As we told in the last blogpost, we spent 2 weeks in the Algarve. Our lovely apartment there was so nice, and from Alvor we had the opportunity to really explore the coastline of the Algarve. Luckily for us the weather played along, as we were often just driving in the car as it was raining, and when we arrived at a spot where we wanted to walk around, it was dry again! Great!
We made a day trip to Sagres where we went to see a fort, and after walking around that peninsula we decided to have a nice lunch in the bay next to it. Sitting next to a wooden umbrella, feet almost in the sand, sun on our faces…. Life is good! Next to Sagres is Cabo Sao Vicente, also known as the End of the World. Back before all the discoveries (Des Doscribamentos as we came to learn…. More about that later…) people thought that it was really the end of the world. Only sea ahead of you and no land in sight, nowadays with the plane we just fly across it, but back then they didn’t know when they would simply fall off the earth! So we stood at the end of the world, dreaming of the faraway countries across that vast ocean, that, unlike the people then, we díd get to see… hihi!
Another day trip went to Praia de Oura, a little beach place next to Albufeira. Maaike had been here a couple of years ago and remembered a great walkway on the rocks and cliffs. To drive to that exact beach, we turned on the navi…. Close to Oura, we had to drive on the Avenida Des Doscribamentos. With our British Emily-voice on the navi, pronouncing this in her best Portuguese, it sounded more like douchedouchecriboumountouche…. With a couple of roundabouts on this long road, taking us every time to the turn off to this same road again, you can imagine us laughing our heads off by the time we got to the beach! The walkway at Praia de Oura was exactly as Maaike remembered. We really enjoyed walking on the rocky road and cliffs, though underneath those cliffs there was sometimes nothing but water and air! Hopefully this path will stay there for much longer, because it’s so beautiful! And so Pure Algarve. Just stunning!
Brad has done a couple of sky dives at Skydive Algarve, but on one day we came to the drop zone and we heard there was a strike going on… Hmmm, not good! Together with a couple of people we met there, Angie, Tom, Cornelia and Taz, we decided to drive up to Monchique, a mountain in the Algarve. We drove all the way up, walked around there for a bit and then on the way down found a nice place to have a good chicken piri piri. Together with Angie and Tom we have done some more walking around on the beaches around where we stayed. Another evening they came to our place for dinner and 6,5 hours later they left again. You can certainly say we had lots of fun and laughter that evening! 🙂
Brad also got to fly in a gyrocopter (a combination of a helicopter and an aeroplane) over the coastline. Just by coincidence he got to chat with the guy who flies the gyro from Alvor and decided to go for a flip. And it was beautiful. He already got to see the country from the sky on his skydives of course, but flying in the gyro was so great and taking a bit more time to actually see everything around you. Brad was by the way the first paying passenger to go with the Gyrocopter! It took Kevin 5 years to get permission to fly the gyrocopter and Brad was the first to experience it!
On our last day we had to do our last bit of washing and then went to the Praia de Rocha, a beach near Portimao. A nice long walk, along the cliffs, over the beach and then back again, it’s pretty easy living here! Unfortunately the ‘road’ for us was closed off as we got closer to where our car was parked. The tide had come in, so one cliff where we walked around an hour earlier, was now surrounded by water…. As we tried to walk on the side of the cliff, we still ended up with our jeans wet until our knees! That was a pity, so we had to walk back to another staircase to walk up to the pavement and get back to our car.
Our road up to Lisbon went via the west coast of Portugal, which looks so different to the south coast! Instead of the narrow little beaches surrounded by sandstone cliffs, here the beaches were big and the cliffs of black stone that looked much more solid. It wasn’t as solid though… Brad tried to climb it for a bit, but soon he had some loose parts of the rocks in his hand and gave up the climb.
In Lisbon we checked into the Ibis just out of town, in Oeiras. The following day we drove to Belem, a suburb of Lisbon, parked the car there and walked around for a bit. We saw the Monumento Des Doscribomentos (yes, the one from the navi! So this is where we found out it means The Discoveries!) and the Torre de Belem. Then we took a tram into the city, where we had a nice cup of coffee and a croissant and then went up to the castle. After the castle we walked down into town and walked around for a bit. We were surprised how dirty and rundown Lisbon actually looks. It is as if the people don’t care about the city anymore. There are more buildings with than without graffiti and there is glass of smashed car windows everywhere. No, not a nice city to be in… As we took the tram back to Belem again, we had the plan to go to the Pasteis de Belem, thé hot spot to get the delicious custard tarts they sell in Portugal. Unfortunately our guidebook didn’t lie that there would be a long line in front of the place… So unfortunately no pasteis for us! The next day we drove in the morning to Sintra, a lovely little town on mountains, where we visited old castle ruins. As we walked over the high walls, we could see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and into the country. Beautiful! After Sintra we drove back to our hotel, picked up our luggage and checked out.
The next city on the list was Évora, a Unesco cultural heritage site. Within the town walls, we wandered around, and couldn’t get lost. As we walked into the town walls, we knew we had to turn around again! We saw the cathedral of Evora and a 2nd century Roman Temple, very interesting. The following day we drove to the Aerodrome of Evora, so Brad could do a couple of skydives there. As we walked up to a group of skydivers and packers, one guy immediately recognized Brad’s South African accent. Nuno, who was from Portugal, had lived in Zimbabwe for many years. Now he works as a rigger and packer on this drop zone. He also had plenty of jokes under his belt, so we kept on laughing. Soon we recognized one guy as well who we had seen at Skydive Spain in Sevilla so we started talking to him. It appeared that his name was Martijn and he was from the Netherlands, so we had a nice chat before Brad and Martijn got in the plane to do a few skydives. In the evening there were a few night jumps planned and Brad was lucky enough to be in Evora that day! Martijn had been trying to get to do night jumps for his D licence for 3 years already, and Brad just shows up and gets to do them! Hihi! Anyway, the briefing for the night jumps was at 17.00 and of course it started at 17.30… 😉 Nuno was there to translate the briefing into English for Brad and Martijn, and told plenty of jokes beforehand. He explained: ‘The briefing is very simple: there is the plane, get in, and then jump out. It’s just darker than usual, that’s all. Oh and don’t try to land where there is all the light, that’s the city. And when you see a moving light: that’s a train. Also don’t try to land there…’ And he just kept on going. Thank goodness he was a bit more serious at the briefing itself and gave all the important information. Before the first night jump Brad got 2 fluorescent lights to put on his gear. The first jump went good, but with the second jump, Brad looked up to the plane on exit and saw the stars above it. An unique view, and very very beautiful. He really enjoyed it!
The next day we drove via Santarem and Tomar to Porto. Of Santarem we had read it was a very charming town. When we got there, the charm had apparently left the city… High rise buildings and difficult to drive into, we decided to continue to Tomar where Maaike went into the Convento do Cristo, an old convent and monastery that has been well preserved. Brad had lunch in the car outside with all of our luggage, while Maaike almost got lost in the many halls and rooms that the monastery had.
The next day we drove via the center of Porto, where we had a mini-takeaway cup of coffee (seriously: an espresso size cup with our coffee with milk in it… haha!) and took a few photos of the buildings. Porto was a lovely town, with beautiful old buildings and cute streets. A lot of the buildings were not recently renovated, but that gave it its charm. The drive continued all the way up into Spain, and right now we are in Santiago de Compostela, where we have a wonderful view from our hotel room of the Cathedral de Santiago. Very nice indeed! After we parked the car in a parking garage a little down the road, we went for a walk and dinner in the historic center of Santiago. We had a very good dinner at Cafetaria Dakar, very cheap and good food. It was mainly locals who were sitting over there, so we were the only ones having dinner already at 7… haha!
Now it’s time to go to sleep, tomorrow we will check out the city of Santiago by daylight!
Lots of love, Maaike and Brad
PS have you seen the photos already? Click here to see them!