Alentejo beach ride

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.
Lisbon
Lisbon

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).
Alentejo beach ride
Alentejo beach ride

More photos at my Flickr account.

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