Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cycling Europe 2019 Day 8: Óbidos To Lisbon - Olá Lisboa!

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Cycling Europe 2019 Day 8: Óbidos To Lisbon - Olá Lisboa!
Portugal, Spain & France: Days 8  Sunday, 3rd November - Óbidos to Lisbon
This is part of a cycling tour of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering the leg from Óbidos to Lisbon:
Cycling Distance: 11.89 km.     Level: Medium (difficult part was at the steep slopes of Lisbon).
Time : 11:40am to 11:20pm
Time Taken : 11 hrs 40 mins. (including bus ride from Obidos to Lisbon, visiting Lisbon's attractions and Metro train ride back, & lots of photo opps.)

This is page 7 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7 Obidos              |           Go to Other Days          |           Go to D9 Lisbon 2 >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    This is a multi-mode route that included a 1hr. bus ride on the Rodoviária Bus from Óbidos to Lisbon at a fare of €7-95 per pax with no extra charges for our Brompton bicycles, which were folded and put into Dimpa bags with an extra opaque garbage bag cover. There was no need to prebook this 80 km. bus ride, as it's an hourly bus from Calda da Rainha to Lisbon
    From Lisbon's Campo Grande Bus Terminal we cycled to our homestay and later cycled out to visit several of Lisbon's attractions, including the Praça Dom Pedro IV & Praça do Comércio. We returned using the Lisbon Metro to the Intendente station from where we took a short but steep ride back to the homestay.
    
3. Weather
    AÓbidos morning temperature was about 15°C. Afternoon and evening temperatures at Lisbon average 19°C and 16°respectively.
   It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather, and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Bringing Bikes Onto European Trains, Buses & Trams
    Both in Portugal & Spain, full size bikes and folding bikes (there is no necessity to fold them) can bet taken into inter-city trains, metros and trams for free and without bagging. Do note that bikes may not be allowed during peak hours.
    Full size bikes are allowed onto all Portuguese Comboios de Portugal trains, click here for more infoFor the Lisbon Metro, click here for guide to purchasing tickets and card passes, here for the Metro Timetable and here for the Train Network Diagram/Chart. We bought the Single Fare Viva Viagem Card, i.e. €1-50 per ride. One will have to buy the card for €0-50 and then top up €1-50 for each ride. Do not that the cards can only be purchased at the Metro stations.   
   Folded bikes are allowed onto the local buses. For inter-city buses, our bikes were folded, bagged and put into the cargo holds at the bottom of the buses.
  
5. Places of Interest
    Along this route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
  1. Feira de Velharias Obidos (Obidos Flea Market) (GPS: 39.35706, -9.15846), held only on 1st Sunday of the month.
  2. Lisbon's Cycling Path and it's development.
  3. Peninsular War Monument (Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular) at Rotunda Entrecampos (GPS: 38.74833, -9.14837). 
  4. Parish Council of Avenidas Novas Building (GPS: 38.74109, -9.14715).
  5. Pensão Escondidinha, unique house on steep slope (GPS: 38.71928, -9.13620)
  6. The sharp junction at 1908 Lisboa Hotel (GPS: 38.72059, -9.13529).
  7. Rua Barros Queirós and Rua Augusta shopping and streets. 
  8. Praça Dom Pedro IV fountains (GPS: 38.71480, -9.13978).
  9. Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle) (GPS: 38.71390, -9.13347).
  10. Column of Dom Pedro IV (GPS: 38.71381, -9.13937) at the Rossio
  11.  (Praça Dom Pedro IV).
  12. Praça Dom Pedro IV fountains (GPS: 38.71421, -9.13953) at the Rossio.
  13. D. Maria II National Theatre (GPS: 38.7148, -9.13978) at the Rossio.
  14. Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Elevator) (GPS: 38.71213, -9.13942).
  15. Arco da Rua August (Rua Augusta Arch) (GPS: 38.70844, -9.13682).
  16. Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) (GPS: 38.70753, -9.13644).
  17. Terreiro do Paço statue, statue of Dom José I (GPS: 38.70698, -9.1362).
  18. Ride on Tram 28, for better chance of getting a seat, board at the Martim Moniz or Campo Ourique stations.
6. Meals
a. Breakfast: a good inclusive breakfast at Infusion Óbidos (GPS: 39.35376, -9.16281) in Óbidos.
b. Lunch: Hotdog sandwiches, salad and IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beer at Frankie (GPS: 38.75309, -9.15303).
c. Tea: Pastel de nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts) Fábrica da Nata (GPS: 38.71579, -9.14110).
d. Dinner: Portuguese seafood, steak, Paella rice, port, beer & desserts at Olive Garden Restaurant (GPS: 38.71056, -9.13715)
    
7. Accommodations
    Two nights aB'Happy Inn (GPS: 38.72432, -9.14019) in Lisbon which we had pre-booked through AirBnB, a four-Bedroom Apartment at €200 per night (or €25 per pax per night). Our bikes were allowed to be brought into the apartment.
    Address: Rua Gomes Freire 9 4. ° Dto, Lisboa, Lisboa 1150-119, Portugal.
    
8. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

9. Communicating with Locals
    In Portugal, except in rural areas, many locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

10. Navigation
     Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the PortugalSpain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. Do note that Google Maps does not work in Cycling Mode in Portugal so use Walking Mode but do be aware that sometimes recommened routes are against traffic. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.

11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

The previous day we had taken several train rides from Figueira da Foz to Obidos, and took a short ride on country roads from the train station to Obidos town. In the afternoon we took a short walk to explore Óbidos Castle. Today, we head by bus for Lisbon, the capital of Portugal; heading from a quiet rustic town to the busy major metropolis of the country.
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THE RIDE


Route: Óbidos (Capitão Polvo Residence)>Obidos Bus Station>by Rodoviária Bus>Lisbon (Campo Grande Bus Terminal)>Rotunda Entrecampos>B'Happy Inn>Praça Dom Pedro IV>Praça do Comércio>Baixa-Chiado>by Lisbon Metro>Lisboa Santa Apolónia>by Lisbon Metro>Intendente>B'Happy Inn.
Cycling Distance: 11.89 km.     Level: Medium (difficult part was at the steep slopes of Lisbon)..
(Zoom out to see Obidos attractions)
This is a multi-mode route that included a 1hr. eighty kilometres bus ride on the Rodoviária Bus from Óbidos to Lisbon
    From Lisbon's Campo Grande Bus Terminal we cycled to our homestay and later cycled out to visit several of Lisbon's attractions, including the Praça Dom Pedro IV & Praça do Comércio. We returned using the Lisbon Metro to the Intendente station from where we took a short but steep ride back to the homestay. Do note that central Lisbon is very hilly.

After another great breakfast at Infusion Óbidos, most us walked over to the nearby flea market. We were in luck, this is the Feira de Velharias Obidos (Obidos Flea Market) and it's only opened on the first Sunday of each month! It's located at the car-park north of Obidos Prio petrol station (GPS: 39.35493, -9.15895). It's a good place for people who are hunting for antiques and used items. Fenn was on the hunt, she collects old lamps and has had quite a good collection from the many cycling tours we had gone on.

While there, visit this old man he has quiet a collection of old coins, watches and other antiquities. Anne got some coins from him and Lynne bought an old Vintage Tissot Seastar T12 Automatic Gold Wrist Watch at a bargain price of €100.

12:00 noon - We checked out from Capitão Polvo Residence, waved our goodbyes to brothers Bruno & Thomas, and cycled over to the Obidos Bus Station (GPS:39.35961, -9.15753 ). Actually it, more like a bus stop with two small shelters located on each side of the road near the Porta da Vila, the main entrance to Óbidos Castle. From here we would be taking the 12:45pm Rodoviária Bus which would be coming in from Caldas da Rainha, and will only make a quick stop to pick up passengers from this stop. As this is an hourly bus, there is no web booking for tickets and we kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to board the 12:45 bus, otherwise it would mean another hour's wait.
We arrived early, quickly folded and packed our Bromptons into Dimpa bags and covered them with an black opaque garbage bag so as to conceal the bicycles. We did this as we were unsure whether they would allow our bikes on board. When the bus came, we purchased tickets from the driver and promptly loaded our bagged bikes into the bus hold. Sin as usual was concerned in securing our bikes in the hold and WENT into the hold to secure them with a long bungee cord!

An hour later we arrived at Lisbon's Campo Grande Bus Terminal, it's an outdoor bus terminal. And the first thing we did was to make a beeline for the rest rooms at the adjacent Campo Metro Station, see there was no toilet on the bus 😆.

Adequately relieved, we unpacked our bikes and were soon onto the way to our homestay, and were pleasantly surprised to find that Lisbon has a good network of cycling lanes that run adjancent to many of their main thoroughways. There were even seperate crossing for bicycles at the junctions.

It's time to look for lunch. The good breakfast at Infusion Óbidos have burned away; hungry we looked for a nearest foodie joint and ended up at Frankie. As their name indicated, they sell a wide range of hot-dogs (frankfurters). We ordered several types and downed them with good IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beer.

We continued our way along the Lisbon Cycling Paths, enjoying our ride adjacent to the wide boulevards. The paths are wide, with lanes for each direction of travel; at junctions of main roads, there were trafiic lights.

Along the way there were several interesting spots. One was the Peninsular War Monument (Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular) located at the Rotunda Entrecampos roundabout. This is a memorial that  commemorates the heroes who were killed during the Peninsular War, which took place from 1808 to 1814 between the Spanish, Portuguese and British on the one hand and the French under command of Napoléon Bonaparte on the other side.

Another interesting place was the Parish Council of Avenidas Novas Building.

Nearer to our home-stay, the bike lanes made way for cycling along shady and quiet residential roads, relatively flat and easy to cycle on until we go nearer to our apartment where the roads got rather steep and we had to come down to push pretty often. It's easy to cycle at the subarbs, but at Lisbon's city centre, most of the roads are steep - after all the city is known as the City of Seven HIlls.

At our B'Happy Inn homestay, we were greeted by Maria, our AirBnB host. Like most Portuguese, she was friendly and warmly welcomed us into her apartment which was cozily decorated and had posters like the above that promoted Lisbon's poets .....

.... and also a collection of FedorasPanama straw hats. Both types of hats look similar but they have their subtle differences.

The bedrooms has indiviual themed designed too, this one had a curve rattan bed whic would set up for a romantic mood..... which reminded us of the romantic chair at one of our rooms at the Persimmon Hotel (柿子紅快捷旅店) where we stayed while in Hsinchu (新竹市) during the our 2017 cycling tour of Taiwan. The apartment's living and bed rooms were to immaculate, and we didn't feel like putting our bikes there; luckily it had a back store-room big enough to keep all our eight bicycles.

Her apartment was cozy, but its best feature was a long balcony with a great view. Set in the hilly area of the Estefania suburbs, it boasts of a grand panorama view of Lisbon, including a clear sight of the Lisbon Castle, i.e. Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George Castle).

5:00pm - After doing our laundry and freshining up....
IT'S TIME TO RIDE!!!
From the apartment it was almost all the way downhill, easy ride to the heart of city - we will worry about cycling up these slopes later 😅. In fact, at some stretches, it got so steep we felt safer to come down and push - like this one near Pensão Escondidinha, a hotel sitting on a very steep slope.

Lower down at the bottom of the slopes, we caught a great view of colourful houses with the Castelo de Sao Jorge sitting right at the top; this brought back memories of the colourful houses of Gamcheon that we saw during our tour of South Korea. We won't be visiting the castle today, and will leave that for tomorrow.

Down at the shopping streets of Rua Barros Queirós, we stopped at several shops to buy souvenirs. Many of these shops were operated by Bangladeshis and we could relate to them as there is a strong presence of Bangladeshis workers in Malaysia, in fact some of them had worked in Malaysia before.

Okay, time to play tourists and visits some attractions, first of was the Praça Dom Pedro IV (popularly known as the Rossio) where the wavy patterns on the floor mesmerized us .....

..... and we admired the two brightly lit Praça Dom Pedro IV fountains with Grecian statues .....

..... and stared up in awe at the statue of Dom Pedro IV sitting atop the Column of Dom Pedro IV located at the centre of the Rossio.

At the north end of the square is the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (Queen Maria II National Theatre).

And viewed the Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Elevator) form afar. A tip here with the Viva Viagem Card travel pass, one can visit this elevator at a discounted price. "This 19th century industrial age marvel transports passengers up 45m from the Baixa district to the Largo do Carmo. The Elevador de Santa Justa dates from an era when wrought-iron was not just a construction material but also an elegant art form. The exterior structure is adorned with glorious neo-gothic arches and geometric patterns, while inside two sumptuous polished wood carriages whisk passengers up in style. At the top of the lift is a viewing platform has, and from where are some of the finest views of central Lisbon.

While admiring these attractions we noticed these mimes usually located at the more crowded areas. They are great to look at and perhaps take a photo with, but one of my buddies warned that while with them, one should keep an eye on one's belongings as many of them are gypsies on the look out for easy pick-pocket preys. In fact later on we could see some of them walking up and down the busy eatery streets and at the same time eyeing the bags of unsuspecting patrons eating or resting there.

While in Portugal, one should not miss their renown Pastel de nata and here can be found one of the best sold at Fábrica da Nata. They have an open kitchen where the bakers could be seen making these tarts.

Although we were eating in, we bought some to take-away as these were packed in nice boxes.

Another tip: eat your tarts at the first floor of the Fábrica da Nata; from here is a good view of the eateries lining the Tv. de Santo Antão.

At the other end of the Rua Augusta is the Arco da Rua August (Rua Augusta Arch).

From the arch we crossed over to the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), at the far end of which is the estuary of the River Tagus.

Come dinner time and we decided to avoid the touristy eateries at Rua Augusta and instead went to explore the adjacent streets, hoping to find some bargain eats there. In fact at these other quieter streets the waiters would come out to canvas for patrons. One waiter called Juvenile hailed us over to the Olive Garden Restaurant with an offer of €17 per pax of a set dinner which included a starter round of port, soup, salad, a main course (either fish or meat) and beer or coffee. We paid an additional €2 for desserts, don't miss this as they serve very good desserts here! Our mains included Grilled Salmon, Pan fried Sardine and Sea Bass, Grilled steak, Seafood Paella rice.
Juvenile was a witty and quick-minded person, as he did mention that we could order any meat in their meat section, I tried ordering Sirloin Steak; with a brief "Er" pause, he replied "Sorry sir, no more as finished already." Their sirloin cost €22 each!🤣😂🤣

As we headed for home, a couple of funny incidents made our day.
After boarding the Lisbon Metro at the Baixa-Chiado Station and disembarking at the Lisboa Santa Apolónia Station, Fenn in seen here pushing her bike through the exit gate. When it came to Jo's turn she couldn't find her Metro pass, and there was no staff around to help out. A fast thinking Sin asked her to stand close in front of him, at the count of 3 he swipe his card, and the two of them quickly went through the gates. Luckily, no alarm went off!

But then we got out of the station we were surprised to see large cruise ships moored at the Lisbon Cruise Port just opposite us. By mistake we had used Google Maps to guide us to the BeHappy Apartments, our apartment the B'Happy Inn is listed in AirBnB but not in Google Maps.

Sheepishly we turned around and boarded Metro again to head for the right stations, the Intendente Station.
After so many "Happy" named things, we ended the day in a happy note:
The Metro allows bikes to be taken into their trains, so we did not have to fold our bikes and just rolled them in .....

   "YEAH!"   

(For more photos of the Day 8, Click Here)

This is page 7 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D7 Obidos              |           Go to Other Days          |          Go to D9 Lisbon 2 > 
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