Soon after we crossed the river Tejo and turned away from Lisbon and towards the south of Portugal the signs of civilization became more scarce.
After a short stop at the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado – waste wetlands at the estuary of the river Sado that are used for growing rice and produce salt in the salinas – and a small lunch at the impressing Lagoas Santo André we headed further south.
Our destination for the following days was still ahead of us: Alentejo litoral, Portugals wild west coast in the South. When we left the industrial port of Sines behind us and drove along the small coastal road towards Porto Covo it was pure excitement when I first saw the beautiful cliffy coast line, the small beaches in between, the waves of the atlantic rolling towards the coast.
And finally, hidden in the hinterland in what you would call a “micro village” we found “the goat’s head”, Cabeça da Cabra, our accommodation for the next days, that felt at home from the very first moment, while being a a very special place, thanks to the talent and love for detail of the owner Maria and her partner.
Now, in this rainy German September, when I think about our days at Cabeça da Cabra I think melancholically about the beautifully renovated old school house with its iconic architecture, I think about the clear, modern and comfy studio that we had the luck to stay.
I can still imagine sitting in the deck chair on the patio, listening to the neighbouring cocks, chicken, dogs and donkeys, I can still feel the chilly breeze from the Atlantic in the morning and evening, I can smell the lavender, sage and rosemary in the front garden.
I’ll never forget the light in the early morning, when the sun set over the plain landscape, the clear sky at night, that allowed to see millions of stars and even the milky way.
I miss to get served breakfast in the morning with this incredibly delicious pão alentejano. I miss our friends, one-eyed cat and lazy dog.
And , oh, the surrounding landscape! The wide and barren land, dried from the sun and the wind, all dipped into shades of ochre and yellow, interrupted sometimes by the pale green of olive and eukalyptus trees.
And the star of it all: the impressive coast line of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina!
… we discovered the dune landscape of Almograves by walking along the coastal route Rota Vicentina … but as we were stupid enough to do this in the midday heat we didn’t come very far.
… we discovered the scattered little villages along the coast, f.ex. Vila Nova del Milfontes, Porto Covo, filled with Portuguese summer tourists, but far away from being crowded.
… we enjoyed the beauty of the beaches in the evening light when you smell the salty air, just before the sun set and we had a delicious pot of arroz de peixe for dinner.
… we enjoyed the afternoon at the beach within eyeshot of the Ilha do Pessegueiro (including a fish salting factory dating to the Roman era), felt the sun and the cooling atlantic sea on our skin, listened to the calming sound of the waves, felt the sand torn away under our feet as the waves rolled back into the sea, discovered interesting flotsam, admired all this unspoiled unbelievable beauty … and just RELAXED!
Although we stayed on this amazing coast most of the time, we also made visits to the sleepy and even more sparesly populated inner Alentejo. Through the Serra do Cercal – although the term serra (= mountains) seems a bit exaggerated with a maximal hight of 346 m – followed by endless orchards of cork oaks and olive trees, that we passed, we entered the district capital Beja.
Without the cooling Atlantic breeze the midday heat of the Alentejo plains was nearly unbearable – no wonder the municipality tried to give some relieve through sun panels and fountains all around the city centre, that hides Roman as well as Moorish heritage.
We sheltered in Bejas famous café Luiz da Rocha, where we tried ourself through their delicate Doces de Amêndoa and Doces de Ovos…
… before we headed back to the coast and the beauty and tranquillity of Cabeça da Cabra.