Bom Bia!!

Day 272, Coimbra, 15.066 km

I must admit that, despite my 9 days in Portugal, my language skills are limited to saying « Hello » and « Thank you ». I asked at least 5 people how to say « I’m sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese, do you speak English? » only to forget it right away. But that doesn’t stop me from making myself understood when it comes to ordering a beer or a Pasteis de Nata, or saying hello to people I meet on the road. A vinyl seller on a scooter who is a soccer fan and stops on the side of the road to chat for a quarter of an hour. A granny in a small village who gives me a resounding « Bonjour ». A little old man in the next village who wants to high five me while passing. The operation failed despite a slightly perilous maneuver, but the intention was there. A woodcutter who answers me something incomprehensible. I smile. He also smiles. All good. And these girls who are looking for I don’t know what in the night, who see my tent, see me, say something. I answer « Ola ». They leave. Why not…

Lisbon – Coimbra. Some rain, a little. First, when leaving Lisbon. The kind of rain in which you are soaked the moment you step outside. Fortunately it didn’t last, and a Pasteis break in Belem allowed me to escape the main part of the deluge. In the evening when I arrive in Pedrogão too. I am on the Estrada Atlantica. Beautiful straight lines, all flat, with a bike path, not very pleasant with the rain and the headwind. I think I see a break through the clouds in the distance, I push on the pedals hoping that the rain will calm down. It’s still raining. I see a building (store ? hotel ?) a bit far from the road with a kind of covered courtyard : the cobblestones are not ideal to pitch my tent but at least I’m sheltered.

The Estrada Atlantica

Lisbon – Coimbra. This is also the most western point of my trip, and this time I got my sign (a monument even). I’m about 30 kilometers away from Lisbon, I left the coast to go up a bit inland. I am in a nice descent and the GPS makes me take a sharp right turn. I have a sign in front of me that tells me that there is something to see a little further down. « Cabo da Roca ». Probably a lighthouse. Allright. It’s always nice to see the sea. It turns out that in addition to the sea, I also see a sign that tells me I’m at the westernmost point of continental Europe. So it was a close call. I also meet a Belgian cyclist. No need to show off my knowledge of Portuguese this time…

The sea…
… and the Cabo da Roca
The Monument

Lisbon – Coimbra. Lots of beautiful cities and villages. Cascais first, just after Lisbon. Then Alcabideche, a little higher up in the mountains. Then Praia Das Maçãs, perched on a cliff overlooking the beach. Ericeira, where I feel like all the houses – I mean ALL the houses – are exactly the same. Geraldes, in homage to all the Geralds of this world. Peniche. I did the mandatory tour of Peniche, but not by boat (in French: peniche = barge). São Martinho do Porto, nestled on one of the arms of the cove whose name I could not find. Then Nazaré, which can be admired from the top of the cliff that dominates it. Montemor-o-Velho, overlooked by its castle (and since I passed by Montemor-o-Novo a little while ago, I thought it was a nice wink). Coimbra finally, its university, its cobbled streets, its parks, its churches and its full terraces (for once!!)

Praia Das Maçãs
Ericeira – find the 7 differences between the right and left row
São Martinho do Porto
Arrival in Coimbra

Lisbon – Coimbra. Miles of cliffs. Endless beaches. And pork chops (difficult to translate in English, sorry) to earn all this (For vegetarians, and probably for most others as well, the pork chop is a steep, very steep hill, which stops you in the first two meters of the climb despite all the momentum you may have gained before. Once you get to the top of the hill – if you managed to keep your foot off the ground in the middle – you turn around and exclaim « What a pork! »). Moments spent with my mouth open, wondering how nature can make such beautiful things. The hour I spent riding around Peniche, stopping again and again to take pictures, trying to find words to describe what I see (a giant puzzle maybe), what I feel in front of these rocks that stand in the middle of the waves. I’m still trying…

Lisbon – Coimbra. Fishermen too. A lot of them. I didn’t see anyone reeling anything in, but I guess it was still biting…

From tomorrow on, I’ll go through the mountains before heading to Porto, the last city of my trip in Portugal. Until then, take care of yourself!

Un avis sur « Bom Bia!! »

  1. Once again, beautiful photo’s!
    Coimbra – we arrived there on a rainy day while walking the Camino Portuguese and had the best Pastel de Nata’s ever … well, maybe the other’s were equally good, but on a rainy day, they just tasted better!


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