I was waved off around 10.00am. We had hugs and photos to mark our occasion. Leo was pleased with his accomplishment of shooting a photo of the three of us. He perched the camera on the seat of the bike and delayed the taking of the photo, so that he could run and jump in.
I set off at a steady pace through the cobbled back streets of Porto and making my way to the other side of the city. The start was slower than I’d hoped for, the cobbled streets make for an uneven surface, everything shakes on the bike including me. I have to ride with caution, I have a long way to go and the bike needs to be protected whenever possible.
Eventually I arrived at the coast. Ahead of me I had a great day of riding. Motioning above the sand by a wooden bridge to get to the edge of the coastline
After hitting the coastline I turned left, still on the bridge, going south. The image below is where I have came from. It’s in the past but not forgotten.
Then, the bridge decides it doesn’t want to play anymore. I have to go back a short distance and reroute. Nothing major, just take the road that runs parallel to where I am now.
I get to my parallel road. It doesn’t look to good. I have a sense that I need to be aware for I am cycling through, what I can only describe as a shanti town. People living in tin huts with corrugated tin roofs. All of them looked as if they could topple over any minute. The winds coming off the ocean would have to have an impact. Any dunes that I had seen were only small.
There were up to ten people outside virtually every house. Scruffy looking and dirty, torn clothes like rags, toothless women chatting, guys fixing a battered car, one guy cleaning his car with music blaring; it was a strange affair. I was desperate to take photographs, but the constant eyes on me from the gypsies suggested it was best not to stop. I did manage to get one photo from a distance. I could see the people outside but I was hidden by the bushes on the side of the road. Every tin shack had a clothes line with brightly coloured clothes hanging from it. Look closely at the image below, the shack is just visible. Zoom in, it gets better!
I wasn’t one hundred percent comfortable, however the intrigue and the hope of getting some more images kept me within the confinemens of this niche town. I had decided, these guys were poor but they weren’t out for me.
Sometime had elapsed and I left the gypsies behind me. Now I was cycling though the national protected forrest. A caravan park was in this distance. When I got closer I could see it was huge and the caravans were barely holding up. Every caravan was dirty grey. Again I was inquisitive. I had to cycle off the narrow road, a small way into the Forrest. The trail was becoming more dense. I bottled it and turned around, back on the road.
i had a straight line ahead, not too far away was the road junction. I could see a woman virtually at the end of my road, but not in view of the road that lay ahead, ninety degrees to where she stood and I was cycling towards. Immediately I thought, hooker! When I got by her side, it was possible but not confirmed. I turned right on to the open road, still in the forest but a main road. Passing families and friends with their car doors and boots opened whilst they tucked in to their picnics. Periodically I was passing a few women standing alone and slightly off the road. I was still passing the odd car, but this time the car was void of anybody. My suspicious mind had been that prostitution was taking place, now it was confirmed.
After a time the road opened out and I was cycling with a beautiful lagoon on my left. I was heading for the port, I had a ferry to catch. Just a short journey, maybe ten minutes or so. Periodically I would pass fisherman, one caught my eye. Not for any other reason other than I liked his car. It brought back memories of my late teenage years.
This part of of the journey was so different, from the gypsies of the shanti town and the prostitutes of the streets, to views of still water and eagerly awaiting rowing boats. The colours shone, even though the light was falling.
I wasn’t far from the port. I was pleased, the day had been long and, eventful. I got to the port, only a twenty minute wait. Brilliant. A quick coffee and I could board. I cycled the short distance to the ferry, only to be told, that because it was the weekend the next ferry was one and a half hours away. Damn it, nothing major just an inconvenience.
By now it was pitch black, thank goodness for bicycle lights and Windows application, Here Maps. About seven miles down the road I met my host and his family. Carlos wasted no time getting my bike in the garage, after warning me of his smelly dogs. And then showing me to my room an my bathroom. I had my own suite in this beautiful, large, contemporary home. I showered quickly and then Carlos introduced me to his extended family. A lovely bunch, I was so relaxed with them. Over dinner we chatted whilst eating home made soup then home made pIzza. Not long after I had finished eating I had to say goodnight. It may have appeared rude but I needed my rest. I think they understood, I didn’t after all, get there until gone 8.00pm.