Ben and I drove down south to Sagres. We really wanted to do a short hike along the way, so I turned to trusty old Google. The blog that I read suggested that we head to Esteveira, near Rogil. The blog described a 1.5 hour secret walk/hike with amazing views. The description was pretty funny, it started with “head down the road till the surfaced road ends, you will see a bus stop on the left, and opposite there is a car park. Turn left and head down the street till you reach two farm houses”. We followed this lady’s instructions, and were rewarded with some pretty fantastic cliff views, as well as some beautiful plants and succulents along the way. Interestingly, I think we have become so fit now, we completed the walk in an hour.
We continued on to Sagres, and stopped by Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St Vincent’s) which is the southwestern-most point in Europe.
Then we headed to Fortress Beliche (great views from here as well).
We visited Fortaleza de Sagres (€3pp), but I would not recommend going inside. This fortress is on the southern-most tip of Portugal, but the views from inside are not very good. You get a better view standing just in front of the fortress and looking towards Cabo de São Vicente.
We stayed in Lagos for the night.
It was a pretty sad day weather-wise. Gloomy and cloudy, but the weather didn’t just have the decency to bucket down and have it over and done with. No, it toyed with us all day long.
We arranged to do a dolphin watching (read: hunting) tour. As it was forecast to rain, Ben and I figured we might as well be out on the water, as we were gonna get wet anyways. I was terrified on the little RHIB boat. You can feel every wave that you crest, and every crash as you come down. It was insane. After searching for dolphins for what seemed like forever – we finally found a pod of bottlenose dolphins, we stayed and watched them for 30 minutes. They watched us too. Then we headed back in to Sagres, and along the way, we collided into a pod of common dolphins. They were so beautiful, very curious and very fast. They had white bellies. Apparently, it is very rare to see two different species of dolphins in one trip.
We visited Ponta de Piedade, which is a series of rock formations, it was really cool to see.
Casinha do Petisco – I had prawns again! Seriously, a plate full of prawns for €14 is incredible value. I will never have prawn-only meals like this in Australia – at least not ones that I can afford. Ben had boring beef and potatoes (so predictable).
We drove through Monchique to the Foia lookout, which is at 902m above sea level. Driving up this mountain was insane, we were on a two way street that seemingly only fit one car. Then we got a bit lost, and ended up on a private cobblestone driveway, that was quite slippery from the dew, that was terrifying, and the car actually rolled back a couple of times. Nowhere to go but way way way down. We finally made it to the lookout, was really nice.
We drove to Mira de Aire, which was 11km of known caves, but we could only walk 600m of it, as tourists. These caves went so far down! Definitely more beautiful than the Gibraltar caves. It was an interesting place, as it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, there were a bunch of teens who must have been on a school trip, they were just being nuisances. Unfortunately, these caves can only be visited with a guide, and our tour guide did not speak any English at all.
We drove to the Conimbriga XVI Roman ruins, which are just south of Coimbra. It was really nice to walk amongst the ruins, and to see what has been salvaged/survived over time. We surmised that the Romans did a lot of bathing, as most of the ruins were determined to be Roman baths.
We visited Universidade de Coimbra (€13pp) – we went inside the Joanina Library (the king made this library, it was incredible, like something out of Beauty and the Beast. I only dream of having a library like that), and visited the tower – great views!
The Science building was also a major highlight for us – we got to see their Physics wing, which had all the old instruments that they used to use back in the day, and then we visited the natural sciences wing, where they had room upon room of every kind of animal skeleton and also stuffed. It was really amazing to see the extent of their research.
Ze Manel Dos Ossos – €21.30 – we had their famous pork bones (delicious!), and their pork belly covered in secret sauce (this sauce was amazing! Basically garlic, vinegar and olive oil, lots of olive oil!) and rice soup with beans.