This web site http://www.ecoviasalgarve.org/ describes a bike route across the Algarve which is the county on the South of Portugal an area famous for its golf courses. The route does not really exist in full but the map shows the sort of direction one can go and the road is marked a number of ways, a blue line, small bike symbols, 1 metre posts yellow on grey and finally small man sized pillars with full maps. Unfortunately at every turn there is not always a clue or there is no clue for miles or indeed the route has moved and no one has marked the path. You can hire guides to make the route go easily, you can use GPS or you can just do your best. Portuguese maps are not very good.
Bikes; well we used to fly our bikes around Europe but now that the price of a bike flight is £30 it works out easier to hire good bikes locally. We used www.Rentabike.pt part of www.Megabike.pt. They did just as we asked and delivered the bikes to Faro airport at the time requested and they picked up at Loule railway station. The bad parts were, 1) the web site did not work very well, 2) hence we had to do email transactions and cash transfers.
We booked some hotels to ensure we got certain ones and then made it up as we went along. Access to a Blackberry meant that we could look at and book hotels the night before. We found www.booking.com was very good while www.Tripadvisor.com was the best guidance on where to stay.
Day 1; Faro airport to Roja-Pe the Quinta do Mel. http://www.quintadofreixo.org. Euro90 B&B for 2 sharing while supper was Euro 33 including wine (Dao).
We flew www.Jet2.com into Faro and everything went perfectly except it was 2C and chucking down the rain as we left. We had 30 minutes to kill at Faro airport, our visit to Tourist Information was disappointing as the staff claimed the Ecovia is not complete. We picked up the bike from the van parked in drop off. Not bad but they insisted on giving us two bike repair kits (plus our own) makes a fair bit of weight. The guy delivering our bikes explained how to find the route.
We were off as were our bike panniers as they did not fit the frames on the bikes. This continued all day until we found a way to jamb the panniers on. We passed through Montenegro village until we fell over the route “blue-line, blue-line”. This then passed through a university campus and onto a sandy path. Note that the main roads are very quiet in the autumn, passing golf courses that stretch as far as the eye can see we sped on. Bilbo decided to change his trousers in the middle of the path (well it was quiet). A good easy ride and as light began to fail we spotted the sign for Quinta do Mel. A lovely place to rest, tea and biscuits in the bed room and some lovely lounging areas. The holiday had started.
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