After an awesome time at boom, I finally managed to leave that magical land. Although a little sick, perhaps from dust, or too much parting – lol, the good vibes carried on. I rode towards the boarder between Portugal and Spain, passing through beautiful-winding roads in the Tajo national park.
Just before the Tajo river and the town of Alcantara, my aim for the day, I saw a sign to a campsite saying “4km uphill” – score! I decided to go there instead. I drank my last drop of water and burned any energy I had left climbing to get there only to find out that the place was permanently closed! All I could do was to lay under a shady tree and rest for an hour. Eventually, I had to muster up any remaining energy to ride down towards the Tajo river to get some water. There I saw a huge motorhome parked, so I asked for some sugar and salt to recover myself. The owner was a boomer sister, who invited me in and offered me some cookies and mandarins. I thought about camping besides her truck for the night, but I was keen for sleeping on a bed and eating at a restaurant after so many days camping in the festival. So, after resting and eating something, I finally managed to ride uphill to Alcantara. However, I couldn’t find a room in any hotel or guest-house, and no one that I asked for a place to sleep had let me in either. In the end, I found an expensive room at the local upmarket “hospedagem”, which was located at an old convent building. There I could finally eat, shower and rest my aching which was burning in fever.
Waking up fever-stricken, I decided to sleep longer and have a shower before leaving. However, I still managed to leave early towards Caceres, which is where I would meet up with Daniel and Samanta. The ride was smooth and I arrived before the strong heat. After finding a guest-house to stay, I went to hospital, where they’ve diagnosed me with some sort of bronchitis and prescribed me antibiotics, which I haven’t had any for more than 8 years! Anyway, the medication helped me heal and to avoid it developing into pneumonia. I spent the rest of the day resting and working on bike sutras stuff. Daniel arrived very late (10:30pm) and we went for dinner and a couple of beers at a local bar. There I’ve met some cool people and stayed out till late. We spent the next day resting and sightseeing, and I finished with a well relaxing bath at a Hamman. For dinner I went to a very nice restaurant and met the owner, who likes bike touring and had been riding in Brazil. He sat at the table with me and we could chat and try some of his delicious food and wine!
On our first day riding as a group, we were all a bit tired and left too late to ride much before getting extremely hot. So after 50 km we stopped in Trujillo for lunch and decided to stay for the night. We enjoyed the sunny day at the local public pool, where kids loved the bikesutras stamp, and went sightseeing at the historic centre later in the afternoon.
We left Trujillo towards Toledo, aiming to do it (220 km) over two days, which was definitely ambitious. On the first day we left early and covered almost 100 km in nearly 9.5h! That was quite hard as we had to climb through a mountain pass and ride throughout the whole afternoon under a very hot sun. But it was not all suffering; we had great views from the mountains, enjoying amazing downhills and some tailwind in the end of afternoon. We stopped for the night at Calzada de Oropeza, where we could enjoy the public pool and meet the locals who were very curious about us crazy cyclists that came to their town. That night I practiced yoga for about an hour during sunset and we camped at a children’s park, where the mayor came to greet and talk with us. Very welcoming people!
The following day we still had another 120km to Todelo – the next stop, so we left very early with the rising sun. But the head wind was killing us and the road was not welcoming at all, with big trucks and cars passing by very fast. So we were not making much progress and had to stops several times to eat, rest and recharge. In the middle of the afternoon, I found myself thirsty and without water in the extreme heat of 45C! I was stopping at farms to look for water, but I couldn’t found any! I only manage to find and eat delicious grapes and figs, which made me even thirstier! When I approached the town of Cebola, I saw a man working at a workshop, so I stopped to ask for water. Not only did he give me some water, but it actually was the best water ever! It was ridiculously cold and refreshing!!! The whole experience became even more ecstatic when offered a hose shower – wow! That was soooo insanely good that it’s hard to describe in words…I was revitalised and could ride for miles and miles! When I met the couple at the next town, they had to rest and I lost some of that excitement to continue. After some time, we left still exhausted and it was still very warm. We were riding uphill and only made it to a town 40km away from Toledo. There we got a bus and got to our destination at night, where we still had to ride another 10km to our warmshowers host Cristina, who was very welcoming and a lovely person to meet.
We spent the next day sightseeing in Toledo, which is a beautiful historic medieval town. In the evening, we met Cristina and she took us to watch the sunset at a beautiful spot where we could see the whole town from a hill. We spent some time there sharing some stories, beers and having good time. She told me about her bike tour in Jamaica, which made me consider it for a possible second year of Bikesutras.
We took a bus to Madrid the next morning, mainly because there was not much to see and there were only large highways that are not pleasant to ride. There we stayed for 3 nights at an Airbnb tiny flat in the city centre. I spent the first day resting and working on the website, while the couple was sightseeing and looking for bike parts. The following day, I rejoined the couple to then explore the area and do a city tour. On that same Friday night, my friend Raul arrived from Cadiz after driving 650 km for 7h only to meet me – wow, what an effort! Totally worth it though, it was so special to catch up with him. Of course he was tired of driving and so were we after walking around town the whole day. Then we went out for a couple of beers and tapas at a bar nearby.
The next morning was a beautiful sunny day and Raul offered to drive us somewhere outside the city. We went to a park at the mountains northwest of Madrid. There we walked around a little town, visited some medieval castles and enjoyed the beautiful landscape. In the evening Raul had to return to Cadiz because he had family commitments on Sunday, and we went to see Real Madrid at the Bernabeu! Daniel and I are both fanatics about Corinthians and football, so we were very excited about it. The game was good and we really enjoyed being there in the stadium to watch it, but the supporters were very quiet and far from being as crazy as we Corinthians supporters – lol.
On Sunday morning we took another Bus to Valencia, as we had also decided to skip the roads from Madrid to there and only continue to ride once we were on the coast. The bus would leave at 8:30 am and my friends had said that they wanted to leave early, but they left VERY early (6:30am) and I was not ready and felt under pressure to leave. Anyway, they went ahead and I’ve met them there. This event was not the first “conflict” that we shared. But this time, we realized that we have very different travel style on the road when choosing a place to camp, or what time to leave or stop etc. So we decided to ride from Valencia to Barcelona separately and meet there. This was a bit sadness because we had planned to do it together, but we felt that it was better like this. Both parties could enjoy it, in our own pace and a continued friendship. We still spent the Sunday riding together around Valencia, which was a beautiful city to explore, and had a beautiful paella for our goodbye dinner.
VALENCIA TO BARCELONA
I had finally reached the Mediterranean, where I would ride along the coast for the next few weeks, which I was looking forward to. I was also riding solo again and aiming to make to Barcelona in 5 days to arrive there on Friday and party on the weekend.
On Monday I left Valencia in a cloudy morning and I rode by the ocean as much as I could, passing through beautiful beaches and small coastal paths where I had to push the bike through pebbles and sand. In one of the fisherman villages, I had to run from dogs that were all over the place and chasing me! Early in the afternoon, I stopped at a quite beach to have lunch and swim, which later became a daily habit. Later in the day, I’ve met a couple from Netherlands bike touring towards Valencia and we stopped briefly for a chat (this was the first of many encounters on the road). In the evening, I arrived at a campsite in Burriana, which I had seen on google maps, but it no longer existed and the place was a public park. There was a restaurant nearby and the friendly waitress, who offered me a free beer, said that it would be fine to sleep there, but I still tried asking a few people if I could camp at their backyard. I was doing it to try experience the Spanish hospitality, but later I found out that they don’t really like strangers at their homes. So I ended up cooking and sleeping at the park without any issues.
The next day I’ve continued along the coast enjoying the beaches and beautiful rural areas where I found lots of delicious figs and blackberries - yummy! My aim was to get to Peniscola, but I met a few people on the road that was worth the extra spare time chatting. So when I arrived at Alcossebre, it was getting dark and I had to find a place to camp. I had not enough food and water to wild camp, so I had to stay at an expensive campsite. At least it had a pool and I could do a few laps. I was not expecting that it would rain at night, but it did. Since I had left lots of things outside the tent, it all got wet, which delayed my departure on the following morning.
From Alcossebre I took the off-road track to Peñíscola (Cami de Ribamar), which is a famous route for mountain biking, and everybody was staring at me doing it on a fully loaded touring bike. This coastal road is amazingly beautiful, passing through beautiful bays and beaches. Perhaps some of the most beautiful in Spain! I only did a quick stop for a swim as I had left late and still had a lot of ground to cover. I had lunch in Peñíscola, which is a cute and very touristic old town, then I continued riding along the coast until going in land to cross the delta of the Ebro river. While riding through the farmlands on the delta, I picked fresh fruits and delicious fresh mint for my water and to make tea later. I asked some farmers if I could camp at their places, but I didn’t get a yes. Anyway, I’ve got back to the coast to camp at L'Ampolla, which is a quite beach town. At the campsite, I’ve met an old school cyclist from Netherlands and we had a few beers together. He looked like uncle Fabio (my best friend’s father) and he only carried a pen, paper and a watch besides his bike touring gear. I felt a bit ridiculous carrying so many gadgets, but in the end, we both learnt and were inspired by each other’s journeys.
The next morning, I left early to get as close as possible to Barcelona to get there by Friday. I rode along the famous Costa Dourada and reached Tarragona, which is a touristic town with many Roman constructions. There I found reasonably priced camping just outside town, where I enjoyed the afternoon on the beach and practicing yoga. In the evening, I watched Spain playing against Belgium for the world cup qualifying with locals at the camping bar (Spain 2 x 0 Belgium).
On Friday morning, I left Tarragona towards Barcelona and this was one of the best rides so far! The beaches were awesome and I was very excited about going to BCN for partying. The road between Sitges and Castelldefels was extremely beautiful. It was a winding coastal road, with lots of ups and down, but with magnific views of the Mediterranean blue waters. I’ve stopped at one of the many bays for lunch and that was a nudist beach, so I could have a naked siesta and a refreshing swimming session before getting back on the saddle. On the final stretch to Barcelona, I was pumping! Getting into the city was not easy and I had to ride through very busy roads, but in the end I got safe and sound to my hostel in Gracia.
Arriving at Jam hostel, which is a cute place with very chilled vibes, I was attended by Jesus…not Christ, but a lovely and kind guy that has been very helpful during my stay in BCN. After checking in, all I wanted was a beer, so I went to a little market next door and had not one, but 3 in a row to quench my thirst! Then I came back to unpack the bike and get ready for the night. After a well-deserved shower, I met two cool Portuguese guys in my room and we went out together. We started with a few beers and tapas at a cool bar and then headed to Gracia Latina, where we danced Rumba and drank mojitos all night! The following morning, I had a massive hangover. All I could do was leave the hostel in the afternoon for a bike ride to the beach, where I could slightly recover for the Saturday night out.
After the beach, I went to a nice restaurant next to the hostel and had a massive paella and 1L of sangria, which required a power nap before going out. However, I slept in and woke up 1 am! I also realized that I had forgot my bike keys, which would make it hard for to partying downtown. So I went to Gracia Latina again, which was not very nice, and I came back a bit frustrated to the hostel. But I didn’t give up! I went to the main road, grabbed a cab and went to Marula Cafe for the funk and soul night that I was aiming for. That was the best thing I could have done! I had a great night dancing till 6am and met awesome people too.
On Sunday, I slept as much as I could before going to the beach to chill and recover. Barcelona beaches are awesome and full of beautiful people, but I must add that I made a huge success wearing my mankini…very nice! Early in the evening, I went to the brunch in the park, which is an awesome open-air electronic music party, which I was invited to by one of the girls I had met the night before. There I’ve met a bunch of Boomers and had an awesome time dancing with them. But when I was leaving the place, I had a small accident and had to go to the hospital to get a few stitches. Anyway, it was nothing serious, and I went safe and sound back to the hostel.
I decided to spend Monday at the hostel working on Bikesutras website, so I set up my “office” at the tea room, where I was later joined by a lovely German girl who also had to work on her travel plans, etc. We spent the whole day chatting, laughing, listening to music and of course “working” too. Later in the afternoon we went together to La Boqueria (famous food market in BCN), with her as passenger on my bike. There we roamed around taking photos and trying the delicious food, which for me was particularly exciting because I always wanted to visit that place as my family runs a business at a similar market in Sao Paulo. After that we went for a walk in the Gothic quarter and by then the special connection between us was evident, so we naturally got closer to each other and kissed in front of the cathedral. That was only the beginning of a beautiful story I had with Salome in Barcelona.
I must assume that I had been wishing to meet someone to share love and be intimate with. Not craving it though, because I knew it would happen at the right time, with the right person. That is the beauty of life: when you least expect it, things happen! That’s why we should live each moment as it is, not as you wish it to be. I had spent the whole day with Salome without any expectations, just enjoying being with her and everything evolved wonderfully. It made me appreciate the beauty of how God acts in such subtle ways, and how important it is to be in the moment, trusting that everything little thing, is going to be alright.
We changed our plans to stay longer in Barcelona, so we moved to an Airbnb room and had an awesome time in Barcelona. I was riding my bike everywhere with her as a passenger, my boom speakers playing nice music and neon lights at night, which was very cool! In that same week, my friends Daniel and Samanta arrived in town and joined us for some sightseeing. I had also heard back from Jonas, who was riding towards BCN for a Vipassana retreat, but he ended up coming by bus because he had a tendinitis.
Salome and I had to say good-bye, but we were both grateful for the time we spent together and we made some crazy plans for a few possible future encounters. God knows if it will happen or not, but it will be super cool if it does. The main one, which I think is the most awesome plan, is to meet in BCN 10 years later when the Sagrada Famiglia church is finished, regardless of any circumstances and without any expectations, only to see each other again. After she left, Jonas and I were reunited again to spend the weekend in BCN and then ride towards France together. We had an amazing time riding around town, meditating in parks and churches, going out, meeting people, etc. We are definitely brothers in chain, blood and soul!
BCN - FRANCE
So on Monday we left Barcelona Towards girona. It was the first time we actually rode together. We went by the ocean as much as we could, hitting some nice mixtures of modern tourist towns full of Northern Europeans and ancient Spanish fishing villages, before going inland to Girona. After breaking for lunch, we met a russian bike tourist (Rostami) on the road. He joined us, but Jonas was riding faster and went ahead, whilst I kept riding with him all the way to Girona. There we all met again for a second lunch, where we shared stories, experiences, etc. The russian was quite inspiring, as he was travelling on a 5 euro/day budget, which for Jonas and I was almost impossibile to do. I had organised a warmshower host for us, but the Russian continued riding to camp at the Roman ruins on the coast.
Our warmshower host was great! He didn’t have too not much space for the two of us, but he organised a place for us at his girlfrieds appartment. There, we had dinner together and went out for a few beers at a staircase facing one of the most romantic restaurants in the world (according to critics). Anyway, the next morning, I went to Costa Brava and Jonas straight to Banyurs Sur-de-Mer in France, but we would meet there later on.
On my way to the coast, I’ve passed through rural areas where I could eat delicious fruits, but I got a bit lost and had to do a bit of offroading. The last stretch of the Spanish coast before France was absolutely fantastic! I visited the ruins where the russian had apparently camped, which is very beautiful and by the ocean, but I’m not sure he succeeded as the place was very touristic. Then I headed towards the Cadaques, which is very quiet, rugged and beautiful fisherman town where Salvador Dali used to live. To get there, I had to do a huge climb at the end of the day, as I was already tired, it was challenging to keep an equanimous mind =/ The views from the top were rewarding though. After arriving, I swam in the ocean and went visiting Dali’s house before camping at one of the beaches. I thought about not putting up my tent and sleeping on my mat only, but I had a feeling it was going to rain, which it did, heavily!
The next morning, I packed my wet tent and left early with a bit of rain still falling. I had to climb the mountains out of Cadaques again to reach Port de La Selva on the other side of the peninsula and ride the coast towards France. There were lots of ups and downs around the cliffs, but the views were stunning! I was very excited and I didn’t take me long to cross the border, where it was very windy at the top of a hill. From there, I just rolled downhill into France with a great feeling of accomplishment and gratitude for all the awesome times I had in Spain =]