We got up early and went walking to the bus station in Lagos because we didn’t know how long it will take us to the central bus station at the city centre on foot. We left at 9:15 a.m. with the Eva Bus to Sagres which is an hour away. The bus ticket costs at a very reasonable price of 3.80€.
We got off at the central square in Sagres, where the tourist information is also located. First, we decided to take our breakfast and found a cafe on the way to the beach. Our day began with a cake. From there we walked directly down to the vast and fantastic beach, “Praia da Mareta”. It was surrounded by rocks and really impressive. Had we known that the preceding days will be rainy and colder, we would have taken advantage of a refreshing plunge on the Atlantic sea.
After a hundred photos or so, we decided to go to the farther end fortress, the “Fortaleza de Sagres”. It lies on the southwest of the town on a one kilometre long and 300 meters wide headland with steep cliffs of Ponta de Sagres. It is a national monument with paramount significance not only to Portugal but for the world in general. The fortress was originally built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s a vast complex with ruins, a lighthouse, magnificent scenery and view on a high promontory with the Atlantic sea around it. The entrance fee is 3€ per person.
Within this fortress lies the famous stone circle which was unearthed only in 1928 whose age and purpose are unclear. The ring is divided into 42 fields and with a diameter of 43 meters is interpreted as a wind rose (Rosa dos Ventos), but could also have been a sundial. What is agreed, however, is that it comes from the time of Henry the Navigator. There is also an old church which was converted into a mini-cinema where they show a short film about Portugal etc. We circled the whole area with awe and amazement.
To the west just behind the “Praia de Beliche” is a small fort, the “Fortaleza de Beliche“ which in 1587 was destroyed by the soldiers of Francis Drake, except for the little chapel of Santa Catarina. After it was rebuilt in 1632 and 1755, it was destroyed again by a great earthquake and ensuing tsunami. It lies over 200 years in ruins. According to current estimate, the quake had a magnitude of about 9.0 on the Richter scale, and its epicentre was only 200 km southwest of Cabo de São Vicente in the Atlantic. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters in European history. The Fortaleza de Beliche was restored in 1960 during the 500th death anniversary of Henry the Navigator.
It was sunny and warm, so we decided to take the later bus going back to Lagos, to explore the town a bit more. Our next destination was the port, Porto da Baleeira from where we went straight to the next fortress ruins, the “Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Guia” better known as “Forte da Baleeira”. There was hardly anything left there, just some remnants of a wall and an arch, but the view of the harbour and the sea from this another high promontory is fantastic. One can proceed from Sagres to Cabo de São Vicente but the bus doesn’t ply the route every day, and there was no taxi in sight. It was decided that 6 kilometres on foot was too far and we were not certain if there will be enough time to catch the last bus going back to Lagos. We then took the last bus at 17.10 o’clock. The buses during our whole trip are punctual, reliable, well-maintained and quite comfortable. This also goes for the toilets that are very clean, something that you would never have expected even in other European countries.
Since we planned to travel by bus in Portugal, we came prepared and printed out all possible timetables and schedules. The only problem with the buses in Portugal perhaps was that there were no timetables posted in many bus stops saved by the ones at the central stations. So it’s advisable to come prepared really. Check out beforehand the schedule esp. for Algarve at Eva Bus website.
Back in Lagos, we still have to go grocery shopping and already feeling miserable. Coming from the bus station, there was no supermarket in sight, and it was already getting late. I already had a blister on my foot from too much walking even though I had good walking shoes. Then we passed by at a big supermarket, bought food and drinks (water and sodas). There was no bus or taxi around to take us back to our hotel. We, of course, misjudged the distance and my companion insisted on walking back home with the heavy load at hand, and my sore feet made it even harder to walk. I literally had to drag myself towards our apartment. We later found out that there is a small grocery store next-door which you can buy all the bare essentials. Argh!
After putting away our grocery, we decided to go down to the beach, Praia Dona Ana. It was just 5 minutes on foot from our place, and you have to go down the stairs to get to the actual beach. There were a couple of people still. My friend wanted to swim, but after getting a shock from the ice-cold water, he abandoned the idea. I goaded him a bit, but he did not dare. While I was taking pictures from the stairs, there was a Canadian woman who was also taking pictures, and we struck a small conversation on how beautiful it really is on the beach and the area.
In the evening it was clear that the guidebook was truly right – we should not underestimate the Algarvean sun. My friend had a terrible sunburn in every possible place, and I had on my face esp. my nose. Luckily I wore a long-sleeved shirt when we were out and about.