Alas, Portugal by pushpedal

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· @pushpedal ·
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Alas, Portugal
<a href="https://travelfeed.io/@pushpedal/alas-portugal"><center><h3>Read this post on TravelFeed.io for the best experience</h3></center></a><hr />

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<p>We woke up to a clear and cool November morning. The coastal town we stayed in was empty and quiet. There was minimum traffic on the road. To our followers back home, November in the northern hemisphere is the winter season, low tourist season.</p>
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<p>Quite an eery feeling in Spain during the winter months. The beach side towns are almost empty the buildings all with their white shutters drawn. Only a few people live in the town. Rent is very cheap during this time, however, you can only rent for 6 months. In the peak summertime, the homeowners will be actively renting it out to travellers through Airbnb for premium summer prices.</p>
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<h2>Portugal 10 km</h2>
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<p>It didn't take long for us to reach the border. The southern border follows the river so we had to take a ferry. No hassle, they were familiar with travellers on bikes so we had no problem getting on board. The ticket even printed with a bicycle icon! Being in the Schengen is great, no passport control at all the entire way over. Why don't more countries do this?!?</p>
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<p>Our first night in Portugal was in the border town Vila Real de Santo Antonio. It was lucky timing for our arrival as that same night the town was turning on their Christmas lights for the first time this year, to mark the start of the holiday season. We took a rest in the afternoon, and by evening we went out to explore the town centre and the colourful light display.</p>
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<p>There was quite a fanfare. Carnival rides, Christmas markets in the town square, cafes and bars serving customers sitting at the outside tables. It was nice being in Europe for the Christmas season, compared to the year before when we were in Iran and we were cycling across the desert to Kerman, a city in the southeast.&nbsp;</p>
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<p>Waiting patiently in the town centre are children and their parents. Someone is making a special guest appearance to officially turn on the lights: Pai Natal (Santa Claus). As the event hosts were speaking, all we could understand was "Pai Natal" this, "Pai Natal" that. We knew he was visiting.</p>
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<p>He showed up on the balcony of the townhouse, usually where the mayor would give speeches. Kids were happy to see him. The next act was an unusual one for us. Using tied up duvet covers or blankets (we presumed), he climbed down the balcony with "Mission Impossible" style music to greet the kids that were eagerly waiting below. Pai Natal finally escaped the crowd of kids and climbed on to the stage. A few more words were said and then everyone joined in for the countdown - "dez, nove, ..., três, dois, um". Santa pushed the big button and all the lights in the town square lit up in unison. It felt very festive and we were definitely on the right continent this year to celebrate it!</p>
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<h2>The Hanging Valley</h2>
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<p>Our next pitstop was the valleys on the southern coast of Portugal. We stayed with a host in Portimão. We didn't know the area well but set aside a free day to explore the port city. Little did we knew there were some beautiful beaches and hiking tracks around that area.&nbsp;</p>
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<p>We spent the entire day walking the Vale Suspenso. There were some incredible views. At one spot we recognised it as one of those relaxing short videos of waves washing up on a golden sandy beach. Definitely been there now! Unfortunately, we didn't pack any swimming gear as the beaches looked amazing. It was December though so may have been slightly cold.</p>
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<h2>The End of the World</h2>
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<p>In ancient times, the Iberian peninsula was thought to be the end of the world. The specific spot was the Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent). On the way there we had to climb a small hill that has a 20% gradient. It was really tough! </p>
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<p>At the cape it was very windy so we didn't stay there for long. Took some photos and headed out a bit into the fields to find camp. Finding a suitable place to camp also took us a long time, but eventually, we found a small forest behind the fields to put up our tent. Later that night Matt saw a fox while he was out brushing his teeth. He got a bit of a fright but we're pretty sure it was more scared of us.</p>
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<p>In the next couple of days, we will be riding north to reach our last beautiful destination Lisbon.</p>
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