After the busy sightseeing and the scary hills of Porto and Lisbon, we were ready for some serious relaxation time. So it´s lucky that next stop was lovely Lagos, sunny resort town on the Algarve coast of Southern Portugal.
Weather forecasts aside, we couldn´t have had a better weekend... Lagos, home to just under 15,000 very lucky Portuguese people, swells to bursting point with tourists in the summer months, but even though we topped 25· and the sky was clear, the place felt half-abandoned. The beaches were sparsely populated and the streets were quiet - exactly as it would have been if we could have planned it!
Doing the sightseeing part took all of about an hour, including a wander around the museum at the Igreja de Santo António. The museum itself was a fairly random assortment of old weapons, minerals, models of boats and religious ornaments. Oh, and a coin collection including some fairly manky looking New Zealand currency! The church though, was another exercise in excess in terms of decoration - it was actually quite tiny, but every inch was taken up with intricate gilted wood carvings, and way too many carvings of cherubs [some of whom, Antony was most disturbed to notice, had beards..]
There are also some remaining parts of old city wall fortifications, and a very cool little fort on the waterfront from the 1680s.
And once you´ve seen all that, all that is really left [what a shame] is the beach!
One of the most frequented beaches in summer was very lightly attended when we went, with absolutely stunning white sand, perfect blue water and spectacular cliffs and caves on either side... We also climbed a fairly scary looking cliff top path to reach a more remote beach, with just as much awesome sand, water and super view, but with far fewer people - we even got it to ourselves for a few minutes, and that´s something I can be fairly certain we would have missed out on if we were here in summer.
Lagos was a superb relaxation point early on in our trip, and definitely worth the stop, even if only to confirm that there is definitely no photoshopping necessary in all those lovely postcards of the Algarve coast!!