Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal to Camping Playa Taray, Spain

From 28/09/2015 to 03/10/2015

Day 7 – Vila Franca de Xira to Parque de Campismo de Praia da Gale – 110kms

After a very good nights sleep we woke up early enough to get ready and still have time for a very comfortable cup of coffee and watch the sunrise.
We found the N10 bridge over the Taag river easy enough and after crossing we rode to Samora Correia were we turned left heading south on the N118. There was no shoulder on the roads but the drivers were very courteous and gave us plenty of room. Even some truckers slowed down and waited in cue to pass. Natural when we noticed we pulled over and got a thank you. After what seemed like ages we got to the outskirts of Hontijo were we just followed the signs for Setubal. It wasn’t difficult but it did get very hot in the afternoon sun.
We tried for a camping in Setubal but there isn’t any so we decided to take the ferry to Troia and head towards Comporta were we were told there’s a hotel. But they weren’t interested in two cyclists staying there so we decided to continue and look for the first camping. It was the best decision we made.
But 110kms at this time of year we ended up finding the camping just as it was getting dark do had to pitch the tent with our head lamps.


Enjoying the sunrise with a good cup of Joe.


Looking upriver from the N10 bridge.


And downriver towards Lisboa.


The N10 had a shoulder, so a bit easier to cycle on.


But the N118 had no such shoulder.


The scenery stayed the same, (boring) all the way to Montijo.


Just before Montijo we got on the IC3 were we passed a Portuguese air-force base with a vintage A7-Corsair II at the gate.


We also passed by a flock of flamingos, but this is the only picture that came out clear.


On the shoulder-less N252 heading to  Pinhal Novo.


At Pinhal Novo we found some shade to get out of the sun.


Because by this time…


it got very hot.


After looking for a camping and finding none we got to the ferry. But unfortunately we had a delay of of about an hour because this bus bottomed out trying to get on.


And that gave us time to take selfies 😉


A Portuguese navy ship docked on the Costa de Gale.


Cycling south on the N253-1 after Sol Troia.


The N253-1 was a very nice road with the exception of a couple really fast driver. Most likely tourists.


The Reserva Natural do Estuario do Sado.


The sand dunes and Atlantic ocean near Praia da Comporta.


The N261 proved to be a great road to cycle on.


So much so that I took plenty of pictures.


We began to worry when the sun began to set.


This night we were going to be treated to a moon eclipse.


We were really happy to have seen the sign to the camping but the last couple of kilometers were torture as we had to navigate some steep sand dunes to get to it. It was dark by the time we checked in and had to set up in the dark. First location we tried was between some campers and we could not put the tent pegs into the ground. Someone came around and showed us the tent area so we moved there. After cleaning up we rushed to the restaurant before it closed and got (a ginormous portion) pork chops with potatoes, salad and a beer for €8. Later at night the wind changed and we had this slight odor of sewage but it was too late to move. The next morning when we could see we found a fantastic spot on the edge of a hill with great views about 50 meters further.

Day 8 – Parque de Campismo da Praia da Gale – Rest day

We took a badly needed rest day today. After yesterdays 110 kilometer ride we were tired. I took my first ever dive into the Atlantic ocean today, hurrah 😉 One more item of my bucket list. For the rest of the day we just lounged around. Later in the afternoon a single German woman cyclist showed up, she had gotten a round trip ticket to Lisbon and cycling south with a plan to take the train back. A few hours later this young German couple also cyclists showed up with pretty much the same plan. But neither knew if the Portuguese trains accept bicycles. We wished them luck.


Our great spot. If we’re ever in this area we are definitely coming back here.


A larger view from our tent. Click to view larger.


The track down to the beach.


Looking south.


Looking north.


Looking back up towards the camping.


Finally the dive into the Atlantic.


It was really refreshing but I am not a strong swimmer and the way the waves were going back out scared me, so I stayed real close to the beach. Something to do with the tide I think.


Later in the evening we were treated to a great sunset.


Just as we had dreamed it, with a bottle of wine and just enjoying the sunset.

Day 9 – Parque de Campismo de Praia da Gale to Porto Cavo – 66kms

Not the greatest day of the tour. The first 20kms or so were great, cycling on quiet rural roads but then we were forced to cycle on a A road. It wasn’t finished yet so bicycles were still allowed.  After about 40kms we got into Sines but really didn’t like the town. It seemed dominated by this huge oil refinery and had a nasty chemical smell in the air. So we just cycled right out of it.
We continued riding along this industrial area and once out of time managed to miss the turn off and ended up on the busy N120-1 which was no fun at all without a shoulder and fast moving traffic. About 10kms later we found a second turn off and headed to Porto Covo.
A very nice little village if a bit too touristic for us. Camping was naturally a very crowded experience. We chatted with this nice Belgian couple who own a house in the Algarve and stay there 10 months of a year. We hope someday to do the same in Greece.


A great sunrise or in this case moon set.


The chef making breakfast.


The day started a bit overcast.


And in the distance it looked like rain. Click to view larger.


But it didn’t take long for the sun to come out again. Here were on the quiet CM1072.


On the A road to Sines. We do not know how the cyclists will manage this section when this road becomes operational.


In Sines they had this great cycling path which went all around the town and the petrochemical plants.


It did have a castle.


And a huge port with a large fishing fleet and huge tankers coming in to unload.


And a new looking promenade. It got pretty hot during the afternoon. That coupled with tiredness and hunger made us a bit edgy which stayed with us till the evening.
Guess we weren’t ready to leave that great camping. We both loved it there.


The way to Porto Covo.


Another great sunset.


The day was not the best but it did finish with a beautiful sunset.

Day 10 – Porto Cove to Camping Villa Park Zambujeira – 50kms

The day started out nice and cool and we did some kilometer early on. Not much of a plan, we just need to get as close as possible to the point were we could cross inland to reach Lagos.
We have decided to bypass the southwestern tip of Portugal so we could spend an extra day in Seville. We are on a time schedule. The plan now is to take the train from Huelva, Spain to Seville take a rest day, than take another train to Malaga before continuing east to Benidorm.
Camping here is great fairly priced and it has all the amenities. Off season naturally, high season would be a different story as it looks to get very busy.


Great riding on the CM1072.


Crossing the Rio Mira on the N393 with Vila Nova de Milfontes in the distance. Click to view larger.


Many stork nests in the area.


Praia da Zambujeira do Mar. Click to view larger.


We found some shade next to the Church Our Lady of the Sea, to have lunch.


The nice camping in Zambujeira.


And while George was enjoying the nice pool all to himself,


Monique was doing the laundry 😉


Enjoying yet another great sunset.


We will be cycling Portugal again.


It has some of the best sunsets.

Day 11 – Zambujeira to Lagos – 68kms

A difficult day indeed, we weren’t really ready for the heat and hills combination. It started out at a steady 2% climb and ended up at grueling 16% to bring back memories of Austria last spring. The temperature reached in the mid 30’s in the afternoon. The ride was interesting though with some beautiful sights.
Lagos is a huge and touristic town and we fear it’s the end for quiet cycling, were in the Algarve now. At the camping we ran into the young German couple whom we met at Parque de Campismo de Praia da Gale a few days ago. This time around we did chat for a while and later in the evening went out for beer and pizza.


On the N120.


There was some traffic but everyone was very courteous.


Getting into the Algarve region near the village of Odeceixe.


And more climbing. Click to view larger.


And the village of Odeceixe taken while having a breather. Click to view larger.


Just like us the temperature was also climbing.


On the N120 atop a plateau.


Still more climbing but getting closer to Lagos.


On the N120 just after the turnoff of the N268 (just above Moniques head) which leads to the southwest tip of Portugal.
Click to view larger.


One last push over the top.


When the downhill started we noticed a large fire in the distance. Click to view larger.


So we took our our fold-able chairs and watched the rife in the distance.


Resting by Lagos harbor. Monique went to find some supplies at a supermarket across the street but found 80% of the shop only carried alcohol. Welcome to the Algarve.


Lagos harbor. Click to view larger.


A replica of Portugal’s ship of exploration.



Second time we met Christof and Christine so we had to take a picture.

Day 12 – Lagos to Camping in Olhao – 100kms

Today was just about getting to Faro, or just past it. We stayed on the N125 all the way there. Busy road, hot and many trucks just about says it all. A couple of times the N road became an A road and we had to detour. Getting into Faro was not nice at all as the road turned into the IC4, a six lane national road with fast moving traffic. As I write this I’ve found a nicer way into Faro but at the time we didn’t know, so google some information if planing on cycling into Faro.
A couple of kilometers before Olhao we stopped at a Lidle supermarket for supplies and a few minutes later Chistof and Christine show up. The had come the same way as us all 100kms along the busy N125. Later in the evening we had another great chat over a couple of beers. Tomorrow they plan a rest day to enjoy the beach because they need to head inland and head back to Losbon and we continue on to Spain. Great couple and we hope to meet again.


The first of many signs on the N125.


Boring scenery and a busy road, oh what fun.


Closer to Faro the traffic picked up.


Getting in and out of Faro was an ordeal, bad drivers, pollution and tiredness made for a trying day.

Day 13 –  Olhao, Portugal to Camping Playa Taray, Spain – 65kms

Got up a bit late this gray morning. We had arrived late yesterday and set up just before it got dark and ended up having a diner of potato chips and two six packs of beer.
The day started as it ended yesterday with the first +/-40kms on the N125 all the way to Vila Real de Santo Antonio for the ferry to Spain.
We found the camping by chance as we missed the first one at Isla Christina. Camping was OK, until later at night we heard this really loud music coming from the bar. The owner forgot to mention they had live music this evening. What a jerk, he should have said something.


In the morning we saw this huge American camper with the sides extended to make it bigger.


Back on the N125.


A bit nicer and quieter today, getting used to it.


At least it had a wide shoulder.


Bridge over the Rio Gilao near Tavira. Click to view larger.


Getting closer to Santo Antonio.


Orange growing country.


There were some sections which were really nice on the N125. To the right were huge Oleander bushes that smelled just heavenly.
Click to view larger.


On the ferry (wooden bucket) crossing the Rio Guadiana to Spain.


And our bikes.


Looking forward to cycling in Spain.


They were having a race this day on the N-431 and half the road was closed down.


On the A-5150 on the way to Isla Christina before getting side tracked and ending up at Playa Taray.

Continue on to La Garrofa near Almeria.