Week 387 – The Algarve

We had gone to the Algarve in winter 2017 (Week 161) and stayed in the old historical town of Lagos. This time, we stayed in two separate places as this part of the trip was less about touring and more about scouting out places we might like to live part-time in retirement (which is still some time away). First two nights were in Portimao where we stayed in a hotel/BNB by the port (which was about a 2 mile walk from the beach area). We took the city of Portimao off our list – kinda like Ocean City, MD. Lots of places to eat, drink, buy t-shirts, and English and Irish bars galore. Nice beachfront with many exclusive hotels.

On the second night, we kept working our way down the coast and finding towns and found Alvor – a small town with a historic center about 5 miles from Portimao. Right on a river that goes into the sea and near beaches as well. Really did seem like a place you could stay long term.

I did want to do one tourist thing – go to Bengali Cave – I failed on my earlier trip in 2017 as the waves were too big to get the boat in. So – we got a tour on a bigger boat this time. We had two options – the fast boat with a roof for shade and the slow boat with shade and a bathroom. Of course we signed up for shade and a bathroom with all the old people and young families. The roof was good – except when you actually want to see something – then it is really annoying. Went in/out in about 3 minutes. So – I was zero for two in going to Bengali cave. So the next morning we had some free time and I reserved a kayak – we visited some towns on the way over and we arrived to total mayhem. I had resigned I wasn’t going to make it when I saw people dragging their rental kayaks a ½ mile walk up a steep hill. But when I got to the beach – my kayak place was there with no one in the reservation line (with about a hundred in the walk up rental line) and we were off in about 10 minutes. Took about 10 minutes to kayak in and we beached and took some pictures. Still too many people to really enjoy – but really cool place.

In exploring around we found that the places to the east of Portimao were stand-alone houses or gated new developments. To the west, it was Alvor and then Lagos – both real towns. For our second stop, we stayed in the outskirts of Lagos near Porto De Mos – about 10 min Uber from the historic old town where we had stayed in 2017. The historic old town was unrecognizable in the summer with so many people and pedestrian areas. Even in COVID, lot of people going to many restaurants and bars (generally masked) – reminded me on Itewon in a way with the back alleys and sheer volume of places to eat and/or drink. We stayed in apartment that was more like a hotel – the apartment pool had a snack bar with drinks and food.

I rented a bike to go along the coast from Lagos, past the point, past our beach, up to highest point on the coast – but the downhill on the hybrid e-bike was a little rough (and I didn’t want to add Portugal to the list of countries in which I visited an emergency room) so I took a detour to get to Luz. Probably the most spectacular scenery I saw on the trip – some of the same places that we saw in as 2017 but a bright blue sky.

Last stop heading to the airport – Sagres. It was named after a Portuguese lager that is famous in the country. It is the southwestern most point in Europe – we had been there before – but the sun makes it even more spectacular.


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