The Algarve

From the Duoro Valley we used the better part of the day to drive down to the Algarve, and stay at a beautiful villa just outside of Lagos.

Of the entire trip to Portugal, this was the segment that I had a love-hate feeling towards. The best was our villa. Great choice to stay outside of town, and the house had a "grand casa" feel with its large spacious rooms, the pool, the kitchen area both by the pool and in the house, different tables to eat to enjoy the morning and evening experience.

The town of Lagos was a bit too touristy for my liking. Now when we visited other towns along the coast we know why travel books describe Lagos as authentic, as it was better than other locations, but the old town was ruined with an over development of tourist-based cafes and restaurants.

The rock formations along the coast just west of Lagos were a bit hit with me. Endless photography opportunities and when I would head out early in the morning with my friend Mike, we would be able to compose shots without tourists and the endless stream of boats that would appear by the afternoon.

The day trip to Silves, away from the coast, provided the best authentic Algarve experience. The town was scene, lots of photo opportunities and not the same pace of tourism. Silves is the former capital city of the Algarve. We went to see the Silves Castle which was original a Moorish fortification. The walls were well preserved and it is easy to forget that just the fact that it is still standing is something of note.

On another day we drove to the Atlantic coast and made our way to Cabo de Sao Vincente located next to the Sagres Point on the Costa Vicentine. Here there are high (75 meters) steep cliffs. Besides the cliffs and the sea, the main sight is the lighthouse that was built in 1846. It oversees one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and is one of the most powerful in Europe. The two 1,000 W lamps can be seen as far as 60 km out to sea.

On our last day for driving we went up to Aljezur and then up the coast further to the Praia de Arrifana. Aljezur has the ruins of a Moorish castle at the top of its hill. Impressive I guess considering the age, but not worth any sort of major detour to see. The Praia (beach) was very scenic, worth the drive, and if you are a surfer.... bring your board. The beach is over 500 meters long. Because my nephew surfs, I have my eyes looking at beaches from a different perspective!