyScott's three-day streak sighting birds.
A four-day streak is what's preferred.
He'll ride down the coast
Camera ready at most
For the next bird, beyond today's third.
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1 month ago
Looking back at the town and its fortress. The fort was built in about 1600 to protect the newly repopulated town after it had been completely sacked by corsairs and its occupants enslaved.
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O Arcanjo (The Archangel), a new sculpture to express the environmental problems of the world caused by humans. The sculpture is carrying the globe in his hands, screaming in despair for humanity.
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On the beach below lighthouse point, looking back upriver.
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The rocks at the shoreline below the cliffs are fantastic, opalesque.
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The cliffs below lighthouse point.
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Wonderful. We could have had a whole gallery of rock photos.
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Oh, here’s the ocean!
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An exciting new first for the GBO! As far as I know, this is his first view of the wild Atlantic. He’s suitably awestruck, and hopeful that I won’t just leave him here stuck in the sand.
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Jen GrumbyYes, I can tell by his expression that he is very impressed, and ecstatic!
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1 month ago
Rachael brought her camera along today too, you see.
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Ron SuchanekThe recent haircut looks spiffy!
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1 month ago
The stony beach is filled with inukshuks, for some reason. Inukshuk (a piled stone structure) is a term New to me that I borrowed from Brent Irvine’s journal of his visit here (Some More Portugal: Not Just Kicking the Tires).
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Jacquie GaudetIt's an Inuit term which became much more well known following the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. More info here https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/inuksuk-inukshuk
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanI remember these little stacks signaled the right route on a trail that passed across solid stone. Walking here would be so confusing as to which way to go.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanThat was my interpretation too, at first. I Foolishly stepped in and got stuck in a loop for the next half hour until Rachael rescued me.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanI dislike this fad immensely. It's also anything but environmental because it deprives many tiny and not so tiny species of animals places where they live. I'd knock them all over.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI thought similarly, but didn’t think of the issue for the critters. They reminded me of those annoying love locks you see clamped to scenic bridges. I hate people, don’t you?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanLove locks suck! It's just a ploy by padlock companies to make more money. I hate companies.
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1 month ago
Looks like a splendid way to pass the afternoon. Who cares if they’re biting?
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The second beach north of the lighthouse. Running out of daylight, we turned back here; but would have been happy to just keep walking.
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Ride stats today: 38 miles, 1,800’; for the tour: 1,276 miles, 68,100’

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,278 miles (2,057 km)

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