16 August 2006: Ploumisti wakes me up by saying that the hour is almost 10pm!!! We had aimed to wake up at 8 am., to load our things and to find the Yamaha garage, so as to change the oils that have reached roughly 5.500hlm. From the Marco, I check them systematically for the case they have burned and need supplement, but up to now they are ok. Today we will leave Spain and will enter in Portugal. The distance up to the borders is around 100-150km. What is different from the previous times is the weather. Clouded over and heavy, it warns us that this time we will not avoid the rain.
At 11pm. we begin for the garage and after a small roaming, despite the fact that I use the GPS, we find it. Basically the problem is that a lot of street work happens in the city and some of the streets are closed. Anyway, in the garage the half personnel is absent for vacations so we will delay for 2 hours. The problem is that they do not have semi-synthetic oils, only 100% synthetic, and regular. Our engineer stressed out that we must not put 100% synthetics. From the other hand and because the kilometres are many and the temperatures high, I do not want us to put regular oils. We prefer, therefore, to leave and not delay any long. Moreover, 500-600km more does not change anything...
We follow the signs for Huelva and while I try to avoid the motorway I cannot. Fortunately, the tolls - if it has any- are not found in the beginning of the motorway, so in the exit Sanlucar la Mayor, we follow the provincial street. In the beginning we fall in traffic at the village that we meet which has more than 5 traffic lights on its main street. Of course, then we were rewarded for our choice since the way is very good. The street is of good quality with open turns and beautiful villages. The traffic minimal, making us to drive fast. Most important, however, is to the side where we are going, the weather appears to become better and to leave behind the heavy cloudiness hanging above our heads!
After Huelva the motorway becomes National Street which does not have tolls for sure. Nevertheless, we prefer to move on the provincial road following the signs for Gibraleon - Portugal - Ayamonte and street N431. After Ayamonte, forced, we follow the motorway in order to enter in Portugal, via the hanging bridge that passes above the river Guadiana and constitutes the natural border between the two countries. At the time we pass the borders, the sun shows us his better face, thing that I consider as a good omen for our eve in the country! Before the travel - I do not know why - I had good presentiment for this country...
We follow the motorway, without knowing if we have to pay tolls further down the road. I make a stop in order to take a look at the map and decide to come out in the node for San Antonio, a coastal village, so as to drink a coffee, to fill our tanks with benzene and to follow the coastal provincial street that leads to the Lighthouse. In the village San Antonio we find heavy traffic and we cross the coastal street to find a gas station. There waits us the first surprise for Portugal, something that I have not calculated and really it makes me fall from the clouds: the price benzene per litre exceeds 1.3 euros! Price record for my personal figures! I am thinking, if it has to do with the place and for this we put only 10 Euros, so as to put more at Faro town.
We leave for Faro, with a vision to stop in one from the next villages, but finally after an error we found ourselves again in the motorway. After 50km we enter in the Faro, while we do not pay tolls. Perhaps finally the motorways here are as Germany’s... The city Faro is a known destination so much from those who have visited Portugal, but also from a motorcyclist meeting that takes place every year. We direct ourselves to the centre, where is found the harbour or better lagoon. We decide to seat in a cafeteria in the square next to the mole, but because of waiter’s lateness we leave and we go to a small solitary tavern, that is proved no only cheap but also with very tasty food! All this hour we sit to the tavern, the weather puzzles me since it finally appears to burden again, but I do not lose my optimism. We begin our trip with destination Lagos another also known coastal village. Once again we use the motorway and reach there at 5pm. We direct ourselves to the harbour and we pass through a small region that - maybe - is the busiest place of the town. After a small distress ness for where to park we sit in the central square, so as to have a coffee.
Leaving from Lagos we pass from his graphic port that, unfortunately, we do not have the occasion to photograph it because of time lack. The weather appears to change and we are supposed to cover around 300-350km up to Lisbon, while we will drive on the provincial network for the most of the time. What distresses me is that we do not have time to visit Sagres, the more southern point of Portugal, precisely in the south-western side, that constitutes the end of Europe, even if with the new facts Cyprus is the southerner.
I follow the plates for Sines. In the beginning we re-enter in the motorway which after 3-4km becomes provincial. From the beginning this provincial street shows the better signs... Street of good quality not so wide but with beautiful turns that make the driving enjoyable. The natural landscape is rich, including eucalyptuses, pines and cedars. The unique thing that spoils my mood is the weather. Shortly we were forced to wear again the raincoats, hoping that will be simply a shower, as the one before in Lagos.
Continuing with intervals of rain, I enjoy the way and I wonder why the constructor of the map that I have do not mention this road using the symbols of an appreciable way! What impresses me, also, is the behaviour of Portuguese drivers that when they see us are capable to fly their vehicle outside from the street so as to give space for overtaking!!!. Their genuine politeness impressed me from the first moment I entered the country!
We pass the villages Aljerul, Odemina and we have the occasion to see the architecture of houses that we meet. Two things impressed me: the fact that all houses are fresh painted white, resembling new and the characteristic frame that they make on windows and doors having the same colour with the house, but different between the houses. It reminds me Greek architecture at the islands.
In the village Odemina we follow a secondary provincial street and instead to go coastally, we go from the mountain gaining so much in km but we have also the occasion to move through an amazing and in rich vegetation Natural Park. The street is narrow and deserted. At the way we meet cedars and a small field with bulls! as expected we stop for photographs even if the weather is bad... After we pass the Cercal we continue for Sines while it is getting dark. In my brain they have begun to appear scenarios of staying in Sines, which is located around 150km from Lisbon.
Reaching outside from the Sines I see chimneys from factories and a commercial harbour that makes me to not even think of entering in the city and without second thought to leave for the capital. The problem that came up once again is the benzene. We follow the signs for Lisboa. A way without lighting, but with good paving and comfortable and after we pass from points that have fog we reach the motorway.
The conditions are such that we do not have time margins for delays, neither to risk to go from the provincial and not find an open gas station. We enter in the motorway, in which - little below - we realise that it has tolls. The system is this with the card of entry and the payment depending at the exit point. Most important is that a warning plate informs us for the existence of a gas station in 30km., something that relaxes me...
At 11 despite we found ourselves having passed the tolls and paid the sum of 6,65euros each. I throw a glance in the map and I make a plan of which way will lead us in the region Bahia where are located the economic guesthouses and hostels. We pass the bridge which leads you to the city. Even if it is raining the scene is impressive! Finally we make an error in the exit but with the help of our map and the map of a bus station we reach in front from the hostel.
From that moment on our personal odyssey begins that lasts roughly 3 hours!!! We asked in more than 20 hostels and guesthouses and all they were full. I cannot realise that this is happening. Some of them are located in places that cannot be found either from their householder!!! We are wandering in regions relatively posh. All are full and I cannot believe it!!! We were forced to be moved in the region Bairro Alto, inside narrow alleys, full in people where it hangs around in clubs and bars in the region. Unsuccessfully once again! Last effort we did was in the region Alfama, near the harbour and in something deserted alleys where with difficulty the motorcycles could pass. Unsuccessfully once again!
Disappointed, tired, and puzzled we decide to return and to remain in a not so good that we have found in Rossio. But also there the misfortune follows us, since the time we arrived a pair took the room... We decide to move ourselves in the region Marque, in which the first hostel that we asked is located. An error course that I took leads us in another region, where we found some guesthouses. We stop in one that it is open and the very helpful householder sends us in another one next to it that has rooms!!!
The Ploumisti goes to check if the hotel has rooms. We put the machines in front of the guesthouse "Estrela Dos Anjos" (Rua dos Anjos, 70) and Ploumisti go up to see the room. The price is 27euros for a double room, which does not have any luxuries but it is clean! An old man that has the guesthouse, proposes to us to put the machines in the entry! Gift from nowhere this person! Of course the door does not open and it is forced to bring screwdriver and hammer. After a while the machines are found tightened in the entry and we in the room, while the hour approaches 3pm...