We crossed the border and into Portugal, immediately our progress is halted with a confusing sign that suggests tourist should pull over into what looks like a toll gate. We pull in, and try to decipher how this country has decided to charge people for use of their poor road network. Portugal uses a pre-pay system that’s confusing and results in no one using the motorways. This tollgate was a way of registering your number plate with a credit card so you could buy some motorway time. Not taking Visa Debit, we didn’t bother, and like everyone else we’ve stuck to the poorly maintained roads that run along the coast. We entered Portugal at the “Algarve” an area that was lost to tourism in the 60’s, we quickly decided this wasn’t for us and drove straight through. Picking up three hitchhikers on our drive, two brits and an aussie girl that wanted to get to a hostel in Lagos, made the journey more interesting. This also made a nice little detour through Lagos, which we probably would have skipped otherwise. There’s fresh orange juice sold along most of the roads in the Algarve, and since it was a scorcher we couldn’t resist. We continued until we came to the most southern west tip of Europe – Sagres.
This is a Surfers paradise, and what seems to be the start of the campervan coast. Leaving the Mediterranean behind, we’ve progressed to the Atlantic side again. The lighthouse at Sagres is mainly surrounded by cliff tops, hovering over quite a ferocious sea. The temperature has noticeably dropped, and a group of Portuguese street sellers are capitalising on this, selling big heavy blankets and jumpers. 25 Euros for a big heavy cotton blanket that now covers our RIB bed, and gives a homely feel to the van. Also it felt nice to support a Local Portuguese family, as there’s a big divide between them and the wealthy people that have moved here.
We parked up here for the night, and the mist descended. Barely being able to see the van next to us, but still being able to hear the crash of the waves below was an odd sensation, but it’s a great place to spend a night, as long as you don’t mind a little battering from the wind. Just around the corner on the Med side, there’s some stunning beaches, so you can hide from the elements if you wanted, but the town’s a little scarce.
The lighthouse is a bit of an attraction, and people seem to gather here to watch the sun going down. Being right at the bottom of Europe, we get a nice sensation that we are actually quite far from home, and watching the sun going down is a nice way to end our first day in Portugal.