Europe Trip – Portugal – Southern stretch of the Portuguese west coast


Leaving Lisbon behind, we headed south to the wind swept, bleak Cabo Espichel with an abandoned monastery. The desolate frightening tall cliff top location of the cape was so windy that our heavy camper was shaken side to side like a leaf, even with stabilizing legs down. We had to move 3 times in the middle of the night to get a little shelter by a ruined wall! We all got little sleep that night.

Tired on the morning of Christmas Eve, we headed to 3 different campsites all of which were closed. At the last one located on a very steep uphill street, we encountered the closed gate and no place to turn around. Forced to back up a steep uphill driveway, the bumper hit a pole and was ripped off the camper!! Cursing and feeling frustrated, Dimi managed to turn the camper around and we finally found a very rustic campsite further south. The slippery roads, pouring rain and mud puddles in the campsite did nothing to lighten our mood. Christmas day was not any better as the torrential rains continued! Cabin fever overtook us all and we just dressed for rain and headed to a nearby beach. A few hours later soaked and cold, we were all glad to be back in our little cocoon.

The nearby Parque Natural da Arrábida with golden beaches and chiseled cliffs offered a nice retreat the next day. A quick stop in the nearby town of Setúbal, we visited Igreja de Jesus (Jesus Church)with its sand-colored early Manueline architecture. It was adorned with gargoyles, twirling turrets & twisted pillars.

Heading straight south along the southern west coast of Portugal, we visited many magnificent beaches at Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. Each of these beaches was quite unique and great to visit; They were backed by lofty cliffs, full of secluded coves, had wide stretches of dune-backed shores or were just  wild rocky shores with huge waves.

Cabo de São Vicente, Europe’s southwesternmost point, was a barren headland where touristy Portugal, the Algarve, began. All of a sudden we encountered lots of campers, all retired folks escaping the winter of northern Europe.

Next stop, south coast Portugal renowned for its beaches!!


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