I woke up from Sam’s birthday celebrations, surprisingly, not hungover at all. Today would be the first rest day of this trip and although my legs were not screaming for it, I am sure they needed it.
Later tonight Sam and Eddies friend, Bri, would arrive in the city to join them on their travels to Portugal. We spent the day essentially killing time. Firstly we attempted to go swimming at the local leisure centre as our campsite tickets allowed us free entry (it was a five star campsite you know). However, for some reason unbeknownst to any of us, we were forbidden from wearing swimming shorts that had pockets. Conveniently, the leisure centre sold ‘pocket-free’ swimwear but none of us wanted to pay €15 for something we would use only once. Instead we decided to play crazy-golf back at the campsite. I lost, terribly.
Bri arrived at the train station just before 7 p.m. We had a couple of beers (of course!) by the canal in the city before heading back to the campsite. Bri wanted to be pitched before it was completely dark. That idea didn’t go quite to plan.. We did make it back before dark. But Bri whipped out his brand new tent, unpacked it, only to discover it didn’t come with poles. We were unsure whether to laugh or feel sorry for him, so we did both. In the end he strung up a hammock, jumped in and wrapped the tent around himself.
The next day all four of us left the city and the first port of call was an outdoors store, I think Bri wanted tent poles or something. We headed for the coast on this grey, wet and windy day but we didn’t quite make it. After finding a camping store, stocking up on food,feeding ourselves and crossing the river, it was already late afternoon.
The football was on that evening and the lads wanted to see Ireland play Sweden. We found a bar in a campsite that streamed it for us and we caught the second half of the match, It was a draw.
After the game we continued cycling for a short while and wild camped next to a quiet country road. The tree I was pitched behind gave me a very interesting view of the sunset. The quality of the photo isn’t great, but in real-life it was stunning.
The sound of rain awoke me the next morning and I laid still, enjoying the pitter-patter until it ceased. We all arose from our tents one by one and each enjoyed a hot drink while waiting for the tents to dry off a little.
One thing that is very important to me, and should be to anyone who wild camps (whether you’re allowed to or not) is to leave no trace. If you went through the effort of carrying it there with you, then you can make the effort to take it away. If we could all live by this philosophy then litter would not exist. There was four of us, all creating our own mess. But when we left at shortly after 10 a.m. the next morning you would never of known we had been there.
Today was Tuesday the 14th of June, and we found the coast! We planned on having a lunch break on the beach, but it was super windy and the weather wasn’t sure what it wanted to do. It was lovely to cycle the coast line for a while though.
The cycle route ventured back inland, away from the coastal winds and through seemingly deserted villages. There was talk about heading to Bordeaux for Saturday as Ireland had a football match against Belgium in the city and, of course, the guys wanted to support their country. It was more than 230 miles away (370km) and we had only three full days of cycling to make it on time.
We took a stop in a campsite to make use of the free Wifi and look at our options. It was decided we would cycle to the next city – La Rochelle – and from there take a train to Bordeaux for the match. I was happy with this decision, because it meant we would stay at the campsite with some very friendly ducks.
If ducks had teeth then I might have lost a finger.
The heavens intermittently sputtered rainfall on our camp so the evening was spent sheltered from the weather. During the in-between moments we would entertain ourselves by searching for pictures in the clouds.
Today was day 10 of my journey to Portugal. I had covered approximately 350 miles with a mere 1950 left to go. It felt like I had experienced quite a lot in 10 days and having Sam, Eddie and Bri as company had made it very memorable.