From London to Lisbon Part 1

It was sad saying goodbye to everyone in London before heading southwards towards France, I don’t know when I will be back there to be perfectly honest. Over the past 2 months I have begun to feel like the Uk is my home. And thanks to amazing friends London has definitely been my base.

I bought some things for my bike including a new rear tire for the bike before racing down to Brighton racing the setting sun. I managed to arrive after 5 hours of riding and a new speed record for me I believe. I had a quick look around the gorgeous seaside town with it’s countless French tourists snapping photos and consuming ice creams with childish ambition.
I didn’t manage to walk down the famous Brighton pier as there was a strict no bicycle policy and I didn’t have anywhere safe to lock my bike. I decided I best be on my way down the coast as I had a ferry booked to France the following afternoon leaving from Portsmouth which was 50miles away along the coast so as the sun was setting I made my way down the coast line, scouring the sea side for an appropriate and safe place to set my tent up for the night. As I cruised along in the dim light of the evening I was flagged down by a car, a young couple got out and asked if I needed a place to stay, to which I replied almost exhaling and making my appreciation known “yes!” “follow us” they said, I sped along behind the car with some super natural strength brought on by the possibility of a safe and good nights rest. They invited me in with their 2 adorable children and got to talking about the touring adventures that they themselves had experienced. Amazing travels through America, the Uk and Morocco by bicycle needless to say I was inspired! I slept in a warm bed and had a nice shower that night and felt so blessed and looked after. The next morning I got an escort to my cycle path and I was off to Portsmouth.
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I caught the ferry in the afternoon, meeting a group of about 15 keen cyclists that were doing a cross country trip to Nice on the east coast of France. It was encouraging to see other people out on their bikes as thus far on my trip i have hardly seen anyone. I arrived in Caen late in the evening, the summer sun begrudgingly setting over the horizon I quickly found a big field to set my tent up for the night.

The next morning I was up and ready, fueled by the excitement of being in a new country. I had a plan to meet up with the family of a friend of mine in a town called Vannes 2 days cycle away, I cranked along heading south and stumbled apon an incredibly beautiful cycle way that was about 20km long, lined with greenery and perfectly flat. I also bumped into the cycle group from the day before, they gave me some morning tea and we exchanged a bit of banter about bikes then I was off! The weather was perfect for cycling, hot and sunny I was having to drink several liters of water through out the day. I arrived in Vannes after a couple of days riding, the town itself has weird and wonderful mix of architecture, beautiful old buildings from a few different time periods.

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I met up with the family who made me feel at home right away. I initially thought I would stay one night but after realising I had a bit of time on my hands before arriving in Lisbon and seeing just how amazing the area was I ended up staying 4 nights!

The Gulf de Morbhian is located right next to the town and is a stunning collection of islands within a sheltered gulf. I went out with Ramon on the Gulf in some kayaks to visit some of his friends on an island, we kayaked trough the glassy gulf with its suprisingly strong current and oysterfields as far as the eye can see. The house was basically my dream house, a large garden growing all sorts of vegetables, a dry toilet and solar shower with solar electricity and a water filtration system. And of course a million dollar view of the Gulf. We drank good wine and ate delicious food, went fishing out on the Gulf and managed to catch a few fish for our lunch the following day. I do believe those few days if put into words would be “living the dream” I was spoilt and had an amazing time.
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My next stop was Nantes to meet more of my friends family, which is a solid 130km from Vannes but since I had been living in the lap of luxury for a few days I barely noticed the trek. I arrived in the afternoon greeted by more friendly faces and once again felt right at home. We went out to a womans basketball tournament which made me realize basketball is definitely a contact sport! Them girls were ruthless!

I stayed a couple of nights in Nantes seeing the town and it’s extravagant mammals and very classy riverfront set up, enjoying top French hospitality I was very much spoilt once again, it was hard to say goodbye to everyone even though I was only there a few days. The rain started the day I left, probably due to my leaving I’m sure. The rain continued on in a stecato fashion stopping and starting like some 5 year old child had gotten into the heavenly control room playing with the taps switches and nobs. For the entire week I was wet then dry then tanning while in the rain, a most peculiar weather pattern. I caught up with a friend in Bordeaux who I had met while couch surfing in Dublin, I was thankful for the warm shower and bed once again, we hit the town with his friends to watch France play Albania in a very close match. The city was full of Welsh and Irish fans all ripe with alcohol and filling the streets with their enthusiastic jibes. The French certainly knew how to celebrate also with a lucky 2 goals scored in the closing minutes of the game, some bloke in front of me let off a firework in a tightly packed crowd that was moshing out of sheer delight! It was fun to see that many happy people getting jazzed about a game.
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From Bordeaux I headed to the coast to see a ginormous sand dune Dune du Pilat which towers out of the water like a big golden wave, frozen by time. When I walked along the dune it felt like I was in another country, desert almost accept for the huge body of water over yonder. From there I followed the coast right down towards the border with Spain, a solid 2 days of riding. I met up with my friend from Bordeaux who lives in Saint Jean de Luz in the summer time so he came to stay with him once again here. The weather continued it’s bi polar like attitude the whole ride down the coast unfortunately, but as of tomorrow the weather man says it’s all sunshine and happy times. I’m off to Spain tomorrow and can’t wait!
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Bordeaux was fully enthusiastic about the euro cup!

Stay tuned

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One thought on “From London to Lisbon Part 1

  1. I have really enjoyed reading your blog Nathan, you have certainly travelled the world and seen some amazing places and things. Your writing is very colourful, interesting and exciting and you have met some lovely people and made some great friends. Are you finally on your way home now? Be safe and God bless. X

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