The weather has finally shifted from grey cold and wet to a more Mediterranean climate and this part of the trip feels a bit more like a holiday and less of an "endurance" event.
We cycled south on our second day on country roads that skirted most of the hills and whilst there were more than a few juggernauts, they weren't too busy. Cloudy but dry till lunch when the heavens started to open and we took refuge in a restaurant for lunch, definitely not picnic weather. There was a TV on, as there is in most establishments with a very religious festival being shown. It turns out to have been Fatima, a major Catholic Church vision that occurred in Portugal in 1917 and was later sanctified by the church.
We were headed to stay with Keith and old friend from Totnes and his wife Hedy just east of Coimbra. They have a place in a hamlet in the hills surrounded by pines and the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees which abound in Portugal. A couple of lovely days with them catching up on sleep and nourishment and exploring some bits of the country they were familiar with.
The coast looked appealing but as we headed south we kept on going instead of veering west and ended up in Tomar, a historic town made famous as the the home of the Nights Templar in the 12 & 13 th Centuries.We spent the morning wandering the cloisters and vestibules of the old convent and marvelled at the mix of architecture and ecclesiastical designs. And then headed south again, along what we thought would be quiet back roads running down the valley parallel with the Rio Tejo. Nice roads, few hills but as the afternoon wore on, busier and busier with more and more articulated lorries barraleling along. Felt quite intimadating as the afternoon got later and the road narrower. Eventually our designated town for the night was reached to find that the campsite symbol on the map did not elicit any campsites..... And instead we had to go out on tiny lane another 6km to a site that wasn't really open and no food or shops any where near. So supper was had by rooting around the various leftovers we had in our panniers. But the site had beautiful pine trees and we had a good night beneath clear skies.