About a week ago we crossed into Portugal along the coast by means of a small ferry which crosses the Minho, a river separating Spain and Portugal. To the east, running north and south, somewhere close to Spain, is a Camino de Portugal trail which we seriously considered having heard great things about it. The massive amount of smoke, however, from recent fires in that area made the decision to embark along the easy riding Portuguese coast rather simple. So we headed south along a sweet trail system which turned out to be part of the Portuguese Coastal Camino…. You’re getting the idea by now that there are a lot of Camino’s here in Southern Europe, right? We find the familiar yellow arrows comforting, but we’re not committed to the route… Nope, we’re going rouge, folks, Portuguese style…
Instantly different we busied ourselves trying to define “it”, categorize “it”, name “it”, compare “it” only to find out that just being here is “it”. We’re feeling it to be the perfect ending to our European journey as, in it’s indescribable way, Portugal is requiring us to slow down, turn in and just “be”.
Although the suspension of the need to “define” is working for us, to share it with you, well, descriptions seem a necessity.
The people make the country, right??? Portuguese people seem to be a gentle, kind and helpful bunch. The young speak enough English to make communication possible as Portuguese is a language pretty far off our radar.
We met this super sweet guy on the ferry… Ok, we first noticed that his bike was called “handicap”.
He was excited to tell us about his band “Blackstone! ” of which he was the bass guitarist and lead singer. We looked up his youtubes and his group really is good!! He called it “stoner rock” – OK, well, whatever.. They’re starting their European tour this fall.. that could mean a variety of things, right?…. But dang, super nice kid.
About a day and a half into Portugal we went through beautiful Porto: one big ass city for which we we’re completely unprepared. It went on for 20 miles north and 20 south and all I can say is that it took some major mojo and the recruitment of all our combined angels to get through it.. With Gary in the lead and Google maps as ourGod we held tight to our space on the asphalt as if we had 4 wheels and a motor getting cozy with the Fiats and the Peugeots … Talk about exciting, you bet!!!!!
But, for the most part our days are spent in rural Portugal which is quiet, simple and feels really, really different than any other European country we’ve been to thus far. Feels like Mexico, but not. Feels like Central America, but not. Feels like Spain, but totally not. Feels like Portugal, oh uh huh.
Like any coastal area the beach is a big part of life.. Some days are clear, others are misty offering a surreal feeling, like these… Loving that.
They use tractors to launch boats as well as to lay out and roll up their nets. At first we thought it was going to be a good, old, Portuguese tractor pull… Wrong again.
It’s harvest time just inland a little… ….
And catching fish and eating fish is a really big deal…
Fish markets are everywhere… Pike Street market style for those from the Seattle area – you know what we mean.
Supermarkets are loaded with tables of dried fish as well as the fresh… The dried fish is cod that’s cured and can last indefinitely as far as we can tell.
We’re working it down the coast, laying down the miles…262 to Sintra. Sometimes they’re on the coast providing beautiful visual variations, but so far, more often than not, its just turning the pedals through lots and lots and lots straight, flat miles… You know the kind where a curve in the road provides a disproportionate amount excitement.
We’re good with it, really, we’re becoming one with it, Portuguese style. It’s perfect for meditating, reflectiing on what has been and what will be and for passing the time chatting about life… and the gifts of being one with Portugal.
Next stop… Sintra, Portugal which has been described in many publications and by many people before us as “The most beautiful place on earth”. It’s the place where Tracy and Doug Simon were married…. Just saying 🙂
That said …. we’re getting pretty darn excited about Peru, oh yeah. With luck it looks like we’ll be crossing paths with our good friend Cass who has done all the footwork for us in Huaraz… Stoked, you bet!! And with even more luck, sometime in October, we might be lucky enough to catch up with Kim and Brigita, from Del Norte. And Susan… we’re holding a place for you, metaphorically and physically !!!
And, as always and ever … Miss you, love you, undefined… Portuguese style 🙂
Patti and Gary