In Portugal, it does (not?) only rains on dumb people!

Day 269, Lisbon, 14.727 km

There is a saying in France, that most people coming from Brittany use: “In Brittany, it rains only on dumb people”. If you have ever talked about rain to a Breton, he probably replied with this famous adage, while giving you a condescending look… I had been told about Portugal that it was a beautiful country, but very rainy. And so far, rain? No, only sunshine and even temperatures already summery (sorry for all those who are in the cold, rain, snow, but I give everything for a little bit of sunshine to come towards you…). And then, while looking at the weather forecast on Friday evening, I see that rain is announced for the next day. There it is. I check in the morning that everything is waterproof, take out the rain Jay-cket, and get ready to ride under the deluge. A few drops here. A few drops there. The sun even comes out. The more the day goes on, the more I start to think that I avoided the worst. The sky is gray but it is the case since the morning. I think of all the people who told me that it rained in Portugal and I see myself giving them a reply like: « Oh yes, it rains in Portugal? It must be like in Brittany then, only on a certain type of people. » I’m laughing until about 5:05 pm. Then after that, not at all. Wind, rain, everything happens at once. A little lull of 5 minutes, I have time to think: « Finally, it was not so bad », and again. I imagine that all the Portuguese are laughing at me at the moment. Finally I set up the tent, I eat and I sleep under the rain. Indeed, it rains on everybody in Portugal… But let’s be honest, it rained for 8 hours since I’m in Portugal, 6 of them spent sleeping, so I’m not going to complain about the weather, quite the contrary!

It’s grey, but it’s still not raining…
… until it starts.

But let’s go back to our story. Under the sun. Well not quite. When I leave Faro, the sky is grey. My spirits are a bit low too. The fact that everything was empty and closed probably. I hope it will not be like that everywhere in Portugal. I’m going towards nature. At least that’s what I think, because at the beginning of the journey, it’s rather dumps, building sites and sand. Well. Then cities. Ferragudo. Portimão. Lagos. Sometimes nice views, beaches, some cliffs, but always a bar or a restaurant (closed) to spoil the view a bit. And the grey sky doesn’t encourage me to stroll in the streets, so I continue, hoping that the best is to come…

Ferragudo
Portimão
Lagos

I’m a bit tired of hotels, camping sites, luxury residences, and it’s a good thing I’m a bit more in the nature. Less people, cars on the road, it’s nice. A paved road even, a slope at 20% (the sign said so), and lots of green. I arrive at the end of the day’s stage, in Sagres, a country of surfers. A nice beach and beautiful cliffs. But I have mixed feelings overall. I had been told so much about the beauty of the South of Portugal, I’m almost a little disappointed…

The paved road, and the slope behind
Sagres, its fort, its cliffs, its surfers…

The next day, we leave towards the North. It is beautiful, hot, the road is nice, in the forest, little wind, lots of pleasure! Then comes the small city of Carrapateira. I see that the cycle track makes a small detour to pass by the sea. « We are not here to follow the main roads, says Bob.” Excellent idea. Nature starts throwing its best at me. Cliffs, beaches, rocks in the water, creeks all more magnificent than one another, with almost nobody on the road. I stop every 200 meters to take a picture. And this goes on for kilometers. Hardly time to recover from my emotions, the road goes down and I find myself on a mini-beach, with all but 5 people. Perfect for a little break. And I have the wind at my back. And it goes on. Cliffs, flowers, colors, I don’t have enough eyes to look. I hesitate to swim, but the 5 minutes spent soaking my feet are enough for me. The water is still a bit cold. In the end I took about 60 pictures during the day… Here is a small selection:

Calm night, but with mosquitoes (I’m getting used to it…). And the next day, it’s Friday. Rainy day. Day in two parts. First part is quiet. I even make a small detour to see an artificial lake. Good but not great. Then I arrive in Évora. It’s supposed to be a small medieval city, with nice streets to stroll in, great for a coffee or a beer in a terrace. It’s true that it’s nice, but everything is paved (with a bike it’s not great), there is nobody in the streets and everything is closed. Impossible to find an open café. I could have visited all the pharmacies of the city, but for the rest, niet. Nada. Nichts. Moreover, the fateful hour of 5:05 pm is coming. I can’t take it anymore. I’m going crazy here. I want to leave this city. All this violence. So I head for Lisbon. I take a little break in Montemor-O-Novo to buy something to cheer me up in the evening. Then I start looking for a place for my tent. Private properties. Everything is fenced. I’m fed up. And it’s raining and I can’t stand it anymore. There is a tree on the side of the road. Between dump and public toilet, I am not sure how to call the place. But that will do. It gives me a relative shelter to set up the tent and I settle a little further. And to top it off, I spill half of my dinner on the ground. I look at the weather forecast to try to find a reason to be happy. Headwind for 2/3 of the way tomorrow. Great. I fall asleep to the sound of raindrops and cars passing by within 5 meters of me…

The dam of Vale do Gaio
Montemor-O-Novo

But it seems to be written that after a shitty day, there is always a day when everything is perfect! The announced headwind is a light side breeze. I pass groups of cyclists who all have a word or a sign of encouragement. The road goes down. In the middle of cork oak forests. And the sun takes its time but eventually shows up. I cross the Rio Tejo in Vila Franca and turn towards Lisbon. Straight line. Tailwind. I even have the whole afternoon to walk around the city…

The oaks have lost their socks
Crossing the Rio Tejo

Except for the people along the river, the city is empty. The cafes with overflowing terraces, the music, the people sitting on the stairs in Bairro Alto, nothing is as I remember. Sunday or COVID, we’ll see tomorrow. That doesn’t stop me from stuffing myself with Pasteis de Nata and climbing thousands of stairs!

The exhibition center
From the heights of the city

Rest day then we continue towards the North from Tuesday morning! See you soon!

Jay and Bob in Lisbon

Un avis sur « In Portugal, it does (not?) only rains on dumb people! »

  1. Oh, we know about that rain in Portugal 👀 … when my husband and I walked the Portuguese Camino in 2018, we’ve started our journey in Lisbon … wonderful sunny days, until about the 4th day, then the rain in Portugal « welcomed » us with open arms (or open heavens). It rained for days, but there were also sunny ones – and we still think back to this Camino with fond memories.
    Just really beautiful photo’s … and my heart stopped when I’ve read about those delicious Pasteis de Nata’s (yummy!)

    J'aime

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