dist. (km) Today 74.8 Trip 264.1
Dinner last night was a bit of a dud, and entirely my fault. I took the easy way out and ordered “Ementa Turistica”. The tourist menu consisted of steak, egg and chips, presumably the only thing that the Portuguese believe that the English will eat… maybe not that far from the truth. I wasn’t confidant enough to try picking anything else, I guess it serves me right!
All my clothes had dried overnight, and luckily I heard the rain start at around , in time to leap out of bed and grab them in off the window sills where they were hanging.
I took a little more care in attaching the panniers this morning, and added an extra ocky-strap to try and take some of the strain off the half-broken clip. The panniers are nearly eighteen years old and have served me exceptionally well, its just inconvenient for them to start falling apart right here and right now!
The first hour of riding was again very reminiscent of riding at home. Miles and miles of eucalypt forests, all smelling strongly after the rain. Only the odd vineyard and the style of the buildings to remind me I wasn’t back in Australia.
One thing that did surprise me was the almost total lack of wildlife. I don’t think I’ve seen any animals at all, the only birds have been a few goldfinches, and the only road-kill has been the ubiquitous rats and cats — again, of roughly equal sizes.
I stopped at the walled city of Obidos, luckily beating the tourist coaches there — since it is apparently a very popular destination — and had the place almost to myself. I found it beautiful, wandered around the tiny alleys for about an hour, walked along the city walls above the shops and took some photos. My timing was impeccable, as I headed away from the city a group of ten tour busses was arriving in the car-park outside! I’d recommend to anyone that they visit, but that they arrive as early in the day as possible.
The road had a long gradual climb towards Alcobaça and I slowly overtook a long, strung-out group of people walking along the road near the youth hostel — they all either cheered or jeered as I passed… The former, I hope!
It was siesta time in Alcobaça when I arrived, so I stopped and sat in the sun in the park outside the monastery with my shoes off, toes wriggling in the grass, beer in my hand and enjoying life. Eventually the town came back to life and I booked a room at a pensâo, “Coraçôes Unidos” — the United Lovers, I think. It has a lumpy bed, it opens directly onto the main street and there are evil smells coming from the plumbing, but its only for one night, and the courtyard is just the right size to contain one bicicletta.
I spent my money and went on the tour around the monastery, the “Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça”. It is amazing… and enormous! The nave is fantastic, I just loved the place! The monastry is just across the road from the pensâo, from inside my room, the bells calling everyone to mass are incredibly loud!
I tried to visit the Museo Vinho, the wine museum, getting back on my bike and riding off through the town. It should have been open, and according to the sign on the locked door, it was open, but the doors were locked and nobody was around. Off to see the castle ruins on the hill above the town — I don’t think they could get much more ruined and still be recognized as part of a castle!
All this exercise had worn me out, so a siesta of my own was called for before dinner — and what a dinner it turned out to be. I ate in the restaurant downstairs in the pensâo, a huge and filling meal, and cheap too! After dinner I needed a walk, so spent the rest of the evening walking around the town and feeling pretty good — then sat in a bar sipping a coffee while I eyed a bottle of Absinthe on the shelves. I was too tired and too full from my meal to start to get experimental with the Absinthe, so I just sat there, watching the life in the bar.
Torres Vedras(39.1000000,-9.2666667), Alcobaça(39.550000,-8.9833333).