The End Of Europe; Now For The New World

I shot across Portugal.  Partly because it is quite a thin country.  Partly because the bit that I chose was pretty flat.  But mainly because I had a plane to catch, and planes don’t wait.  Two days across a whole country; impressive and wrong at the same time.  Deadlines will do that to you; I’ve moaned about them before…

I nearly fell in love with the place on day one.  Not at first sight, as the hills were evil (but mercifully short) on the Spanish border.  But the beautiful town of Portalegre, followed by many, many miles of brand new, almost empty highway (and a tailwind!!) almost got me.  Not to mention that my rewarding half-litre of beer at the end was only €1.60.  That’s roughly a quarter of London prices – I’ve been drinking in the wrong place for too long.

IMG_0190Thankfully, it was only nearly.  Yesterday would have been a bitter disappointment otherwise, as the traffic, heat and (self-inflicted) 130km to Lisbon nearly did for me.  There’s nothing like a constant stream of trucks passing within inches of your elbow for hours on end to keep the adrenaline pumping.  Especially when most Portuguese drivers don’t quite seemed to have worked out that just because you (the driver) are past whatever you’re overtaking, it doesn’t mean that the rest of your enormous truck / bus / BMW is past too.  Braking to avoid side-swipes became commonplace, and I quickly learned to check my shoulder whenever I saw something coming towards me, as anything behind will always choose to hit the cyclist rather than the oncoming traffic.  What they won’t do is slow down and wait.  Ever.  Grr…

So, to beautiful Lisbon.  I wanted to get here yesterday, to give me a day to play with, as I’d not managed to secure a box for the bike – the airline I’m using insist on them, and I’d been hoping a local bike shop would be able to help.  With no offers by this morning, I was anticipating a long day flogging around town looking for cardboard; a fun way to spend any time off the bike.  Instead, I was sorted out by half-past ten (courtesy of the lovely people in Decathlon opposite the campsite), and the bike is now packed away, awaiting only an oversized taxi to get it to the airport in the morning.  All appears well.

And that’s the end of Europe for a while.  My flight to Canada awaits tomorrow, and then it’s the New World all the way for a while.  A long while.  Many countries, many hills, and many bears.  And pumas and rabid raccoons and things.  The end of an era, and it’s only been just over three weeks.  The longest three weeks I’ve had for a while, and home seems a million miles away.  It seems to have taken forever, but really, it’s only just begun, hasn’t it?

I will update the map etc at some point, by the way.  Part laziness, part odd internet gremlins 😉

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6 comments

  1. Europe conquered. Well done Tim. Emma K has a theory you are in a B&B in Crawley and downloading these photos from the Internet but I don’t believe that for a minute 😉 We’ll be on the same continent tomorrow old boy. Enjoy your flight.

    1. Cheers, mate. As long as I can find a cab fat enough for the box in the morning…
      Like EK’s theory, but always need testing with facts – think most pics a geotagged as off the phone 😉
      And why Crawley? Some taste, somewhere…

  2. That tail wind finally found you. Loving hearing about your travels and seeing the photos. I don’t remember seeing one of those red plastic side reflectors on your bike I expect you had to think long and hard about having one of those. Top tip, don’t carry honey in your bags in bear country. xx

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