Way further down the road on our trip, in the north of Spain the van got broken into. The person that thought he needed our stuff more than we needed it ourselves took several items from the van including our laptop with all our pictures and unedited blogs. Because of this event we have barely any pictures to show in the coming blogs so some of the pictures will be taken from the internet to give you an idea, and some of the pictures will be lower quality snapshots from our phones.
Passing over a hanging bridge crossing the border into Portugal (the Portuguese make sure you know you arrive in Portugal), a huge sign crossing 4 lanes of highway welcomes you into their beautiful country.
Since we did not get any groceries in a couple days the first thing we did in Portugal was look for a supermarket. We always got off the highways as soon as we could, this was also the case after crossing the border. There were a couple of things that we noticed right away that were different than what we were used to in Spain. The roads in Portugal were not all that good, and it took me a while to get used to them. The people speak English way better, we didn’t know in which language to speak to the butcher in the supermarket and he just looked at us like we were fools. But sure enough the guy started speaking in perfect English, this could have been a coincidence but also the girl behind the cash register spoke perfect English. This comfort of English speaking people somehow comes with the price that you don’t get to know the language like you would do in non English speaking countries. It took me longer than a day to find out exactly what they say to greet one another or how to order something. Another thing that really surprised us the first day in Portugal were the prices of food. What we payed for our first groceries was less than half of what we would have paid in Holland.
With these changes in mind we set for Faro, no real reason to do so except it being the first real city on the map. The city did not really feel like the cities we were before. Somehow it has less character or appeal. We talked about it for a while and decided that the reason was because somehow they just did not spent as much effort or money on making it all look good. While that was our thought on the first towns we crossed, Faro had more appeal. First we parked out of town in a place where I thought we could spend the night, but we didn’t. Instead we had dinner at this spot with a great view, the sun was setting into the city as the tide was making the little fisher boats wiggle in the water. The moments of colorful sunbeams were interrupted every now and then by some raindrops.
When we finished dinner we set out for a Champions League night, we had to play Manchester United. By “we” I mean PSV Eindhoven and we were the underdog more than ever before. We drove into town, parked close to an Irish Pub and started drinking when the game started, and started drinking more after we got 0-1 behind. After 90 minutes of football some beers and some shots offered by the bartender we ended up winning 2-1. We headed for the small streets of Faro being tipsy and looking for some food and another place to drink. We ended up at a small fisherman’s bar where we had beers with Xavier and Sophie that we had met earlier in the Irish Pub. Overjoyed with this unexpected win and too drunk to drive we slept in the middle of town just 10 meters away from our last bar, Portugal had a real good start!
Without too much of a hangover we woke up the next morning, knowing we were in a payed parking from 9 till 9 we had to get out of there not too much passed 9. We set off into the Algarve to see what it is known for: the beautiful coastline with cliffs and caves and beaches straight out of travel brochures. We Googled “best beaches in the Algarve” and we drove to the one that was closest to us. For us the famous pictures of cliffs with white beaches and blue oceans were probably too good to be true, but when we got to the first beach it came pretty close to what we imagined. Except for the rain that was pouring down the first day that we came across these cliffs. The big cliffs were mainly orange rocks that drop into deep blue water, and in the concaves had small golden beaches. That night we slept on top of one of these cliffs that looked out over a beach with on the far side two arches rising above the waves. Seagulls gliding from one cliff towering above the water to the next cliff to get away from us.
Waking up early the next morning we hiked down these cliffs to get to the beach that was below. The early morning sun being soaked up by the cliffs and the sky clearing out to be blue with no clouds in sight. We got down there before anybody else did that morning and through a cave we made our way to a tiny beach that was just about reachable because of the low tide. the scene of just 2 pair of footsteps in the sand the low hanging sun and some annoyed seagulls that were probably not used to being bothered this early made it a beautiful scene. After crossing over to some more of these little beaches, about 1 hour into our hike, more people started showing up and we made our way back to the van.
The coast of the Algarve is breathtaking all the way to the most south west point but 1 spot stood out above the others. Maybe because of us feeling like we were somewhat brave, or because we made it there before other people did. Also because we set aside our feeling of being a bit scared, and boldly going for something that had a element of danger and excitement. but most of all because of its beauty. We heard about caves ever since we got to the Algarve and that you could get there by boat from some beaches. While visiting one of our “Best beaches in the Algave” by google we accidentally ended up at the beach where these boats left from. Me always being allergic to touristic stuff, and really getting sick over the prices they dare to ask, it didn’t take long for us to decide we were not paying 28,- to get in one of those boats. We played with the thought of trying to swim there, we had no idea how far it was but the boats seemed to just turn around the corner when people where already taking pictures of something so there should be something there. We were gonna do it! With our feet in the water we got just a bit scared and cold so Desy decided to get into a wet-suit before we made the swim. Armed with a body-board, fins, wet-suit and a GoPro we set out to make what we thought was a long swim. Other people on the beach saw what we were up to and asked us about the cave and how to get there, we had no idea and this attention only made out nervousness grow bigger.
We swam out just about 25 meter when we could already see what seemed to be the entrance of the cave. The further we swam the clearer it got and we soon realized our life or dead swim was just 75 meters or so long. Overwhelmed with excitement and sense of achievement we were somewhat slammed on the beach in the cave and we were stunned by the place we got ourselves into. A beach about 150 meters wide with a entrance spit in the middle by a natural column, on either side of the column was an arch holding up the ceiling. The ceiling itself was a huge dome that must have been a 100 meters across. The light of the sun hit the beach in a ray that was around 10 meters in diameter and was shining through a round hole in the ceiling. This sunbeam sliced through the misty air in the cave in a 45 degree angle and created a strange light in the huge space. Again we made it to this spot before anyone else did that day witch made it all feel more special an unique. Shortly after we ran around on the beach, totally ruining the virgin sand, other people came swimming around the corner and about 15 minutes later we had to share the cave with at least 5 other people. This all did not matter much since that morning for 15 minutes we felt that we owned that cave, that moment, that space was ours for a short time and it could not have been better! Other people who payed for the boat trip could only view the cave from a far distance and were not allowed to swim into it, swimming there is by far the best option to see the cave and somehow I felt bad for the people standing in the boats with their life-vest tightly wrapped around their body. Still being impressed by the whole scene we swam out to the normal beach again, until days after we could not stop to tell people about how beautiful that cave was and how easily you can just swim there, “you have to go!” was our advise to everybody who would listen.
After the visit to the cave we headed to the most south west point, this was not a huge deal but from there on we would travel north. I got excited to body-board the waves Portugal is known for, and to try and see if we could try to surf a long board. This is gonna be the next goal of our trip.