Portugal Travelog: Salema (Day 2)

June 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Our second day in Salema started with a fantastic breakfast from Bettina at The Maré (highly recommended!!) after which we set out for the town of Lagos that we had passed through the day before. We squeezed back in the Clio and headed eastward for about 8 km to Lagos. It was a beautiful morning and after a bit of driving around we were able to park in front of the main Mercato. It was a beautiful morning and as we perused the various types of sardines and bream, delicious strawberries from the Algarve and honey made with rosemary (!!) we got this shot back across the Lagos harbor.

We walked through much of the old town in Lagos checking out tiles adorning the buildings. We found this everywhere we went in Portugal.

And admiring the amazing stonework that lines seemingly - or actually - all the streets and pedestrian thoroughfares in Portugal. We came home with lots of shots down streets that don't look like what we're used to here in Vermont. This one had to be rendered in B&W as it had so much fantastic texture.

We toured the Church of Saint Antonio - viewed through this street mirror below. It included a small museum describing a bit about Lagos's history and it's traditional seafaring way of life. The attached church showed off St. Antonio's miracles in paintings arranged around the main chapel including St. Antonio's ability to clean up spilt wine.


We toyed with lunch in Lagos but despite our best efforts we couldn't divine a non-touristy place with great food and decided instead to head back to Salema while the day was young. 

On the way out of town, Meg directed me back towards the coast to see what we would see. What we found was a quiet dirt road ending at a lighthouse overlooking grottos (read: caves carved by water) below. We parked, hiked and saw some amazing sights.

This area was protected by a lighthouse which was itself off limits. It had a big nasty fence around it that exuded a sense of secrecy and foreboding. Oh as you can see, the lighthouses here are different from our US lighthouses. We would see more of this in coming days.

Upon returning to Salema and the aforementioned The Maré, we moved to our new quarters: Apartment B. We gained space, a terrace, a kitchen and lost Bettina's breakfast: tough call though we love the additional space and privacy. The terrace itself was especially wonderful as we could sit out there in the fresh air (no black flies or mosquitos as we have in Vermont this time of year) and enjoy a view to the beach downtown.

Hungry, we decided to hit the Atlantico which we did with zeal. The swordfish there was of epic proportions and delicious though it was three in the afternoon and the place was empty. This dynamic - delicious food served with attention - followed us all the way through Portugal. The swordfish - at one of the more touristy places in Salema - was stupendous. As always delicate and delicious potatoes accompanied the fish.

After our late lunch - and this would not be the latest "lunch" on our journey - we walked the beach. The day was still gorgeous but we could see a bit of weather coming in as the clouds started to gather on the horizon.

 

The photo above includes the analog to the lobster traps we photograph when we're on the coast of Maine. These are octopus pots. Octopus is a staple here and in Spain - and probably a lot of other places that I don't know about. I had ordered an octopus salad the previous night at dinner expecting a green salad with some octopus mixed in. Nope - what I got echoed the famous Sausage Salad that I got in Karlsruhe, Germany on my first business trip overseas years ago: it was a pile of octopus delicately seasoned with olive oil and it was delicious.

After returning to our apartment and catching up on things, we pondered dinner. We were not really hungry but I was very curious about a particular restaurant in town. It was a very modest place away from the beach called Restaurante O Lourenco. I had read some encouraging reviews and didn't want to leave town without trying it out.

It was awesome! It was the best fish dinner I've had in my life by far - plus a fun experience. Back up Tyler and calm down

We walked across the way and entered a bit before 9PM. The place was quite full so we sat right near the door on what was turning into a cool and raw evening. Though the place was full, it turned out that it was full of people mostly from England most of whom seemed to either be together or know each other and they were all watching soccer - sorry "football" on the TV (yes, this is the modest ambiance of O Lourenco).

The waiter (Paulo according to Rick Steves though I failed to verify) was patient in explaining and showing us the fish of the day. In the end we put ourselves in his hands and ordered sea bass and red bream - both grilled. It was divine. Again a simple preparation but the fish was incredibly fresh and clean tasting with a wonderful grilled flavor, flaky and moist. This meal was the epitome of the rustic, flavorful, straightforward and yet magical food we ate throughout our stay in Portugal.

Very highly recommended - if you go to Salema don't leave town without a meal at O Lourenco. Actually if you're anywhere near Salema, make sure you go there for a meal. Amazing!


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