Where: Portugal (Lagos)
When: late October – early November, 2011
How (transport): One eternally long and nauseating bus ride to and from Seville, Spain to Lagos (5 hours) via Damas bus company.
Duration: Long weekend
- an inexpensive, basic hotel.
Language: Portuguese, although in the city of Lagos – English is the most common language.
Tourist facts Not sure how we passed up the chance to stay at The Rising Cock hostel with it’s reputation as “best party hostel in the world,” but you live and learn. This beach town has a significant draw for backpackers and tourists, so it can be a mixed bag when you’re out at night. For the history buffs, the city walls surrounding the old quarter date back to the 16th century. In addition to several churches in town, most guidebooks point to the ‘Slave Market’ from the 15th century, where slaves brought back from the discovery voyages were sold.
Links I recommend during trip planning
for their helpful hints on eating in Lagos for 5 euros or less.
My absolutes Eat a cataplana. Try Sagres beer. Find a native Portugese man/woman (just to prove they’re there). Befriend a surfing Kiwi. Walk around the old quarter for a good view of the city walls. Swim in the ocean, which frames the city to the south. People watch at the 400+ berth marina, where the fisherman are showing off.
What I saw Lagos is a much smaller town than I expected, and as a result, is very walkable. Truly beautiful architecture circles the old quarter with many whitewashed homes and windowsills full of flowers. As a destination, it is very tourist-based with a heavy influence of Kiwis, Aussies and Brits. If you’re there for the surf, you probably won’t mind so much. I suspect that during the high season, you may find prices rising to match. At the time we visited, we were 2 of maybe 6 people in our whole hotel.
What I ate arguably the best meal of my life at Casinha do Petisco in Lagos. Chowing down with our new Kiwi friends we ordered four entrees and the table could barely hold the bounty. Fish, pork, the famous cataplana. With good wine and good company, I am hard pressed to beat this meal. This may also be due in part to the jolly chef who set things on fire for us, repeatedly.
A thumbs up to Don Toro, a steak house where we were surprised by a filling autumn meal (pumpkin soup, steak, potatoes). Although it ran up against my desire to eat local cuisine, it was exactly what we needed on a rainy night. Coincidentally, this was also one location where we were not harassed when reviewing the menu (one of my pet peeves).
If (when) I return I will return when the weather is a bit warmer, and THEN (and only then) will I attempt to surf.
Sorry I missed the sunshine! Not sorry I missed the crowds.
Thanks to Annalise and Mark for brilliant company, lessons on cricket and lots of accented English comparisons. We can’t wait to visit you in Auckland! Toby and David for giving us (ok, just Matt) a hell of a surf experience. Additional kudos to David for sending us into a back alley for an epic meal we would never have found otherwise.
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