As the Tide Turns

I know you aren’t going to believe us when we tell you that we needed a vacation from our vacation, but it’s true! In order to get a little R & R we had to visit the beach twice. Being on the road for six or seven months is great but the constant moving from one place to the next, and visiting one great city after another, makes a couple of travelers a little grumpy. We definitely needed a time out … And we thought–let’s try the beach resorts in Portugal. Most Canadians think of Mexico or Cuba when it comes to a beach holiday–perhaps they should reconsider and put Portugal on their list. We visited two different resort towns. Figueira da Foz and Lagos (Algarve region). Both were a little on the sleepy side as most tourists stop by in summer–not February and March–but we liked the fact that we almost had these two places to ourselves. Luckily the weather was fantastic. Believe it or not, I actually got a tan. I am the whitest white person I know … and I actually got a tan. What makes this even better is that I didn’t have to lay on the sand long to accomplish it. No sun burn either. After spending 6 weeks in Portugal,  I am trying to convince Wade that this is where we should retire! So in 9 years … look for us in Portugal. You would come and visit, right?

Our first beach town …  was Figueira da Foz. This little beauty was a complete surprise. We didn’t do a lot of homework on this one. We chose it because it was close to Coimbra. (It’s  approximately 40 km from the city.) Most travelers come to Figueira to see its casino–not us though. We didn’t even know it existed. We came for the beach, and we weren’t disappointed.

At the far end of the Figueria beach there are a lot of rocks along the shore. We loved watching the waves clamber over the rocks.

Wade and I practically had the beach to ourselves in Figueira. We did a lot of "wave watching".

While walking along the shoreline we came across these interesting flowers. We love how vibrant the purple is here. Simply gorgeous.

Seeing these images makes me homesick for Figueira! Ironically many tourists come to this resort town because of its casino. We didn't know anything about the casino until our cab driver told us ... and we were leaving the town. We didn't feel bad though. The beach was enough for us. There are great walkways along the beach. We found a wonderful cafe that we visited every day!

We enjoyed gorgeous sunsets every night. Even though we were here in February the weather was incredible! Normally it's +14 - 15 in January and February; when we were here it was +18 - 20 Celsius.

I couldn't resist taking this picture. I was just playing around with the camera and the light. It turned out quite well considering I had to take the picture one handed.

The Portuguese name for the dish is Arroz de Marisco. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. We should have taken a before and after picture of our table! This particular dish had clams, mussels, squid, shrimp, crab ... Delicious!

This panorama only captures a quarter of the beach (if that) in Figueira. What a wonderful place to wander ...

Our second vacation from our vacation was Lagos. It is a little resort town found in the Algarve region. With it’s wonderful old town and quick access to the beaches it is a popular spot for rest and relaxation. Lagos is unique because of the sea stacks or cliffs that dot the coastline. These wonderful beauties actually keep the wind at bay when you are sunbathing. When the tide is out you can walk around or under the sea stack arches. Be careful though–the tides can sneak up on you!

Another shot of the intriguing sea stacks! The sand is great here. The locals really look after the town beach.

What makes Lagos' beaches unique are these wonderful sea-stacks. They also provide shelter from the wind.

It's hard to believe that this building is where the first African slaves were imported and sold. Today this building is an art gallery. Strange but true. On a lighter note, don't you just love how the locals just pop down to the beach for a little nap in the sun?!

The Lagos Customshouse from another angle. If you examine the background carefully, you can see the beach that runs opposite the town beach. I think you know which beach we preferred.

The last time Wade was here the waves were crashing up and over the sea wall. On this day the water was much tamer. Many locals and visitors take sailing lessons here. We loved watching a parade of little white sails pass us by on Saturday afternoons.

9 years away from retirement, you say … I don’t know if we can wait that long. Not when there are worlds like this just waiting for us …