Não falo Português

As we neared the border of Portugal and Spain, it became increasingly difficult to figure out what language I should be butchering. If I greeted someone with “bom dia!” I would get back responses in English, Spanish, German, and sometimes Portuguese. One guy even responded “no falo Português” (I don’t speak Portuguese), which made me LOL.

We followed a lot of the Eco Via to the border of Spain, and it became painful in parts because of the rough roads alternating with highway, but there were some stunning areas riding through small farms and along the coast.

The border crossing was fun; we choose to take the ferry to avoid riding on a major highway bridge that was only built in the 90s. We met an Irish cyclist with his three Spanish cycling mates, who were all very curious about our gear setup. They wanted to know where to get our eyeglass mirrors and had questions about our bags and pedals. They gave us some tips on which roads to ride in Spain as well.

Our route had us on the highway all the way to our WarmShowers host, but we got bored with that and made the dubious decision to try out Google cycling directions, which work in Spain but didn’t work in Portugal. We ended up on a gorgeous quiet road beside a canal for 5km and then 30km of rough unpaved farm roads so that we could get back to the highway. I think my palms may be permanently bruised.

I was surprised how different Spain is from Portugal. I expected a gradual easing into the new country as we neared Spain, but Portugal remained Portugal until our last bifanas at the port, and as soon as you cross the border, the language changes, people’s attitudes change, the traffic patterns are different, the roads are paved with large bricks instead of small paving stones, the brands of coffee and beer are different, the cities sprawl out into the country more, etc… More of a shock than I expected.

Our gracious WarmShowers host tonight is taking care of her family’s runway and aircraft hanger, meanwhile accepting cycling guests and work away volunteers in her spare space. It’s a pretty cool place with solar hot water and electricity and an organic garden that provided us with oranges and vegetables for dinner.

We will leave for Seville tomorrow and have a rest day the next day. We are considering taking a second day day to train to Cordoba… Stay tuned.

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