A peaceful, contented walk to the resort, enjoying the Algarve weather and soon we were in bed.  Next day tour was going to start at 2:30 in the afternoon. After a pizza margarita, fried mushrooms in olive oil and a sandwich, we took a stroll around the resort admiring the cute houses and beautiful neighbourhood. Rua De Amanheia had some of the familiar garden plants like Cactuses, Periwinkle, Boganvellia  etc.

The pickup Van arrived on time and we were soon transferred into a bigger bus with Vanda and Tiego taking over the control for rest of the day. The journey through the vine yards and orange farms was interesting. The cute and colourful houses with their distinctive Moorish chimneys kept me busy and the sunny weather added to the energy. This time of the year it was mainly the elderly generation who were part of our bus crowd. The younger generation or the families flock here during July and August, which is the summer break in this part of the world.

As we moved towards Lagos, I could get few glimpses of the urbanized Portugal with taller buildings, wider roads and beautiful roundabouts. The trees in Portugal were much closer to those found in India and I was happy to meet them here. It was more like meeting few old friends. Nilgiri or Eucalyptus tree were prominently visible and so were the banana trees. The Portuguese language has huge Arabic influence apart from the architectural influence.

The major crops in this area as informed by Tiego were Oranges, Olives and Almonds. As we passed few thick lines of trees on the roadside, Tiego gave us information on the corks. Right from how the cork is being produced to how the natural wooden cork is better for wines. Passed a huge bridge on river Arad at Portemao and also could have a look at a flock of Flamingos, quite symbolic of this colourful culture. I am not sure if Portuguese culture has it but, the flamingo dance in equally colourful outfit is part of Spanish culture.

Tiego kept us entertained in his humorous way of sharing the information and it came naturally to him. I was surprised to hear Potato being called Batata in Portugese and realized the name in Marathi (Local language in state of Maharashtra) must have come down from Portuguese language.  The pottery houses exhibited some of the classical pottery, giving insight into Portuguese art.

Our first halt was at one of the classy rock formations near Lagos. Lagos at this place is at its best and it was a treat for me to capture few of the stunning views and pose against few of the spectacular rock formations. My Galaxy S3 did good justice to this place, full of rock formations, caves and stark green sea.

This place is quite high up the hill, with steps to reach out to the bottom, to touch the sea. After few clicks, we followed the steps down to the sea. The steps are carved out of the stone to take you close to the beautiful rock formations. As we descended close to the sea, the beauty of the serene sea and dramatic rock formations got more intense.

Sheetal being in her third month of pregnancy was slow, but then did not want to miss any of this beauty and made down few 100 steps to touch the sea here. The boat rides were ready to take people through the cave formations, similar to the one that we did a day earlier. Although this place is quite touristy we went during the off season, leaving all the beauty for us to enjoy.

The next stop was Lagos Marina and the slave market. We followed the footsteps of some of the early navigators, sailors and slaves as well. When Portugal as a country opened up new avenues in terms of sea faring and reached out to remote corners of the world via sea route. This was the time when the Europe had started looking out for options to silk route, the age old trade route for many-many centuries.

Come to think about it, was such a crucial turning point and Henry the Navigator stands there as a testimony to all this development. People who dared to think differently and break out of the crowd have always contributed immensely to the ways we live our life today. It’s that passion of mankind that has driven him to reach those heights and challenge others.

Today this place is a very cute square with a fort on one end and the marina and a beach on the other side. A greenish looking statue, quite similar to statue of liberty stands there. The narrow alleyways are dotted with cute houses, cobbled pathways and the inviting roadside cafes are having their own unique ambiance. The fish delicacies is the most important dish in their menu and it was nice to see the tourists, enjoying this laidback life for few moments and immersing in the atmosphere of hospitality, fun and love.

The abundance of fish and the clear waters at the marina was amazing. The Sunny weather had added lot of vibe to the atmosphere and our fellow travellers were busy catching all this beauty in their cameras to cherish for long. Moorish influence was again prominent, exhibited through the fort build in stones with narrow alleyways.

Our next stop was “End of the World”. This was the most dramatic sea shore I had visited in my life and I was stunned by the sheer beauty of this place. The rocky cliffs, roaring sea, green expanses of clean water reaching out to the horizon, was quite exciting place to visit and cherish. This is the place, which people at some point imagined as the end of land, until Columbus reached America.

But then this place still has its significance for the mesmerizing view of the Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful light house and freshness of air and makes you feel like flying. It might have inspired many people to dive into the roaring sea and feel that amazing thrill. The only way to express my ecstasy was to breathe the fresh air, standing on the cliff, facing the sea, feeling like flying and being at the top of the world.

The day was well spent in getting few glimpses of the Portuguese culture, understanding the beauty of Algarve and getting lost into the stunning views of the dramatic sea. Tiego’s energy was still 100% and he briefed us on the inefficient toll road and few of the uncompleted projects as well, wasting hard earned people’s money and some of the well-known inefficiencies of their local government, quite typical to our own democracy. Well all governments are more or less same, isn’t it?

I really wanted to spend the evening again at Marina, at the sound of the waves, buzz of the tourists, relooking at beautiful yachts and attractive cafes, crowded with beautiful people, letting themselves into the atmosphere of peace and livelihood, allowing them to be happy and exchanging smiles, admiring the Portuguese hospitality and pampering their taste buds. The marina has it all, it has that life and I had fallen in love with it. But then Maitri and Sheetal did not really have that energy left and we decided to enjoy the hospitality in our very own, Cafe Rio.

The dinner and treatment at Rio Cafe today was exclusive and I was amazed at the change in demeanour of the lady who appeared quite rude in the morning. Human nature is so inexplicable.  The bread with cheese, tuna spread, piri piri chicken gravy with rice, grilled salmon, banana split and a large beer turned out to be a proper Portuguese dinner in the ambiance of a beautiful cafe.

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