On to the next phase of the trip, by car; a dirty Peugeot 108 little “beep beep” car with a broken antenna from the Lisboa Santa Apolónia Train Station and headed south. It was the first cloudy day we had so far – just in time for a car tour…great. We crossed the impressive 17 km long Vasco da Gama Bridge. Once out of the city, we were instantly into what looked like farm country but were not sure exactly what type of farming. They were obviously cultivating tress, but they all looked like someone had striped their knickers off – the bark from the
lower part of the trunk was missing. Ahh.. ding ding ding. These are cork trees. Portugal is famous for producing the best cork in the world. Cork is harvested from the bark as it grows from the inside out so it doesn’t kill the trees. A single digit for the year is painted on the tree. It will be ready to harvest again in nine years.
Continuing south, we passed through Porto Covo and a number of other small nearly deserted coastal villages along the very narrow coastal roads until we arrived in Arrifana. Pulling up into the town, all we could say was “WOW”. The town is nestled on cliffs overlooking a small protected beach. It was obviously an awesome surfing spot since the ocean surf was crowded with surfers. We were able to drive down the small access road to the beach level for a better look, but couldn’t stay because there was no place to park.
Our last stop along the coast was the town of Sagres. It boasts a fortress and, at Cabo de S. Vincent’s a few miles west, a light house which is the southwestern most tip of continental Europe. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stand on that tip of land, so we drove over for a look. The light house boasts one of the largest Fresnel lenses in the world. The dramatic cliffside surf was something to be seen but with what felt like 40+ MPH sustained winds, we decided we didn’t want to be whisked off the cliff to see it up close.
We also found another surfing beach between the fortress and the light house where there were an incredible number of surfers running up and down about 200 stairs. Although the picture is hard to see, if you look at the surf you will see all these little dots (surfers) waiting to catch the perfect wave.
On to Lagos!!
You can check out the entire South of Lisbon and Algarve Region gallery here