We’ll soon be offering self guided tours with rental bikes collected and dropped off in different locations across Europe. Checkout our trip report for more info on our fact finding trip to Portugal to test the system:
Earlier this year our friends at Hertz and Touratech, invited Magellan Motorcycle Tours, on a tour of the beautiful and historical Alentejo region of southern Portugal.
The aim? To show us the beauty and culture of this magnificent area, and of course to introduce us to the incredible scenic and smooth roads that carry you across the stunning countryside.
The Hertz team put together a package that was an assault on our eyes, senses and taste buds, which everyone should experience at some point in their life. From the beautiful scenery to the modern hotels which were once ancient monasteries, the smell of vineyards, to the outstanding food and wine.
After a very pleasant flight from Heathrow to Lisbon, I arrived keen and eager to explore all that the beautiful city of Lisbon had to offer. I was collected by the charming and friendly Mr Jorge Gameiro. Jorge was part man, part encyclopedia with a wealth of knowledge about all things Portuguese. He gave us a fantastic lift to our first hotel welcoming us thoroughly and explaining what we would be doing in the coming days. Jorge, an extremely experienced rider, would sit this one out and instead be our support vehicle driver for the tour and our first point of contact for all our requirements.
After our arrival at the hotel we had some free time to freshen up and explore. It was a beautiful sunny 23 degrees day in September. The first amazing site I came across as I headed into town was a classic car show which was full of stunning vehicles from around the world. Some of these were flawless examples of British classics, including most folks dream 80s motor, the Mk1 Ford Capri.
Searching frantically for a hanky to take care of the drooling, I moved on!
Next stop on my way was the first of two town squares in the downtown region of Lisbon. Standing before me the flawless, perfectly preserved Praca dos Restauradores.
This stunning architectural masterpiece commemorates the 1640 restoration of Portugal’s independence. Onwards, I tell myself, as it is so easy to get lost in time, taking in all the magnificent sculpture’s many fine details.
I walk on a mere 200 meters to the second square, the equally beautiful Praca do Rossio. Rossio is one of the most beautiful squares in Lisbon. It’s many monuments and fountains stand proudly in the centre of a vibrant meeting place for locals and tourists alike. This is a traditional meeting point for anyone who wishes to experience the local food and wine, alongside the big name franchises from around the globe. Oddly they all fit in together to offer a wealth of options and service to anyone who wishes to use them. Rossio square is home to the cafe Nicola which was founded in 1929 and still takes pride of place today. Then there’s the D.Maria 11 national theatre, visited by many famous Portuguese personalities. Together you get the feeling that you’re standing in a living book of historical events, wrapped up in some of the most beautiful buildings you will ever see.
Now it’s time to sprint back to the hotel to get ready for the evenings entertainment and meet and greet.
Once we all arrive in the hotel lobby and get introduced to each other, it now becomes clear how much effort and careful consideration, Hertz Ride have invested in this trip. I meet up with the other riders from all around the world. Spain, Uruguay, Canada, Brazil, America, France and little old UK. We make our introductions and head outside to our noble steeds, the infamous Bangkok Tuk Tuks.
These awesome modes of transport will take us through the streets of Lisbon on a whirlwind tour of cultural excellence. Hang on a minute! There’s 7 people per machine and Lisbon’s fairly up hill I think to myself! We set off, first stop the ginger rum shop for an early evening aperitif to fire up the internal boiler.
Onwards and upwards was the order of the evening. As we made our climb up through the cobbled back roads, passing more incredible historical buildings and statues, my earlier thoughts came true. The smell of Tuk Tuk clutch mixed with local restaurant cooking smells filled the night air as we climbed up to the highest viewing point of Lisbon. We arrived with only moments to spare as the sun set over the wide panoramic view of the city, the night lights of Lisbon grew brighter and prettier the lower the sun got.
Next stop the beer museum!
THE START OF THE TOUR:
The following morning, once breakfast was finished, we met Jorge in the lobby and we were given a ride to the nearby central Hertz Ride station. Waiting on us were our tour packs and weeks old R1200 GS BMWs. The Hertz Ride fleet are not to be sniffed at, replenished every 6 months, the BMWs are always going to be in perfect and as new condition for your hire needs. In other words you’re not going to pitch up to a hire shop and collect your hire machine which looks like it’s just back from the Sahara and ready for a museum.
Once organised we mount up and set off for an excellent days riding.
TIME TO HIT THE ROAD
We leave Lisbon through the built up streets at rush hour, making our way out of the city, through the early morning sunshine. 20 BMW GS adventure bikes in a convoy must have been a sight for the local people to see, some were even taking photos and many were waving, with friendly smiles upon their faces.
After a good mornings riding, taking pictures and soaking up the coastal scenery, we arrived at a little ferry terminal in the midday sun. The weather is bliss and the sight of a little ice cream truck on the pier is most welcome. The staff were friendly and the owner was doing cartwheels at the sight of 20 bone dry bikers, ordering water, ice cream and juice like its going out fashion.
The poor pier master looked like he was heading for a nervous breakdown at having to organise and collect tickets from so many bikes which were all identical. I suspect this quaint little port has never seen this much traffic in one sitting and the little roll on roll off ferry which had just arrived, had opened her ramp up and begun off loading the 4 cars she had just carried.
CARNAGE AT THE PIER!
After a beautiful short crossing it was back on the road and off towards Evora, heading to lunch along the way. After a massive feed at a beautiful restaurant along the way, everyone had time to exchange their background stories and why they were in attendance. It was fantastic to meet so many wonderful people who all shared the love of biking.
We set off again and within an hour or so arrive in the beautiful, traditional and historical city of Evora. We check into another stunning 5 star hotel which was once an ancient monastery. After a quick shower, its time to take Ricardo’s city tour on foot.
GROUP SHOT TIME
We walk through the city’s little twisty backroads and alleyways, occasionally arriving at openings which keep revealing buildings which just get better and better. I could post a thousand pictures here and still do it no justice! Now maybe your thinking, I’m not a building person, or thats not really my thing, but I defy you not to be blown away by what you see here. It’s living history everywhere, and it’s so encapturing, you all of a sudden get excited about seeing the next one. After about 40 minutes or so of walking we arrive at a Roman ruin which stops you in your tracks! To touch the stone work gave you shivers, as you imagined the man who put it there all those years ago, could he have comprehended that in the year 2016, people would still be in awe of his craftmanship.
We carry on passing through Evora, cameras constantly in our hands, flashing endlessly as the night begins to draw in. We notice on our travels that the local kids are enduring their university welcome package, put together by the older students who dressed like vampires, with long cloaks and crisp white shirts, they resemble the Volturi vampire coven who could easily have existed here in these ancient buildings. They put the freshmans through a fairly horrible and hilarious initiation ordeal, by painting them many different colours and making them do crazy pointless things like standing in a line with their hands on each others heads!
We arrive at a traditional little portuguese restaurant and take our seats for an amazing meal accompanied by some incredible local wine. The menu is set and the food just keeps on coming, each dish surpassing the last in taste. The local red wine is like no other I’ve tasted before, and bottles of the stuff disappear rapido! Ricardo uses his guide skills here to his best, by anouncing a later start in the morning and ordering even more wine! Good man Ricardo.
The next morning we all arrive blood shot eyed and dishevelled to breakfast, reassuring each other that the shower in our stunning rooms will remedy the situation after some food. The shower does just that and before we know it we are in the hotel garage packing up the bikes, ready to head back towards Lisbon. ” Its going to be 35 degrees today” Ricardo announces. Yip thats right 35 degrees at the end of september! Epic! We hit the road and set off towards Lisbon via the Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca translates to Cape Roca which is the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal and continental Europe. Here there are a mixture of sandy beaches and rocky cliff faces which are more than 100 meters in height in some places. You will find a fantastic monument here also, which is built right out on the viewing point, makes a fantastic shelter from the coastal winds.
After a short rest, we head for another ridiculously good lunch at the Praia Grande in Colares. The views are spectacular and the food, irresistible to the ordinary man. So much so, that seconds were had by all.
We arrive back in Lisbon via the 17.2 KILOMETER LONG!!! Vasco da Gama Bridge. in scorching 35 degree heat as promissed by Ricardo earlier that day. We drop off the bikes and get dropped off at our hotel, to get ready for the evenings final meal and farewell gathering.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is a sight to behold! An enormous feat of engineering which cannot be believed until ridden upon.
Dinner is a short drive away in the city of Oeiras near the Sao Juliao da Barra fort. This is home to Portugal’s windsurfing community. We all sit around a table together for the last time and exchange contact details and say our farewells over another fantastic meal. After this meal I convince myself I wont eat for days, having consumed enough to fatten a pig! We return to the hotel after a fantastic evening and head to bed.
If you’ve never been before (or more importantly if you’ve never ridden in Portugal before) then don’t delay, do it. You will enjoy all things Portuguese and you will love the hospitality and local people.
A massive thanks to Ricardo Lopes, Jorge Gameiro, Mara Martin, Antonio Silva and Fernando Silva and to rest of the Hertz Ride staff who made this all possible and for a wonderful time.
We are going to be teaming up with the guys to offer custom self guided fly ride tours to a variety of location not just in Portugal but further afield so keep your eyes peeled on the website or get in touch if you’ve got something specific in mind.
The tours we will be offering would help people who are short on time to still enjoy a biking experience, by collecting their hire bike at any one of several hire points in Europe and dropping it off in another with all routes, hotels and meals included as per standard Magellan trips.
The options here are massive, you could fly to Paris for example, hire a bike and ride it to Portugal, drop it off then fly home…….
Billy – Magellan Tour Guide