Workaway in Portugal comes to an end; cycling to Lisbon – 4 to 14th June 2016

Workaway in Portugal comes to an end; cycling to Lisbon – 4 to 14th June 2016


Saturday 4th June

We have a lovely lie-in this morning and then a lovely relaxed breakfast before we head to the nearest town, São Teotonio, by bike. We stop at the nearest local bar for a beer before finishing our journey. In town we find the central square and pick a cafe.

P1100381 P1100382No Internet. We check the bar opposite; they have WiFi so we move but the signal keeps dropping out. Damn! We came to town so we could publish the blog because the signal at the farm is also intermittent and it would take forever to download all the photos. So it’ll have to wait for another day. Instead we sit in the bar, eat and drink a few beers before cycling home.


Sunday 5th June

We all have breakfast on the terrace. Then Daz does an oil change on the Rohloff speed hub, checks the spokes and shortens our chain, which has stretched and as a result often jumps off the chain ring, normally when going over bumps, of which there are lots on the Portuguese roads. We were hoping for a beach day but only Gregor and his family are going so there’s not enough room for us. We could cycle but it’d take us about 2 hours to get there. So in the end after Gina finishes work we go for a walk with the dogs.

P1100384 P1100385 P1100386 P1100388 P1100389 P1100390 P1100396It’s beautiful out in the hilly countryside, with houses dotted here and there, all with large amounts of land attached. After about 2 hours of walking we are nearly back home, but detour and pop in on some neighbours who Gina knows. They are Spanish and are living in a large wooden hut with views over the hills. They also have a “workawayer”, another Englishman, who is helping them construct some holiday accommodation from timber. We chat for a while then say goodbye and return home. After being out for over 2 and a half hours we are tired and decide to retire early.


Monday 6th June

Another work day after the weekend’s relaxation. We finish off the manure heap, entailing 11 runs up and down the “mountain” for me and Daz!

P1100400 P1100402 P1100403 P1100404 Then at about 11 Gina asks if we want to go to the monthly market with her and Jan… any excuse to get away! So we go with them and mooch around the market. It’s huge, from hardware, clothes and food to chickens, budgies and seedlings.

P1100408 P1100409 P1100410 P1100411 P1100412 P1100413 P1100414 P1100415 P1100416 P1100417 P1100418 P1100419 P1100420 P1100422Every time someone has mentioned the market in the past 2 weeks the word ‘Frango’ has been mentioned. We soon find out that this is Chicken and relates to the huge covered pop up restaurant that serves Grilled chicken and chips… what are we waiting for??! 4 portions later we are all very satisfied and understand why everyone goes on about ‘Frango”!!! When we get back we return to the job of strimming… deep joy! In the evening it’s another poker night and a few drinks. Then many more drinks. Gina is very liberal with the schnapps shots and never takes ‘no’ for an answer. Gina is a real live wire and it’s been fun for us to have the company and she insists people speak English in our company which we know is hard for them but makes us feel so much more Involved. Neither I nor Daz win the poker, a first. But Daz does beat Nils and Gregor (need I remind you they are ze Germans) at cricket darts… a true English game!!


Tuesday 7th June

Wow what a scorcher, somewhere in the 30’s today with just a touch of breeze, so guess what job we do… yep, strimming!!! 5 hours later we are parched and knackered. Even with a break and drinking water all day long it’s hard work under the beating sun. Gregor and family take Gina, who is on a day off, to the beach… jealous us?? Yes!! This is Gregor’s last night but he’s so hungover from last night that he retires early.

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P1100397 P1100399Wednesday 8th June

It’s up early today to go surfing. Sadly it’s not good conditions and we really struggle to get on the boards. We give up after 45 minutes or so. There’s no one in the water except Nils so we know conditions aren’t great. However we do stop for some delicious cake and coffee in Rogil. Back at the farm more strimming and raking for us. Today Gregor and family leave and the place is much quieter without them around, they were great party people!


Thursday 9th June

More strimming today. In the evening it’s Barbecue night. Everyone is invited; all the clients, workers and some neighbours. Nils soon has everyone gorging on sausage, steak and fish, yum yum.

P1100439 P1100440Then there was some more darts and table football, an early indicator for the Euro 2016 championships maybe!!


Friday 10th June

Nils and Esta are off to Tavira with the kids for a short holiday. Daz and I give Sergio a hand with door frames in the new build but apart from that, it’s a lazy day.

P1100434 P1100435 P1100436 P1100437 P1100438 P1100441 P1100442 P1100443In the evening we meet Hannah who lives just down the road and we have dinner together; me and Daz and Hannah and Gina. Very pleasant. Saturday is another rest day, hanging out with Gina and the dogs and checking out the teepee ‘completed article’.

P1100405 P1100406 P1100407 P1100425 P1100426 P1100427 P1100428 P1100429 P1100430 P1100431 P1100432 P1100433 P1100444 We’re catching up on our sleep after a tough week. Tomorrow we hit the road again.


Sunday 12th June

Casa Nova de Palmeira to Porto Covo


Distance 77.83 km

Max Speed 52.2kmph

Average Speed 18.0 kmph

Total Distance 3813.98 km


After cleaning our caravan and packing up we head up to breakfast. After a couple of mugs of coffee it’s time to leave. We say goodbye to Gina and Jan. We’ve totally loved hanging out with Gina, she has a great sense of humour, so it’s sad to say goodbye. But go we must. It’s a hot day but we make good progress despite another very wobbly beginning (Daz blames the quality of the dirt/gravel track!).

We bypass Saõ Teotonio and head towards the coast and Vila Nova de Milfontes. We can see the ocean in the distance and the rolling hills inland. In Vila Nova de Milfontes we walk down to the beach. There’s some sort of festival going on and the street is lined with stalls.

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P1100453 P1100454 P1100455 P1100456We mooch along and check out the beach (or thongs in Daz’s case!), then head back to the town centre via the historical centre (all we found was a castle).

P1100457 P1100458Then it’s lunch and we have WiFi at last! It’s weeks since we’ve managed to publish the blog and I get quite a bit done over lunch. At 4pm we head off to Porto Covo. We’re now cycling into a fairly robust headwind, so our progress slows but we’re having a good day. We see our first snake and I stop for a closer look. It’s absolutely massive but I’m not sure how much this is down to the number of cars running over it – yes it is dead! I wouldn’t be checking it out it it was alive. I’m convinced it’s a rattler! Daz says ‘No’.

In Porto Covo we admire the rugged coastline – the Atlantic is so beautiful!

P1100460 P1100461A supermarket stop for supplies and then another cafe for the internet. Finally part 1 of the blog is done. We head off out of town and find a spot to wild camp. It’s been a lovely relaxed day and we’ve done a pleasing distance.

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Today Carl and Trish (Daz’s brother and g/f) completed the Hadrian’s Wall, coast to coast walk. 110miles over 4 days – we’ve been watching them and know they’ve had some tough moments but whilst they might be knackered they’re jubilant and now….. Probably pissed! Well done guys.


Monday 13th June

Porto Covo to Tróia


Distance 91.37 km

Max Speed 43.9 kmph

Average Speed 15.4 kmph

Total Distance 3905.35 km


I had a really rough night last night – another outbreak of stuffy nose and sneezing – hay fever I’m assuming; something I never suffered from until all the strimming / raking at Casa Nova de Palmeira. We’ve both been taking anti histamines on a regular basis. When I wasn’t sneezing I just felt too hot and itchy, as if the tent was infested with midges, to get much sleep.

P1100464 P1100465 P1100466 P1100467Anyway the sun is up and after some stale foccacia and chocolate milk we’re on our way. We cycle along the coast watching the surf and the lone surfer who’s out and eventually arrive in Sines. It looks like today is going to be a day of head winds and already we’re finding it tough. Sines is the major Portuguese Atlantic port, yet despite this it appears closed; alien invaders perhaps? Unfortunately we can see that the town centre is well above our coast road but we find a lift that’s actually big enough for all of us, the bike and our gear; and out we pop on top of the world, well Sines, anyway.

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We take a walk to the castle, which is Sines No.1 attraction. If the castle is No 1, I wouldn’t bother getting out of bed for No2……3,4 or 5. After the castle we walk to the central market which has got to be the worst market we’ve visited in the last 8 months. We are completely underwhelmed.

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From here it’s time for a decent breakfast. After a tasty brekkie we head off. The road out of Sines is horrendous; it’s the A26-1 but it’s got motorway markings that have been hidden by black plastic bags and duck tape. In addition it’s 2 laned but one lane has been closed off, we have no idea why it’s a motorway masquerading as a normal A- road. It’s dull, hot and the traffic is fast moving so we don’t enjoy it but there aren’t any alternative routes. Finally after about 2 hours we’re on to a more minor road and the scenery with all the cork trees is more pleasing. We stop for lunch and once we’ve eaten we both feel so pooped we plan to find a spot for a little lie down. But we potter along looking for somewhere and nothing takes our fancy and then a lady touring cyclist passes us. Then at the next junction she’s stood on the side of the road. We continue and stop at a flea market and as we’re looking around we realise the lady cyclist has a partner.

P1100492 P1100493 P1100494 So they are now both ahead of us and we can’t help ourselves, we give chase. Finally we catch them, but they’re on the side of the road on their phone. Then she passes us again.

P1100495 P1100496 P1100497This continues for miles. She never cycles with her partner but instead races ahead and then waits on the side of the road. Bizarre. Even worse the head wind is pretty exhausting and she could be ‘drafting’ her man. great.’d she’s so far ahead that it’d be a nightmare if he had a puncture / mechanical / accident. The last time we see them is at the car ferry at the top of Tróia. They go for the ferry and we cycle the last few kilometers to the tip of the peninsula. Finally we arrive in Tróia. There’s a smaller foot ferry down here and we plan to use this to get to Setúbal. We’re shattered. We buy some supplies from the supermarket and then check out the ferry timings. There’s an hour until the next ferry.

P1100498 P1100499We have a beer on the Marina and debate our options. Stay in Tróia for the night or go across to Setúbal and find accommodation. Finally we settle on wild camping in Tróia. We cycle back out of town and look for a private spot for supper overlooking the Sado estuary. Actually it doesn’t take too long to find a nice spot and we have our supper but tent construction isn’t permitted (by me) until it’s getting dark. Finally we’re settled for the night and we spot a fox just metres away.

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Tuesday 14th June

Tróia to Lisbon


Distance 51.12 km

Max Speed 54. 6 kmph

Average Speed 12. 5 kmph

Total Distance 3956. 47 km


We’ve both had a good night but the sun has us up by 7.20. It’s just too hot in the tent.

P1100511 P1100512 P1100513 P1100515 P1100516 P1100518 P1100519 P1100520 P1100521 Breakfast and packing takes no time at all and we’re back at the ferry terminal for the 8.40am ferry.

P1100522 P1100523 P1100524 P1100525 P1100526The ferry docks and we’re waiting on the jetty when the ferryman explains ‘no bikes’. I’m gobsmacked. I can see that there’s plenty of room and wait for him to take pity on us and say ‘ok then, just this once!’. The alternative is to cycle back up (yup it’s a hill) the 5km to the car ferry. ‘Fuck, fuckity, Fuck!’. So we’re just standing on the jetty amongst the disembarking passengers, when a guy who’s been chatting to the ferryman comes over and says, ‘ you can have a lift on my boat if you like?’. We say ‘yes, that’d be great’. ( because this is an entirely normal offer to 2 stinking cycling tourists with the biggest bike in the world !)’ and we follow these guys through onto the Marina, to a fabulous Catamaran owned by Ventigem Azul, a dolphin watching tour boat skippered by Pedro Vieira. We’re just blown away. We stand on the Marina, gobsmacked, whilst Pedro and his first mate prepare the boat. There are so many mullet swimming around the Marina apparently it’s their kindergarten – a safe place to grow up! Once the cat is ready Daz and one of the guys carries the bike aboard. I follow with the baggage.

P1100527 P1100528 P1100529 P1100530 P1100531 P1100532 P1100533 P1100534 P1100535 P1100536 P1100537 Then we cross over to Setúbal. There are 27 bottle nose Dolphins living in the Sado estuary including one born last June. The cat is incredible and I’m sorely tempted to go out on a cruise to see the Dolphins but we decide against it and instead, having managed to get our bike and gear alongside, we take the firstmate for a spin on the tandem.

P1100539 P1100540 P1100541 P1100542 P1100543 P1100544 P1100545 P1100546 P1100547 P1100548 P1100550 P1100551 P1100552 P1100553 P1100554 P1100555 P1100556 P1100557 P1100558Not only have these guys given us a lift, they’ve also recommended a cycle route out of Setúbal. We are truly in their debt – their generosity of spirit was incredible.

P1100538We apologise for not asking your names, we googled the company, found the skipper but not the first mate!

Of course this is a hard act to follow but after a couple of coffees

P1100559 P1100560 P1100561we head out of town and enjoy the beautiful seafront of Setúbal – and it’s gorgeous and there’s the pod of Sado Dolphins immortalised in an art display.

P1100567P1100568P1100569P1100562 P1100563 P1100565 P1100564 P1100566 From Setúbal it’s uphill into the nature park. It’s tough cycling but with beautiful views.

P1100570 P1100571 P1100572 P1100574 P1100575 P1100576 P1100578 Loads of cyclists wave as do many motorists. In Vila Nogueira de Azeitão I spot a Lidl’s so we pop in for some snacks, cheapest lunch yet, only €3.18. We sit outside on some lovely soft grass in a park and savour our picnic in the sun.

Almost opposite Lidl’s is this vineyard – what a beautiful display. If only I’d known it existed, I wouldn’t have bothered with Lidl’s!

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here it’s a tough ride to Almada, where we hope to catch a ferry to Lisbon. It’s only 21km but it seems more like 50km and the number of times we’re cut up by cars, lorries and buses is so frequent that I’m really anxious and start to dread all passing traffic. Almada seems a bit of a dump ( well the bits we saw) but ain’t the street art fab. Lurving it!

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Finally we get to the ferry terminal and get across to Lisbon and after a short ride along the seafront we head inland, into the city, to find our hotel.

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