consider this “fievel goes west 2: the portugal hitchhiking days”

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Cape St. Vincent

*** if you don’t get the reference, here ya go: Fievel Goes West IMDB

After leaving the hostel we were working at in Faro, it seemed like our choice of where to rest our heads at night got weirder and weirder. First, we stayed with our buddy Cosmos in Lagos, in what was basically a flat with a bunch of mismatched bunk beds shoved into each room, and a shower that for some inexplicable reason was built for 2 (literally, it had two brand new shower heads… he said it was to save water?). Our next stop, Sagres- further west in the Portuguese Algarve- appeared to have little to no hostel presence, so we decided to wing it- worst case scenario we sleep on the beach cuddled together, using our backpacks for pillows.

Cosmos palace

Cosmos palace

 

After hopping out of the ride that picked us up for the last leg to sleepy, very confusingly urban-planned Sagres, we spent approximately 4 minutes wandering around like idiots before a wrinkly peanut of a woman (approx. age.. 109) cycled up to us with an offer we couldn’t refuse. Ten minutes and a lot of broken Portuguese later, we were set up in the cheapest hostel I’ve stayed in the whole time I’ve been in Europe. 25 euro for a double bedroom, private bathroom, TV and wifi… inside this woman’s house.

Sagres hostel/house

Sagres hostel/house

Don’t take this the wrong way- there are NO complaints to be had here. All in all, it was not only a case of ‘right place at the right time,’ but this lady’s sense of entrepreneurship should inspire us all.

We dropped our bags off, repacked a backpack with the essentials (wine, cans of tuna, more wine) and headed out to catch what is deemed “possibly the best sunset you’ll ever see” (<- seriously we saw that on a sign.. way to hedge your bets, tour operators).

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the stupid facial expression is due to the carton of wine in my hand

St. Vincent is located about 6km outside of the town of Sagres, and is the western most point of the European continent. As we drove in earlier that day, the clouds started to close in on us, so we didn’t really know what (if anything) to expect of the sunset spectacular that we hoped to see. By the time we made it out there (only one carton of wine deep by then!) we still had an hour or so to spare, and with the cloud cover thickening by the minute it was hard to tell if we would end up seeing anything at all.

Apparently in a game of rock-paper-scissors, sun beats cloud…. most of the time. The sunset was maybe not ‘the best’ I’ve ever seen, but it was definitely worth the trek out there.

my version of Fievel Goes West (a classic tale of manifest destiny and the mouse that wouldn't give up)

my version of Fievel Goes West (a classic tale of manifest destiny and the mouse that wouldn’t give up)

 

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I totally get why people used to think the world was flat

Because we were on a ‘lets see the sun do stuff’ roll, the next morning we snuck out of our little house at the crack of dawn to check out the sunrise- thanks to a noisy and hungry mosquito in our bedroom both of us were up at 4 am. In the same sun vs. clouds game (except backwards), the sun lost bitterly to the heavy cloud cover. Literally, the sun never rose… we just sat on the beach for about half an hour, giving each other quizzical looks as the world around us became a lighter and lighter shade of grey. After a while we just shrugged and headed off in search of a decent cup of coffee.

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in the meantime, I opened my own Portuguese restaurant

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and we knitted bike and tree cozies.

That morning marked the last day my Australian friend and I stuck our thumbs to the wind together- in Odeceixe, we hugged each other goodbye, and I made my way to Lisbon (ok guys.. seriously don’t worry.. I only hitched like 20 km on my own and got free baked goods out of it!) to spend my last night in Portugal at an ACTUAL hostel- complete with too few bathrooms, plenty of dudes with dreads and guitars, and a great group of people to chat with before I hopped on a plane back to SPAIN!!!!

 

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i got 99 problems and beaches are like 12 of them

Just when I thought I felt kind of ‘meh’ about portugal, I headed to the Algarve. For the first few days I was in Faro (the capital of the Algarve, I think its because of the airport), the ‘meh-ness’ continued to grow- with Faro pretty much what you see is what you get.. a city. Faro is touted as a great hub for exploring the surrounding areas- within the city there really isn’twhole lot in terms of nightlife, cultural events, scenery, or beach.. but if you are really into malls you could probably pass a couple lovely afternoons at the giant shopping center conveniently located right across the street from the prison (urban planning fail or win?).

Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only one that needed to see the ‘real’ Algarve. Teased with promises of sea caves and word class beaches, my fellow work-trade-er set up a tour for us with a friend of the hostel, and after a rough night in which I learned a valuable lesson about how vodka probably doesn’t belong in sangria, we packed into one of those ridiculously tiny European cars and headed to paradise.

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First we headed to Benegil- one of those places you drive up to and groan a bit inside due to the hordes of tourists and ridiculously overpriced restaurants- but then you arrive at your destination and you’re like.. oh nope, I totally get why everyone wants to come here. No hard feelings, fellow tourists, I also enjoy crystal clear water, soft sand, and amazing photo-ops. Turns out I’m not all that different from the guy wearing Tevas with socks and zip-off pants.

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if you look really closely you might be able to see boobs. I mean, its Europe.

This was when my hangover started to cower in fear.. nothing stops that day after feeling like jumping into super cold water. The main attraction here, apart from the amazing beach, is the sea caves (in the photo above they would be sort of down and to the left). After a few irresistible photo ops we ditched our cameras and clothes at the car and swam out to the cave.

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from above the cave

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I like to think I’m not that person.. but I TOTALLY am that person.

Although the trusty iPhone wasn’t hardy enough to brave the swim (at this point my phone case is literally about to disintegrate.. I don’t know if I can handle the trauma of choosing a new one), our friend/guide/chauffeur brought along a GoPro, so you can thank him for the following photos.

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I’m the one on the right that looks both naked and dead. I promise I am not either of those things.

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yup, still dead.

This was one of those experiences where you literally feel like the world has stopped- after passing out on the little beach inside the cave for an indeterminate period of time, the swim back to the main beach was almost an out of body experience. The cold, clear water seemed more buoyant than normal as I leaned back, sun on my face and forgot about the rest of the world. I probably would have stayed like that for a lot longer, but unfortunately I am only human and humans need lunch.

Still in our bathing suits (cause fuck clothes), we headed to Praia da Marinha for a picnic and more photo ops. This beach is considered to be one of the top 10 beaches in Europe, and in the top 100 in the world. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a beach connoisseur, but lets just say if this were a bottle of wine I probably couldn’t afford it.

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just before I slammed my head into the rock. see ya later brain cells.

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BAHAHAHA I have a rat tail. gross.

A few days later, we were fiending so hard for some more epic coastline that we headed west, signs out, thumbs in the air, and ended up in Lagos. Deemed the party capital of the Algarve, I came for the drunk Australians and beer bongs (<- that is a blatant lie, I would do no such thing). Though the allure of guys with sunburns and super short shorts wore off really quickly, I can’t say the same for the coastline. Also, Lagos is home to my new favorite person Cosmos … that guy just makes everything better.


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Tearfully,  left Cosmos (and his killer tattoos) for the western-most point of Europe.. Sagres!