Day 2: Lisbon to Sines, Portugal

The beach, and a wall by the Castle, at Sines

For my first day of actual riding, I decided to ride south to Sines, which is essentially half way to Cabo de St. Vincente, the southwestern most point in Europe. Sines is very different from Lisbon, much smaller and more peaceful, and great place for rich folk to take their yatchs.

Boats in a breakwater at Sines - That big one looks to about the size of the ferry I took from Lisbon to Seixal this morning!

I started the day by riding, almost entirely in car free pedestrian only streets, down to the ferry docks at Lisbon. Lisbon streets are not good for bicycling during rush hour, but , from my penzion, located on a pedestrian street only a few block from Baxia, I only had to cross a few streets and I didn't have to ride on any streets, to get to the ferry. That was a relief.

I arrived, paid my 3.60 Euro - 1.10 for me 2.50 for my bike - they discourage bikes - and, almost immediately, was able to board the ferry. The river ferries in Lisbon are passenger only, although they do allow bikes and motorcycles. The fee for a motor cycle is 5 Euro. Pretty expensive for a short ride, but more peaceful than taking one of the long bridges. Bikes are not allowed on those bridges, and I guess small motorcycles aren't either. The ferry terminal is just a block or two from the central bus and tram pickup points, and it appears that lots of folks from across the river commute to work on ferry, then bus or tram. That would sure beat driving in Lisbon!

Here is (the top half of) the ferry at the Seixal Terminal. It really isn't as fast as it looks!

Riding into Seixal

I choose Seixal, from three possibilities, because it looked like I could have the most straight forward routing from there south Santana. I could have, if I hadn't made a bad call on the complicated route through Seixal. I wanted to end up on N378 which goes to Santana, but instead ended up on N10 which goes to Setubal. Since Setubal was my next routing point after Santana, I stayed on N10. That sounds simple, but it wasn't . First I had to find out that I was on N10. I stopped at a filing station and bought a map! Microsoft Autoroute is really bad mapping software for Portugal! Then I had to decide if N10 was rideable - it is much more heavily used than N378 - and if it was worth it to try to get back to N378. I decided that N10 was OK, if noisy, riding and trying to get back to N378 would nave been more dangerous than riding to Setubal on N10.

Here is the area N10 goes through, east of Seixal. It is pretty flat, and pretty built up

N10 is a divided expressway in Seixal, but becomes a two lane highway outside of urban areas. The speed limit is 70 kph (about 45 mph) and, unlike in Lisbon, it seems to be obeyed. Traffic on N10 was slower that traffic in areas of Lisbon marked for 30 kph!

When N10 reaches the hills maybe ten miles from Seixal, it actually becomes fun to ride, and pretty. These hills are full of vineyards and winerys. Nice.

A vineyard on N10

When I got to Setubal, I rested a bit at the beach. Then I found a restaurant for lunch. It was Chinese and I had some trouble ordering, but I also had a good lunch, with wine for 8 Euro. I took half of the half bottle of wine with me and drank it with 'supper' tonight. Setubal is quite beautiful and, before lunch, I rode around for a while enjoying it.

The fort at Setubal

Setubal from the ferry to Troia

Looking at the mouth of the river from the ferry - note the resorts at Troia

The road, N261, was very rural - sand and scrub pine rural - for about 15 miles southwest of Troia. At Comporta, the first town, there are signs for Sines and the route turns south. From there to Torral, there are frequent services - including great Portuguese service stations that have restrooms and snack bars that serve ice cream, pastries, and espresso! The route, well signed, turns again at Torral, it goes through rolling hills with no services until Melides. I stopped near Comporta and I was really happy to find a great service station after Melides. It even offered places to sleep. Riding was pretty easy, but it was warm, windy, and very dry, so I consumed a lot of water.


Heading south on 261

There are many miles of rice fields south of Comporta, some with cactus growing in the desert alongside the fields!

About 8 miles past Melides, 261 intersects an expressway (ip8?) that runs west to Sines. It is another 13 miles to Sines,12 miles of very easy riding on an expressway with - at least today - very little traffic. I was passed by three road cyclists on that section. On the section near Melides, I passed a bike tourist heading north. I've seen three bike tourists in three days in Portugal and I have seen recreational riders - the folks with fancy bikes and jersey on N10 and IP8 today.

On the expressway to Sines

Tonight, I am staying at a residential - which seems to be a place where the folks who own it live as well as rent rooms. It is a bargain at 20 Euro, without breakfast, for a room with a bathroom with a shower. Speaking of bargains, I stopped at an Intermarche (memories of France!) on the way into town. I got a 750 gram YOP - yogurt drink, a baggette, a 1.5 liter coke, and 200 grams of French brie for 4.75 Euro. I drank the YOP and ate part of the bagette at the supermarket, the cycled on into town with the rest. It will be supper and breakfast for me. I was lucky to find this inexpensive place to stay in this upscale town. It is right near the castle, just inside the old - cobblestone - part of town.

It is noisy, and warm, but the noise has helped keep me up while writing this and the warm is just the way this part of Portugal is at this time of the year. My total food and lodging cost for this day will be considerably less than 40 Euro. Not bad, even with the weak dollar!

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