There’s nothing like a last minute visit to the police station before heading off on a big trip. Pedro had spotted some fraudulent payments on a credit card and so had a fun morning at the bank and then with police – to set things straight, and let them know that he’s not one for buying luxury clothes.
Our late morning departure turned into mid-afternoon, but after our goodbyes to Acácio and Amelia, and the obligatory farewell photos, we were finally off.
There had been no test rides to check how it would feel to pedal with so much extra weight. The front racks had only been installed a few days before. Cumbersome and unweildy was an understatement – it felt more like driving a tank than riding a bicycle. Happily we had been staying in Lapa, at the top of the hill, so we would only have to keep our balance whilst freewheeling down the hill to the river.
After a last stop with our old neighbours and pedaling for about 30 minutes, our first break was in order. Niall and Sarah were sat in the shade enjoying a beer by the Torre de Belém, like good tourists. Disobeying all rules regarding bicycles being on the terrace and the grass, we joined them for a bit – sharing news of new jobs, new cats and new adventures. Colares, our first stop for the night, wasn’t so far… was it?
We eventually dragged ourselves away, cycling the all too familiar path to Algés and then beyond along the coast. The sun was setting as we approached Guincho beach and we knew our arrival at the Quintinha dos Cães was going to be at an antisocial hour. The road twisting up the hill up to Sintra seemed longer than usual, each turn feeling like it should be the last. Soon we were sliding down the otherside, enjoying the free wheeling, adjusting to the more sluggish braking and wondering if we should have packed more spare brake pads.
22h30 wasn’t quite the time we had planned to arrive, but our lateness was rewarded with the sight of fireflies lining the road – blinking in the hedges like a string of fairy lights. We were greeted with hugs (people) and licks (dogs), before sleepily climbing into our tent.