We had our eyes set on this country since we have heard so many good things about it from other travelers. Portugal for some reason is always left off people’s summer Europe travel list. After setting everything up for our summer travel, there was a chance we were not going with an unexpected situation that popped up, but the stars aligned and we booked our flight several days before departure. Chaos ensued, but we made it to this BEAUTIFUL country. We have never claimed the ‘travel’ part of traveling is fun, but definitely part of the journey. Our trip began with a 3.5 drive to Miami, a 3.5 hour wait for a delayed flight, a 8 hour flight to Lisbon (filled with youth soccer teams and crying babies), and lastly a 2.5 hour sleepy drive from Lisbon to Lagos (Southern Portugal).
Bye Bye Miami……..
Lack of sleep, and time change took its toll on us, as we arrived in Lagos we were excited to take a nap in our room. Well to find out we can’t check into our hotel for a few hours… never thought a nap in a Mini Cooper rental car was ideal, but got us enough sleep to reset our internal clocks. After our ‘car-snooze’ we took in the sights of our hotel grounds.
We are in the Algarve region which is known for its cliffside beaches, limestone caves and quaint towns that line the coast, all of which we can’t wait to explore. Our first evening, after checking in to the Belmar Beach Resort, is an evening exploring the town of Lagos. Walking through the narrow streets, we were mesmerized by the all the marble walkways and the beautiful Portuguese tiles that fill this town. The charm of the marble added to the quaint feel of this bustling little beach town. We found the perfect place for dinner, with a little live music (which is common on the streets of Portugal). And of course a bonus, we had our first Portuguese beer, Super Bock. It was pretty ‘super’! This gave us a perfect start to our nearly two week stay in Portugal.
Our hotel is located in the perfect spot for beach to beach exploration. You can’t really count the number of majestic caves that line the southern coast, so your best bet is to just go out and climb, crawl, hike, and take pictures like these! This was from our first night. We knew we would be in for a fun couple days!
Our first full day did not disappoint! We woke up early each day since we knew summer is the high season for this region. We really wanted to explore the areas before the crowds showed up. And so glad we did! This was our first excursion of the morning! Sun is rising, vacant beaches, oh and a TON of stairs.
Most of the beaches are ‘down’ and it’s well worth the treks! This beach was awesome because there was a tunnel through the limestone mountain that connected to another beach! It was so amazing to go through and come out to a private beach! We can get use to this!!
We headed off to another beach and we were blown away, a reoccurring feeling we would get at each new beach we arrived at. We did the hike around the rim and then headed down to the beach area. And sure enough, it was around noon time and the place was PACKED!
After some beach time and a cup of cappuccino , we head off to ur next destination. This area is known for the amount of ‘holes’ in the limestone. Again, blew us away.
The best part is there was a restaurant/bar built into the limestone mountain!
After a VERY productive and jaw dropping day, we headed back into the town of Lagos for another great meal. We ended up watching the England/Colombia match that went to a nail biting last penalty kick. The streets were FILLED with people, it was a bit chilly so we opted to stay indoors. But we did catch some of the celebration. Side note: Sadly Portugal got knocked out last Saturday, or we would be partying in the streets watching them play this week. Still a vibrant soccer scene present in the streets of Europe during this year’s World Cup!
After day one, we left one pretty big ‘to do’ for our last day in Lagos, experience the famous Benagil cave. Again we awoke early to try and beat the crowds. But first, we need to stop at one of the beaches we heard was close to us. We could NOT believe our eyes. It was stunning!! And we were driving by it this whole time and had no idea it was there!! Thankfully we got to really take this in since we were the first to arrive. Which included a morning swim for Scott.
And there was more on the other side!!
After exploring this place for more than we anticipated, we didn’t have much time for Benagil cave. So when we arrived, we jumped on a boat for a quick 30 minute tour of the local caves. Epic Fail! It didn’t stop on the shores of the cave for us to get out and explore, which was the WHOLE purpose of going to see Benagil. However, we were able to capture a few cool shots from a different perspective (from the boat).
Benagil was kind of why we were here in the first place. So, we kinda had to see it. How did we solve this dilemma….. we got ourselves a paddleboard. We got one board for the both of us. We thought, no problem, we are paddle board experts. UGH!! Were we wrong. The part that was the most anxiety ridden was that fact we had a couple thousand dollars worth of camera equipment on our backs and ALL of the pictures from our trip thus far. There was several times we thought we were going overboard. The water was of course choppy and filled with boat tours making it even worse! After making it without incident…. Fail #2! This trek did not lead us to the picturesque moments you see on postcards and the internet. We found too many people (annoying ones), cloudier skies, and the rough feeling of, were not going to be able to make it back without drowning our equipment and bye bye to pictures.
After capturing a few moments, we take the short (felt like an eternity) trek back to shore. Soaking wet, after dodging boats, and choppy conditions, we made it back, sacrificing a lot to keep our backpacks dry.
Don’t want to leave this region, but there is lots more of Portugal to explore. Off to Lisbon!