Drawing back the curtains at 7.45 am there was a beautiful sunrise so I headed out onto the balcony with my camera to capture its beauty.
Clear blue October skies so after a relaxing hotel breakfast and a catch up with the news on our iPads we wandered over to the railway station in Lagos to take the train along the coast to the town of Portimao. Lagos lies at the end of the line which runs infrequently along the coast to Faro. Tickets to Portimao cost €4 return for the 20 minute journey and for passengers under 26 or over 65 there is a 25% reduction on production of photo ID.
It was an interesting short journey as we saw the hotel’s beach club from the train window where we had visited yesterday. Along the way we noticed several links golf courses before arriving into Portimao station. It’s quite a walk from the railway station through the old town but pleasant pedestrianised avenues made it easy. Many of the old buildings were clad in traditional Portuguese tiling which was very attractive to see.
Arriving at a pleasant square we took a look in the Church of our Lady of the Conception, Portimao’s oldest parish church but only a Gothic doorway and buttress of the original building remain today. Continuing, we came across the square of Largo 1 de Dezembro looking resplendent with its fountains and glazed tiles depicting events in Portuguese history.
Overlooking this square lies the marina and active fishing port where we enjoyed looking at the various vessels and the views out to sea as we strolled along the shoreline.
Praia da Rocha, a popular beach resort was a further 2km walk away and it seemed a long trek in the mid day heat but on arrival the azure blue sea with the backdrop of russet coloured sandstone cliffs made the extended walk seem worthwhile.
The seafront promenade seemed pleasant and was lined with palm trees and traditional Portuguese mosaic paving. High rise hotels overlooked the bay and the promenade contained the usual mix of gift shops selling beach apparel, bars and cafes. There seemed to be a prevalence of Irish bars and Englsh pubs offering English breakfasts and fish and chips. I can never understand why some people take holidays overseas only to want food that they are familiar with from home. Don’t get me wrong, on a weekend morning at home there is nothing I enjoy more than going out for a ‘traditional Englush breakfast’ but not whilst I’m away, then I want to eat like a local wherever I might be, but of course we are all different and people can choose for themselves.
Praia da Rocha more than lived up to expectations with stunning views of the sweeping bay. A lengthy wooden staircase took us down to the beach and a wooden boardwalk provides a path across the sand making it easier to walk along.
Back on the clifftop a panoramic viewpoint has been built providing stunning views of the bay and the rugged coastline. Towards the end of the promenade we found an attractive bar that didn’t have those awful laminated picture menus on its terrace. Here we enjoyed freshly prepared baguette sandwiches and glasses of beer, resting our tired feet for awhile whilst relaxing in the sunshine.
Making a move, we turned inland and using a satnav walking map from our phone we made our way to the Aqua Shopping Centre said to be the largest in the Algarve with 120 stores. It was a long walk but as it’s located only 10 minutes from the railway station it wasn’t too much off route. The mall was centred around a courtyard with an open roof giving a light and airy feel to the shopping centre. As for the stores, there was nothing special and having Primark as one of the anchor tenants summed it up really so I don’t think we would make a return visit if we visit Portimao again. Still, we had time for a refreshing pot of tea before returning on the late afternoon train to Lagos. I enjoyed Portimao for a day trip but much prefer Lagos as a base as it is much more characterful and compact. Checking my FitBit app I noticed we had walked almost 9 miles today so I would suggest taking a bus from Praia da Rocha back to the railway station as it’s quite a distance with little of interest to see along the way.
A short rest in our hotel room followed before returning to eat dinner in the same bistro we dined in on our first evening here.