Portugal - The Road Trip

Jan 24, 2011
From Lisbon we headed down south. We wanted to take mainly small rural routes to discover villages and people outside of the main stream, although it wasn't really the high season anyway. The weather took a turn for the worse, and our road trip was pretty much accompanied with light showers and squally winds, which we didn't really mind. We cosied it up later on in our hotel's jacuzzi you see...

On the road down we made several stops at cutest little lighthouses and we were amazed by the coastline's massiveness. It wasn't until just before the dusk that the Navigator actually indicated that we've come to the very last edge of the Europe.

Cabo Sardao - a rural cape with endless cliffs...and birds nesting on them!

Cabo de Sao Vincente (Cape St. Vincent)- the most southwestern point in Portugal. Vertical cliffs (about 75m high) rising from Atlantic. Pretty impressive! The wind almost blew us over the edge...

We really enjoyed the seafood, and the service was just incredible all the time. It's definitely hard to beat the Portuguese hospitality!

Lagos (and the whole south) was pretty much deserted in January, the town that generally lives off tourism. The next morning, before heading back up north, we wanted to check out the splendid coastline. That turned out to be much harsher experience than anticipated: having hurricane strong winds blowing at the speed that could (so I feared) almost move a car down the cliff. We snapped a photo and two and hit the road towards the hilly inland and village Monchique.

Interestingly enough the landscape kept changing as we drove up, which made the drive that much more fascinating. Everything from forestry hills to reddish sand hills. 

Finally we made it back to Lisbon and we got to drive the “Ponte 25 de Abril” which translates to The 25 de Abril Bridge. It crosses the Tejo river connecting Lisbon to the municipality of Almada. Not only does this bridge look a lot like the Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s actually based on the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge, and its built by the same company. You also may or may not have heard that even the infamous James Bond film once used this bridge in their action scenes…

Next stop was Sintra, sometimes called as “The Eden of Lisbon”, is a small town not far from Lisbon that lays in the arms of Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park. Because of its rare beauty and historical sites, it’s classified to UNESCO’s world heritage site. Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National  Palace, the Sintra National Palace, are all castles worth visiting. Unfortunately we ran out of time and got up to the palace just as it was closing, so we had to settle for seeing only a flash of them. Fortunately the town in itself is already worth seeing, and we didn’t really feel so bad about missing them…

We spend the night in the Estoril Coast, in Estoril, and walked the beach to see the town of Cascais. The area is very wealthy and the casinos are a central part of it (yes, we did gamble a little...). No wonder they call it Riviera of Lisbon

In Cascais we had the most amazing restaurant we’ve ever had before. It was a “cold” night for Portuguese, and so we were amongst the only customers that night. The place had a small fireplace and super delicious food: I got lime risotto with salmon and Denis had a dish of octopus. After the dessert we chilled at least one or two hours by the fireplace and tasted some local vinho… What a treat.

On our last day we drove up to Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca) which is the most western point of the continental Europe, and offers breath-taking views down from its rocky cliffs. 

We also had enough time to go check out a village Azenhas do Mar, a seaside town that’s built on the edges of the cliffs- pretty charming if you ask me!

Next stop was the airport and home, but our flight was delayed for couple of hours and we got to enjoy two extra hours on a sunny terrace sipping nice wine! What a great way to bring our incredible journey in Portugal to an end…

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