96km Estramoz – Nisa
We’ve had a lot of rainy mornings lately (maybe a sign of what we can expect for our springtime cycle ride across Europe) and this morning the drops started hitting our tent around dawn. As we rolled out we were bracing ourselves for a wet day but surprisingly enough the rain held off and sometimes the clouds even cleared to let a bit of sun through. We reached the town of Fronteira just as the church service was about to start. The central square around the church was filled with men, just standing around and watching the activity around them, which of course meant about thirty heads turned in our direction. As bike tourists we must sometimes look like aliens to local people with our helmets, sunglasses, lycra and bicycles padded out with bags. It was a nice surprise to find one coffee shop open so we ducked inside the small bar with a low timber-beamed roof and took our usual coffee with some gigantic pastries – extra big for Easter, perhaps? Our morning craving satisfied, we carried on up the road to the pretty little town of Alter do Chão where we lunched in a park with a drinking fountain (always a bonus if we can refill our bottles). An elderly couple peeked at us through their curtains from the house across the road, wondering who these strange visitors were. By this time some very dark clouds were gathering over our route but we managed to just stay to one side of the rain for quite a while before a light mist started to fall, not as bad as we’d expected! In the next town, Alpalhão, we realised an Easter Sunday bull fight was taking place and briefly considering going but this was one of the few times we have felt hindered by our bikes. It is hard to leave everything you own on the street and walk away. Maybe some people would, but we have still not reached that level of comfort. We tried to leave our bikes in front of the police station, thinking that would be a fairly secure parking place, but the officers soon emerged to tell us with wagging fingers and a firm tap on their watches that we couldn’t stay there for more than a few minutes. After some debate we decided to carry on through Nisa, another pleasant and historic town, before picking out a camping spot high above the road.