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Friends on bicycles

“I’m now at about three and a half thousand kilometers,” René says nonchalantly, and I almost fall backwards. That doesn’t seem to be a big deal for a passionate cyclist; last year it was six and a half thousand.

René is the first guest via Friends on the Bike – dutch organization “Vrienden op de Fiets”

Vrienden op de Fiets is except a typical dutch organization, an association of – you guessed it – cyclists and sympathizers, who like to host cyclists in their homes, who have cycled themselves or who still cycle vigorously. Because you have to cycle a lot if you want to be allowed to participate in the conversation.

A city cyclist, like I once was, is probably quietly looked down upon. It’s not about that, it’s about racking up the miles. And sometimes that costs something: “It’s not always a party, you know,” René continues, “I was dropped off in Northern France, and in the first week I didn’t feel comfortable in the saddle at all. Sometimes I was crying on the bike, I want to go home! But my daughters would never have allowed that.”

That makes me laugh. It’s great that the world is turning upside down when your kids grow up. The children will tell the parents things like: “Come on, Dad! Don’t give up, keep going, don’t whine so much, you wimp! No, no, none of it, we’re not going home at all. Keep cycling, you!”

It works even if the daughters are not even present in person.

Is Portugal a pleasant cycling country?

Yes, that’s actually going really well. Of course you have the Eurovelo 2, a cycle path that runs along the entire coastline, but René made the route himself at home. Independent of any organization. So now he just has to follow the directions from his phone. He is now on his way back.

“It was a bit of a challenge in Lisbon,” he says, laughing, “but otherwise you can rack up the miles. Just that baggage… every gram counts. Now most of it is on your body (“That will be fine in your case,” I interject) but normally I camp, so you still have your tent, your mat, your cooking things …”

“I don’t want to stay in a hotel every day,” he says, “what do you do? Lying in bed staring at the ceiling? It is always much more fun at a campsite, with much more to do. You have such a chat, you have your things to do, there is something to see.” He’s gone for four weeks. He didn’t want to stay longer because of his wife and daughters.

Things are about the same for the two German girls, except for their wife and daughters. And except for the miles, by the way, because they mainly do it for fun. They have everything they need for camping. Everything in plastic – after all, they come from the north of Europe, so they know about rain in the summer – and as little as possible.

They cycle with a helmet

A significant difference with the dutch cyclist. The dutch cyclist in general – passionate or not – knows it’s better to wear a helmet, but doesn’t. Too stubborn. A helmet can make a big difference if you fall on your face. But still: no, never done it, so now not too.

On roads like those in our neighborhood, traffic is not directly geared towards cyclists, no matter how many green stripes the Municipality paints on the asphalt, (if you’re curious: click the link, and all will be revealed in a previous blog) but most cars and tractors go around you in a wide turn. And there isn’t that much traffic.

The comments of all the cyclists we received can be summarized as follows: “Portugal is beautiful, the people are really friendly, you have to be careful, but hey, you have to be that everywhere, and you see that they are doing their best everywhere. to make it (more) bicycle-friendly.”

Well, that’s not a bad score, right?


We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.

A big step, especially with two small children.

We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.

You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

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