From Setubal to Vila Nova de Milfontes by Bicycle
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal
November 7, 2007
Wade from www.VagabondJourney.com
Setubal was a nice stopover, but it was time to move on. So we packed up our steeds (bikes) to their fullest extent, filled our yellow plastic milk crate gear basket with our rucksacks, and headed south- South to the tip of Europe South to the ends of Portugal We looked out across the Rio Sado and into the vast unknown.
To get to the southern coastal road we had to cross the Rio Sado by another ferry. So, without incident, we boarded the ferry with our bicycles as it lifted anchor, and rode out into the open harbor. Once landed on the desolate side of the river, we wasted no time with getting on the road, N 253.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the sea twinkled brightly on both sides of us. We became excited, as it seemed apparent that we found a great route for bike travel: the terrain was almost completely flat coastal plain, the road was straight, and the area was empty of habitations and people. We looked out at the ocean and the soft sand that flowed all around us and smiled. This was what bicycle travel is about Mira and I soon began talking about how much our bicycle afficionado friends throughout the world would love to be right where we were. Why they weren’t we could only imagine.
The road was beautiful.
The sea even more so.
We ate scavenged prickly pears for lunch on a barren sand dune.
Soon it was getting dark and we were out in the desolate Portuguese coast. Our situation was perfect in every way. So we walked up the side of a dune and into a coastal pine forest. After a brief discussion of camp making strategy, Mira and I decided on a little flat top rise amidst the pine trees. It was the perfect place for camping on the sly. We then had a little laugh about how we use our archaeological knowledge to its fullest: we sleep where we would dig. If an area looks ripe for an archaeological site, it is usually an optimal place for making camp. So we did, and sang little songs and made crafts as we fell off to sleep.
Next day the cold morning woke us early, and we quickly broke camp and jumped back onto our bicycles. We rode and rode on some more as the road (N 253) was still amazingly flat and gently rolling. Mira and I had nothing other than another beautiful day of riding ahead of us, and our spirits were calm and quiet. We stopped for lunch at an off the highway supermarket and bought cheap food and cheaper wine. We ate in a little playground near the market and I surprised Mira with a gift of an additional sleeping bag to make up for the night that I let her sleep in a puddle. She forgave me, and we set off again once again without much desire to travel too much farther down the road.
After riding along the surfing beaches that flow down the coast in a line south of Sines, we found a little deserted hill that rose up from the beach. The perfect place for another night of camping on the sly We quickly jumped off of the road and ran up the hill with our bicycles in the coming twilight. The sun was setting over the ocean and the orange sky brought the good tidings of a tomorrow made for a “sailor’s delight ” Mira and I made camp behind a little hillock to stave off the Pacific’s cool breezes, and then laid out a dinner made for a vagabond king: cheese, ham, hardtack bread, and wine. After dinner, we sat on a hill overlooking the nighttime sea and drank heartily from the bottle while telling each other little stories of old. Mira and I were falling deeper in love by the night.
Upon waking the next day after a warm night of sleeping in the additional sleeping bag, Mira and I took our time in packing camp and just enjoyed the sea coast morning. Any sailor would have been delighted by the day that was breaking all around us. I sighed deep, ate a little tuna fish breakfast, and stuffed all of my gear back on my bicycle. I have said it before, and I will again: There is no better way to travel this planet than by bicycle.
On this day we had but one objective: to just sit by the beach and watch time pass. We ended up on the beach of Vila Nova de Milfontes, and have time passed a full week and a half. So here we are, in a beautiful coastal town in Portugal, writing, reading, and working steadily on our traveler projects. Mira draws tattoo designs and constructs jewelry from random little objects that she finds in her wanderings; I write travel narratives and work on the www.VagabondJourney.com website.
As Andy says, “Life is good.”
Wanderjahr Jill on a desolate, beautiful central Portuguese beach.
- Bicycle travel
- Europe bicycle tour
- Casa Amarela guest house
- Portugal ferry from Setubal
- Vila Nova de Milfontes