Spain and Portugal 2018 – Day Three Monchique to Lisbon
June 2, 2018
I was settled into the moto tour routine. Everyone needed to stay on a schedule of eating a full wonderful breakfast, collecting their luggage and packing the bikes, and being ready to ride by 9:00. Our group of riders were all very well in tune with this ritual. We had a great group.
The morning looked a little bleak with spotty showers. Rain gear was donned shortly after we left the hotel. I remembered the twisty roads coming into Monchique, and the departure was not going to be any different. Rain and tight curves do not always go well and can make the ride tense. Domi took the pace down in the interest of safety. Even though sunny riding is usually enjoyable, riding the rain can give a different perspective of the landscape and sensory experience. We wandered the back roads again through the hills working our way lower towards the coast.
By the time we reached our morning coffee stop in Odemira, the rain had stopped. We sat outside of the cafe on a patio made of many squares of marble pavers. There was a lot of effort put into designing and placing these pavers. They were everywhere and I loved it. Douglass joined our group this morning and would stay with us for the remainder of the tour.
The terrain flattened out as we approached a beach near Sines where we stopped for a photo op. It was turning into a lovely day of weather for riding and just being alive in Portugal.
We rode further north hugging the surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Our lunch stop for today would be Restaurante Trinca Espinhas. Domi discussed the menu with the staff and looked over the selections of fish. Johannes’ second group of riders arrived along with Marc with Pablo and Ernesto’s wives Miriam and Maria in the support van. The Argentines were all riding two-up.
I had contacted my friend Armando the previous day and gave him an idea of today’s itinerary and where we might eat lunch. Armando rode down from his home in Lisbon to meet us. Years ago Armando I met through the Lone Star BMW Riders based in the Dallas area. Armando and his wife Paula, rode with Debbie and me along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington and Oregon during a LSBMWR excursion through Canada and up to Alaska. Armando and Paula have been world travelers with last summer exploring Africa and this summer all around Europe.
We queued up the bikes at the ferry landing for a trip across the water to the Lisbon area. I met a group of Turks touring Portugal that pulled up behind us. Armando and Domi discussed the best approach to Lisbon giving a scenic view of the Atlantic.
Once we had the bikes loaded onto the ferry, it was time for a relaxing ride across the harbor with time to socialize and take in the view.
Domi and Armando’s earlier route planning was a good choice and took us through Parque Natural da Arrábida on N379-1. We were high above the Ocean and eventually found a turn-out for a stop on the twisty road.
Armando parted ways with our group. I walked across the road to photograph Portuguese graffiti on the marble that is the persistent stone here.
Riding in Lisbon traffic gave me a whole new perspective on motorcycling. It is common in Europe to lane split in order to continue to make forward progress in the big cities. Keith and I are not used to this in the States, but if we did not follow along, we would be quickly left to find our own way and Domi would have to stop the group to recollect us. There are many traffic circles in Lisbon and across Europe. I found myself moving from the back of the pack to the sides of Keith and Patrick to help create space for them to continue through the circles. Having a bit of an aggressive riding style with respect for other drivers is important.
We weaved our way through the afternoon weekend traffic climbing up above the mouth of the Tagus River to the Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei. The monument was conceived in 1940 as a plea to God to release Portugal from entering World War II. Construction began in 1949 and took 10 years to complete. Johannes’ group of riders joined us on top of the hill and we took in the sights of Lisbon to the north of us and the 25 de Abril Bridge that we would soon cross.
We settled into the posh Hotel Turim Marques and met in the lobby promptly at 8:00 for our dinner walk, heading Marc’s stern “Donnn’t be llate…” warning from earlier. Once again we walked the marble pavers through the major streets of Lisbon and eventually into a small alley where we had a multi-course tasty dinner at Restaurante Forninho Saloio. While we were enjoying one tapa plate after another, a street vendor came by our table and convinced Patrick and Douglass to purchase some wooden animals. The entertainment alone watching them study and position them was well worth the price!