portu-gal’s

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Two ‘gals’ {sisters} in Portugal during a completely cloudless, warm summer – it’s safe to say what you’re picturing will be relatively accurate.

Laughter. Sunscreen. Cheese and crackers. Tanning Oil. Espresso Martini’s. Sand. 90’s tunes. Wine. Bikinis. Seafood.

We based ourselves in Lagos – one of the most visited towns on the Algarve coast. The town lies on the bank of the Rio Bensafrim, with piazzas and churches scattered throughout what felt more like a cobbled lane village, bordered with old town walls. For a tourist hotspot, Lagos has the lot I guess. It hosts a wide range of food options, you can walk almost everywhere and you can get a taste of the cliff formation style Atlantic beaches the region is famous for within a short walk of the centre of town. With a busy summer vibe, a non-daunting cultural influence and a pumping nightlife (from what we hear), I guess it’s not surprising that people of all ages are drawn to Lagos. However, it just wasn’t for me.

While I may sound like a negative Nancy with a flippant judgement of this town, the trip was easily one the best of my life. The picturesque Portuguese coast combined with quality one on one time with my sister was a force to be reckoned with. After five days of sisterly fun, our highs, lows and top tips are below’;

High’s
They say life is about the journey, not the destination and while I’m usually the first to squirm at cheesy, motivational quotes – this trip was exactly that. It wasn’t The Algarve that made it what it was, but it was the person I was with. My sister and I are the best of friends, so needless to say living worlds apart can be hard at times making our time in Portugal very special. We drove the highways, dirt roads and back streets cruising from one beach to the next, visiting local villages and seeing national parks while belting out 90’s soundtracks of our childhoods, talking and laughing like only two sisters can. We tackled driving a manual, left hand drive car, we drank espresso martini’s on rooftops at sunset, drove in to public squares where cars weren’t allowed, we ate fresh seafood and tried local, calorific Portuguese tarts for breakfast. We went to bed and rose early each day to ensure we covered off nearly the entire coast line but most importantly, we loved every single minute of it – because we were together.

Sorry Portugal – my sister won this one.

  

Low’s
I’ve got to be honest – trying to write this post I’ve really struggled to pinpoint what Portuguese culture actually is…Nando’s peri peri chicken? From what we experienced, I can’t really put my finger on it. There were more restaurants with Italian or Spanish menu’s than Portuguese, more tourists than locals, more souvenir shops selling Australian boomerangs and more hotels, resorts and hostels than traditional casa’s. I’m not by any means taking the Algarve as a representation of the entire country, but I travel for culture. Getting a taste of as many cultures as I can is exactly why I continue to live poor and save/spend all of my money on tickets to new cities. I want to see how other people live, what they love, what they do – and I just didn’t get that from the Algarve. It’s the scenery that grabs you down there, not the culture.

Top tip
Get a car. I can’t recommend this enough! While you now know I didn’t love Lagos, it is the perfect place to base yourself. We stayed just out of the town in Villa Graciosa – a gorgeous, quiet villa which became our home to escape from the seemingly hedonistic centre of town and return to, to relax after our daily road trips. While our villa was gorgeous and there were a few pretty beaches local to Lagos (Praia do Camilo & Praia Dona Ana) without our own transport, we wouldn’t have been able to see as much of the coast line as we did. The less touristy beaches, the caves, the cliff headlands and the West Coast are simply stunning and really must be seen to be believed. It’s not often you come across places that look as stunning as their google images – but most of our favourite spots below were even better in real life;

SOUTH
Benagil Caves
Praia da Marinha
Praia de Benagil

WEST
Praia do Amado
Praia do Martinhal
Sagres
Praia do Beliche
Odeceixe-mar
Praia da Arrifana
Cabo de Sao Vincente

Praia da Marinha

There were some clear highs, lows and tips after the five days exploring this photographers paradise, but at the end of the day, for me it really all comes down to my sister;

Katie, if you’re reading this, I can’t thank you enough for choosing me to go on your first European adventure with. It was a trip of a lifetime and a bunch of memories I will never forget. I love you and I will now miss you even more than I already did, everyday. I can’t wait till we can sit back and reminisce over a gin and tonic telling our children, husbands, parents and probably anyone who will listen, about our time on the Algarve Coast.

Sarah xo

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