Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Portugal: Day 13

by Kathy 14. April 2011 16:40

Back to Portugal Index Page

<< Day 12: Rest and Relaxation in Burgau | Day 14: Burgau & Holistic Horse Lessons >>


Burgau and The End of the World

The tide surged in this morning, consuming the beach that surrounded the paved boat slipway:

In contrast, here is the beach from yesterday afternoon:

Next door to our apartment was the Brizze Cafetaria, where we had some breakfast and good coffee to start our day.

The waves were much higher than yesterday.

After breakfast, Genevieve wanted to get closer to their powerful energy:

(Not too close, please!)

We needed to make a quick trip to the nearby city of Lagos to search for an electrical adapter. To leave town required us to drive to the bottom of the boat slipway, make a sharp left along a narrow road at the base of the sea wall, and make another sharp left when we reached a second boat ramp.

We timed it so that our car scooted along the sea wall while the waves were receding. The pounding waves, and the potential for being swept away, were all very exciting! Our imaginations took over, wondering if our car could float out to sea, like in the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Staying on solid ground, we climbed back up through Burgau, past the pretty white-washed homes:

Over the past twenty years, the Algarve area has been under a construction boom, with many new homes and vacation rentals. Here are some of the new buildings we passed on the outskirts of Lagos:

On our return to Burgau, we followed this small RV, which looked like it had been on quite a few adventures. There was even a California license plate attached to the back (up near the rear window):

The peaceful tranquility of Burgau enveloped us on our return. We spent the rest of the morning at the now-smaller beach, where the children dug in the sand and danced about in the frothy waves.

I love this photo of Genevieve trying to hold back the waves:

By mid-afternoon, we were ready to venture off and do a little exploring. Twenty minutes down the road we arrived at the wind-swept point that the Romans believed was the “end of the world.”

We were near the town of Sagres, at the most south-western point of Europe—Cape St. Vincent. As the Romans watched the sun disappear in the distance, below the horizon line, they purportedly believed that it was dropping into the ocean and making the water boil.

Cape St. Vincent was named after the 4th century holy martyr, Saint Vincent of Saragossa, one of the two patron saints of Lisbon. He was imprisoned in Valencia, Spain, and tortured for his faith. When he died, ravens purportedly protected his body. Some stories recount that the ravens flew his remains to this point, while others say that his followers brought the body here. The ravens continued to guard his remains after a shrine was built over his grave. In 1173, King Afonso Henriques (Portugal’s first king) had the saint’s remains exhumed and brought to Lisbon by ship, allegedly with an escort of ravens.

Near the Cape, we had a fabulous view out over the Atlantic Ocean, sweeping from left to right:

The lighthouse on Cape St. Vincent was closed to visitors when we were there. It was built in 1846 on top of the ruins of a 16th century convent. Today, its powerful 1000-watt lamps can be seen over 35 miles away and help protect one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Near Cape St. Vincent was a modern sculpture marking Kilometer 0 of a bicycle trail:

We drove a short distance south of Cape St. Vincent to another promontory called Sagres Point:

Photo credit here

Many people believe that this was where Prince Henry the Navigator built a school in the 1400’s devoted to the study of navigation, astronomy and naval architecture. His fascination with cartography, sailing vessels, and nautical instruments helped to kick-start what is referred to as Portugal’s “Age of Discovery,” in which Portuguese explorers sailed to many distant lands. It is believed that students of the Sagres school include Vasco da Gama (who commanded the first ship to sail directly from Europe to India) and Bartolomeu Dias (the first European to have sailed around the Cape of Good Hope).

Other people claim that the school was actually in Lagos, or that there was no official “school” at all.

The place where the school might have stood is now encircled by fortress walls:

Different accounts date the construction of this fort to the 14th, 15th, or 16th centuries, with subsequent modifications. Much of it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake (which also leveled most of Lisbon). Parts of the fort were rebuilt afterwards, and significantly renovated in the 20th century.

Inside the front entrance, we found a small fireplace nook with side benches built into the wall, perhaps to keep the fortress guards warm on bone-chilling days.

One of the most intriguing things inside the fortress was a huge circle (note Genevieve and Sebastian standing near the right front):

The circle measures about 141 feet across and is called Rosa dos Ventos (compass rose). Historians do not know exactly when it was made, but they believe that it was either a sun or wind dial. It was rediscovered in 1921 under the ruins of a church that once stood here, and it has been renovated with pebbles for segment markers.

Also within the fortress was a restored church called Nossa Senhora da Graça (Our Lady of Grace), which was built in the 16th century to replace Prince Henry’s original church of 1459.

Here I am with Genevieve on the stairs:

Sebastian wanted to climb the steps too, with Ben:

The handful of other buildings within the fortress were modern, including one that provided a peek-a-boo window for Sebastian:

We all enjoyed wandering through the open spaces, up and down ramps, and absorbing the incredible scenery. Here is a photo of Sebastian that shows Cape St. Vincent in the distant background:

Along the exterior walls were a few old rusty cannons that called out to Sebastian:

The walls here were built on limestone cliffs with an almost vertical drop down to the water. The local fishermen had no obvious fear of heights, as they easily scaled the wall and balanced precariously on very small spaces to cast their lines.

Leaving the fortress parking lot, we passed a long curving row of motorhomes that appeared to be “wild camping.”

All of the homes in Sagres seemed to be white, except for this one, whose owners we applauded for daring to be different:

We joked that if we lived there, we wouldn’t even need an official street address—we could just be “The Yellow House in Sagres,” and everyone would know exactly how to reach us or deliver our mail.

On the short drive back to Burgau, we stopped by the tiny fishing village of Salema, which is highly touted as a “must visit” place by travel guru Rick Steves. We had originally planned to stay here, but our on-line research hadn’t revealed an ideal place for our family. (And then we had stumbled upon our lovely little apartment in Burgau, and the rest is history.)

Coming into Salema:

The village appeared to be a bit smaller than Burgau. Near the center of town, overlooking the sea, was a group of older men leaning against fishing boats:

When they saw us, one of the men broke away and approached us to see if we were looking for a room for rent.

Salema was indeed charming, with its cobblestone streets, white-washed homes, and small restaurants that looked fairly new:

We liked the slightly more energetic vibe of Burgau, however, and we didn’t regret our choice. On our way out of town, we missed our turn back to the main road and ended up on a narrow street that passed by a cluster of new homes on the other side of Salema.

Soon we reached an intersection with a sign that promised a fort if we turned right:

So we did, and found ourselves unexpectedly thrust into “adventure mode,” with the delicious anticipation of the unknown. Forte de Almádena was not in our guidebook.

Our road skirted a wide field and continued up a mountain:

An old stone house by the road:

From the top of the mountain, we had a great view down onto Boca do Rio beach, with its bevy of campers:

Forte de Almádena was in a fascinating state of ruin:

We later learned that it was built in the 16th century at the request of Dom João III (King John III) who wanted to protect the people along the Algarve coast from pirates who routinely raided coastal communities.

Ben, on the cliff edge:

Genevieve and Sebastian were eager to explore the ruins:

I had fun climbing the fortress walls:

Some of the walls seemed to be a bit unstable. The kids had wanted to climb up to one walkway, but I didn’t like the looks of the huge crack underneath. Ben decided to be their proxy:

Upside-down Genevieve!

Returning to Burgau, we continued on a dirt road that took us by a mass of new construction:

This older building, with its thick stucco walls and red-tile roof, looked empty.

In less than 10 minutes our dirt road connected with the paved street into Burgau. Change may be inevitable here.  The ever-spreading housing developments, most of them vacation homes, were undeniably transforming the environment. But so far, Burgau was managing to hang onto its low-key personality, which suited us just fine.

Back to Portugal Index Page

<< Day 12: Rest and Relaxation in Burgau | Day 14: Burgau & Holistic Horse Lessons >>

Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin