Lagos: A Rocky Finish

We’re overjoyed to wake up in our new hotel the next morning to see sun shining over the marina.  This is our beach day, and it doesn’t take us long after doing a bit of shopping in town (supporting a local artist and his wife) to find an outdoor café overlooking a beautiful sandy beach.  We eat a breakfast of eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice, and walk down the steep steps to join the other sunbathers on this beach.  Randi suggests we stay at this beach all day, but I’ve heard people talking about the Pont de Piedade, and I have this strong feeling that it might be worth checking out.  I push her to come with me to try and find this sight, the western most point in the Algarves.  We ask a local shop owner how far of a walk it is, and he tells us 20 minutes.  So we begin our trek.

As we clearly exit the beach town and find ourselves wandering into what looks like the local business/abandoned homes area, we find ourselves completely lost and unsure of how to get to our destination.  We stop at a real estate office, because we figure, hey, if they sell homes in Lagos, they probably know how to get to places in the area.  Wrong.  Three of the workers standing out front on their cigarette break have never heard of this Point de Piedade.  But they all speak perfect English, which is incredibly helpful.  Luckily, there’s a British man inside the office who comes out to help us.  Why the Portugese natives didn’t know where this place was but the British fellow did, we’ll never know.  But we’ll go with it.  He looks at us quizzically when we tell him our destination, and laughs when he realizes we’re trying to get there on foot.  We’re directed back to town, where we are to take a taxi or a public bus.  After our experience with the public bus in Cascais, we opt for the taxi.

Our second try – we take the taxi up to our destination, and the driver leaves us off at what looks like an abandoned cliff, with only two shops standing out front – one selling souvenirs, one selling pizza.  She tells us to be careful and not walk too close to the edge.  We realize what she’s referring to as we walk towards the edge and see that we’re at the top of a ridiculously steep set of rocky stairs with no railing.  My fear of heights kicks in, but we’ve made it here on our second try, and we have to see it through after all this effort.  I climb down the steps, crouching just enough to have my hand next to me for balance at all times.  Randi is walking in front of me (below me?), and reaches a break in the steps.  She looks out and calls up to me.

“Amy, you’re really going to like this.”

I do my awkward crouch-walk down to where she’s standing, and look out.  Before me is the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve ever encountered.  It literally makes me gasp, and I now understand the meaning of the word breathtaking.  There’s no way I’ll ever be able to describe this in words, so here are some photos.

We continue climbing down these steps to get a better look.  Every point we stop at is more glorious than the next.  When we reach the bottom, we park ourselves on what seems to be a dock that no one else is currently occupying.  We sit, staring in awe at these grottoes, a magical aquatic fantasy that we seem to have found ourselves in.  Randi comments that this is certainly the grand finale of our Portugal trip.  It was definitely the most visually stunning thing we saw on the trip, but our cultural grand finale was still a few hours away.

Lagos: A Rocky Start

Our adventure in Lagos had one overall theme: Get it Right the Second Time. 

We booked a night in Dom Pedro’s sister hotel called Praia Maia Beach Resort.  Sounds lovely, right? We soon discovered that not all sister hotels are created equal in Portugal.   After having a cab take us to what seemed to be a deserted apartment complex in the middle of the night in this brand new city, we finally found the “resort,” which was really a collection of grimy apartments set up motel style, with outdoor entrances to each room, accessible through a parking lot.  We got our key from the motel clerk, who seemed to be the only human being anywhere in the vicinity.  We opened the door to our room, and flipped on the switch to a flickering light.  Our two twin beds were set up against either wall of the tiny room, with about an inch in between the two beds.  Randi commented that it felt like we had entered a military bunker.  We nervously explored the bathroom, afraid to really touch anything, and when I discovered a spider the size of my hand crawling on my bed, I lost it.  I picked up our bags and ran back to the check in desk.  I knew if we stayed here, I would be standing upright all night long, afraid of the critters and possibly serial killers that lurked nearby.  Since the only people within fifty miles of us seemed to be me, Randi and the hotel clerk, it really did feel like the beginning of a scary movie.

I explained to the hotel clerk that we were on vacation, and if we got a hotel closer to town, we’d be a lot happier because we wanted to go out to the nightclubs (this was a lie – all we really wanted was some semblance of normalcy and a hotel that would allow us to sleep through the night, but this was my way of not completely insulting the accommodations we were in).  Luckily, his friend had shown up to hang out with him while he was on duty at this abandoned shack, and she told us that she worked in a four star hotel right by the marina.  We begged the clerk to call that hotel to see if they had availability, and luckily, they did.  He called us a cab, we apologized, and we were off.

The Marina Rio was by no means a four star hotel, but we were just happy to see a real hotel, seemingly near civilization, other hotels, and with other people staying at this one.  We put our stuff down in our normal sized room, and went to the hotel bar to have a Sagres, relieved that we had changed our situation.

We had no idea that this theme of getting it right the second time would follow us well into the next day.