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Sat Jan 17 2015: Dark Skies over Portugal

Let's go to Portugal!

We're very excited because we've never been to Portugal before. Ever since arriving in Europe last summer, we've basically ridden through a bunch of countries that we've visited before, just exploring them in more depth. But Portugal is uncharted territory for us. A friend of ours told us that it's really inexpensive compared to Spain, so after losing our cost-sharing friends from Pula, this might suit our budget a bit better.

Lunch on the road, Neda prepares some parking lot cusine!

We're doubling back through Seville to head west to the southern coast of Portugal. Before leaving, Iva told us that she had been to Faro and that the whole area was very nice. Then we looked at the prices on AirBnB and decided to go to nearby Albufeira, which was cheaper... :)

It was mostly highway on the way to Portugal. We battled the same strong winds that plagued us in Southern Spain and we crossed the border with very little fanfare. This whole Eurozone thing really takes the pomp and circumstance out of arriving in a new country! Gimme a stamp on my passport, dammit!

Albufeira and the sky is darkening overhead...

Our first day without the Pula Girls and it looks like it's going to rain. :( I'm not a superstitious person, but this might just make me believe in hexes and curses, rain dances and black magic. Because it really seems like someone has placed a permanent rain cloud over our bikes...

We're changing the logo on our website, BTW:

Our first task before bunkering down is to hit the grocery store. That's when we realized that for the first time in two and half years, neither of us speaks the local language! I did some work in Brazil many years ago, and Neda joined me for a week as we visited a few places in the country, but the only words we remembered from back then is, "Obrigado" (thank you).

We both feel so ashamed for not checking on the Internet beforehand for some basic Portuguese phrases. We feel like such clueless North American tourists....

The check-out girl at the grocery store spoke English, and she gave us a quick language lesson on how to say, "hello", "please", "good day", etc. Surprisingly close to Spanish...

So it did rain.... we are definitely cursed.

We watched the rain fall on our bikes from our AirBnB apartment. Neda's cold has migrated down to her chest and she's developed a really bad cough, one that keeps her up at night so she's not getting much sleep. She's feeling a bit low because she's been having a lot of health issues lately, with her stomach before and now with this cold. And she's also sensitive to the weather and the rains have also added to those feelings.

Neda is basically bedridden, as any attempt to leave the apartment seems to exacerbate the cold and her fever returns as well. We had originally planned to spend some time riding around the southern coast of Portugal, but now we've had to delay that and extend our stay in Albufeira to help poor Neda recuperate. I feel so bad for her!

Riding into Albufeira to do some exploring

After four days of intensive rest and relaxation, Neda shows signs of improvement. We can see the touristy town of Albufeira from our apartment window and it's been beckoning to us all this time, so on one sunny day we decide to ride into town to do a bit of sightseeing.

As always, we gravitate to the historic old town

We met the mayor. This little guy was walking around like he owned the place.

Checking out the pedestrian traffic below

Peruvian pan flutes in Portugal? We had a flashback to the last place we were in South America!

Old town in Albufeira

Albufeira used to be a fishing village until the '60s when the tourism industry turned it into a beach-side resort town for European vacationers. The remnants of the original village can still be seen amongst all the souvenir shops and swanky restaurants.

One of the shops had this nice painted tile of what the Algarve is famous for

They call Albufeira the Gateway to the Algarve. It's one of the eastern-most points of entry into the region that's known for beach-side tourism.

The shoreline is rife with all sorts of hotels and vacation rentals

Every year, Albufeira hosts a sand-sculpture competition. This was off-season,
but there were still a couple of artists honing their craft

"Come on, you haven't eaten all day. Just one bite..."

Further proof that we are here in the off-season - empty beaches

So those leaves that Neda was collecting in her tankbag? Disintegrated. She's going back to seashells...

Playing tag with the waves

"The um... wind... knocked it over..."

Seriously though, what is up with the wind in Southern Spain/Portugal?

We've run out of time in Agarve and have to leave the region because we have an appointment to keep! We'll just have to come back later to explore more of the area.

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