George Johnston: May 29th

The day after arriving in Lisbon I biked from the hostel to the city center, about seven miles, and had lunch of calamari (fried squid rings) at a riverfront restaurant. I then bike to the Church of Santiago( the Apostle James) which has a sign as the official start of the the pilgrimage, The Camino of Santiago, to Santiago de Compostela where I started my backwards trip. The light wasn’t good so I took lots of pictures with a tripod and timer to be sure I got a good shot, and then a passerby took a few more for me. After that I head further up hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, built over many centuries to guard the water front.

Photo outside of church with monkey

As I went to lock the bike outside of the ticket office I noticed that my monkey, Maimut was missing. I remembered I had unhooked him and set him on the bike seat to get a better view. I dashed back down the hill and saw that some one had found him and set him on the fence in front of the church. Last year I left him sitting on the wall at a hotel in Greece as I packed the bike. Likewise I climbed a big hill before I noticed him missing and return to find him just where I left him. He is certain luckier than his twin who was stolen off the bike in Mangalia a day or two after I bought him. Maimut has been traveling with me since June 2011 on a trip from Romania to Nis, Serbia and Burgas, Bulgaria, and all my major trips since in around a dozen different countries.

I climbed back up the hill and got some great views of the city and lots of wall climbing. The wind had been out of the northwest for the last few days and had been a big help, but returning to the hostel would have been against it, so I decided to take a commuter train to the Orient Station which is about a mile and a half down hill from the hostel with a bike path all the way. Orient is the main station for Lisbon even though it is well out of the center, so I decided to a train from there to Spain today. The next day I stayed in the area of the hostel, browsing the large Vasco de Gama shopping mall, and picking up a better bike pump at a nearby Decathlon store. While there I found there are Decathlon stores all of Hungary now, so that could be helpful.

This morning I biked into the park near the hostel where you can pickup the bike path and headed to the station. Even though it is the main station my train started at one of the central stations before stopping there. There we two of us with bike, but there was room for two, that went well. After a couple of hours I had to change trains. I check the schedule and found my next train left from track 6. I found track 6 S with a long train sitting there, but no sign of activity. Ten minutes before departure I noticed they announced the train was departing from track 6, not 6 S and I realized they were at opposite ends of the station. My train was a single car train with two bike spaces and two bikes again, so we were off. I had bought a ticket to Elvas, the last Portuguese station, but I found the train went on to Badajoz, the first Spanish station. The wind had switched to the east so I decided to buy an add on ticket to go to the end. It added on two euros to my 15.60 euro ticket.

There wasn’t a connecting train on to Merida for a few hours so I head out to make some or all of the trip by bike. I got rather lost getting out of town and trying to find a small country road so I made slow progress. The wind was troublesome so I headed for the Montijo station hopping to catch the train with I thought would be along after 8:00 pm. As I passed through town I noticed a Restaurant/Hostel which I thought would have been handy if I didn’t have the train. When I got to the station I found I was mistaken and had missed the last train by about half an hour. The hostel was lucky after all. I biked back there and found it more just a simple hotel than a hostel with dorms. I got a room with two beds and TV and added a dinner with a large salad and more calamari for 35 euros, one of the better lodging deals.

Tomorrow I may bike on to Merida to catch a train toward Seville, or I may find one from here. I still have to research that. I just need to be in Rota by next Tuesday and I can get there from easily in two days. I’ll just play it by ear.

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