Chapter 6: Jungle, Highway ‘n madness until Vila Nova De Santo Andrè

DAY 6


Here Comes The Sun!

In the previous chapter we didn’t tell you that before having that marvelous breakfast we went to the beach to admire our first ever sunrise on the ocean. Could we ever miss a similar spectacle the first time we saw the ocean? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
After this great good morning we shared the breakfast with other cyclo tourist from Switzerland and New Zealand!
We spent the first our of the day talking about paths in Portugal and route to follow in other countries. To share point of view and tips it’s always a pleasure when you find such open minded people.

After breakfast we packed our things in order to start our day buuut not before a beer! We don’t know why Bruno had this amazing idea before to start pedaling but ok!
Not very healty but after all we ate it was mandatory to drink a beer! Do you agree? Yes, we know you agree! 🙂 That was what we needed! 🙂

We were leaving Casa do Adro when Idalia, the owner of the guesthouse, called and gave us a tasteful piece of chocolate cake. A little gift for our ride! Some people are just amazing!
Sometimes are the small gestures to enlight your day, and we will never forget about this. Thank you Nonna Idalia!


Next Destination: Paradise!

A quick look at the village, some photos of us and we were back on our bikes! We splitted the route in two parts: the first one from Vilanova to Porto Covo and the second one, the thoughest, from Porto Covo to Santo Andres.
The first part was quite easy, a little bit of wind but nothing really improving.
When we reached Porto Covo we thought we were in paradise. A little village and the ocean, the ocean and his amazing power. One of most magnific blue we have ever seen.
Blue and powerful. We stayed there for one hour watching the big waves and the 50 shades of blue. It was a very happy moment and the best way the take this moment to the next level
was to eat the piece of chocolate cake that Nonna Idalia gave us before our departure while we were watching this spectacle:


Next Destination: Unknown!

The second part of our day was the most incredible, the most risky, the most crazy of all the trip! First of all you have to know to know that from Sintra to Santo Andres there are no more cyclable streets. Yes, there is anything for the bikes. Yes, or rather there was a cycle path. What a pity it is not viable. At a certain point the only thing you can do is to decide if to take the highway or a dirty road. Bikes can’t go on a highway, right? Of course we decided for the dirty road. At the beginning. But let’s go for step. We were at the crossroad and the highway was cyclable once upon a time. When we arrived there was a big red prohibition for bikes sign. Ok, we had the other choice and so we did. At the beginning. After 500 metres we found ourselves in a jungle! Look at the picture below:

It was a freaking jungle with the vegetation folded on itself. We dismounted from the bikes and we tried to walk but after 100 metres we had to run away from a million of hornets. It was very scary!
The result? First of all we came back at the beginning of the dirty road, we saw an house and we knocked at the door to get some info. The only thing we had were an old couple that told us to use the highway because it was the only way to reach santo andre (10 kms far).
Ok, we tried to ask for a ride, we were hoping that a person with a truck would load us and take us to our destination, but that didn’t happen. So, after 30 minutes waiting in vain we decided to take the higway! It was the very best freacking crazy thing we did. Luckily, once upon a time, it was possible to cycle in that highway and the road was large enough for the bikes! We have never pedaled so fast and so desperate. We were seeing ourselves in jail or in a very very bad situation. We pedaled for 4 km when our navy told us to exit and to take a cycleble path just along the highway. Incredible. When we took the cycle path we met other cyclist and cyclo traveller that did our same thing. We were all asking each other how is possible to do something like this, to ban the bikes from a road that was used to be cyclable and don’t give any other alternative to the people who want to move with a bike.
We continued the rest of the trip on the cyclepath and they lived happily ever after.


Welcome To Santo Andre: Hotel Vila Park!

What to say? For sure, if you decide to pass from Santo Andre this is definitely a place where you have to stay for the night. We think is one of the best here for services and reception. We have been welcomed very well and they permitted us to leave the bikes at safe behind the reception in a locked room that only the receptionists can open! The hall was very big, there was a restaurant, a bar, a snooker table and a big swimming pool on the outside. Our room was very cozy and clean. Once arrived we soon decided what to do. We alternately took a looooong relaxing bath before to go eat something at the restaurant. We don’t know what there is on the nearby but we found the restaurant and its cakes very good!


We were really tired and the day after would be the last long ride of the trip! We decided to go to sleep early and after a good drink we were already sleeping and dreaming Dreaming of the huge amount of jam we would eat the next morning.
Night, the moment when you think about how your day has been.
We did something crazy, we were happy. It was a good day.

Thanks for reading us.
Stay tuned for the next chapter and keep pedal!
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 3: Old Friends Reunited!

DAY 3


Are You Afraid Of Heights?

Not so many kms that day but we had fun and relax all day long!
We left the three fortified city in order to Reach Sliema passing throug La Valletta. 
These pics were taken at the moment of our arrival, on the top of a rock on the port. If you are afraid of heights we really do not reccomend it. 
If it’s not a problem you will find a beautiful view!
La Valletta is the Capital of Malta and it’s very particular for its style. It has been built in a Baroque style with some elements of Mannerist, Neo classical and modern Architecture.
A kind of style you can find in all the island but especially here. The city is also knowed as “La superbissima” in Italian that means “the most proud” due to its magnificent baroque palces, gardens and churches. 
In 1980 has been recognized as World Heritage City by Unesco.


Happy Old Friends! 🙂

After relaxing in La valletta, eating some healty food in a local restaurant we headed towards our final destination Sliema and St Jullian.
Before to arrive in Sliema Bruno called one of his friend that we discovered was living in Malta and that he didn’t see in years!
Life is strange, you don’t see a person in years and then you meet him/her in a foreign country!
We met Luca in Sliema and we decided to have dinner all togheter in a Italian Restaurant in Sliema! No wait stop! We are not the classic italian people who eat pasta and pizza in every place we go! Ahah jocking, yes we are. 
But we try other food too. But that night pizza. Pizza a heart lefted. One of us left it’s heart to the waitress.. but this is another story.
St Jullian is well knowed for its nightlife and even if it was barely spring there was a lot of movida. We had a little bit of relax in a Narghilè Bar telling stories of the things happened in the past during our trips and our lives, just like people who don’t see for years do 🙂
Thanks Luca for the company! 🙂 


Time To Say Goodbye, Malta!

Here we are at the end of our trip. We slept in St Jullian and the morning after we had to come back to Italy.
We woke up early, we had to give the bikes back and reach the airport.
We want to thanks The Cyclist Malta for giving us the opportunity to try their services and for supporting us. 
The bikes were impeccable!
They also allowed us to try an e-bike. We never tried it and we have to say that is really exciting!
Maybe we will try them for an entire trip.. who knows!? 🙂


It has been a very beautiful experience in a place that we didn’t expect to be as beautiful as it is. 
Thanks to all Maltese people who helped us during the trip giving us information and thanks to us for reading us! Especially THANK YOU for putting up with our bad left-hand drive! 😛

See you on the road, have nice & safe travels.
Bruno & Arthur – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 2: BoatPhilosophy Time!

DAY 2


Country Roooad, Taake Mee…

Country roads take me hoomee cama cama cama cameleonBeginning of the day and end of the day.
Our days has been like this, dirty roads for breakfast and dirty roads for dinner, but.. we couldn’t ask anything better then this.

The first pic was taken when we were on our way to Blue Grotto, the other two on our way to Kalkara before visiting Marsa Scirocco and Marsa Scala.
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN THE TITLE? Easy, during our off road we sang this two famous song Take Me HomeKarma Chameleon mashed up convinced that was only a song.. all OK! 😀


The Blue Grotto!

Really close to Wied iż-Żurrieq port you can find Blue Grotto, that refers to a number of sea caverns.
Some of these caverns mirror the phosporescent colour of the underwater flora.
It is something you can’t miss. The spectacle is due to the position of the caves and the direction of the sunlight that hit the cavern walls and the sea.
In the first photo you can see an happy Arthur jumping from a table (why?) while in the other photos you can see the faboulous colour of the caves and the little oat we took to see them.

ISLA BORMLA AND BIRGU!

These three fortified city are very beautiful and is possible to visit them in one day.
There are narrow street that reminds you old times. It is really a pleasure to take a walk or a ride there.
These are the most historically rich, fascinating and characteristic areas of Malta.
For this reason they are inclused in the list of candidates for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 
Unfortunately these cities are visited only by 1 tourist in 10.
Why this happen? Probably due to the industry of mass tourism that concentrate everything in some places in order to maximize the profits.Guys and girls, these placese really deserve to be visited. Trust us, and if you won’t be satisfied Bruno will pay for your next trip everywhere! 🙂


Bruno or Tutankamon?!

How to end this day?
This is how Bruno sleeps. He is really out of mind (and this cause to Arthur a lot of problem when he try to understand him)
Another sign that he’s out of mind:
In the video you can see Bruno testing the depth of another bathroom thanks to a precise measuring instrument: his shoe!

That’s enough for today!
Thanks,
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 5: Embrace the ocean in Vila Nova De Milfontes!

DAY 5


Never Give Up!

We left you in the last post with our night in the beautiful Odeceixe, and after all this time we remember
every single thing of the little town.
We woke up at 8.00 o’clock, a little bit tired because of the day before,Bruno had headache and Arthur was worried about his knee after what is happened at the beginning of spring in Bologna, do you remember it? –> From Bologna To Florence

The road wasn’t hard but due of our condition we had to slow down in order to avoid accidents.
Breakfast time! Before the road of pain we had a great breakfast in a local bar and then we mounted on our bikes to reach Vilanova de Milfontes, it surely helped to restore our condition!

Nothing is better than cappuccino & Croissants, nothing. 😀
From Odeceixe to Vilanova it’s just about 45 kms-50 depending on which route you prefer to follow. We followed the one that pass through S.Teotonio and proceed toward the crossroad of Odemira. Here we decided to skip Odemira and take the N393 in order to shorten the road.

We were in the middle of the route and  hungry, but a (not great) surprise was waiting for us.


Important Lesson: NEVER TRUST THE BREAD!

Bruno’s headache was killing him so we decided to stop at the local Aldi before the crossroads.
First of all (and this is a precious advice) keep your eyes on the price! We entered in the supermarket just to buy some bread and ham. Result? 16 euros! You may say what did you buy, if the bread was made of gold and dream and you know what? It was made of nightmares! We were cutting the bread outside the
supermarket when we realized that all the bread we bought was filled with a weird meat and GARLIC! A lot of GARLIC! The positive side is that we discovered what we don’t like! That’s why we came back in the supermarket and bought some real bread! Stretching and back on the road!

It was an hard ride but we reached Vila Nova De Milfontes very early, around 4.30 p.m.


Vila Nova De Milfontes: Embrace the Ocean!

Finally Vila Nova, finally the first beach on the ocean! What a spectacle!

The beach was very particular, to reach it we had to follow a little path in the wild and pass through a lot of rock stacked on
itselves. Rock stacking is considered a form of natural art which consist in stacking rocks and create something like a tower. Look at the photos below!

We relaxed on the beach talking and taking photos, then we decided to reach our guesthouse for the night.


The GuestHouse For Excellence: Casa Do Adro!

Once arrived we received a very warm welcome from Idalia and her husband, the owners of the guesthouse.
We have discovered that this place is one of the most known in Vila Nova de Milfontes and we also discovered why!
The 2 owners are simply the best! They welcomed us with a slice of chocolate cake and hot tea! What’s better after a day riding a bicycle?
The house is really spectacular, the atmosphere brought us to our grandparents houses. It’s like a gradmahouse with a very special touch of class! Our room was big enough for two person and the bathroom is the best to have some relax: a big bathub with hydromassage!
What else? A little courtyard where to park the bikes and a balcony where to enjoy the fresh air and the free beers for the guests!
Take a look at this cozy house:


W H A T   A   B R E A K F A S T !

Vila Nova is very quite at night and to have a walk till the ocean is something you can’t miss.

We decided to have a dinner in a local restaurant and then we went back to the guesthouse for the night.

When we woke up we had the best surprise of the world! The biggest breakfast ever seen on this planet.

Just look these photo:

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Bread, jam, bread, ham, eggs, a lot of fruit, a big choices of tea, toasted bread with honey.. ALL TOP QUALITY! 

We were ready to face another day!
Thanks for reading, see you in the next post: From Vilanova to Santo Adres! We’re going to speak about
Porto Covo, a jungle and the highway! 🙂


KEEP PEDALING!

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 4: The great descent to Odeceixe!

DAY 4


All Ready To Climb!

This has been the most difficult day of the trip: No flat roads but 50 kms completely on the hills!
We woke up at 9 o’clock and after breakfast and stop at the local supermarket to buy some chocolate and some bananas, we started our day with a little climb (just to start the day with smiles on our faces) followed by a fabolous descent until Bordeira.

We knew that after the descent there would be a long ride upwind on the hills and that’s why we bought chocolate and bananas. 😀

that climb had a name: Monte Ruvio.

This stretch of road was very tough and we really suggest you to be prepared if you are going to follow this route.
We are not professional cyclists, but by training twice a week we were able to face this challenge without too many difficulty.
At the top of the hill, we decided to leave the road to do a little offroad to reach the very top of the mount. Once there we realized that wasn’t the very top but we were still happy.
Months of efforts really paid us with that beautiful view!

We started our descent to Aljezur sure of the fact that troubles were finished.


Aljezur: maybe it’s better wear a raincot? Or maybe not?

WE WERE WRONG!
Aljezur is a small village considered the paradise for windsurfing and that’s why you will see a lot of Van full of surfer.
We stopped here just to have lunch and here is where the troubles began.
Just a second before our departure it started raining cats ‘n dogs! It wasn’t really a problem because we were equipped with k-ways.
we changed our clothes and under the heavy rain we started pedal; of course the road wasn’t flat and the second part of the climb started here.
After 5 minutes struggling facing the hills, it stopped raining and we had to stop again to change our clothes because we were boiling.

C’mon rain, you hitted us just for 5 minutes?

Not even the time to change our outfit! 😀
Never never never stop in the middle of a climb or you will regret it for the further half ‘n hour because it really breaks your legs.
Despite everything we managed to survive once again and we reached the pictoresque Rogil, a little town on the way to Odeceixe with some beautiful windmills and houses adorned with azulejos.


A crazy descent on a beautiful fairy village: Odeceixe

We were really close to Odeceixe, just 7 kms on a flat road before a crazy descent long 1km on a gradient of 100 meters.
The view from the top of the descent was really awesome.

This little white village deeped into a green valley with a river in the background.

We stopped here to enjoy the landscape and then we started the crazy descent screaming like crazy.

Don’t ask us why but we started screaming as if we wanted to release all the effort we’d
accumulated. REALLY LIBERATING!
A little bit awkward at the arrival…did anyone hear us?…Who cares! we are still laughing about this funny moment right now 😀
This little white town (961 inhabitants in 2011) is considered one of the most beautiful villages of Portugal. With its white houses reminds us some beautiful villages in Greece like Santorini.
It’s not very popular in winter but from spring to autumn it’s full of people that come here following the “Rota Vicentina”.
Once arrived we found an hotel for the night runned by a crazy receptionist we are used to crazy receptionist: Italian Tour: From Bologna To Florence
We only say that we rang the doorbell (it wasn’t working) and after 5 minutes of waiting the receptionist came to give us a room. Just note that the doorbell started ringing only when the receptionist restored the electric power… 😀


Eat a lot or eat so much: That is the question

We were really hungry so we decided to have a shower and find a place where to have dinner.
Once again one of the speciality of the city was fish and we ended in the best restaurant.
We started our dinner with very tasteful raw shrimps and a fish pudding.

As main dishes we have ordered octopus with sweet potatoes (really sweet and typical from aljezur) and Maccaroni with fish (we don’t know what it was exactly but the taste was good 🙂 )
How to end your day at the best? Double cheesecake for us!

It was definitely a long and hard day for us, we did a lot of stretching along the road in order to avoid issue but we were really paid by all the beauty and the nature we saw.
Big climbs, big descents, heavy rain and big smiles! We think that every situation could be easier if you set your mind in a happy mood and don’t let the fear of not succeeding catch you!

Before going to sleep we had a walk in the quiet sourroundigs and talked a lot about these days.

We were halfway and we were happy. Nothing better before going to sleep.

Don’t stop pedal,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy


Chapter 2: Beaches and fresh fish dishes in Lagos!

Day 2


What to eat to boost you up?

dav

Sunny day!
Just a little bit of stretching to wake up our legs and we were ready for the new day: 51kms to Lagos.
We followed the main route with the exception of the first strecth of road. It was funny but dangerous.
As we said in the previous post you have to be well equipped to go offroad in Portugal.
Some roads are not easy even if you have a good gravel, for example we had to stop many times to screw the screws back in; and above all have the right wheels.

We can’t deny that it was so much fun “skating” with our bike on the shingle! 😀
After this little offroad we went back to a secondary road on the hills where we discovered the joy of long descents after big climbs.
As well as being sweaty we had to look pretty desperate, so desperate that an old lady who was selling oranges along the way stopped us to give us a couple!

Ahh vitamins! It’s so beautiful when you met this kind of person with a very big big big big x5 heart.
With this load of energy and love we continued our route trough beautiful and different landscapes: from the red rocks to cozy villages, cows and the beautiful bridge of Portimao on the Arade river.
Cycling makes you hungry, so we stopped in the first place that we found along the road.
RIGHT CHOICE: Piri Piri Chicken makes you better, a better person! 😀 and of course it will.


it’s so spicy that had  invigorated our legs to the point of making us do the last 20km in just an hour!


The Azulejos City: Lagos

Lagos, together with Albufeira and Faro is one of the most famous tourist resorts in the Algarve.
It is not BIG, but it is very pretty. It’s known for its beautiful beaches and the walls of the houses adorned with azulejos, small tiles that resemble Sicilian majolica and give a taste of freshness and antiquity at the same time to the city.

Here you will find many of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, for example the beautiful beach of Dona Ana near the city center. Look at this beauty!
In addition to the beaches there are several monuments that you can visit including the entirely covered with azulejos “Igreja of sait antonio” or the “Forte da ponta da Bandiera” from wich you can have a beutiful view of the sea.

We gave a quick look to the city and we decided to reach our resort in order to have a shower, relax a little bit and come back in the evening to have dinner!


Time To Rest:  ALDEIA AZUL RESORT

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It was half past 5 o’clock when we arrived at the Aldeia Azul Resort where we met Lucas, the most prepared receptionist about Algarve! He spent a lot of his time giving us precious tips about what to do, what to visit and what dishes try in the cities of the algarve. He was so convincing that we need to come back in Portugal because we didn’t visited Sintra! He spent some fantastic words for it! 😛
Once we did the check in he accompanied us to our apartment. Just look at the photo below?

Was it paradise?
If we have to buy an house we definitely ask for a copy of this apartment. Or Maybe a copy of this resort! PRETTY COOL!
You can find anything you need: Spa, gym, Swimming pool, tennis and beach volley courts, soccer field, minigolf and a good bar where we drunk an excellent gin tonic!
For sure, it’s good especially for families and cyclist who want some good relax.


Time To Dinner Ladies and Gentlemen!

If you choose a resort outside the city center, our suggest is to absolutely bring the lights because the roads are not enlightened. For what concern us we decide to take a taxi that for 10 euros brought us in the city center. Much safer and not expensive 🙂

As Lagos is a sea village, its speciality are fresh fish dishes!
So, don’t miss the fabolous fish soup that many restaurants propose to its clients! And don’t miss the sweet potatoes too!


The following morning we decided to get up early and take some fresh air in front of the swimming pool. What’s better for your spirit?

Dawn, fresh air, respiration exercise and we were ready for the new day! We know that every single day traveling by bike has something different from another one! We love that feeling!

We were ready to reach vila do bispo, but first passing through Sagres and Cabo De Sao Vicente, the southwest point of the European continent.

dav

Keep on traveling,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 1: Let’s Up & Down, Albufeira!

Hello people, let us introduce you to our trip.

This time we decided to tour in Portugal, to discover and live the nature in all its beauty, from the hills to the beaches.

It will be divided in 8 posts:

  1. From Faro to Albufeira;
  2. From Albufeira to Lagos;
  3. From Lagos to Vila do Bispo, via Sagres;
  4. From Vila do Bispo to Odeceixe;
  5. From Odeceixe to Vila Nova De Milfontes;
  6. From Vila Nova De Milfontes to Vila Nova de Santo Andrè
  7. From Vila Nova De Santo Andrè to Tròia;
  8. From Tròia to Lisbon.

DAY 1


Let the music play: Start the journey!

dav
Early, early in the morning, but very very early morning.
No, not this time.

REWIND

Late, late in the evening, we started our journey.
the previous days were very weird. Anxiety, joy, skirt, enthusiasm.

It was the first time that we bring our bikes and you know, first time is always the first time. 🙂
Our flight was at 7.25 a.m. but due to the distance from our houses and the necessity to arrive at the airport at least 2.30 h before we decided to sleep there.
Airports at night are something special. Very few people sleeping, other people reads, someone is smoking and someone else talks with a stranger.
How many stories, how many destinies and destination.
For what it concern us we met a friend of Arthur and we spent the night helping him to choose photos for a work and trying to place his hammock.
Yes, an hammock in a airport! Can you believe it?

Look at the photo down here! 🙂

dav
The best thing happened that night was at the wake up. A stranger left a piece of toilet paper on which he wrote that he left a bag full of snacks under the hammock!
Breakfast assured 🙂


Faro, take care of us!

dav

Time to start the journey, plane takes us to Portugal!

The flight was very easy, not as it’s happened at the return (we will talk about this, oh yes!).
We arrived in Faro on time and after ONLY two hours we finished to assemble all the parts. Please have a cup of tea, it was the FIRST TIME 😛
We really appreciated that the airport was equipped with 3 “bike stations”, very useful for assembling/disassembling bicycles.
All good! The sun was shining and legs were ready! We were so excited, all went good and we were on the bikes with our yellow bags full of clothes and useless things! Useless like the blue jeans of Arthur’s father. He says that don’t know how is happened… Useful as the pair of Bruno’s jeans in excess!


Destination Algarve: The wild nature

dav

5 kms from the airport and we were already deep in the Algarve Region. This region is very wild and the nature is simply incredible: pines, palms and dirty roads!
kinda esotic!
To reach Albufeira is really easy, it’s just 35 kms from the airport and you can chose between different roads. If you have a mountain bike or a gravel with good tires you can take the dirty roads and enjoy the wild surroundings, otherwise you can follow the normal road.

 

 

sdr

We decided to follow both. The first part in the wild passing through the salinas and the second part on the normal road BECAUSE WE WERE DYING! Jocking 🙂
The first thing you will notice following the main road is

that is full of golf resorts. Miles and miles of green fields and people driving golf cars. We will think about this when we retire! 🙂

Jokes aside, this is a renowed region for Golf!
The first day was very easy and before noon we were in the white Albufeira.


Albufeira: Fortress of the sea

sdr

Albufeira is a well known town in the Algarve.
The city was founded by the Arabs in order to be a fortress on the sea. His names literally means “Fortress of the sea”.
Born as a fortress, during the centuries it became a little fishing village and now, in the last 50 years, it has become one of the most touristic place in the south of Portugal.
This city is a little white pearl, full of narrow street, beautiful views, amazing beaches and its famous nightlife.
It’s a little bit difficult to visit it by bike because is built on a hill.
Up & Down, Up & Down, Up & Down…:D

The Main place to visit are the clock tower “Torre do Rologio“, the symbol of the city, and “Torre Sineira“, a beautiful tower with 8 bells.
Despite this town is full of churches and monuments we didn’t have enough time to visit them, so we decided to do a little tour of the city and then relax a little bit at “Praio di Peneco“.
We enjoyed the sunset at the beach and then we went to the hotel.


Welcome to the São Rafael Atlântico Hotel!

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davOnce arrived at the hotel we had the possibility to leave our bikes safe in a little storeroom behind the reception desk.
The whole staff was very friendly and once in the room they brought us a tasty dish with strawberry, chocolate, meringue and orange juices! NICE SURPRISE!

Look at its smile! 😀

We were happy, so happy that Arthur created a funny dance to celebrate the moment. We jealously guard the video, make an offer and we’ll let you know. 😛

The room was really beautiful, a room of a refined elegance and almost big as our houses!

And what about the view from the balcony?

After 2 days without sleeping on a bed it was like being in paradise! Oh, it’s a paradise even if you have slept normally the day before. Trust us.

If you need to relax and fully recover your strength, we strongly recommend this hotel for your stay in Albufeira.

Here you can find the link to book your stay, visit their website or learn more about the hotel: https://www.saorafaelatlantico.com

We suggest you to take a look to the photo tour on their website. You will not regret it!


After a good shower we were really hungry so we decided to have a walk outside. PLEASE DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE WE DID!
We stopped in a restaurant that was rated 4 stars on Trip Advisor.
As good italian boys we decided to order two pizzas, also because the chef reassured us that pizza was one of his specialities.
We’re still shaken by that experience that we don’t even want to mention the name of the restaurant. :’D
The tiredness accumulated from travelling by plane and bicycle was so much that once back in the room we fainted on the beds and we woke up directly in the morning.

Someone said morning?!

What’s better than a good breakfast?

What’s better than a continental breakfast?

dav

The buffet was so big that you can lose yourself in it.
It’s weird because when we are at home we eat just a croissant or some biscuits with a tea/coffee, while here we ate like there was no tomorrow! 😀

Too bad we stayed here only for a night .. 😥


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It was time to leave Albufeira, morning stretching, a last look to the city and we headed to our next destination: Lagos.

Thanks for your time,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 1: Food Injection towards Reggio Emilia

Hello people, let us introduce you to our trip.

This time we decided to tour in Italy to discover the lovely cities along the Via Emilia, an old road that was constructed to connect Piacenza to Rimini (or Rimini to Piacenza but it’s quite the same 😛 )

It will be divided in 3 posts:

  • From Piacenza to Reggio Emilia;
  • From Reggio Emilia to Bologna;
  • Cycling around Florence.

DAY 1


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Piacenza: time to start!

Early, but very early in the morning, as usual, as very very usual, we got up to load our bikes on Bruno’s car. Direction: Piacenza!

Piacenza is a cozy city at the border between Lombardia and Emilia Romagna with a little city centre surrounded by ancient city walls.

We spent just little time in Piacenza because it was our starting point, but it is a beautiful city that deserves at least a visit in total relax.

After a quick and tasty breakfast with Croissant and Cappuccino we unloaded our bikes and stuff and left for Reggio Emilia.

Luckily, to get outside of the city and reach Reggio Emilia & Bologna it is very easy because you just have to follow the Via Emilia or SS9 road, that is almost straight due to the fact that it was constructed by ancient Romans to connect the main cities of Emilia Romagna.

The first stretch of road is dipped in the rural country side but approximately after 20 kms we reached Fiorenzuola d’Arda, a typical provincial village with lovely colored houses.

One piece of advice we would like to give you, if you follow our route, is to stop in these villages outside the big cities, to observe the daily life and the typical Italian architecture of these centers.

After a quick coffe-break we continued pedaling towards Fidenza, a city mostly known for the homonymous shopping outlet.

Our intention was to reach Parma, but one of the many trattorias set as traps in the street kidnapped and forced us to eat (very sadly) a crazy appetizer of regional cold cuts and a dish of tagliatelle with meat sauce.


TRAVELLING IN ITALY IS LIKE SENDING YOUR DIET TO HELL. If you didn’t know, now you know. LOL

After lunch we left for Parma on the most difficult part of our journey:

we had to cycle on a very long false plan on a tight road while paying attention to the one million high speed travelling trucks on our left and the irrigation canal on our right. Definitely the worst stretch of road of our trip.

Really not recommended for families 😦


Parma: between Art aaaand Food

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Parma is one of the main cities of Emilia Romagna famous for its Parmiggiano Reggiano and its raw ham. But Parma is not only gastronomy, we really suggest you to visit this city because it is very pretty and bike-friendly as there is a discrete network of cycle paths that extends outside the city.

This makes it a good starting point for your hypothetical tour in Italy starting from this region.

What you should not miss in this city is the beautiful Duomo di Parma and its Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: a perfect example of Romanesque architecture with a gabled facades and Gothic and Renaissance inserts. On the inside you find a wonderful fresco depicting The Assumption of the Virgin by the Italian Late Renaissance artist Correggio.

Very close to the Duomo there’s the Battistero di Parma, considered the connecting point between Romanesque and Gothic Style.


Last strecht of road: crosswind, pain AND PIZZA 😀

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Luckily, the last 30 kms of the days were mostly on cycle path. A little bit tough, maybe for the crosswind and for the fake flat road faced during the day, but the will to reach Reggio Emilia was stronger than everything and we arrived at destination in less then 2 hours.
AMAZING: just a minute after our arrival the owners of the B&b where we stayed – Villa Agata- gave us the telephone number of a takeaway Pizza. CHE BELLEZZA!

Half-through a pizza and a quick shower, we fainted, we fainted happy and exhausted, ready for the second day of the journey and curious to visit Reggio Emilia, a gastronomy city (as all the cities of Emilia Romagna) where the italian flag TRICOLORE was born.

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Next Chapter: from Reggio Emilia to Bologna via Modena

Keep pedaling

Arthur&Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

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Belgium in a Nutshell

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!

In this post we’ll give you some info about HOW and WHY touring in Belgium.
A lot of people think that you should visit Belgium only after other principal European country, more covered.
Why the hell?
Great alleys,enchanting cities, chocolate, museum, canals, keggers and last but not
least, eeeeendless cycle paths that could bring you wherever you want!
That’s just a taste of what you can see here.


Cycling in Belgium

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Let’s start by saying that Belgium is split in two in evey sense
Politically. Culturally.
They speak two different languages:
French speaking in Wallonia, Dutch speaking in Flanders.
What about Cycle paths?
Wallonia seems not to have a well-structured cycle infrastructure, from what we heard and read.
We should ride through it for a trusted judge. We’ll surely have an occasion! 😀
Flanders have a great cycle infrastructure called Fietsroutesnetwerk“, very similar to the Dutch system.
The Fietsroutesnetwerk unknots in “Knoopunt” (Ahah did you like the words pun?!): these are road signs with a number that identifies the relative route.
Near each Knoopunt you can find a map that shows possible routes from that point.
It’s an easy way to choose a path and it could really help you!
Finally, you need to know that each route is safely and well segnalated and many of them are really scenic, as you can see from our latest posts.

How do Belgian car drivers react towards cyclist?
They are crazy as hell!
We’re joking!:D
They are truly respectful of cyclists: no one cut us off or tried to kill us, indeed they waited for us to cross and smiled.
Someone honked but it’s probably ’cause we were wrong. LOL


Getting to Belgium by plane from Europe

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If you come from Europe you shouldn’t find any problem travelling to and from Belgium.
Here are the links of the main airlines:

https://www.ryanair.com
https://www.easyjet.com
https://www.brusselsairlines.com

Flying to Belgium is really cheap ’cause is one of the most frequented hubs.
Main airports are Brussels Zaventem (really close to the city centre) and Brussels Charleroi (50km far away from the center).

Anyways, the city is also easily accessible from Charleroi. You just need to take a bus/train and you’ll reach it in 40 minutes.

SHOULD I BRING MY BIKE OR IS IT BETTER TO RENT ONE THERE? 

It’s not an easy answer.It depends on many factors.

It depends on the airline company that you choose and from the place you land.

With a low cost airline is surely cheap to travel to Belgium, but just consider that you will pay a great overprice to bring your bike on the plane,’cause it’s an extra-service

We decided to rent 2 bikes at the price of € 49 each (bags included)

Instead, the price of the airline transportation for a bike was € 120.

Consider that you have to bring your own bag for wrapping up your bike and stowing it .

If you don’t have it, the cost is around €150 to €350 for a good one.

Of course your choice will be strongly influenced by the number of days that you will stay in a country.
More days mean that you will spend more to rent a bike, while the price to charge your bike on the plane would always be the same.
Moreover, riding your own bike is better than riding another one. Don’t underestimate your feels.
So “Just” ponder which offert is better basing your choice on every factor above mentioned.

The only thing to keep in mind is that the bike rental where we rented our bikes does not provide any insurance or assistance so you’re better bringing a repair kit with you and keep your eyes on the bike because if someone stole your bike you would have to pay € 350.

The good thing is that we didn’t have to pay for the flat tire! Yay! 😀

You can check their website for further and up-to-date info:

http://www.cyclo.org/nl


Shops and Restaurant

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The shops have good opening hour: they usually open at 8.45 and close at 18:00

The kitchen of the restaurants usually close around 22/22:30

Belgian food is delicious! Try their specialities, like chocolate, beeeeeeers, waffles, belgian fries and mussels, soups and a lot of other exquisite dishes! 😛

You will not regret it, trust us!


Where to Sleep

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There are different types of accomodation for each budget:

It is possibile to stay in a camping, hostel, hotel or other kind of accomodation as AirBnb or Couchsurfing.

For those who don’t know AirBnb, this service allows you to sleep in the house of a local. It is usually cheaper compared to a hotel.

Couchsurfing is almost the same but you don’t have to pay for every night, just an entrance fee at the subscription.

The difference is that with AirBnb you can choose better the kind of accomodation, while with couchsurfing you have to spend a little time with your host and usually it is required to do something for him (cleaning, hanging out or cooking something).

They’re all good ways to make news friends from all the countries you visit.

There are a lot of similar websites but these are the most used.

Down below we list our overnight stays:

Gand: Swonnie’s – Polyglot and really friendly.
Bruges: Hotel Velotel: Really nice hotel, 2 km from the city center but very easy to reach by bike. Bike friendly hotel with a safe deposit for bikes. Rooms are clean and comfortable.
Antwerp: Bart House – House in Japanise style. We slept on a tatami! Bart is very friendly and the house is in the heart of the art district in the south of the city.
Brussels: we stayed at the home of a friend of us but Brussels is full of accomodations.


Weather conditions

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The best period to visit Belgium is from May to October. A little bit rainy sometimes but sunny and hot enough to enjoy what this country has to offer!

Spring and autumn till half October are usually the cooler seasons and the cloudiest.

Winter is cold with a minimum temperature of 3 degrees and we do not recommend a tour during this season because you won’t be able to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that you could enjoy during the other seasons with more sun and colours.


Rail Network

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Belgium has a very extended rail network on the north side that connects the main cities.

To bring your bike is quite easy, you just have to pay a little surplus on the ticket at the moment of the emission. Here you can find all the info you need: http://www.belgianrail.be

If you are considering to go from Bruges to Antwerp (100km) we suggest you to plan your itinerary. The distance could be a little bit tiring, so you can decide to take a train at a certain point.

It’s possible to go to Gand and take a train for the last 50 km or go to Loekeren for the last 30 km.

These are the main stations on this track.


 

If you want to know something more about Belgium all you have to do is select one of the following link:

 

If you have any question or tips don’t hesitate to contact us!

Keep pedaling guys!

Arthur & Bruno

Chapter 4: To Brussels with Beers!

DAY 4


WONDERFUL PARK: STADSPARK! 

Heeelloo ladies and gentleman!
Last ride of our tour!
We left you in Antwerp after our awakening, a great breakfast at Starbucks and a tour of this beautiful city! 😀

Before leaving we went to the Stadspark, a beautiful park located next to the central station that contains what remains of the Fort Herentals, an old fort of the 16th century.

What a sad life for medieval people. How did they live without bikes?! 😀

We’re joking. We are fascinated by the Middle Ages and by the remains from the past eras.
It’s like to get in touch with those who lived in the same place centuries before and imagining how they lived.
No, we’re not drunk. 😀
You know, visiting a town in autumn, especially its parks, is something magical.
Autumn lights and colours can be a panacea for your mood as it was for us.

This park is the only romantic park of the city and it is the favourite of people who are in search of relax or joggers, walkers, mothers with children, rollerbladers and duck-feeding elderly.

ROAD TO BRUSSELS!

It was time to pedal until Brussels now, 50kms were waiting for us! 🙂
Also this time the road was very simple, just follow the N1 from the city center of Antwerp to the center of Brussels. 
Easy, isn’t it?
we really appreciated that important cities are easily reachable by bike, without many changes of direction and a lot of road signs.
This is definitely a good thing for those who don’t know how to orient themselves or just don’t wanna look at the navigator too many times.
Back to us, following the road N1 you will pass through some little town, including Mekelen, which is located halfway.
If you have time, we suggest you to eat something here and take a tour of the Saint Rumbold’s Chatedral and its tower.
This is the most significant church in the entire country. The tower is 97 meters high and it can be climbed, for a total of 514 stairs.
People like Louis XV, Napoléon Bonaparte and a few Belgian kings and queens have climbed its steps.
We ate only a sandwich ’cause our aim was to arrive in Brussels around 3 pm, get a look at the Atomium and reach our friend Alice who hosted and guided us around the city.
A good plan huh?!

WHY TO NOT BLOW A TIRE? 😀

Yeah, it could have been great, if Arthur had not decided to puncture the wheel! 😀
Not a normal puncture, but a real hole due to a piece of steel pointed to the asphalt road.Damn.
He had just finished exulting for the road sign “Brussels” , indicating that we were less than 8km from arrival, when it happened 😀
And think that Bruno had warned him to exult only on arrival: the worst but hilarious situation ever.

Sadly the bike shop didn’t give us a repair kit or any kind of assistance (we’ll speak about that in the next post in which we’ll summarise Belgium and its services,spreading some useful tips)
In the bad luck, the fortune was that the train station was only 4 km away, so Arthur reached the city center putting his bike on a train and Bruno continued by bike.
If someone had told Bruno that cycling in Brussels was that hard, he probably would have taken the train 😀
The last 6 km by bike were extremely Up and Down. Also Brussels has nice cycle paths, but they go Up & Down, insanely Up and down.

Maybe it was accentuated ’cause Bruno was really tired in the last part.
Brussels is a very functional city. You can bring your bike everywhere, by train or underground, even if with bags you will be a bit bulky.
Like a bull in a china shop!

FINALLY BRUSSELS! 

In spite of everything, even that day we reached our destination! 😀
Finally at Alice’s home, finally here in Etterbeek, one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels-Capital region.
You know, we love unexcepted events, like doing 4 storeys of stairs carrying the bikes ’cause they don’t fit in the elevator.

We were a little bit tired because of the accident but after an hot shower we decided to go with Alice to the Parc du Cinquantenaire (JubelPark in Dutch and Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary in English) to meet her friends. Of course, we are in Belgium, Belgium has good beers so we stopped to buy some at the local 24h shop. It’s full of this kind of shops here!

The park is immense, a triumph of autumn colors and full of people walking and chilling.
The buildings that dominate the entrance were built from 1880 onwards by King Leopold II in occasion of the National Exhibiton to commemorate the 50 years of the Belgian Independence.

So this was our afternoon: some beers chilling on the green field and a football match with Alice’s friends! They were very kind to invite us to play! It was like being kids again, one of the best feeling in the world. We played with her friends and other people who added themselves by simply asking if they could play.
It’s crazy how people from different countries can communicate and empathize easily even by speaking different languages. Sports connect people!

Sport connects people but tries to break Bruno’s knee, but this is another story and Bruno is really a bad player. I swear!

After the match we were hungry so we went to eat in a very good restaurant named Brasserie La Terrace just outside the park. It had different dishes from typical cuisine to everyday food so if you ever decide to visit the park in the afternoon we really suggest you to stop here for dinner 🙂
One of the best things in the world is to talk about everything, and when I say everything I mean everything, in Italian being sure that noone can understand you and then discover that the people in the table next to you are from your country. Ahhh really cool!

Time to go back home on our drunky feet and sleep on our fabulous air mattress (it was really fabulous) but first let us take a selfie another beer!

The next morning we woke up with a little sadness mixed with happiness. Sad for the end of our adventure and happy for the beautiful experience we had! After we said thanks and goodbye to our friend Alice we went back to the city center to enjoy our last day!

WHAT TO SEE IN BRUSSELS!

Brussels is the city that you don’t expect, it’s a city we think deserves to be included in what we define “tourism of the majors european capitals”. Unfortunately, many pe

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ople decide to visit Brussels only when they finish their ideas about travelling in Europe and we think it is unfair. It is unfair because it has a lot to offer: only the Grand Place deserves the airline ticket.

The Grand Place is considered one of the most beautiful squares in Eur

ope and would you miss it? Would you miss the amazing Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art, the charming Fine Art museum with an amazing collection of flemish art paintings?! Would you miss simply the buildings of this city?

Another incredible spot is St. Michel and Gudule Cathedral. Really close to the city center, this building is a true melting pot of art. With its stained-glass windows, its ghotic towers and its fifteenth century facade it is one of the most impressive structures of Brussels.

One of the most visited sites of this city is the Heysel Park and the Atomium, the modern landmark of Brussels. This structure stands 102 metres tall and it represents a unit cell from an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Each sphere of the Atomium have a diameterof 18 mt and inside they host exhibitions and sometimes private parties. Moreover, it is possible to have dinner in the highest sphere in a beautiful restaurant and enjoy one of the best views of the city!


It was built in 1958 for the EXPO and as the Eiffel Tower was meant to be dismantled at the end of the exhibition.

BACK TO MILAN! 

And here we are. After 5 days wandering through the beautiful cities of the Flandeers and its unforgettable countrysides we returned the bikes and did a last walk in the city center before going back to our everyday life.

We learned so much from this Belgian experience because we had the opportunity to get in touch with the locals and know their point of view.

Thanks to all the people who follow us and encouged us during this trip. We really hope that our little adventures make you want to take a flight and explore countries by bike like we do, to taste their real essence.

Now we are here, writing these lines with google maps and various airline companies websites open wondering which will be the next trip!

See ya! Keep pedaling!

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GoodByeeeeeee Brussells!

PS: we didn’t have to pay for the flat tire. WE ARE SOOOOOOO HAPPY 😛