Sunday, November 09, 2008

The End of the World

Day: 411
Lagos to Sagres
Time: 2:35:00
Distance: 37.8 kilometers
Avg Speed: 14.6 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: N 37˚ 00’ 21.9” E 08˚ 56’ 3.0”

We arrived in Sagres today, one of the most southwestern points in Europe. Before the days of major exploration, it was thought that this was the far end of the world. A man named Henry the Navigator changed all of that when he settled in Sagres and created a school for navigation. He trained the likes of Magellan and Vasco da Gama and the rest, as they say, is history.

The day started with blue skies once again as we pedaled west. We had planned to ride a combination of highway and back roads. There was no hurry since we only had about 35 kilometers or so to our destination. About 30 minutes into the ride we turned toward the ocean and the little towns of Luz and Bergau. The first town was easy enough to navigate through. The second proved to be frustrating enough that Chris took over the duties of map reader. He’s been doing a bit of backseat pedaling and I decided that I couldn’t deal with it again today. There was no scene, no exchange of terse words, just a smile when I handed over the map. “I’ll follow you” I said calmly. Five minutes later we lost the pavement and a dirt road stretched out far into the distance. “Classic Kehmeier…” I thought to myself but uttered nothing to him. I was up for the adventure and it turned out to be a very scenic one. We rolled up and down the coast with ocean views the whole way. It was a nice respite before joining the highway again. The further from Lagos we went the less development we saw. Much of the coast is protected in this part of the Algarve and makes for some really spectacular bicycle touring.
Our ride was short and we rolled into town just after 1pm. We followed the sign to the pousada and parked our bicycles out front. Pousadas are government owned accommodation. They are very up market and offer the chance to stay in unique settings that reflect the character and history of the region. They were first built in the early 1940s so that people traveling would have a place to stay. Eventually, historic buildings were also converted and it was possible to stay in castles, mansions, and monasteries. We’ve had the full pousada experience today, right down to multiple course dinner with several changes of tableware. At one point Chris traded his two forks and two knives for three forks and three knives while I got one fork and a spoon. Even the server had a little trouble remembering what went where. Oh well, it wouldn’t be that memorable if we had known exactly what to do.
Tomorrow we make the turn to ride up the west coast. We’re on the homestretch and looking forward to savoring every minute.


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