Expecting more wetness, our spirits rose at the sight of blue patches amongst the greyness and we left town in sunshine at 10:00. Soon we were in shorts for the first time this year for easy cycling along the main road in light traffic in a corridor of sunshine with dark clouds to the right and left. We could have risked hunting out the Ecovia off road alternative but after our experience around Faro where it halted suddenly and we had to turn back, we decided against it. We had a fair distance to ride, we’d lose an hour when crossing into Spain and heavy rain was forecast.
The clouds to the side were ominously dark but the sunshine stayed with us all day. We picnicked in Tavira, an attractive town by the river, then pressed on to the border town of Villa Real, arriving at 14:40. The next ferry to Ayamonte in Spain was at 15:30 so we stopped for a drink at a bar. On board, we spoke to a young Finnish couple who’d spent the winter here training for triathlons, and put our watches forward an hour. The crossing took around 20 minutes so we set off eastward at around 17:00, ferry crossings can eat up time. We rode along the main road for a while and came upon a via verde which was marked on the map so we switched to this old railway trackbed past salt pools where we saw waders, little egrets and a stork. The surface was sandy with large water filled depressions so it was much slower than the road but worthwhile.
We joined the road into Isla Cristina, an impatiently busy place which I was glad to leave, the continuation to La Antilla was very quiet along a wide new road built to serve the holiday villages along the coast. We’d reserved a room at Hostal Azul, pleasant and comfortable with a garage to safely store our bikes. La Antilla was full of restaurants and bars but only one was open, with just a few locals inside, one of whom was appreciating Real Madrid’s progress against Borussia Dortmund in the televised Champions League quarter final. Vegetarian options were absent but they prepared us a salad and potato tortilla, boring but at least we were fed.