Portugal / Travels

Lagos (The Algarve Coast)

We were glad we stayed longer in Spain and explored some of the country outside of Catalonia. Getting out of Spain down to Portugal proved a little more complicated though! My previous research indicated there were no trains that ran from Spain to Portugal, and to get to our destination (Lagos, on the Algarve coast) we’d have to take two buses. As it turned out I found companies that did the journey direct, but couldn’t see how to book online (or in one case, the website just wouldn’t load the journeys for me). So they day before we left, we took a trip to the bus station to buy the tickets in person, which fortunately turned out to be very straight forward because we could buy them from a ticket machine in the main ticket hall.

The trip ended up being very good – the bus appeared brand new and had USB charging ports, although no WiFi. The seats even reclined! There were one or two stops along the way, so it was pretty direct. We left Seville at 9am so arrived in Lagos (LAH-goos or LAH-goosh, depending who you ask, with an ‘oo’ like ‘book’) sometime between 1 and 2. Again, the climate was pretty similar – very warm and a bit humid, but not disgustingly so. It took us about 15 minutes to walk through the town centre to our hostel, which was so new that it didn’t appear in any of my searches before we left the UK but was listed on booking.com by the time I actually made a booking while we were in Paris. It’s called the Racing Mackerel (related to a portuguese saying, apparently) and has a common kitchen/dining area, men’s and women’s bathrooms, two 4-bed dormitories, at least 1 double room (ours) and a fourth room which we never saw the inside of, but suspect was another double room. For half of our stay we were the only ones there, and for half there was one other couple. There was also a washing machine which was super convenient! I don’t know why not all hostels have washing machines!

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Lagos itself is situated at the end of a long beach, right by a point which is encompassed by the kind of cliffs the Algarve is famous for. On our first full day we took a walk out to the point, going up and down the cliffs at various spots to see little beaches and inlets. We eventually got out to the point, on which there is a lighthouse, and where you can walk right out to the very tip of the cliffs (crossing part of the footpath which has collapsed due to erosion on one side!) We took the road back to town (which is a lot more direct than following the coastline) in time for a late lunch.

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Dinner that night was at the burger bar right next door to our hostel (the Nah Nah Bah – which everyone who’s been to Lagos will have heard of!) and tried their award-winning Toucan Burger, complete with pineapple! (Pretty much unheard of in Europe). It was enormous. I could only get 3/4 of the way through it (and needed to dissect it with a knife and fork), and even Andre struggled to finish it. They even have a kilo challenge where you need to eat their kilo burger (a one-kilo burger patty on a 28cm bun, complete with accompanying toppings) and the side of potato chips, in under an hour – and you get the meal free plus a Nah Nah Bah t-shirt.

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The next morning we went sea-kayaking as part of a guided tour along the coastal cliffs. The sea was a little choppy, although not as bad as the previous day – one company we originally wanted to go with had cancelled all their trips the previous day, plus this morning’s, but due to other plans we wanted to go in the morning rather than the afternoon, and the forecast really wasn’t that bad. Seeing as other groups were still going out, we decided to switch companies in order to go in the morning. We launched from inside a marina (right beside some old fort-looking thing, which appears to be sinking!) which was nice and calm. The swell was a bit bouncy but not rough (according to the forecast, if I remember right, it was 1m over 13 seconds).

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We didn’t have any problems keeping up with our guide (in fact I had to reign in Andre’s enthusiasm a few times when we were getting a bit too far ahead!) and probably the only time the swell was much of an annoyance was inside a seacave with only one entrance, so the level inside rose and dropped quite a lot, waves smacking into the rockface. You wouldn’t have wanted to be swimming in there. Our guide only took a few kayaks in at a time though, so we had plenty of space to manoeuvre and turn around to get back out.

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We got a great view of the cliffs during the trip though, going into a few sea caves, through arches and around rock formations. We took a break at one of the secluded beaches part way through. The reason we rescheduled our trip to go in the morning was that 2 days earlier we discovered that one of our friends from Australia, Chiara, would also be in town the same time we were! She also had a kayak trip the same morning we did, and lo and behold, Chiara’s group landed on the same beach as us not long after we had! We arranged to meet her back at the marina at the end of our trips. Our group was lucky enough to get towed back to the marina, although Andre was a bit disappointed he didn’t get to row more. Chiara’s tour group was also rather hung over so we got back much faster than them, and spent an hour or so lying around on the beach.

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We had lunch together at a restaurant (Lendas’ Bar, for anyone wondering) by the water where we ate on our first night – very good food for a reasonable price. We sat around eating and drinking sangria for a while and catching up for the first time in two years, before going for a walk through the town centre to look for postcards and souvenirs.

That night Chiara’s group was off to the Nah Nah Bah, so Andre and I, not quite able to face another Nah Nah Bah burger (excellent as they were, they were just too big to have too often!) had dinner at a nearby garden restaurant. The weather in Lagos was perfect for eating outside, the food was excellent and the service was wonderful. Europeans often make me feel stupid – most of them can speak two languages, it is common (at least in the tourism industry) for them to speak three (one of our hostesses this night spoke Portuguese, English and German – at a minimum) and it’s not terribly uncommon (again, at least in the tourism industry) to come across someone who can speak four at a passable level. Still full from lunch, I couldn’t finish my carbonara, and despite how excellent the desserts looked we couldn’t think about eating one. It was an excellent way to finish our stay in Lagos.

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