Often in life we are too shy to ask a question in fear of the big 'NO'
If you can overcome that initial awkwardness inside you, there is a strong chance of a positive reward. Whether it be a bag of bagels from the bakers or the option to camp in someone's garden, you'll be interacting with locals and everyone's going to be happy.
Taking a leaf out of another cycling blog, we spent - a potentially wet night- inside a fire station..! We were offered a kitchen to use, a bed, a warm shower and some interesting tips for the road ahead. We were apprehensive at first to approach the desk in the fire station, but after a few words, they soon invited us in, all keen to show their hospitality to travellers.
A few nights later, we rolled into Comporta late on and saw a picnic area in the centre. We then went to ask the police if we could camp there for the night, they were again a little hesitant, before finding the funny side and obliging, allowing us also to leave our bikes and luggage at the station!
Another night on the road, we saw that the sun would soon be setting and with a denser population we may struggle to find a 'remote' camping spot... So the first house/farm we were by, we enquired about the possibility to throw the tent out. "Just for the night." A little hesitant by such a strange, unfamiliar question, they paused for a second or two. But soon welcomed us in, insisting on trying all their homemade treats, be it wine or dried fruit!
Half the time, people would be so keen to offer you a place to rest, but they also are conscious of certain etiquettes and 'norms', that they wouldn't ever consider offering a meal, a shower or a bed. But if you can phrase it right for someone to offer you, they would be more than delighted to treat a guest passing through their country. Not everyone has heard of sites like couchsurfing and warmshowers...
We really enjoy the times we are welcomed for the night, not only for comfort reasons, but so that we can meet the locals. When possible we enjoy the opportunity to cook a dinner with local ingredients that we pick up throughout our travels and share a moment with our hosts around wine and micro brews.
Lose your inhibition and see what happens... We do get a fare few negative answers for 'out-of-date' products in supermarkets, but it's definitely worth it when it does pay off!
'You don't ask, you don't get' was something taught by my father when I was younger and this motto has helped us travel a lot longer. We benefit from free upgrades to discounted room rates, all with some politeness and charm!