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  • Day11

    Hello from Praia da Luz, still smiling

    April 4, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Hi folks,
    It’s Wednesday afternoon and we are safely ensconced in a lovely hotel in Praia Da Luz called the Belavista. Yes, lovely vistas as the name implies ( see enclosed photo) but we had to climb up to get them! We’ve had 5 days of varied cycling. Our first 2 days were not too long and relatively flat. On day 2 we actually biked back through Faro where we started our trip. We were able to check out the Igreja(church) do Carmo) an 18th century Catholic church known for its small chapel built out of the bones and skulls of over 1200 monks. The ossuary called the Capela de Ossos or chapel of bones has an inscription above the door « stop here and think of the fate that will befall you ».

    Speaking of befalling, so far, knock on wood, no one has come off a bike without intent. Laura tried to tangle with a bus two days ago but it all ended amicably. Helen is a fiend in the round abouts( traffic circles) of which there are many. Her daily London cycling requires a certain....shall we say, assertiveness that is needed in cases of traffic circles. Overall, the drivers have been patient and courteous.
    Day 3 had more distance from Olhao to Vilamoura and more climbing. Vilamoura is quite a resort town although still quiet at the moment. Loads of shuttered apartments and lots of empty tables at the hotel breakfast buffets. Must be the weather which is not quite beach weather but it is perfect for cycling. Our hotel in Vilamoura was one of the large chains - Vila Gale and we were able to enjoy the spa! We also cycled through a very large and deluxe golf community that day. Reminded me of Phoenix with 4 courses, lovely manicured areas, palms, shopping centres etc. Mac, it looked like your kind of place.
    Laura has been right on the job as co-navigator with me and also restaurant researcher. At Vilamoura we took a different culinary route and enjoyed excellent Mexican with guacamole made at our table. Yuuuuuum. Only problem was the very large mains which none of us could finish even with our biking appetites,
    Yesterday, Wednesday was a tough cycling day. It was a long distance made longer by unexpected detours, tough times navigating through various towns including Albufeira and a relentless headwind that felt like someone pushing you backwards. Not surprisingly The wind is howling from west to east, opposite of our cycling direction and it picks up as the temp rises in the afternoon. If anyone is tempted to bike the Algarve, you might want to look at going the other direction, just saying. We finally, literally staggered into the beautiful seaside town of Praia ( beach) Da Rocha ( of the rocks). We stayed in a small B and B with a very chatty proprietor who tried to convince me that a 2night stay would be preferable. Agreed, but we have to keep moving. Laura guided us to a cheap and delicious pizza place last night but the highlight of Praia Da Rocha besides the beautiful views was the late afternoon drink at the beach.
    Today is Thursday and our ride was much less demanding and we literally breezed into Praia Da Luz and were having our post ride drink by 230. Wéve really enjoyed such varied scenery. Lots of trails near the ocean, often skirting large estuaries. Small villages and lots of countryside. We’ve also has to do some road cycling to get from area to area. Less scenic but efficient.
    Tomorrow is our last day cycling and God willing, we’ll make Sagres and then Cape Saint.Vincent on the very western tip by 3. We are getting picked up there and driven back to Loule which is mid-Algarve. On Friday we train to Lisbon. Our bike days have been fewer this trip to allow Helen and Laura time to see some other sites.
    To answer a couple of questions: weather has been fine. Better than Helen’s very pessimistic weather app forecast. The sun is out but the heat is not an issue, so perfect. Are we having any trouble communicating? No, this area relies on tourism and with few exceptions everyone has some English. Our little bit of Spanish is useful in understanding most signs. People are exceptionally friendly and very willing to help us. See attached picture at a garage yesterday outside of Albufeira and Mike’s tire troubles,
    We have not done too much site seeing although Helen, our tour guide and historian, has briefed us on each area as we pass through. But we’ll have to come back to take in the many castles, Roman ruins and the wax museum of Portuguese historical highlights.
    Must run and get ready as Laura has another great restaurant idea for tonight.
    Hope all is well wherever you are........thanks for your notes.
    Love Heather/ Mom
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