Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Southern Spain & Southern Portugal - Part 2 of 2

Click here for Part 1 - southern Spain

Portugal seemed to have a more laid back feel and vibe compared to Spain. It's a beautiful country with friendly people, whom mostly speak very good English. We only saw a portion of southern Portugal, including the Algarve region along the south coast, the city of Lisbon, and couple of beach towns just north of Lisbon (Nazare & Peniche). We hear that Porto is a great city to visit along with northern Portugal, so we'll have to do that on another trip some day. 

Driving in from southern Spain, we arrived in Lagos, Portugal to our 3 night stay at Belmar Spa & Resort and this cool wooden bicycle was displayed in the lobby. 
Our first day after arriving in Lagos, we did a cliff walk along a large portion of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in the Algarve region of Portugal. It was a cloudy day with some light drizzle & rain part of the day. Despite that, there were gorgeous views throughout. 

There were a lot of interesting sea caves and sinkholes along the trail.

Portuguese wines - Portugal is also known for its wine region

the small Algarve town of Carvoeiro

After our cliff trail hike, we stopped in Ferragudo on the way back to Lagos upon the recommendation of the Carvoeiro wine shop clerk who told us to eat at an excellent Indian restaurant, called Sikandar. It was very good. Bonus points for the campy 90s India pop star videos playing on a large screen TV.

I love all the stonework & cobblestone detail everywhere in all the small Portuguese towns - this is in Lagos.

the harbor in Sagres

There were a lot of cats hanging out waiting for the fishing boats to come in. We saw a fisherman throw a baitfish to a cat who fought off the seagulls and took his catch inside the warehouse to eat in peace.

One of the best meals of the trip at A Sereia, a local seafood restaurant that sits upon the fish processing warehouse in the harbor. This is the whole fresh fish Kris & I shared. This is Robalo (sea bass) & Dourada (bream), both are a flaky white fish. It was prepared with seasoning, butter, and lemon in a wood fired grill brick oven and was absolutely amazing as it easily came right off the bone. 

We failed to take a picture when it first came out. Here it is as we were halfway through it already.

Algarve door

Lighthouse of Cabo de Sao Vicente near Sagres, the southwestern most point in Portugal

We saw a lot of surfing specific camper vans & sprinter vans in Portugal. Here is one overlooking a nice cliffside surf break near Sagres.

The cliff trail in Lagos

the front door of the Lisbon Cathedral - Se de Lisboa, a beautiful structure, up the street from our AirBnb in Alfama, one of the Old Town sections of Portugal.

a typical old town Lisbon eatery

Kris, Dawn, & Rob

Praca do Comercio - a large public plaza with a notable arch & statue

Pink Street (R. Nova do Carvalho) in Cais Do Sodré old town section of Lisbon

in the distant is the bridge that inspired the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Lisbon reminded me a lot of San Francisco with its bridge, the bay and waterfront, and hilly streets. 


Crafty Corner in the Alfama old town section of Lisbon

The first look at the famous point in Nazare (Forte de Sao Miguel Arcanjo) as we walked down the hill to it. 

Looking back at the town of Nazare from the fort
The view from the beach back up towards the fort. Being at beach level gives you another perspective of just how big the waves are.

That's a lot of frothy white water

The Nazare waves rarely break and only do so unless there is at least a 9-10 ft W or NW swell. We were lucky to show up on the day they had a west swell 14-20 ft @ 14 seconds interval. Small by big wave contest standards but still big and breaking. There were some local tow surfers out there. 

These waves were approximately triple+ overhead

Rob & I walking the trail down to the beach

The deer statue at Nazare as you begin to walk down the hill to the point. There is a legend story to this, check it out here.

There was a nice surfboard exhibit inside the fort with some of the world's best big wave surfers' boards on display. It was worth the 2 Euros to enter and see this and to be able to walk out onto the fort's terrace overlooking the giant waves. 


a cool mural in Nazare

After Nazare, we drove south to Peniche where the WSL Meo Rip Curl Pro surfing contest was going on. We had not planned this in advance and only realized the contest was going on there after we arrived in Portugal. When we got there, the contest was on hold due to messy conditions. However, some of the pros were out there practicing. This is Portuguese pro surfer Frederico Morais signing autographs for the kids when he walked out of the water.

The GOAT & 11 time World Champion, Kelly Slater, was practicing also. It was a real treat to watch him surf in person in some really tough, big, & gnarly conditions. Here he is after exiting the water.

Rob at the SUP trainer display at one of the many WSL booths at the event.