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Our 1st post…Journey from Porto to Faro.

So this is it.  We’re off to Portugal for a 3-week cycling trip – flying into Porto and cycling from there to Faro. We’ll look to post our cycling route with highlights along the way, with reviews of places we’ve visited, hotels, food and wine.  We hope you enjoy our blog.

But firstly, what a stressful time getting through Manchester airport that was!  Fist of all we had difficulties in reaching check in – with lifts and queue jumpers to contend with. Then, we had check-in. So, when exactly did they automise the checked baggage area to self-service? As, having two oversized boxes, containing our new bikes (our mode of transport for the next 3 weeks); in addition to our laundry bag (it was the lightest and most roomiest bag to put our pannier bags in!), we found that the luggage labels that are produced from the said self-service machine wouldn’t attach to said luggage!  With an altogether unhelpful member of staff at the ‘baggage handling area’, separate to above, whose response to the question posed as to, how we should attach the luggage labels was quote-unquote “not his problem – he couldn’t help”! 20 minutes later, and a few gentle words with several members of staff (you should read our response as, ‘get it sorted’!), we were assured, well, kind of, that our bikes & bag will arrive at our destination….Porto, our next stop and where we start our trip.

Jacqueline & Paul 😄

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Fuzeta (and a new restaurant, ‘Hamburgueria do Largo’)

Fuzeta is such a great place – its chilled, quiet, relaxed, unpretentious, and not overly touristy. We have been coming to Fuzeta for the last three years – we love it for all of the above.

We’re back again, this time we found a new place to eat. It’s called ‘Hamburgueria do Largo‘. What a fantastic find this was. It’s only been open since June and in a place where fish is everything and most tourists/locals flock to one of the roadside fish BBQ places to eat, it’s very brave to open a hamburger joint. But Hamburgueria do Largo offers an excellent menu serving a variety of burgers (meat, fish and vegetarian), served on the lightest brioche type bun, with a side portion of fries (regular or sweet potato), and a homemade green mayonnaise! (The mayonnaise is incredible).

We had the prawn burger and the vegetarian burger, one with regular fries the other with sweet potato fries – plus the mayonnaise. They were simply the best tasting burgers we’ve ever had; and the sweet potato fries are worth paying the extra Euro 1 for.  The dessert (or the full stop, as we like to call it) was also wonderful – a very light strawberry mousse, served in kilner jar. It was heavenly.

The venue itself is also very well put together and well decorated – it is classy, elegant, modern and clean (which for Fuseta is lovely). You can see into the kitchen area; and very important are the toilets, which were really clean (I like the Rituals hand wash)!

Lastly, the service from the staff was excellent who were very professional and knowledgeable.

We returned two days later for lunch – this time for chicken salad and sweet potato fries.  Again, a really good meal with good fresh ingredients. And, the soft fruit (detox) drink of orange, avocado, mango and cucumber was fabulous.

We would highly recommend this restaurant.  You won’t be disappointed.

Day 12: Cycle from Sagres to Lagos (then train to Faro)

Our last day’s cycle saw us leave Sagres with 8km mainly uphill, however we took the access local (bike path) route for most of it, to save cycling up the hard shoulder of the main route out of Sagres. What was particularly noticeable was the strong head wind the whole way, until we hit the turn off at Vale do Bispo, for Lagos. This made the first 8-10km tough and slow !

Not long after this we had a long steady uphill climb, followed by the rest of the journey on N125 being very up and down (and on what became a very busy road) into Lagos – which is why we’d decided to end our cycle there, and travel by train with our bikes and luggage to Faro (to avoid the busy main road).  

So after 22 miles, we arrived into Lagos in good time to buy water and find the railway station, and buy 2 single tickets to Faro – cost Euros 7.30 each and the journey took 1 hour, 50 minutes (see CP website for up to date timetable and fares).

There ended our 400 mile cycle journey which started 12 days earlier – leaving Porto for Lisbon, then Faro our final destination before a weeks R&R. 

We had a fabulous time, cycling to lots of places not travelled before. We still haven’t quite mastered the art of travelling light, but we’ve learnt a lot about what to pack and more importantly, what not to pack – and we know which places we’d like to go back to! 

Sagres (night 14)

We arrived at our destination, the ‘Pousada’, Sagres in good time, which allowed for a relaxing hour or so at the pool, which after 12 days of cycling, some relaxation is now needed!  The Pousada is in a great location with good views over the bay, albeit the hotel is in need of modernisation as it is tired in parts – that said, it has charm and character and the service from the staff was excellent. And there us a great lock up to store your bikes (with separate lock up for your surfboard!)

We ventured out for a drink into Sagres before our evening meal at ‘Babugem‘. This fish restaurant is probably the best we’ve eaten at – the food was excellent as was the service. We were so glad we picked here to eat. Of particular note was the pickled veg which came with the couvert (this is amazing); with the best tasing red snapper (note: we had one each which also came with fries and salad – we could have shared one the portions were so big).  With wine as well this meal was not expensive for what we had. We will definitely go back and would highly recommend. Another highlight for us.

Breakfast at the Pousada, before we left to do our last day’s cycle was really good quality and plentiful. 

Day 11: Cycle from Aljezur to Sagres

Our cycle from the Herdade back to the main road at Aljezur was c8k – a lot up hill, but then we had a rather long and steep (but quick) descent (remembering the steep climb the previous day!)

The journey to Sagres was around 32 miles (a bit longer than we thought) and the whole day was very up and down with long stretches of both uphill climbing and long descents; with long and windy roads through a natural park (with not great road conditions). Vila do Bpo followed, which was another long uphill but then we practically had 8km down into Sagres (note: it follows that coming back the same way tomorrow will be 8km uphill!)

Aljezur (night 13)

Our stay was at a wonderful Herdade ‘Monte do Sol‘, in Aljezur, recommended by hubby after he stayed there in May on a boys cycling trip. He did well – the villa we had which included an open plan kitchen, living area was its own patio was just lovely.  And the land that surrounds the property is also lovely as the owners have a number of different animals (as pets) – hens, goats, peacocks, horses and dogs. 

So, having had a tough day’s cycle we decided to take a 40 minute walk to Arrifana beach – to have an early dinner at the beachfront ‘Restaurant da Praia‘ (such a chilled and relaxed vibe; with a great view of this surfers beach – oh, and the food and wine we had was pretty good as well). 

Breakfast was provided by Sofia and her husband who were not only great hosts but lovely people. Breakfast was good and plentiful with fresh hen’s eggs.  All in all a great relaxing (but too short) stay.

Day 10: Cycle from Zambujeira do Mar to Aljezur

The weather first thing was not looking too promising when we woke, however by the time we’d had breakfast the sun was shining and it was hot!  First things first we sorted the route out from the country house back to the main road. It was still a bit tricky and required some parts to be walked, but it was a shorter off-road route than what we’d done the afternoon before! 

The cycle route was lovely, but it did have two steep and long climbs – one at Odeceixe, the other even steeper climb is as you get to Aljezur.  After this we then had a further 8km to go (which is up/down the whole way), to reach the Herdade we were staying in.

The journey was around 24 miles – but a tough day’s cycling, albeit still really enjoyable, and again blessed with really good weather. 

Zambujeira do Mar (night 12)

Our stay was at a country house, ‘Monte Soalheiro‘, in Zambujeira do Mar. 

It is quite difficult to get to the property, particularly by bicycle (not helped by inclement weather and taking what we thought to have been a short-cut).  The house is basically in a wooded eucalyptus area, and really off-road. However, the property itself is lovely and suits the surroundings well. We had an upstairs room with balcony which had great views. 

The pool area is also very nice as are the landscaped gardens; it’s just a pity the weather wasn’t quite good enough to sit and relax at the pool area, although the sun did come out a bit later on so we managed to have a cerveja as we watched the sunset. 

What was of note however was the evening meal that was cooked for us (having communicated in advance and requested an evening meal).  We had a delicious couvert to start (with bread, olives, melon & Parma ham), followed by homemade carrot and pumpkin soup, then salad, followed by a main meal of pork with a mushroom sauce served with two types of potato and vegetables. And then we had a lemon syllabub. The quality of the food was first class as was the service; and we appreciated the effort put in to cook just for the two of us. 

After the quality evening meal we had high hopes for breakfast. Once again we were not disappointed. The freshly cooked scrambled eggs and bacon, after a lovely prepared plate of fresh fruit with breads and home made jams was by far the best breakfast. And again, the staff serving were very accommodating and attentive. 

We would definitely return to Monte Soalheiro (but by car next time) – it was another highlight of our stay.