Exploring the Subtropics of the Iberian Peninsula

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Emily Roberts
May 30 2023

Several centuries and a variety of cultures blend into one in modern Portugal.

There’s a moment that many people experience in life: the realization that you have nothing to compare your current surroundings to, when everything becomes completely new. I recently revelled in that moment when I realized that I may be a bit uncultured. This became apparent as I gazed with new eyes upon the rich mix of history and culture that characterizes Portugal.

On a map, Portugal looks a little like a vertical rectangle, dwarfed between its neighbouring country, Spain, and the Atlantic Ocean. It may be seen as such a small country that you could ride it from top to bottom in a day, and you could, but you’d be missing out. Unlike our vast country of Canada, Portugal has a history and unique culture soaked into every inch. It would be cruel to limit your experience to just a day or two. I was lucky enough to be in Portugal for just over a week and it wasn’t nearly enough time.

Learning New Rules of the Road

First, I met with Miguel, who I would be riding with. I would be on a BMW R1250 GS for the next five days, while Miguel would be on a Honda NC700 from Hertz Ride Rentals. We quickly made our way out of Lisbon through the congested traffic. I soon realized I would have to adapt fast to the driving rules and boundaries in proximity to other vehicles. This trip, I determined, would either make me an exceptional rider or completely deteriorate any and all skill I had come to this country with.

Our first stop was Evora, an enchanting city placed within the high walls of the castle’s boundary. Here, there were architectural accents from the many different cultures that had at one point or another inhabited this old seaside country. There were Roman remnants, Moorish buildings and Spanish details. Over the centuries, Evora had been at the centre of many wars and, in turn, had seen many different cultures conquer the city. With only a few entrances into the old town, it would be easy for a newcomer to get caught going in circles for the day trying to enter the walled city.

The Chapel of Bones

In a place filled with churches and chapels, one might expect them to all be similar, and although this may be true for most of the churches, there’s one that was just a bit different from the rest. The Chapel of Bones was constructed by Franciscan monks in the late 16th century and is the most…


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