Lagos, Algarve Region, Portugal

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View from terrace of Uptown B&B

Arriving at 7:30pm to Uptown Bed and Breakfast, Lagos (just north of the old city walls) we were greeted by an enthusiastic owner Fernando, who walked us through a very clean, modern place while informing us that breakfast began at 8:30am – yep, you’re on Portugal time now – no such thing as breakfast at 7.  

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Seagull pool birdbath

Our first priority was to tour the amazing coastal caves including the Benagil cave. Given Fernando’s experience and advice, we altered our original plans to get a 30 min boat tour from Praia Bengali and opted instead to drive to the beach at Carvoeiro. Free parking was at the top of the hill, not too far from town, but overlooked a nice pool that a seagull decided was the biggest, bestest birdbath he’d ever seen 

IMG_0714DSCF0355Down at the beach (near the public restrooms), we 

booked a one hour boat ride from a booth for 25 E per person to tour the caves 

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between Carvoeiro and Benagil. We were in a small motor boat with four other tourists and our incredibly skilled captain negotiated his way  through narrow cave entry ways while the rest of us pulled our hands in, ducked our heads and held our breath as we waited to be smashed against the walls; maybe going at high tide wasn’t the best time. There are dozens of caves in just that single strip which culminated with the Benegil cave. It was a slightly terrifying yet awe inspiring trip – well worth it. After the  boat tour, we drove down the coast to Praia Marinha and hiked along the cliffs to Benagil cave and were able to look into the cave from the top. Like everywhere along this coast, the cliffs can be quite windy so, not fancying a sudden swan dive into the surf, we kept well away from the edge.

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Fish deboning at O’ Mexilhao

For dinner, we asked out host for suggestions, and when he mentioned a restaurant called O’ Mexilhao, Cynthia said we didn’t want to eat Mexican food. He laughed and said that it means “mussels” in Portuguese. We ate there the first night having, of course, mussels and fresh Red Snapper which was expertly deboned by our host.  

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Praia Camilo

Being tired of having to undress completely to use the restroom, Fernando recommended a short drive to “MO Lagos” where Cynthia got 2 really well made bikinis for half the price of what it would cost in town. We then did a short walking tour of town but decided we’d better hit the beach before the clouds rolled in.  Praia Camilo is accessed by a “mostly safe” staircase (grip the handrail with care to avoid splinters) of over 200 steps. The beaches in this region are carved out of the shear cliffs making them quite spectacular. The only mistake we made (again) was arriving at high tide. We went through a man made tunnel to an even smaller section of beach and sat with our backs against the cliff – only to have to snatch our packs as a wave rushed against us. The tide did eventually abate and the beauty of the place was worth the trip and dip.  

The next day was a short walk to Speed Queen laundry where you can actually wash and dry laundry in an hour. The rest of the day was more sightseeing and a visit to other beaches surrounding the town: Praia Pinhao (which we gazed at from above) and Dona Ana (which is quite large and has a hotel with a restaurant overlooking it). We walked another cliff path between the two – the wild flowers were lovely even if the path was a bit treacherous.

DSCF0504Beach time ended way to soon and we were off to Spain to visit Warren’s uncle in Malaga (and see Seville on the way). On the way out of town we paid a visit to the International Sand Sculpture Festival (less than 10 E per person) which is described as the largest sand sculpture event in the world. The sculptures went on forever and covered all sorts of topics. We did find one that really caught our eye. No comment…. 

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