Why Lagos is the Ultimate Christmas Present (Part 4)
Lagos. Pronounced Lah-goash. Never heard of it? Well, you’re welcome to the tenth power (remember that math business?), because you should add it to your travel list, send your friends there, or simply google image the seaside of this wonderful town, and I guarantee you will not regret it. To be fair, I think I’ve used some version of the term “cute, coastal town” about fifty times over the past few weeks. But that’s the most accurate description I can muster for Lagos, even with the thesaurus tab open on google chrome.
For starters, the southern coast of Portugal is like a well-manicured garden with plentiful blooms (known as towns) nestled along the water and filled with charming old houses, tiled streets and more seafood restaurants than you can count. Lagos is no exception to this description, but it’s the most stunning flower when it comes to coastline views. Lucky for me, the final stop on the Hughes Brady Bunch tour was a quaint two-bedroom Airbnb (can’t stop won’t stop) tucked away on a side street in Lagos.
As fate would have it, I was in Lagos exactly one year ago for dinner with my boyfriend, Kris, on a road trip to the Algarve. We had a deliciously cheap meal at a fish joint near the marina with terrible lighting, no heat, and the best tuna steak I’ve ever had, followed by a beer at the ideal small-town, un-fancy bar (with solid drinks), Eddie’s. What a treat it was to return to Lagos, with an extra three people, and find out what the town has to offer during daylight hours.
In a few words, the answer is:
excellent cafes serving healthy fare
a stunning coastline for walks
caves caves caves
Should those things not interest you, feel free to stop reading now, or scroll through and look at the pretty pictures.
Everyone else, follow me!
To be blunt, November isn’t exactly prime beach weather in Portugal. If you’re a big sun-bather, I politely suggest you don’t visit Lagos in the fall. But it’s Portugal. The water is always cold, and in the words of Disney’s Frozen, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” AND if you’re an outdoorsy kinda girl or boy, Lagos and the surrounding areas are your paradise. Case in point, day 1 of our stay we were instructed that you “can’t miss” a guided boat tour of the caves along the coast.
I’m always wary of guided tours. Booths full of people hawking tickets trigger a not-nice part of my brain, so I normally avoid these situations at all costs. But my mom and dad were willing to delve in to the snake pit, and five minutes later they emerged with tickets for a tour, to the tune of twelve euros a person. We proceeded to walk down to a small, wooden thing that I’d be inclined to call a second-hand lifeboat, but indeed it was our tour boat. The cheery boat driver arrived with a seat cushion and a freshly-missing thumb. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.) But truly, he’d been in a recent accident and the thumb decided it’d had enough, so it jumped ship. Literally. As you can imagine, our family’s confidence abut the journey ahead was dwindling.
But I like to keep things positive on this blog, so I am incredibly happy to report that we all fared much better than our driver’s thumb. In fact, that cave tour was the best twelve euros I’ve never spent (mom and dad paid. Thanks mom and dad. Wait, is this my first sponsored post?!). And it turns out, you need a smaller-than-small boat to maneuver around the cave openings, and fit through the small archways leading to hidden gems along the coast. And the thumbless driver? Well that man was chock-full of information about the cave names, tides, and everything Lagos-related. We explored a vast array of waterways, caves and cliff sides, and it’s safe to say my jaw was hanging open for 99.9 % of the boat ride. Nature is incredible. And I would never have seen these sights had I been traveling alone, and stayed on shore with my Negative Nancy mindset about a tiny boat with a thumbless man. Are my improv friends still reading this? It’s time to bring back the “Yes And” mentality on vacation. Say yes to things you’d normally shy away from! It can lead to views like this…
We filled our time after the cave tour with a lovely and healthy lunch at Goji Café (Tip: if you like healthy food, travel to surf towns!) and decided to take advantage of the afternoon sunshine for a walk along the seaside. There are no clearly marked paths for hiking in Lagos. In fact, we hopped a fence and walked past an abandoned building to get to the best trail, leading along the cliffs. But if you’re up for a little adventure, find your way to the nearest cliffside and start walking! We spent hours climbing rocks, descending stairs to beautiful beaches, ascending lengthy sets of stairs to return to the (kind of) path, and taking in the gorgeous views.
There are no big tourist attractions in Lagos. No rollercoasters, or cheap thrills. But what lies along the coast is pure magic for those looking for a new perspective. It’s nice to feel small every now and then, and there’s no better way to do that than standing on a cliff side, gazing out at the world beyond.
On our last night together as a family, we sat around a dinner table at O Camilo noshing on excellent seafood (surprise surprise) talking about our vacation highlights. Near the top of everyone’s list? The cave tour. Topping everyone’s list at Numero Uno? Good ol’ family time. That’s right. Apparently, we’re as corny as Kansas in August in the Hughes fam. But I have no shame. Moving far, far away is a bit sad for a gal with thick family roots. And when your roots decide to come pay you a visit, in the form of a vacation that you’re invited on? It’s basically Christmas. Now that I mention it, this trip probably was my Christmas gift. And all I have to say is…