My villa mates were extremely kind and invited me along with them for a car trip to the edge of the world and back. (It was only about 85 km away.) Well, it used to be considered the “edge of the world” back when people didn’t know yet if the earth was round. It’s the most southwestern point of Europe, Cape St. Vincent, where the town of Sagres and a historical fortress mark the point where Prince Henry the Navigator allegedly operated his nautical school and scientific institute. Here is where the great Age of Discovery began, and Portugal did very well because of it, until a few centuries later when a great earthquake made a mess of things.
There are actually two points on the cape, one of them more to the south and one more to the west. Sagres, and the fortress, are at the southern point, and the Portuguese Navy’s St. Vincent lighthouse, the second most powerful in Europe, is at the more western point. We visited the southern point first, and explored the fortress. Go ahead and click on any of the photos to make them larger.
The most southwestern point in Europe, visible from the area near the parking lot of the fortress. You can see the fortress up on the right.
Here is the restored Fortress itself, as seen from the parking area.
The St. Vincent Lighthouse, visible on the other point. This is a magnified view.
Remnants of the compass rose? No one knows for sure what it is.
We explored the whole cliff area behind the fortress as well.
The area between points is clearly popular with surfers! (click on it to zoom in and see them)
There were lots of interesting kinds of vegetation on the cliffs, but these seemed awfully familiar 🙂 – crocuses in November? Nice.
Not all parts of the cliff are completely solid, and you can hear the ocean through the cracks. Have a look at the arrowhead shaped part of this one…
Lots of turbulence!
Selfie with the point in the background. This lighthouse is smaller than the other one. It was a windy day!
All around the cliffs, there were several fisherman dropping their lines down to the water. I shuddered to think of the balancing act required to reel a substantially sized fish in. I photographed several of them. I just finished this the other day. This fellow was pretty much right on the most southwesterly point, and struck me as a great subject for painting. And I also really enjoyed painting all the textures!
Fisherman at the “Edge of the World”. Watercolour on Paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd
One of the things I found refreshing in Portugal was the general lack of guard rails. It gave you the feeling of being trusted to be sensible. There were warnings about going near the cliff’s edge, but it did not stop these intrepid fishermen who probably do this all the time.
After we finished our fortress and cliff exploration, we stopped for some lunch in Sagres, at a place called Retiro do Pescador Restaurante. It seemed like a fantastic place to get a fresh fish meal if you knew how to order such a thing, and what you liked. I, being new at ordering a meal based on the fish freshly caught and visible in the fridge by the door, didn’t do that. I ordered the fish soup. It was good, but I kind of wished I had been more brave and more prepared to spend the time and money for a fancier fish meal. Maybe there will be a next time!
We then moved on to the other point at Cape St. Vincent, where the big lighthouse is. Here it is up close:
We did ask if we could see inside, but that was a firm “No”. Would love to see it operating at night, and sit under the stars out here.
Resident Lighthouse Cat. Of course!
We had some delicious ice cream at the lighthouse area. Be sure to have some if you go!
After we left the lighthouse, we decided to go up to a beach on the West coast, recommended in a guide book, called Castelejo. The drive down to it was quite interesting – narrow winding hilly roads on which you didn’t really want to meet any other cars. Turns out, this is a very popular beach with surfers – in fact I think we were almost the only non-surfers there. I was unprepared for the scenery. Very nice indeed – and I’m sure it would be even nicer in the summer!
Call me chicken, but it didn’t look like the safest place to surf!
A different kind of beauty from the beaches of Albufeira.
After having a good look here, we started to head back toward Albufeira. We drove down to Burgau, then along the coast to Luz, then to Lagos. Spent a little while wandering around Lagos.
My favourite building in Lagos, covered in green ceramic tiles.
Then on to Guia (rumoured to be the origin of Piri Piri Chicken) for a wonderful supper at a place called Paladium. Family owned and operated, all were extremely hospitable and the Piri Piri Chicken was great – SO much better than the first time I had it. We really enjoyed ourselves. I would like to take this opportunity thank Richard and Diane, my villa mates, for inviting me on this memorable day trip.