I’m going to blame Art Bone and his wife Carol for being a bad influence. If you read my recent post from March in Mexico (HERE) you may remember Art and Carol from the Hacienda tour. During our time together Art mentioned that they had reservations for a Portugal “Premium Tour” with a company called MotoXplorers in Portugal. Carol asked Deby if we would like to go, and without hesitation (or asking me?) she enthusiastically replied YES!
Next thing I know we are enrolled for their 10 day guided motorcycle tour in the middle of September. Ten days? Well, that’s just not long enough to justify the long flight and travel costs. After some research we decided to fly to Lisbon, Portugal at the beginning of September and rent BMW motorcycles for our own tour of Spain to get “warmed up” for the guided Portugal tour.
We landed in Lisbon on September 3rd and stayed in a downtown hotel (https://www.thevintagelisbon.com/) for a few days to acclimate to the time change, get the lay of the land and explore the city a little. Wow, what a great city. We had never been to Portugal or Lisbon before and I could see how it might become one of our favorite places to return to. Since this is a blog about motorcycle travelling I will not attempt to write a tour book on Lisbon but just show a few pictures before we get on the ride!
Lisbon is known for these street cars to help people up the steep slopes.
I even talked them into letting me take it for a spin!
Art and Carol were there early so we were able to hang out for a few days with them. We went to dinner at a fish place where you pick your fish out of the cooler and they cook it for you.. Yumm, which one would you pick?
We went to a laser show “Lisbon Under the Stars”.
Went on a fantastic sunset cruise on the Tagus River.
We walked for miles, took Ubers when needed and even rented Lime electric scooters which was very interesting on the cobblestone roads (yikes!).
Narrow cobblestone streets where everywhere, good for walking but tricky on big motorcycles.
All this was way more fun than I expected but we were anxious to get the motorcycles and start riding. On Friday the 6th of September we loaded all our riding gear that was packed in two huge bags into the back of a too small Uber vehicle. The driver took us through town to the MotoXplorers headquarters where we would pick up the motorcycles that we would ride for most of the month.
Deby’s ride was a brand new 2019 BMW F750GS.
Mine would be a 2019 BMW R1250GS Adventure… wow!
It took some time to complete paperwork, sign our lives away and purchase additional insurance. Then we transferred all our gear onto the bikes (including our AirHawk seat cushions, oh yea. ) and start riding north out of town.
Our destination for the day?? We didn’t know…. North I suppose. We decided that since we would be returning for a 10 day tour of Portugal we would take this time to leave the country and see as much of Spain as possible. Maybe even get as far as France to visit a friend of Deby’s. But for the day it was just – North.
Just wanting to get out of the crazy traffic we hit the A1 toll road northbound until the traffic subsided. It always takes a while to get used to riding in a new country. We’ve found that each country seems to have its own traffic vibe. In Portugal, on the freeway, the vibe was – RIDE AS FAST AS YOU CAN! We were going 120 Km per hour (about 75) and cars were passing us like we were standing still. We were still getting familiar with the rental bikes so we let them pass as we settled in.
After a couple of hours we pulled into a rest area and I used my iPhone to look for a destination. Where? I don’t know… let’s see, there is an ocean nearby how about that? I expected to find plenty of beachfront hotels nearby but that wasn’t the case. Hmmm how about this one? Campsite Orbitur Rio Alto? We didn’t have camping equipment but the website said they had cabanas, so with one or two clicks we were booked for the night.
Ha, it really wasn’t too bad even though the “cabanas” looked more like FEMA trailers (they might have been!).
It didn’t matter, we were happy to be on our way and had a place to stay for the first night.
Deby was glad there was a beach with new and strange rocks to pick up.
We even had a nice sunset, always a good way to start a ride…
Mileage for the day clocked in at 226 miles, average speed on mostly freeways was 62.7 mph with a max speed of 86 which the big 1250 did with ease. Despite the camper style foam mattress we slept soundly and both had the feeling this would be a fun ride.
More to come.
Donn and Deby