This trip I stayed in Lisbon on my own for a couple of days and then joined the group to ride through Alentejo for a week. Lisbon is a jewel of a city. Built on 7 hills, the old part of the city is stunningly picturesque. My Lisbon highlights were:
- Walking down old steps in Alfama with the guide explaining we were walking beside the old Moorish wall - and realizing this is the location Saramago wrote about in History of the Siege of Lisbon [read this book, it's good].
- An evening tour where we ended up in a small plaza in Alfama watching a very low key fado show. It was a little restaurant that put tables and chairs out in the square and had 4 different singers do sets with the two guitarists. The singers were friends and family and the whole thing was quite cozy. This is in stark contrast to the tour-bus fado clubs that looked really tacky.
The ride through Alentejo was more rural and remote than I imagined a European country to be. We would ride for hours and not see anyone. Then we'd occasionally pass through a tiny village populated with a few seniors and lots of dogs. It was bucolic, fresh and clean. Some highlights:
- Riding a lovely, gentle horse named Principale with a gait like a rocking horse. Then trading with another rider for horse named Ulysses who provided me with entertainment value because of his silly personality.
- Galloping down a beach that was gigantic. The beach is 60 km but we only ran a small portion. We were riding in October, so the sun worshipers were gone and only a few fishermen were there to witness my international posse posing for action shots.
- Riding for hours through cork forests and down completely empty country lanes and then to suddenly pass a remote farmhouse that was the location of an international rave. There was only a handful of participants when we went by but they had the music blaring and looked happy.
- Indulging in Portugese wine and food every night at comfortable hotels. One night after a few too many drinks, we played CDs until the proprietor had to ask us to stop partying so hard (no kidding).
More photos at my Flickr account.
- I booked through In The Saddle. It's the Dolphin and Alentejo Trails.
- The stable who put on the ride is: Raides Vicentinos.
- In Lisbon, I stayed in a nice guesthouse which was reasonably priced, clean and pleasant called Ribeira Tejo.
- The Lisbon tour is Lisbon Sunset Fado & Tapas from Lisbon Urban Adventures.