Final Thoughts Keith - Poking Around Europe 7.0 - CycleBlaze

November 5, 2022

Final Thoughts Keith

After the decision was made that it would be Portugal/Spain we picked a date and booked our flights.   As the date approached I became concerned due the extreme heat and wild fire situation that we were a bit early and that heat and smoke might be an issue.   In retrospect I think it turned out to be  almost perfect timing.  Temperatures were in the low to mid 20’s as we made our way down the coast from Lisbon and through the Algarve.   Our entire trip with the exception of a few wet days in the beginning and at the end of our trip involved sunscreen and tee shirts… never too hot. 

Route planning and navigation I found to be more of an issue with the lack of dedicated bike routes and signage you find in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and parts of italy and France we have toured.  We had the benefit of the Maher Weary’s experience for the first part of the tour until we reached Seville which was very helpful.  They wisely took the train to Sebutal.  I would like a redo of the first day from Lisbon to Sebutal.  It looked liked it would be pretty straightforward once we got onto part of the Eurovelo 1 after taking the ferry to Sexial.  We never did get on the EV1 which appeared to be on a busy highway as far as I could determine. We had planned to follow the EV1 route down the coast when it made sense to do so.  The EV1 in many places is more suitable for mountain bikes or bike packers. A contributing factor to navigation issues was the language barrier and our inability to easily tap into local knowledge of the area while on the road.  We saw very few cycle tourists for the first half of our trip.  For route planning I used Guru and Komoot along with Google maps.  At times it was frustrating when the route generated by these apps tried to lead us down or up the goat path.  We were fortunate to run into the Swiss couple coming out of Cadiz.  Our plan at that point was to cycle back through Seville but their mention of the beach route to Matalascanas was too good to pass up.  We had some great encounters with the few cycle tourists we met along the way particularly on the last half of the trip. 

Accommodation was mainly booked through   We typically booked hotels with a full time reception which made checking in a smooth process.   Prices ranged from 62 - 144 Euros (average 104 Euros) with the majority including breakfast.   We splurged at times.   Reception and hotel staff were excellent throughout the trip. We enjoyed the food in both countries although we did have to adjust around the timing of their late dining.  We were normally ready for bed when the locals were going out for dinner.   My go to drink on the road turned out to be Lemon Fanta.   It seems I had trouble pronouncing  such a simple word as “Fanta”.   After having to repeat myself several times I would finally get a response “Oh … Fanta”.  Yes, a Fanta please.  Got many laughs over that. The other insight for an energy boost for me mid ride was an ice cream bar which could propel me 25 kms.   Unfortunately I only discovered that late in our tour.

We were careful with Covid despite me picking it up somehow at the end of the trip and presumably passing it on to Kathleen.  I suggested that maybe she was initially asymptomatic and passed it onto me but she’s not buying that.  Mask wearing seemed to be a bit more prevalent in Portugal than in Spain.  We tried to keep our distance as much as possible.   We were surprised at the lack of mask wearing on the planes going both ways.

Other observations - police presence - there seemed to be noticeable difference between Portugal and Spain.   With the exception of Lisbon there seemed to be more of a police presence in Spain compared to Portugal.   

Trash along the roadside - we were surprised at the amount of trash along the roadsides - definitely more in Spain than Portugal on the routes we chose.   

Overall it was a great tour.    You never really now what each day will bring and what challenges and obstacles might present themselves.   To be honest there were a couple of occasions I did question … why are we doing this?    But that same question occurs to me even more often when I am golfing.

As a final note I had a great partner who was quite patient with all my stops for photographs or navigation checks and carried on without complaint in the tough bits (well most of the time!) 

No flats! 

For those contemplating cycling in this part of the world is a good reference.   

Another good site worthwhile checking out is put together by Huw Thomas.  He has also written a couple books which we purchased and carried with us.  

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ann and steve maher-wearyHi Keith
First of all thanks for the shout out for our Portugal blog. It is so great to read each others' blogs, we learn so much. I have enjoyed yours immensely. I admire your ability to change direction so effortlessly. Wow! You had a fab trip. We have taken notes of your route in Spain and the Alentejo region of Portugal for future trips! Yes we too followed Huw Thomas' route suggestions for northern Portugal and it was a great help in those out of the way places.

Hope you and Kathleen are feeling better soon.
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