Lagos to Lisbon
Monday, September 25, 2017
1.5 km walking, 270 km train, across Lisbon by metro to Baixa Chiado, 1.5 km walking to Cais do Sodré to Five Stars 8 Apartment Building
We rose in the dark, before 7 AM, ate a clementine and yogourt and headed for the train station in the predawn empty streets of Lagos. Lovely! A 1.5 kilometre walk took us across the pedestrian bridge to the train station, a cafe de leite and a nata (custard tart…very flaky crust). The train left a few minutes early. We were in Tunes less than an hour later where we changed trains on the same platform for our first class car to Lisbon. The seats are more comfortable but no extra legroom. In fact I have less. I have a small table between me and a man. The table legs take up my foot room. The windows are only marginally cleaner. For better train travel it sure would be good to have clean windows. The first class carriage is quieter than second class and it has curtains for those who want to block the sun and the changing landscape. Had a cafe in the bar car.
We passed four golf courses along the coast but many more citrus groves, mostly oranges, I think, a few vineyards. We saw storks on nests; before this we only saw empty nests. A second nesting? Went through hilly country going north, dry meadowland, some clocks of sheep, cork and olive trees, endless blue sky.
Arrived in very busy beautiful Lisbon. Look out for trams, cars, tuktuks, people! Good sandwiches at La Padraria Portuguesa. Room for 2 more on the sofa bed in our big apartment that even has a dishwasher. Too bad we will not be here long.
My friend, Joan, asked me where I would choose to stay for a month in Portugal based on our travels here. Tough question. Part of my decision making would be based on the time of year and what I would want to do. We came to Portugal in September specifically for kayaking the Douro River. This trip was only offered in June or September, both are months when I do not like to leave home but we wanted to do the kayaking trip and we are really glad we did. Our guide, Jack, is 76 (you would not guess this!) and he plans on retiring this fall, unless he doesn’t, but Rui, his partner, will be continuing.
What we saw of the Douro was from the river, but if I were to pick a spot to locate on the Douro, I would probably choose something on the upper Douro, east of Regua. We walked across a
Grande Randonnee hiking trail. These trails come down from France. Something to research further.
You may have guessed, we like an active trip; so we would look for an area suited to hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling. I am not, however, the cyclist our son is; so a lot of uphill would not be on my list unless I could switch to electric. It makes sense to pick a place that is central to a number of opportunities; so, much as I love water, a coastal location is not ideal.
Based on what we have seen, and preferring to travel in April, I would probably pick Zambujeira, on the Fisherman’s Trail since there are stunning views and beautiful beaches ( too cold for swimming but good for hiking). It is very accessible if you rent a car to hike more trails( the whole Rota Vicentina which includes side loops and the historical way) and see more great panoramas. There are rivers running to the coast suitable for kayaking. It’s not far from inland villages of historical significance or from the Algarve should you wish to see more tourists. It’s two and a half hours to Lisbon or three and a half hours to Seville by car. Buses will take longer. There is no train from there.
I would probably check information about Monchique which is inland from Zambujeira. I have not been there but it would be more central for the southwest, away from cool Atlantic winds, good hiking area. Evora is a larger town. We did not go there but we met other couples who were using it as a central place from which to explore southern Portugal.
Based on what a couple of Portuguese men have told us southeast Portugal on a lake is the best place to be. I am not sure what lake they had in mind but it appears that there is a reservoir and the Vale do Guadiana National Park which looks very interesting for hiking and water activities and is central for south Portugal and close to Spain (2.25 hours to Seville and another 1.75 hours to Gibraltar).