So Lief wants to go to the Algarve to continue our biking pilgrimage. His brother concurs, even with the prospect of an early morning rise for a 14km bike ride at 6am to catch the 7:30 train from Caldas da Rainha. The first of four trains to get us to Lagos on the south coast of the Algarve.... So we abandoned our plans to go to Cascais and set this train in motion the very next day. Big day on trains, 7 hours.
We are blessed by the friendly train manager of Caldas da Rainha who allows four bikes on his train, instead of the usual limit of two. We are so relieved and grateful, as otherwise it would mean splitting up and two of us arriving six hours later on our destination, if lucky...
This blessing allows us to travel by train to Sintra, but he warns us that it depends on the train managers in Lisbon whether we can continue to Lagos. Three more trains, three more train managers to navigate, buying tickets for each train at each station and getting to the right platform in time....hm... feel the nervous system at high alert.... BREATHE DEEPLY behind your face mask and breathe some more. Trust, pray, live in the moment and look out the window at the scenery and incredible tile work at passing train stations, or have a nap, and/or read your book on your app...
The helpful Comboios de Portugal website (and app) makes everything straightforward and all the trains run on time. The website even gives a helpful breakdown of the amount of carbon saved traveling by train vs a private car. Wish this kind of carbon feedback were given for traveling in Canada, with its bigger distances to cover and generally bigger vehicles.
We pull into Lagos station at around 2:30pm. A much hotter, sunnier and drier place. The environment is sandy, with fewer trees, more cactus and low shrubs. Wild and windy coast with big cliffs and sandy beaches.
In Lagos, Lief and Sol found a true sportsman haven with football (soccer) pitch, tennis court, trampoline and a swimming pool all within walking distance of the house we were staying. Not surprisingly, they were out for most of the day. Sol said: "Mom, I'm so busy here, there is so much to do!" The owner of the house also is a big football fan and they were shown his collection of soccer jerseys and scarfs.... even a Canada flag was among his collection.
To my surprise, next to the house was a beautiful little chapel, full of original artworks by local Portuguese artist Tina Goncalves. I especially enjoyed the Baptist Cove, with unique depictions in Aquamarine Blue.
Lagos has a very different feel from the northern beach towns we have been to. Not only is the temperature higher and its nature quite different, there are so many expats here and stores and places are geared towards this population. We found many Dutch and British specialty treats at Intermarche supermarket, and English books and magazines at the FNAC and Tobacco store. At the stores and on the streets we have seen the largest amounts of non-Portuguese people, we assume they have been here since before the lockdown.
We are heading west along the coast to Sagres next, which is more out of the way on one of the most southern parts of Portugal. TBC