Fossil hunting in the south of Portugal
We recently got a chance to take a week off so we left Spain. As some friends were on holiday we took the car on a nice drive (~600 km) to the south of Portugal. The drive was comfortably casual as the traffic was sparse. Just before the border with Portugal, we stopped in a lovely small town (Lepe) known for its strawberry plantations and had a wonderful meal. This was in the tapas style, small amounts of four different dishes. One portion was an eggplant dish that was absolutely delicious.
Arrival in the south of Portugal
We arrived at our hotel in Albufeira later that afternoon. We actually got lost several times but with the help of 4 or 5 different people, we did find the place. Albufeira is an old community but has grown quite big due to tourism. The hills go right down to the shore and a lot of the hotels are built a short distance from the beach.
A few days later, we took a drive up into the mountains north of Albufeira to a town called Monchique. The region is hilly with lots of cork trees. As a reminder, cork trees do not die when part of their bark is removed but it takes 25 or so years to grow it back. The photo to the right is a perfectly formed Araucaria heterophylla (common name “Norfolk Island Pine”.)
The old part of Albufeira is quaint with its narrow streets. There are a lot of shops with local products such as items made of cork (handbags, wallets, photo frames, etc), and there we bought a hat and a nice belt. One shop, in particular, was interesting because it had some wonderful stone and shell items. Lamps made from crystals and some made from seashells. Not the usual bulb in a shell but really artistically crafted items. We stopped in at a small out of the way restaurant that had recently opened for the season. They offered a very nice menu and again, the meal was delicious.
At the end of the world, Cabo San Vincente
We took a day trip to explore the most western part of the south of Portugal. Going all the way to Cabo de San Vicente, it appeared that we were heading to the end of the world. This video was taken from Cabo de San Vicente and shows the storm surge from Hercules (2014). With what looks to be 40-meter cliffs, being there you can imagine what people must have felt when it was still believed the earth was flat. You kind of fall off and then what? The scenery is impressive with a lighthouse high on the cliffs and the waves breaking on the rocks.
On the way back, we passed what appeared to be an old monolith. Who knows how old it is or if it is even remotely related to the monoliths of Stonehenge.
Adventure on the beach
Before the trip, we investigated the possibility of fossil hunting and we found a beach with sediment that was part of the Miocene epoch (5 – 23 million years old). This part of the coast is known for its small beaches and caves. There you will see the different layers of the rock with fossilized shells. I tried to hack some small part out but was not successful as the rocks were too hard. While walking on the beach I was so lucky to notice a strangely shaped stone, it turned out to be an intact fossil with hardly any rock attached, I just picked it up to take home.
Beautiful Handpainted Ceramic
On the road back to Albufeira we stopped at an old house that was converted into a pottery shop. The shop, Porches Pottery, has a wonderful garden along with a café where we saw a number of locals and tourists enjoying coffee and conversation. This little shop was started by Patrick Swift and Lima de Freitas who were determined to prove that this craftsmanship was not a thing of the past. Since they started the pottery shop over 45 years ago, they have continued to train more artists.
You can find out more about this world-famous shop at the following website: http://www.porchespottery.com/en/.
We present some of our photos for your pleasure.
On coming home to our Hotel Resort I washed the fossil with water and put it to dry on a small table on the balcony. In the hotel gardens live many cats probably all family of each other as they look very much alike. There is also a big flock of seagulls which have taken up residence close to the swimming pool. Often one can observe funny scenes like that one time where I saw a seagull with a stolen flip-flop which had been standing unattended to on a small terrasse. While the seagull was playing on the lawn a cat crept up from behind probably thinking it was something edible. Suddenly I heard a noise and went out to the terrasse, a seagull had tried to steal the fossil but as it was too heavy it dropped, luckily it did not break.
Finally, we had to go home. Across the border, we stopped at a small town for coffee and said goodbye to Portugal. This is the bridge which links Spain with Portugal
Source: My Life
Photo Source: Private Photos