Portugal – from the Algarve into Alentejo province

Apologies for the delay in posting a blog this week – we’ve been in the internet wilderness of the northern Algarve.  We’ve had a fantastic time with Brenda, exploring the many beautiful beaches of the Algarve (and seeking protection from the wind in amongst the sea coves).  We’ve been SUPing, kayaking and hit the surf (although the wind was a bit too strong for me, Leigh is turning into quite the SUP-surfer) and have also explored the coast along to the south-eastern most point at Sagres.  The coastline gets more and more dramatic as you approach the point, which houses a wind-swept fort and lighthouse complex.  It was here that Henry the Navigator built his school of navigation and just down the road from Luz, where we were staying,  Lagos saw the departures of many of Henry’s expeditions.

We then headed north from Luz up along the wild Atlantic, where we stayed near the charming Vila Nova de Milfontes, a beautiful whitewashed town on the edge of an estuary fronted by wild Atlantic beaches.

We also wandered slightly inland, meandering along the Mira river to the charming medieval town Odemira, where we indulged in handmade chocolates and spent about 30 minutes trying to navigate our way out of the narrow cobbled streets with the main street closed due to road works.  We spent time exploring the beaches from Sagres north to the moorish village Aljezur, topped by a ruined castle set on a tiny river.  The whole area is a large natural park filled with wonderful wild flowers, gorse and cork trees.  Sadly we didn’t manage to find the much celebrated (and protected) local chameleon, Portugal being the only country in Western Europe where chameleons are found.

We’ve now headed even further inland, to Evora, and look forward to exploring the large, empty Alentejo region, the largest of the Portuguese provinces, but home to only 7% of the population.