Day Twelve/Thirteen/Fourteen: Birthday Trip in Post (or Still?) Pandemic Time

Why three days together? Because, these were essentially three days exploring the beaches of Algarve region (the South of Portugal). I will not bore you with step-by-step description, but here are a few highlights. The first great stop was at Cabo de Sao Vincente (Cape St. Vincent) which is southwesternmost point of Portugal and of mainland Europe. According to legend, the name of this cape is linked to a martyred fourth-century Iberian deacon, St. Vincent whose body was brought ashore here. A shrine was then erected over his grave. The Arab geographer Al-Idrisi wrote that the Saint’s grave was always guarded by ravens and was therefore named by him كنيسة الغراب (Kanīsah al-Ghurāb, meaning “Church of the Raven”). King Afonso Henriques (1139–1185) had the body of the saint exhumed in 1173 and brought it by ship to Lisbon apparently still accompanied by the ravens. This transfer of the relics is depicted on the coat of arms of Lisbon. Great legend and truly captivating place

When preparing for this trip, I looked at GoogleEarth and selected about fifteen beaches to visit and check out. By the way, GoogleEarth is a great tool for planning trips, because people put a lot of pictures and comments on places they have visited. Anyway, after three days of going from beach to beach, here are my three absolute favorits. One was Praia da Ingrina which is very close to Sagres and Cabo de Sao Vincente. A perfectly protected from wind and waves bay with shallow waters: very calm and the water temperature was noticeably warmer than in other places. Combined with nice sand beach, this is a great place for families with kids: very safe place to swim. Here it is:

Another favorite was Praia das Furnas. A little bit tricky to get there (you still can find it and get directions on Google maps), but the reward is the full absence of conventional tourists. Instead, this beach attracts nudists and – yes! – it is “home” to a small colony of hippies and artists who live there.

But by the most dramatic in terms of scenery (and also great for swimming) was Praia do Camilo in Lagos. I do not need to describe. Simply take a look.

Yes, this is me.

Here is a small secret. Most people who come to Praia do Camila stay right on this spot which is on above picture, but look at the next shot: do you see a small tunnel through the rock on the left?

If you go through this tunnel, you will find another (smaller) beach and then one more, and the chances are great that you will have just for yourself. As I did. Yes, this was “my beach” for the entire day…

While roaming the beaches, I choose as a base to stay the village called Burgau. Some people compare this village with romantic villages on the Greek island Santorini. And, yes, it was very pretty.

But the greatest “treasure” (in my mind) in this village is the guesthouse called Casa Grande, where I choose to stay.

Casa Grande is a stately mansion built at the beginning of 20th century. In the late 1950th it went in the state of full dilapidation, but was bought by Sally Vincent, an actress and expat from UK. Sally restored its external and internal beauty and converted into a very nice and unusual guesthouse which also functions as a social commune. Each room is called after and is decorated in a particular color. If interested, here is a great story about Sally Vincent and her guesthouse:

And, yes, Sally still runs this place:

Tomorrow is my last day in Portugal. On the way to Lisbon, I plan to visit the town and area of Monchique. It was easier (in terms of logistics) to spend the last night in the town of Porches. Nothing special about this town, except…that I found an unbelievably good restaurant called Praia com Tempera. The chef is a young lady, Sofia Ferreira, who combines “traditional Portuguese flavors with innovative touches.” I had for dinner (took home) an incredible octopus salad, and shrimp tartar with mango cream.

This is the chef (and owner): Sofia Ferreira

Good night and good bye, Algarve!

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