The Blue Wall
IF YOU'VE LOST YOUR CHILL, Vila do Bispo PROBS HAS IT
Beloved by hardcore surfers and curious travelers like us, Sagres is guarded by a 15th century fortress, the Cape St. Vincent lighthouse (built in 1846 with a light visible from 37 miles away), and over 150 miles of protected national park hugging a huge swath of coastland. We wanted a chill, relaxed vibe on the ocean — well, we got that and so much more.
Sagres takes you gently at first, and then throws you down into the warm, warm sand and asks, "What exactly is it you're doing with your life?"
X MARKS THE SPOT
If you're wondering what you're looking at here, this is Sagres, Portugal.
Sagres is a tiny dot on the map of the entire country, a sharp point jutting into the Atlantic precisely where Western and Southern Portugal intersect in the Algarve region. Its delightfully wee population doesn't quite hit the 2,000 mark. We knew nothing about it, had certainly never heard of it before, but it seemed relatively untouched by the aggressive tourism industry that sprang up in this area of Portugal in the 1960s, and didn't seem inundated by the partying Euro masses that descend upon the nearby Albufeira in the South Coast every summer, so we took a deep breath and booked it sight unseen.
We came *this* close to making an appointment to see a villa next to our B&B. Then we had deep regrets, and discovered that real estate websites for international properties are a) a nightmare to navigate and b) fail utterly to do the area justice. We'll simply have to return at our earliest convenience! Scroll down to see more of Sagres' pretty seaside buildings, vivid gardens, cobblestone sidewalks and glimpses of the coast!
One thing we especially loved was how much it felt like a little island; the way it sits at the edge of the world really does give it a "surrounded on all sides by water" feel! It is breezy, though, so hang on to your hats —my dress came flying up over my head more than once this day! (Not pictured, obviously.)
It is the most gorgeous Sunday back home in Boston and we spent it relaxing and enjoying the last weekend of summer.
We also stumbled upon a three-day food and wine festival happening just down the street from our house and realized we could still make the big closing event — an epic outdoors showdown of delicious taco interpretations by 10 celebrity chefs vying for the ultimate prize of winning best taco (and for a good cause, supporting WGBH).
Plus they had all-you-can-sip craft beer, Spanish hard cider, mezcal cocktails and wine from 20 purveyors, pop-up treats (LIKE BOOZY POPSICLES) and summer jams. How could we miss it?!
Coffee on the front porch, cuddles with the cat, and a homemade scramble for the humans. Ever since I got back from Brooklyn on Friday, I've been eyeballing the firewood that was delivered, and I felt that absurd pang of wishing it were cool enough for a fire! Then I got a grip and realized I'd settle for a nice cool night by the fire pit instead.
"What exactly is it you're doing with your life?"
Spoiler alert: We didn't. Our favorite, Naco Taco, was runner-up, but their seared beef heart compressed orange tomatillo red salsa crunchy puffed hominy situation won our hearts forever. They had a real comal for their (amazing) tortillas (major bonus points). The winner was a massive "cold smoked" Maine lobster claw situation, served in a fried won ton and seasoned with miso, soy sauce, kaffir lime and sriracha, but we weren't feeling it. So many contenders used goat meat, but my personal fave was State Park's awesomely trashy high/low "walking tacos," which reminded me of ye olde Hard French days at El Rio back home: smoked goat, cocoa nib mole, goat feta, all throw into a bag of Fritos and topped with garnish.
Of course, the entire time I was there I thought of my colleague Yvonne's Taco Tuesdays, which is an excellent, important series worth committing to memory. (GO READ THEM. NOW.)
Had to sneak a tough guy pose from M in there. This was on one of our daily walks through town — for breakfast juice, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks and toasties, for drinks at our favorite spots, for trips to the grocery store for more vinho verde, for walks to explore seemingly endless beaches, to go on jeep tours or dolphin-watching cruises or to procure nail polish or ibuprofen from the farmácia, to grab beach towels because we forgot to bring them, we'd trek all over every day just going about the day.
In doing so, we fell in love with many of Sagres' little gardens, kissed by saltwater and sea air, and the proud, often elderly Portuguese who cared for them and nodded hello as we passed. Here are a few!
I feel like it's important to note that the above is a wild fig tree almost twice as tall as us and many times us around. Amazing!
That was as "crowded" as it got, y'all. Often we were all alone or only sharing the beaches with a handful of others. Little secret coves were ours for the taking and it was, truly, like something out of a salacious Hemingway passage. Our B&B was really two connected properties with a gorgeous, lush outdoor haven complete with an in-ground spa, gazebo, plus a handful of lawn chairs and umbrellas for sunning, or bistro sets for taking afternoon coffee or tea or whatnot. It was almost always totally abandoned and quickly became a favorite spot of ours, perfect for post-siesta, pre-dinner wine and snacks.
Oh, and we made this little friend! We named him Camo and he was a total angel. We may or may not have returned to this spot to scatter snacks for him later that night. He never reappeared! This dress has made a prior appearance, but in New England.
Summer sun is over. For 2015, anyway. Let's hope it looked kindly upon you all, and here we go...it's fall, f*ckfaces!