We awoke to a chilly but sunny morning on our last day in Portugal. We had breakfast, packed up and pedalled out of one of the nicest campsites I’ve stayed in. As we were leaving, Steve called into the camp mini-mart to grab a roll or something for lunch and soon emerged with two bags of beautiful, warm, crusty and grainy rolls. Steve made the excellent suggestion of eating one there and then while it was still so deliciously warm and crusty. So we sat in the sun in the car park and liberally spread the rolls with jam and, once again, enjoyed second breakfast. Dee-lish!
We set off pedalling for Villa Real da Santa Antonio where we were to catch the ferry to cross the short stretch of water into Spain. There was still some wind about and still a few small hills, so Portugal was just saying toodle-ooh by reminding us of some of its memorable features and leaving us with a small departing gift of a bit of wind and a few hills! Thanks darling Portugal! … Villa Real da Santa Antonio was a bustling place with an enormous outdoor market and rows and rows of shops leading down to the waterfront. Before the motorway was built, the ferry was the only means of going between Portugal and Spain in this area, so it’s obviously established itself as a prime retail area.
After pausing by the water for our final elevenses in Portugal, we headed over to the ferry terminal where we made perfect timing for the next ferry to leave. On we went and 10 minutes later disembarked on Spanish soil, an hour later than we left. Yep, another time zone, so in that 10 minute crossing, we lost an hour.
When we rode off the ferry in Ayamonte and began pedalling through the streets, there was a march going on and police redirecting traffic off the main street. A large group of people were marching down the street with banners and loud speakers. Now I know my Spanish isn’t too good, but I think this is what they were shouting…
Welcome! They are here! They have arrived! Our Portuguese cousins have sent them to us!
Welcome Steve, the Grand Poobah of the pastry, sent to us to bring wealth to our economy through his charitable and excessive consumption of our flaky puff!
Welcome Heidi! You who are sent to amuse us with your grand and choreographed dance of the wobble and whoopsies on the bicycle and your costumes of eclectic colour combinations and questionable fashion decisions, you will bring us great mirth and entertainment!
We welcome you to our shores and we will rejoice in the wealth and amusement you bring to us!
I may not have got it all, but generally I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying.
So, having left the marching and declarations behind us, we headed off to our next campsite in Isla Cristina. We rode most of the way on a bike path, that was gravel but flat, since it was once a railway line. There were a few little skids and wobbles in the gravel but on the whole it was an easy and uneventful ride. We passed a few different stables with beautiful Andalusion horses and some riders went past on the path too and gave a wave. I haven’t seen many horses here or Portugal but the ones I’ve seen have all been standing and tethered by a rope around their neck. Some have been in open plots of land with no fences, but some have been in fenced areas and they all still have a rope around their neck tethering them. I’m not sure why but they all look healthy and plump. It was nice to see these ones ride by though, looking very sleek and dashing.
We arrived at our campsite and located a pitch for the tent, in a nice quiet spot under the trees. After a late lunch, we hopped on the bikes again and pedalled back into the supermarket to get something for supper. After his “feast of beige” last night, Steve felt in need of something nutritious, so we loaded up with veg and returned to the tent. Alas, on arrival it was to find we had acquired neighbours in our absence. Of all the space in the whole park, this group of four youngsters decided to pitch right next to us and it seems they’re going to make a night of it. So our peace has floated away to be replaced by youthful laughs, giggles, shrieks and loud and lengthy conversations assisted by two enormous smoking devices that have already been put to use. Oh well, we will just have to be old fogies tonight and grizzle and grump about our neighbours as we no doubt endure a somewhat sleep deprived night. Can’t choose your neighbours!
On the upside, Steve cooked up a magnificent arrangement of vegetables, so we feel full and nourished and while our youthful neighbours were having a rollicking old time, we sat and got our fibre and ate our greens, like the fine pair of oldies we are!
So tomorrow we hit the road again and begin to see a bit more of Spain. We’re heading in the general direction of Seville, which will take us at least a couple of days to get to. I wonder what Spain will present to us? Will it be similar to Portugal, with its quiet unassuming personality? Or will it be rowdier and a bit more “look at me”? What will the road throw up? More hills and challenges, or will it welcome us with flat and scenic pedalling? All will no doubt be revealed. We had a lovely time in Portugal though and it gave us a wonderful start to our journey. So I feel the need to pen a short verse to say thank you to that country we’ve just left behind.
Ode to Portugal
Portugal, dear Portugal
You of the kind and friendly folk
You gave us some hills and some joy and some thrills
And our antics gave you the odd joke.
We will miss your peace and quiet
And your beautiful places to see
You’ve shown us some sites and those hills of great heights
Which were thankfully endured with good tea!
See ya Portugal…thanks for the memories!