Another hiking day with the trail a mixture of gravel tracks and footpaths. The trail was not easy to find and I had to interrupt an older lady cooking in her garage to get directions. Interesting conversation with me not speaking portugese and her not speaking english. Eventually we settled in castle/castelo as the word that we both understood.
We were a couple of hours doing a part of the loop. The first picture is of Carol cutting through a backyard that was gaurded by a couple of really pissed off dogs on chains. The 2nd and 3rd photos are of more typical pieces of the trail with the castelo at the top of the hill and a roman bridge last renovated in the late 1700s. The the walls of the castelo dating from the 1100s and the water mill house undated. A nice adventure. We did have to blaze some new trails.
Finally lunch in our favourite little town Silves.
Carol and I made a rather long drive today to the west coast of Portugal, or rather exactly where the west coast meats the south coast.
Sagres was a bit of a surprise. There is a massive fort and also countless surf shops beckoning people to take surfing lessons, rent surfboards and purchase beachwear. A ticket to tour the fort cost 3.00€ per person, very reasonable compared to a national monument in Canada.
The buildings and fortifications are not the primary feature of the site - it is the piece of land that the fortress occupies that is the real attraction. Here is an ariel photo showing the layout (those cliffs are 60 meters in height, and again the fishermen.)
You can see the fortress built across the penninsula and you can see the path that we walked that travels around the entire outline. On all sides the views are spectacular (more cliffs and surf). In the distance you can see Cape St Vincent and you can see sufers on the beaches. There are a couple of big hotels in the town, but at this time of year I am certain that there are not that many people. Here are my pictures from Sagres.
Today we headed back to the Trail of the Headland to walk toward Ferragudo. The access point that we chose was at an old tower part of a chain of lookout towers that monitored the ocean for the approach of pirates from the north of Africa. These towers were occupied 24 /7 to give the villages ample warning that pirates were approaching the coast.
Again, the scenery today was overwhelming. The cliffs were between 40 and 60 metres high and yet there were a few fishermen throwing their lines from the top into the Atlantic, and yes they used a bobbin. We went about 40 minutes toward Ferragudo and then returned to the car.
Dinner tonight - left-overs from last nights Pandang with noodles instead of rice. We are winding down the kitchen as we move down the street in 6 days (only about 40 meters down the street.)
Tomorrow we are heading to Cape St Vincent. I was off by a day when I reported the plan of this trip a couple of days ago.
We have seen enough of the Seven Hanging Valley's (even though it is the most beautiful hiking I have ever seen) and instead we are heading to the Trail of the Headland. This is just outside of Carvoeiro and we had tried to get there a few days ago but were blocked by some workers from the town claiming that it was unsafe as a result of the rains of last week. On that day we turned back.
Today I found another entry point a couple of kilometers away that included a parking lot and access to the trail. I used Google earth and followed the coast until I located the parking lot.
Here are some photos from the trail.
What to cook for dinner. Last night we went out for Chinese food - not bad, but not that good. Tonight though we are having Pandang. I picked up a small roast, cut it into cubes and have started a braise using a Smaakt Padang Spice Paste. I have included an image of the box so that you can see the 3 (make that three) peppers indicating the level of heat. I will be adding green beans, some onion, and half a cup of chopped potatoes to the mix after a couple of hours of braising. I should cook some rice to go with it, and I may yet decide to do that.
Tomorrow we are going to head to Cape St Vincent about an hour away. The cape is the furthest tip of Portugal sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean. Many famous naval battles have been fought just off the Cape. The one that I have always been romantically involved with is the one in 1797 between an under-gunned British fleet and the Spanish fleet that was trying to sail north and join Napolean's French fleet. If the Spanish had succeeded it would have made the British blockade of Europe impossible. Horatio Nelson was a hero in this battle as he was at Trafalgar.
Today we walked another piece of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. We have a touchscreen gps in the car so I just touched the screen where I thought that the lighthouse would be. Perfect, it took us right to the lighthouse which is at the halfway mark of the trail. Today a short walk 30 minutes out then 30 minutes back.
A quick trip to the grocery store and then the liquor store. 4 Peroni beer, a bottle of local white wine, and a bottle of Portugese rose 9.44 euros or about $14 Canadian. It would be at least twice that in Ontario.
Monday is our cleaning day (or so we thought) so we are trying to get out of the way by going on an extended car tour. Today we drove to Monchique a village at the top of the highest mountain that is visible from the coast.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the top of the mountain near a village called Foia - it was a beautiful view.
We met a couple of Brits while taking in the view. Although British his mother had lived in Portugal for 30 years and they were reminiscing about how the road has changed in those 30 years. It was their job to come up the mountain to fill water bottles for their mother in the spring-fed fountain. Today she purchases bottled water.
Every morning Carol and I get up and scan all of the news broadcasts and government websites to see how countries (especially Canada) are dealing with the Coronavirus virus. So far we are freaked out about the impact on China but still feel that the Canadian medical system has things under control. It is a mess in China and will be very difficult to bring back under control. I have done some rudimentary pandemic planning in the past and this is unnerving.
Today we enjoyed another beautiful sunny day with a temperature that hit 70 degrees. We watched the finals of the Australian Open then went to the beach to soak our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. Very nice.
Then a walk to the top of the cliffs and along the boardwalk and back into town. Once back we stopped at our local British pub for a beer, sangria, and a shared toastie.
These are nice sentiments don't you thinK?
Our first trip in our rental car. First the car - a 2019 Renault Clio, diesel, 5-speed, manual, 5 door. A great little car. I had forgotten how much I enjoy driving in Europe. The cars are quick, the roads narrow, the round abouts are round but most of all the steering wheel is on the left side of the car.
For the 1st week we had power walked 5 kilometres to the interMarche for groceries. Now we can go every hour if we want.
Back to our 1st day trip to Silves. There is a beautiful little town about 20 kilometres inland with a cathederal and a fort. We toured both and frankly they are well done as an attraction. The cathederal was fairly run down but it was 800 years old. The fort has been restored in the 1960s.
Friday - between matches from the Australian Open and watching the proceedings of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump we drove to Benagil, a tiny village on the Atlantic coast so that we could walk another portion of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. This trail was identified in 2019 as the best hiking trail in Europe and the scenary that it exposes is certainly worth it being called best.
Benagil is not at either end of the trail, it is somewhat in the middle. We did an out and back with a total up and down time of about 90 minutes.
Here are some of the sites along the way as taken by Carol.
Today a driving day trip to a coastal town about 30 kilometres along the coast. I was accompanied by a lady in a blue jacket. It was about 20 degrees today and the town was built on hills. Albufeira is a big town and it took us a while to get oriented in the oldest part of town. We ate our first toastie (English grilled cheese and ham - quite delish but not on our food plan).
I thought that delishish was a word but I could not find it anywhere. Hmmm
One of our Uber drivers spoke highly of her home village of Ferragudo. For our second trip in our rental car we decided to see some of the sights that she talked about. It is directly across the river from Portimao a fairly large city that she was driving us to so that we could get a SIM card for our phone. We now have a Portugese phone number for emergencies.
This photo is of Portimao across the river.
This 2nd photo is just a shot of a fairly typical street scene off the mainstreet of Ferragudo.