It's an ill wind…

My lady wife Mary, and I came out to our Spanish apartment in Ayamonte, Andalucia, on the Atlantic just next to Portugal two weeks ago. Initially the weather was cold and on the second day we had a day of Monsoon-like rain. This area which gets little rain by and large had been deluged for two months, a once in twenty year occurrence. Then for a day or so it was really cold, about 6C (I know, I know). Then it warmed up. Mary plays golf but I don't. On two occasions when she was golfing I did 60milers on my own. One in Portugal and one in Spain. Together we did about 5 other spins. She's a powerful cyclist but has not been doing much this winter.

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Anyway we were all ready to come home on Wednesday but a short Air Traffic Controllers' strike put paid to that. We had to rebook for Saturday (can only fly on Wednesday and Saturday from Faro to Shannon). Here we were stuck in Ayamonte for an extra three days. Being retired I didn't have to return.
Today we had one of the finest 40 mile cycles you could do. I'll adorn this with photos by-and-by.

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We left our place and headed into Ayamonte, about 3 miles. Got the ferry across the Guadiana which goes once an hour in winter and takes 20 mins. Had a chat with two Moroccan girls on the ferry. They were working in Spain and going to see Portugal for the first time, for the day. One wore a headscarf and was quite shy, the other not. I spoke French to her.
Leaving Vila Real de Santo Antonio, where the ferry docks we headed North to Castro Marim, an old town where we always have coffee and a cake each in the Cafe Encontro de Amigos. Price always the same, €2.60. Headed west over the motorway and then took the second right towards Tanoeiro. This climbs fairly steeply for about half a mile and then wanders up and down. The views at the top are gorgeous this time of year. This part of the Algarve, in from the coast, is very colourful and has great wild flowers and so on. The road eventually plunged down to Tanoeiro, where there's a lot of nothing at all, then climbs very steeply and then right, up to 15%, for about 400m. Then it wanders further past Alcaria Grande (I imagine that the non-Grande one is microscopic) and Corte de Gago (similar non-Metropolis) until at a T-Junction we turned right. We came to a junction where hitherto we had always turned right, just before Cortelho. The problem with Portugal is that there are NO detailed maps available. This is part of their military strategy, so you have to work things out by trial and error. There even are roads marked on maps which actually don't exist!!

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This is Mary cycling on her Moulton APB

Anyway I decided that we should try going straight through Cortelha. This could have led to a dead end, but if it didn't I had a fair idea where it would finish up, and I was right. It was in a very hilly region and snaked through valleys with ups and downs, each place prettier than the last. The almond trees were in bloom and there were buttercups and all in these magic small valleys of the inland Algarve. The weather was completely ideal for this endeavour. 15C, not a puff of wind, with hazy sun. Eventually we started to drop and came out exactly where I had surmised we might and were on familiar territory. We eventually came down by Monterei Golf Club. This ultra-expensive club was finished a couple of years ago. It is certainly absolutely gorgeous, but does not generate enough business in these straitened times. It may follow the history of most new Golf Clubs in that it is the second owner who makes a success of them.

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Anyway we reached Casto Marim about 1.30 and were both starving. We found a restaurant in a side-street and had Prato Do Dia (dish of the day) which was a really nice plate of fried pork with a lovely sauce and some chips and veg. Then we had two lovely Portuguese desserts, chocolate Mousse and a kind of Portuguese Creme Caramel with an orange sauce. Back to the ferry and home. A 10/10 day. Lucky Strike!

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I put these pictures of sunsets here to show you what magnificent sunsets one sees every day in Ayamonte!

3 comments on “It's an ill wind…”

  1. Mary wrote:

    A fabulous break for you both by all accounts. Glad the impromptu extra days ended up as a bonus rather than an inconvenience. Oh to have 15 C temperatures again, roll on spring and summer and fingers crossed for a dry one this year.

  2. Chris wrote:

    Good photos, Garry. We're supposed to be having a family holiday somewhere in the Algarve at Easter. Three of us are cyclists. I'll do some research nearer the time, but do you know if there is likely to be anywhere we can hire mountain bikes from – or is it all about golf still over there? My one and only previous visit to Portugal was my first experience of chicken piri piri. Mmm. Looking forward to the food again.

  3. Garry wrote:

    Any sizeable town I imagine. Lots of foreigners do a bit of cycling when they're in Portugal. Head inland. Great cycling there

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