Portugal's Algarve: Part 2
France & Portugal
We left Lagos in the south (see Part 1) to drive northwest into the natural park on the coastline. This was where we would stay for the second leg of our trip in the Algarve, and over which time I would celebrate my 30th birthday :). What a lucky girl! Driving into this new area was pretty unbelievable. You drive up in elevation along the coastline so that there are now spruce and pine trees mingling with coastal flowers and cactus. Everywhere we looked there were small farms and gardens. Things apparently grew really well here, and it was beautiful to see. Although we did dip back down to a beach in the south on one day, as you’ll see below, the rest of our time was spent exploring the coastline and beaches between Odeceixe and Aljezur in Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. I hope you enjoy our travel diary from this area of the Algarve too! Some of the coastline you’ll see here is unlike any we have experienced in the world.
*Photos were taken by my husband Scott.
THE FIRST EVENING
As we drove into the natural park, it was beautiful watching the terrain change from a drier desert to one that was more lush and full of trees. The farmland kept multiplying, especially once we turned left off of the highway to wind through the park and arrive at our AirBnb. The home where we were staying was situated in one of the more beautiful (and peaceful) places we have ever been. It looked out over rolling hills of farmland, and was built on a large plain full of whimsical, tall grass.
The owner was incredibly hospitable over text chat, and her housecleaner met us to let us into the home. She was the definition of kindness. The house was built with sustainable materials, and required no air conditioning to keep cool. It did have a good sized dehumidifier, which we appreciated, because it was incredibly humid up in this region. We emptied the two (or three?) gallon container of water it held twice a day.
After getting settled we made dinner (pasta and wine!) and walked down the road to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Pictures really don’t do this area justice in just how massive and imposing it all was. But I hope you get a feel for its grandness. We were floored and couldn’t believe our feet were standing here! (I still can’t.) (See if you can spot me in the 11th photo down.)
my birthday day
I woke up turning the big 3-0 today! It felt really special. I had been waiting to get into the cool thirty club ever since Scott was initiated two years ago ;). We had coffee and breakfast looking out on the gorgeous fields from our AirBnb. It was a nice slow morning. Then we decided to drive about ten minutes north to Odeceixe beach and walk around exploring it for an hour or two (it is pretty massive). I had never seen rock faces like this before! It looked as if an alien ship had crashed into the sand and sent splintering slates of rock jetting up to create these massive structures. There was also a river that wound down a valley and poured into the ocean here, this was super beautiful.
After exploring for a while we went back to the AirBnb for some snacks/lunch and admitted that we missed our time down at the beaches near Lagos. It was cooler up here and windier at the beach, and we were both craving the warm sun and sand. Since it was only a 45 minute drive back down to the big beach we had gone to a few days prior, and because it was my birthday ;), we decided to go back! It was the best decision. We had the sweetest time I think we’ve ever had at a beach. Scott rented us one of those little umbrellas with the lawn chairs, something neither of us has ever done, and I felt like a princess :). We swam in the ocean so much this day. I will always look back on this as one of those moments in my life that I wish I could repeat over and over.
We drove back hours later to our place in the natural park, and even drove through some clouds and rain to get there! We made an epic pasta with more wine that night (sorry for no photo!) and signed off on birthday day. I’d say it was a major success :).
the second day (AM)
We decided for our second full day we would stay in the natural park and explore more of its beautiful coastline. Scott went to the coastal point by our house to take sunrise photos, while I very slowly woke up (I’m not an energetic morning person, haha).
After coffee and breakfast we drove south a little to Praia da Amoreira. This was my favorite beach in this area. It was so vast and wide, and the rock faces - again! They felt so incredibly epic. The winding river that connected to the ocean here was beyond beautiful. We walked down it a ways, and it felt like I was somewhere in South America. The water is clear and its color so vibrant. The vegetation was unlike any I’ve seen, while at the same time we would sometimes come across something we have back here on the coast of southern California too.
We grabbed lunch in the town nearby called Aljezur. A place called Mó Veggie Bistro. The people here were, again, so kind, and the food was delicious. Afterwards we took a rest back at our AirBnb to recharge for the second half of the day.
the second day (PM)
After resting up, we ventured to the coast by our place and walked along various trails we found to explore. It was windy and sunny and everything felt so wild and beautiful. We came across a flock of these large, crane-like birds that were hovering in the wind and swooping down over the jagged rocks. They were beautiful! We even spotted some of their babies in nests. I called them ‘tuxedo birds’, because, well, they look like they are wearing tuxedos :). The flowers were plentiful, the earth was a vibrant orange, and the sea was so wild and blue! We loved this afternoon.
For dinner we did - yep - more pasta and wine! A meal we will forever link with this part of the trip. Then went for our last sunset walk to the point, we couldn’t believe this was our last night in the Algarve. I don’t know how long would feel long enough here, but five nights was too little.
(Can you spot the ‘tuxedo’ birds and their nest four photos down?)
leaving the algarve
We had one last sunny morning here followed by very slow packing. We weren’t ready to leave! Filled with so much gratitude for having got to experience what we did down here in the south, we drove with full, nostalgic hearts north to Lisbon.
I’m going to end our travel posts for Portugal here. We stopped at a beach and another small town on our way north, and entered Lisbon during an epic rainstorm that evening. Then spent a few days in the city before flying home to California. As you might remember from our post on Paris, we have discovered we are not big city people. Therefore Lisbon wasn’t our cup of tea, and I’d rather end in the places that meant the most to us on this trip :). I hope you enjoyed our recollections of our recent time in Portugal! It feels really special to get to share them with you.