I haven’t travelled much in Portugal, especially the countryside. The first time was for a weekend to Porto in 2005 together with former MS colleague Raul, then with Mandy and later for the wedding of good friends David & Theresa in 2011. Other visits were just business – to explore the say challenged banking system. Portugal also reminds me of my good friend Jose and my former boss Vasco. This trip will take me along the Atlantic coast line in the South West. Can’t wait.
The trail is one of the more recent trails in europe and i have to give thanks to Luis from Aareal Bank for recommending it. The fisherman’s trail is part of the greater rota vicentina. There are two main path. First, the historical way (green in below picture) that connect villages/cities near the coast and the second the actual fisherman’s trail (blue) from Odeceixe to Porto Covo actually along the coast. See here for more details on the excellent homepage created for this trail.
Getting to the southern trailhead at Cabo de Cao Vicente
The trailhead i used is cabo de vicente (more specifically the lighthouse) at the south-western tip of Portugal. It is also the starting point of a magnificent long distance hiking path (E9). This path takes you 5,000km along the coast all the way to Estonia. For me it will be more like 120-150km. Not exactly sure yet.
After a brief two nights in London i headed out to Faro, which is the closest airport to the trailhead (120km away). I just missed the bus no16 to terminal (bus & rail) and took a taxi instead (EUR10). The next step is to get to lagos (2.15bus, 1:45 train). I took the train (€7,40) given there will be more bus travel later on. Sadly, only sea view from the train line as you approach lagos.
On the flip side, it was nice to see oranges growing on trees outside the train window … given its mid February. In lagos in encountered quite a few homeless begging (one bloody high on something), but also a very helpful info lady with fluent english (same goes for faro airport – excellent). There is only one direct bus to cabo s.v. at 10.30am, but a bus to sagres was available (7km from cabo). Before I continued it was time for a snack – especially since food is still good value here.
The journey around Portugal was already enjoyable. Different to the miserable weather in London, people are sitting outside and look happy. While officially only 18 degrees, the sun was super hot. I felt utterly relaxed despite all the shit in the past week. Was passed by cactuses, oranges, green fields (apart from one brownish golf club just before lagos) while i was listening to my no1 German rap artist (Morlockk Dilemma) and reading. Wished i would have such vocab as readily available. Sharp like a samurai sword.
From Sagres there was the option to walk the 7km to the trailhead at the light housed or a taxi. The bus there would only run 11.15am (presumably the 10.30 departure from Lagos). A 5min ride (€8) later i was there and, after the mandatory pictures, the journey North began. Altogether about 5h from Faro airport to get here. Not too bad. However, it was already pretty late at 4:45pm. Sunset, for which many caravans had positioned themselves near the cliffs, would already be 6:20pm.
Stage one: Cabo de Sao Vicente to Vila do Bispo
The path takes you along the historical way first (the fisherman’s way only starts from Odeceixe) for about 8-9km at or close to the cliffs. Initially quite sharp-edged rocks form the best part of the path and requires good boots (both strong soul and ankle support). The views are awesome and firmly reminded me of the cliffs of Moher and the Burren way in West Ireland (see here for my blog). Powerful nature at work! Hence all the surfeers here too …
By the time the sun had set and darkness spread, the path was now heading away from the Atlantic ocean towards Vila do Bispo. I was walking while listening to Charles Dicken’s “Great Expectations”. I quickly booked myself a room on the way there (Case Mestre – goo value, pool, nice & tidy). Shower, dinner, done. 13km on the first day. So far the toe i broke 5w ago is ok. Fingers crossed it remains this way …