Sagres, Portugal: The end of the world

To the end of the world

Many centuries ago Portugal was the master of the oceans and ships would leave from the great harbours of the Algarve coast to points all over the globe. These great explorers last saw land in a town call Sagres on most westerly point of Europe.

It is simple affair to take the bus from Lagos, my starting point, to Sagres but it leaves little room for manoeuvre when it comes to seeing the sights off the beaten track. So having the good fortune to have my car….I took that!

I set of with a three other hostellers from the Lagos Youth Hostel and took the main coast road the N125 (at one point considered to be the most dangerous road in Europe) for Sagres. Once out of town the road passes through some of the inland villages and just skirts the once small fishing towns such as Salema and Burgau, more about those later.

The countryside became more and more rural as we finally left the ever burgeoning concrete jungle of the Algarve, vast rolling hills of purple coloured flowers carpeted the land and the ruins of old farmhouses stood like watchmen from above. It was a pleasure to be able to see this land, a true remnant of a Portugal almost lost now. We passed by herders with their flocks of tough looking goats and hardy sheep, a scene so timeless it gave an insight into the harsh conditions farmers must have had to endure in this far flung land.

Lighthouse Cabo Sao Vicent

We finally arrived in Sagres and took the narrow road that leads to the end of the world at the lighthouse on the point Cabo de São Vicente. The vista from the point is amazing; it is not hard to imagine the nervousness of sailors heading off towards the horizon not knowing where land would next be found.

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Petra, Jordan and a Football Game

It was scorching hot leaving the Israeli border in Eilat and crossing the 400 metres or so of no man’s land to the Jordanian entry point. There are no buses and you simply have to cross the dried up river bed and persevere.

I had chosen this crossing because no visa was needed to enter Jordan from here and I could catch the bus up to Wadi Musa the closest town to Petra. The officials were moping around and not at all interested in us while the flies massed in numbers on every piece of dark clothing. Damn…I needed a beer. It seemed the electricity had gone out and the computers were all dead. They couldn’t connect to the main servers to check the identity and it was starting to look grim.

A small party of American tourists were being escorted into Jordan with their local guide and it seemed he was having none of this. After a few minutes of jovial and not so jovial banter the border guards agreed to let us through, noting our passport details on, I kid you not, the back of an anti terrorist poster. What would the CIA have made of that?

Duly stamped we all entered into Jordan together. I had missed my bus but the local guide hustled up a taxi for me and rather than wait the night in the dingy border town I opted for a price haggle to Wadi Musa. In the end it wasn’t too bad and at least I would be there for the game.
Game, what game? Football of course; Chelsea was playing Liverpool in an important cup game and I was keen to try and see it.

I managed to find the hostel easy enough and checked into my cell; really they don’t try too hard here. The manager however was great and after a nice cold beer assured me we could watch the match in his local. I thought this was a splendid idea and I trotted out after him.

We came across a small cafe packed to the rafters with local men in dish dash, all smoking furiously and drinking tea. I was the only westerner in sight and clearly they thought I was lost. My new friend was on hand though to gather up a couple of seats as we settled down to watch the game.
The guys were yelling and waving their hands around so much I thought I was going to be covered in scalding tea and when Chelsea, my team, scored first I was out of my seat and shouting as well.
That was when it all went wrong!

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