Day 08: Getting Back on Track in the Algarve

After a fitful night’s sleep, we awoke to bright sunshine and a better sense of how today was going to shape up.  Spoiler alert:  it didn’t involve driving out to Troia and back. We were changing hotels (we’d booked a new place the previous night) because while this hotel is just fine and perfectly serviceable, it didn’t have the vibe (or seaside balcony) we were looking for.

Fort Sagres (background) with a 100-ft circle on ground (forefront),the purpose of which remains a mystery

Fort Sagres (background) with a 100-ft circle on ground (forefront),the purpose of which remains a mystery

As such, we were checked-out and ready to go by 10:30am, headed to the nearby Fortaleza de Sagres (Fort Sagres). It’s located on a high, flat cliff, with blue water on three sides. This was a really engrossing place, where years ago, and I mean as many years as when they thought the earth was flat ago, Prince Henry the Navigator had a navigation school here. His students turned out to be a venerable bunch, including Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and Christopher Columbus. This was the Juilliard of exploration. Now the site is a tourist draw, where really none of the original-original bits remain (there was a bad earthquake and even worse tsunami in 1755 that rained hellfire and damnation here – it wiped out most of Lisbon, too), but there are still a lot of old restored bits that give it the flavor of what was. Plus, there was a great walk all the way out and around the point, where we were able to observe men fishing from the cliffs with incredibly long poles (like 12’ long) and fishing line that plunged down the cliff side into the sea below. Jim, in particular, was fascinated by this. I, in particular, was fascinated by the local gull and assorted bird population and set about photographing all of them in what I like to call my Seabird Series.

Cliffside fishermen and seaside surfers

Cliffside fishermen and seaside surfers

We were also able to observe more surfers and I’ve never really had a chance to observe this sport before. Surfing, it turns out, involves a lot of waiting and bobbing. It takes great patience to surf. And we surmised given how fatiguing it must be to paddle out there, you don’t want to just take any wave back to the shore. You need: The One. Hence the waiting and bobbing.

After spending a couple hours at Fort Sagres we moved on to… drumroll please… the most southwestern point in continental Europe. And then Jim sat in the biggest chair at the most southwestern point in continental Europe.

Willing participant in the Seabird Series, with the SW most point in continental Europe across the water. Note: not all subject matter was as cooperative.

Willing participant in the Seabird Series, with the SW most point in continental Europe across the water. Note: not all subject matter was as cooperative.

Doing nothing but viewing the sea for the better part of many hours makes you want to go in it, so we next headed north up the coast to Pria do Castelejo (beach) to dip our toes into the water. What we found is this: the water in these parts is freaking cold. Even just getting in up to your ankles takes a little breath away. This would explain why no one was in the water but the surfers, who were wearing full body rubber suits.  And bobbing.  And waiting.P1120757

We decided to head to our new accommodations, the Aparthotel Vila Luz, to see if our room might be ready. It turns out that not only was it good to go, it was exactly what we were looking for, right down to the hotel’s cat that prowled the grounds. Our enormous room (with kitchenette and living room) was on the first floor with a veranda that led right down to the pool. It was so inviting we immediately changed into our bathing suits and headed outside. While the pool was not heated and just slightly warmer than the sea, Jim dove right in and I employed the inch-by-inch strategy for easing in.

A couple hours passed by quickly, and then it was time for dinner. Our choice tonight was easy, it would be Indian food. You see, the Algarve region of Portugal is quite popular with the Brits, and wherever Brits are, there is sure to be an Indian restaurant. Our choice was Saffron Indian in the seaside town of Luz (just a few minutes drive from our accommodations), and it was delicious.

After dinner we picked up a bottle of wine and enjoyed it on the veranda amid our little tropical oasis, and it was heavenly.

PS Happy Birthday, Pops!

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