Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Riding A Belem Bike

My guidebook has this to say about finding a bike in an area called Belem (Bethlehem): “This riverside shack is the cheapest place in Lisbon to hire a bicycle for short periods, although you’ll have to get there first...They also do repairs here.”
My "secret"

This is the first time in this maritime city that one of my guidebooks has been totally accurate.  Well very near totally accurate.  Belem Bike is not so much a shack as a sturdily built trailer or it could even be a modified shipping container.
The shack?

Just as the tram I’m riding to this western area slows down for the stop in Belem, what do I see but the very monument that I was going to ride a bike until I found.  If need be, harass the locals.  Show the picture as though I were a detective canvassing a neighbourhood.
The monument at Salted Earth Alley

The Belem bike itself has no brand name and except for a sticky front brake, appears to be in fine shape.  As one guy works on an axle, the other fellow takes my Alberta driver’s license and chucks it into the cash drawer.  I can pay up when I return the bike.  I’m asked if I want a lock and a helmet and I pass on both figuring they will be added charges to what I’m hoping will be a cheap ride.
Brandless bike

Since one of my objectives has been met so readily, I decide to cruise down the riverside path towards a large military gathering where judging from the police presence and the fact that there is a navy ship and a group of frogmen sitting in a zodiac behind the meeting place – someone of importance must be making an appearance.
Waiting for someone important

I easily become bored waiting for Mr. Important and push the bike up a walkway over a busy train track.  Someone has thoughtfully welded a ramp for bikes which makes the whole enterprise a safe and easy way to get past the trains.  I end up back at Salted Earth Alley to photograph the monument and when I see the huge crowd outside the famous pastry shop, I decide to keep the money I’ve saved on the bike rental and skip the baked goods. Besides, I was too cheap to rent a lock and I don't like custard anyway.
Thank you welder!



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