(Portugal to France) Please, take me to Paris!!

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The weather was really hot that it seemed like the temperature was around 40 c. I started cycling in Portugal, which was not my plan.

 

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When I looked at the back and forward, something was missed. He was disappeared from my view. My view was blurred with something which I didn’t know.

 

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It was a flat road, so I could cycled 140 km (87.5 mi) today. As I arrived, a kind family and a nice meal are welcome to their house.
The name of the soup is Caldo verde which is typical Portugal’s cuisine.

 

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Although I am a vegan, I don’t mind eating a local food. This food is called Caldeirada de peixe.

 

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My host name is Daniel. Thanks to him and his family I could visit Castelo de Almourol.

 

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Although Daniel is very young 18 years old, he is a member of national team of Orienteering. It was my first time to hear Orienteering which is about requiring navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed.
He is really a good player that he showed so many medals and records. I was quite impressed.
He also introduced me some website.
https://www.geocaching.com/

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a GPS receiver to hide and seek containers.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it.

But here the cache was missed.

 

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So, he took me to the other cache.
“Guess where?”
“what…? Here??? Here??”

 

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Oh!!! It seems like there were many ways to hide.

 

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I’ve heard that many traveler play geocaching while moving.
https://www.geocaching.com/map/default.aspx?ll=37.57108,126.9953#?ll=34.45222,75.41016&z=3
To me?… hm.. I don’t have GPS, but only iPhone. I am not sure I will try or not later.
Anyway it was super interesting from him.
The world is so big and there are so many fun things to do.

He introduced me another website.
www.postcrossing.com/
Postcorssing is an online project that allows its members to send and receive postcards from all over the world. The project’s tag line is “send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!
He and his family showed me postcards which have been collected from all around the world.

Here another fun thing to do is.

 

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I’ve stayed with them for two nights. His mother looked so young. I was actually confused when they came to the downstairs to me at the first. ‘How should I call her? your mother..? your sister..? your aunt?..’ I was really not sure. So I used “she” at the beginning.
They were really kind to me that I felt like actually I’ve met Latin American family.

 

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This is Portuguese beer.

 

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At the day I left, he wanted to cycle together with me over 20 km (12.5 mi). It seemed there were so many kinds of locks in Portugal. So, they use limestone in the city.

 

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Young boy, Daniel, was so kind that he helped an elder couple having flat tire. It was not easy because the tool was not enough good. Later after three cars stopped, finally the elder people could drive again.

 

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He gave me some advice that on my route there is a town, Fatima, which is famous for Marian apparition.
The history of Fatima is associated with three local children on 13 May 1917, while guarding their sheep in the Cova da Iria, witnessed an apparition of a lady dressed in white. Since that, the town has been popular and so many tourists and pilgrims come. Although a population is 7,000 people, I could see lots of souvenir shops and hotels

 

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People walked to the shrine on their knees as an act of sorrow and penance for sin. All of them covered their knees with thick material to protect their knees. Some people told me that they did this one to thank to Maria after their wish became true.

 

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Congratulation picture for 33,000 km.

 

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It looked scary place in which I could see red trees.

 

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The resin was being harvested from the tree. I was wondering a taste, so I tried to have taste with my finger. AWEEEEEEEEE…. I thanked to myself that I didn’t try with the spoon. My gloves were too sticky after touching it.

 

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A salt farm

 

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I had seen people walking on the road without a backpack since yesterday. Maybe they were pilgrim?

 

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I could see often the cute motorcycle which looked like a bicycle.

 

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Portuguese pavement is a traditional-style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal, while it can also be found in Oliven?a (a disputed territory administered by Spain) and throughout old Portuguese colonies such as Brazil and Macau.
Usually at the south of Portugal locks are black and in the north locks are white. It is made of basalt and limestone.
But as a cyclist, I felt very difficult to cycle. IT IS TOO BUMPY. I didn’t like much cycling on the stones.
I heard some women getting an injured with ankle while walking on the stones with high heels.

 

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Today my shopping list was bread, fruit, vegetable, beans in tomatoes sauce, mushroom, and… soya butter!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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OH!!!!!! Finally I found amazing stuff for a vegan!!!

 

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It was not different from a normal butter. Taste was so good!!! Lovely company, Alpro! Later I found strawberry, banana, and Choco soya milk in the market which is from Alpro. They sell also almond milk. But it was too expensive to buy for me, so I’ve never tried yet. (Almost $4!)

 

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I visited Aveiro which was another touristic city. Somebody told me it is Portuguese’s Venetia. But actually it was not much attractive to me.
Because of visiting Aveiro which was actually a bit far from my route, I had to cycle until 10 pm. I’ve cycled too often in the night in Europe.

 

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At the next morning, I did some tour in Porto!

 

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This city was also not much attractive. Many of cities in Europe which is famous to tourist looked the same to me. I also liked more the nature than the city like him.

 

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I liked small alley. There was also cable which was not on the picture.

 

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While taking the rest, I watched a local people taking the rest.

 

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There was a church which was at the next to information center.

 

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It is the center of Porto

I would try hitchhiking from here.
I already wrote about the reason at the last post. My wish was to go to Northern Europe to see Northern Lights. But after following his dream, my dream went far away. Train, Airplane, Ferry, and Bus to Paris from Porto was too expensive around 250 Euros~400 Euros on the middle of August

If I didn’t fall in love with him, I would not need hitchhiking in Europe. But I gave up cycling for some part to choose him. So, I didn’t have a choice. But I didn’t regret anyway anything.

I had hitchhiked from the west to the east in Canada for three months when I traveled with a backpack.
Sometimes I had hitchhiked when I had the problem with my bicycle during this trip.
Usually hitchhiking doesn’t take much time. In Canada, it took 10 minutes to 30 minutes in the summer. In the winter it took 10 minutes to 1 hour.
The longest hitchhiking for one time in Canada was to Toronto, which was about 2,300 km (1,437 mi). Maybe I waited one hour at that time? And she drove almost for two days to Toronto.

So, I though it would take 2 nights or 3 nights from Porto to Paris by hitchhiking.
But………OH……….MY………. GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I waited 6 hours under the strong sun, but nobody gave me a ride!!!!!!!!!!!!
Only some young men from the car shouted at me to make fun of me. I was wondering if I were with him, they would keep shouting at me.

 

Some middle age couple stopped at me and said to me “We saw you on 2 pm. Now it is 8 pm. What are you doing here?”

 

I told I am trying to hitchhike and my traveling story. It seemed they opened their mind after hearing my traveling story. They invited me at their house for the night.

 

At the second day for hitchhiking to Paris
I wanted to get out of Porto first. I moved to the other place and waited over two hours. Nothing!
I cycled 10 km after getting some advice from some cyclist on the road. And then I got a ride from a truck driver. When I asked him a gas station at the first, he denied. But later he called me and gave me a ride.
After 10 hours (Yesterday 6 hours, today morning 4 hours), I got a ride for 150 km (93 mi)!!!
After that car, I waited two hours and moved to other place and waited. After getting two short rides such as 25 km, one girl walking to me telling me they can give me a ride.
When I walked to their car, I was shocked. It was too old and small car. It was her boyfriend’s car. Three people and bicycle and so many luggage in a tiny little old car!
Actually some cars stopped, but they went away again after saying your bicycle is too big. But the couple’s car was much smaller.
It seemed it depends on the mind. If you want, then you can. If you don’t want, then you cannot do.
She was from Bolivia and immigrated 10 years ago with her parents.
We moved A coruna which was over 150 km (93 mi)

When we arrived in city, it was around 10 pm. She decided let me sleep at her family house.

 

At the third day for hitchhiking to Paris..

From the morning it was endless waiting. Even I didn’t take any picture because I was too tired. I waited 2 hours and moved to the other place. I waited three hours again and nothing.
Later I was so lucky that I got ride for a long distance. After that I waited another two hours. Another lucky that I got a ride again for 200 km (125 mi)
I arrived in a big city at 10 pm. I tried to hitchhike, but it was impossible.
At 11:30 pm I was in a big city. Where could I sleep?….
I looked at the offline map on iPhone and decided to go to a gas station. Thanked that it was no problem to set up tent.

 

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At the fourth day for hitchhiking to Paris

I started taking a photo. It meant I was used to this hard situation.
I thought it was the best place for hitchhiking, because it was in front of way to highway and there was traffic light.
I waited over two and half hours, and no any car stopped.
I gave up and cycled to the other place.

 

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I got a short ride for 25 km (15 mi). After that, luckily one guy wanted to help me as giving me a ride.

 

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The north of Spain was really beautiful. If he came here, he would love Spain. There are many mountains and beaches he liked.

 

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After 100 km (62 mi), he stopped at the best place for hitchhiking.
It was super best place, because there were so many cars and I had enough space for parking.
I only waited 20 minutes, and got a ride for 200 km.
These days I talked a lot with a local people, so my Spanish suddenly improved a lot.
I don’t have enough money, and it made my trip too hard. But poor doesn’t mean too bad all the time. The advantage of poor traveler is there are so many chances to get along with a local people!

 

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It was too touristic place and busy, so I cycled to the next city. It was around the dark. Some local guy came to me and warned too strongly “It is too dangerous place in the night. You must watch out yourself. I saw two guys talking about you to try something.”
What????? It was the western Europe. I’ve never heard any strong warn before. My hair stood on end. I cycled hard to get out that area for 10 km in the night. I went to a gas station to set up tent. They would close, but it would be no problem. I asked about before city and this city’s safety. They told me before city is really dangerous, but here is really safe. I was confused what made difference between 10 km cities.

 

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At the fifth day for hitchhiking to Paris

I cycled 10 km more to the border town. I felt very hopeful today morning, because I heard there are so many cars going to France. But I forget the important fact. It is Schgen area. They don’t wait at the immigration, but they just drive so fast to highway.
Oh…

I waited over 5 hours at two difference place, but I couldn’t get a ride. I saw one truck driver taking the rest. I walked to him and asked him where he goes. The river was from Romania but he worked in Western Europe. Romanian guy said tomorrow he would go to Paris. I asked him a ride. He said it would be no problem.
We promised to see 10 am in the next morning.

 

Tonight I set up again at the some gas station.

 

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At the sixth day for hitchhiking to Paris

Today I felt really good. But when I met him, he told me he couldn’t get a call from his company. So, he would not know when he can start driving.
If I knew this one I must try hitchhiking yesterday until late afternoon. Yesterday I already told a host in Paris I would arrive in today. I’ve already delayed two times about arriving time. I felt hurry. So I went to many companies were many trucks stop. But I realized most of trucks go to Spain, Toulouse in France, and Italy.
I also waited on a big gas station where many trucks coming for a petrol. I kept ask a truck drivers, but there were no any good answers for me.
While trying to ask, I saw a Romanian truck driver coming from a small van with other people. It seemed he tried to pretend he doesn’t see me. I said to him hello and his face was a bit embarrassing. I asked him he is going to Paris, but he said No.
I was not sure what true was.
I almost gave up asking to truck drivers.. So I decided to go to some main road at the next gas station. It was at the next road cars coming from Spain.
Yesterday I met two hitchhiking girls from Europe. One girl said she tried hitchhiking for 24 hours in Spain, but it was not possible. So she just took the train.
When I came back at late afternoon two girls disappeared. I was not sure they got a ride or took the train again.
I’ve seen two boys getting a ride today morning and two boys standing at the same place where two girls standing.
When I passed that place, they boys were disappeared. It seemed this city is so popular to hitchhikers.
After 4 pm, one truck driver gave me a ride. He said he would not go to Paris, but he could go 400 km (250 mi) together way to Paris. He was from Ukraine,, but immigrated to Spain 10 years ago. I thanked to him so much and put my bicycle at the back of truck.
When I got out of city, Irun, I saw Romanian guy’s truck was still at the same place as yesterday. I felt a bit sorry to him. It seemed like he felt sorry that’s why he pretended he didn’t know me.
Ukraine driver told me it happened all the time. It would be too hard to know when they could exactly they could get goods from company. They had to wait all the time.
We stopped at some parking place. I saw one hitchhiking couple. They were under strong sun. It seemed they were really stuck on the middle of huge highway. They often lie down under the sun with the sign which was “to tollgate”. I was a bit worried them, because it was really hot day. But nobody gave them a ride. Wow………scary Europe……………………
Only two people can sit on the truck, so driver told me it is not possible to take them in his truck.

 

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He told me many things about his hard life and job. Once he came out for work, he could not go to home for two weeks. Also he could not eat well, because it is not easy to go to toilet and time table for work. It seemed they slept on a truck at the most of times at some parking place or empty place where doesn’t have a toilet.
He had some machine to check the work time. He told me he could only drive 9 hours per day. To drive less than 9 hours is no problem. But more than 9 hours driving, it could be huge problem.
But actually I was confused. He told me he started 6 am today morning. It seemed working time doesn’t include waiting loading and taking the rest.
He was being nervous, because he almost drove for 9 hours. Luckily he found a big parking place.
He shared really nice dinner with me.

I asked drivers to get a ride to Pairs. All of them I’v asked to Paris. What an easy way to Paris!! Two times I was denied because they didn’t have a seat for me or the back locking. At the third time, there were three guys and each guys had a truck. Even all of them would go to Paris tomorrow morning. It was super easy. One of them told me “come to 6:30 am tomorrow morning” He was Polish.

 

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It was my first time to come to a huge highway which has 8 lanes for cars. So, I was interested to see parking place. There were so many trucks and cars and even camping car. It seemed to sleep here is free and no any problem. So, I set up tent at the middle of trees.
Actually I didn’t ask anybody, because there were no any workers for parking place.
A few days ago, when I had to find a place to sleep in a big city at 11:30 pm, suddenly I remind of a quote I wrote down a year ago on my compute.
‘Your greatest fears are created by your imagination. Don’t give in to them.’ – Winston Churchill
It took over one year this quote to come from my head to heart. Since that I started setting tent a big easily.

 

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At the seventh day for hitchhiking to Paris

Today do I go to Paris? Really?
I’ve got a ride so easily to Pairs from the parking lot.

 

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Here my long hitchhiking for 6 nights and 7 days was finished.
When I started cycling trip on the U.S, I though “To cycle around the world is super harder than to hitchhike.”
Here my thought is changed “To hitchhike is extremely hard than to cycle around the world”

 

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I was really nervous at the first day when nobody stopped for 6 hours in Porto, Portugal.
But here I came to Paris!
Yeah I was really happy to come to Paris. Yeah!!!!

 

I thank to all drivers who gave me a ride!!
Thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[14/08/15~26 (D+1091)]


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