Only on Donkey Week could 276 kilometres over two days count as taking it easy, but after our mammoth stage five, the final two days of this season’s opening trip were comparatively easy.
Day Six took us from inland from Alvito to Cercal near the coast, covering a distance of 166km with 1,650m of climbing. Home for the night was Herdade da Matinha, one of the most intimate, charming and comfortable hotels you’ll ever find. In keeping with the coastal character of this part of Alentejo, the Herdade da Matinha is a secluded development of single-story beach huts built around a working stable, not far from the ocean.
The final day’s 110km roll back towards Lisbon allowed the more energetic riders in the pack to burn whatever matches they had left before returning to the Palacio Belmonte to unpack, unwind and hit the town for some late night, off-the-record celebration.
The curtains have now officially been drawn on Donkey Week 2015, but it might take a while for the dust to settle … and for some livers to recover. Bring on the rest of the season.