Day 10 |
Apr 27, 2010

Portimao, Portugal

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates:  37°27’N, 09°16’W

Weather: sunny

Air Temperature: 26°C

Our first day in Portugal and our last day – at least for most of our guests on board the Prince Albert II. After gaining an extra hour last night, all faces looked happy this morning at breakfast. Captain Rutigliano brought us, as planed, alongside at the pier of Portimao at 08:00. And straight after the clearance of the ship by the local officials and authorities, the two half-day excursions started. I left with Hans-Peter and 23 guests for the “Scenic Western Algarve” tour. It was as announced as a scenic tour with shorter stops and less walking. For those who were looking for more walking, the other tour was ideal, the “Moorish City of Silves and Monchique”, which my colleagues Nicki and Richard accompanied.

Anyhow, after we left the harbor area, we first had to drive quite a bit through town and then through a lovely flowering countryside before arriving at our first stop, the most southwestern point of the European mainland, Cape St. Vincent! As our guide Margarita said, the “end of the world”. As it is a point of tourist interest there are also some souvenir stands, but I was most impressed by the one stand that offered its sausages by announcing that this would be the last sausage opportunity before arriving in the USA. Marketing is all! But I resisted and didn’t go for the “Bratwurst” and instead walked a bit around, to see more of this geographically important point. As we heard, also the lighthouse here had a big importance in the past, and still in our days it has quite some importance to the ships passing around this cape.

After this stop it didn’t take us long to go to the next stop, to Sagres, the port from where in the 15th-century Prince Henry the Navigator started his voyages to new and unknown terrain. It is also believed that he had at this fort something like an academy for sailing.

Next was a photo stop only, at a postcard-typical cliff of the Algarve. These cliffs of sedimentary rocks, including beautiful arcs, were very impressive, especially as we also had postcard-like weather!! It was hard to get everybody back on the bus in time.

Our last stop was then in the city of Lagos, where the first Portuguese Caravels had departed from. Prince Henry the Navigator greeted us from a monument next to the square where the first auctions on slaves took place, a sad part of history. More delightful was the next point of interest, the visit of the Chapel of Santo Antonio (also called the Golden Chapel). The chapel is an impressive example of Portuguese 18th-century Baroque, with gilded wood carvings! Also, the municipal museum next door was a visit worth.

After some free time in town for last minute shopping, having a café, or just walking a bit around, we had to go back on board the Prince Albert II. Just after lunch we left Portimao, on a course for Lisbon.

Beginning the program for the afternoon was Olga, our onboard historian, who gave a lecture entitled “Spain – Interrupted Empire”. And then just after 17:00, our photographer Richard showed the video that he had created during this / our voyage. It is always nice to see at the end of a voyage once again all the places we have been to. Because quite often we nearly forget already all those places as every day we get new impressions of new places!

After that, there was no time to relax; I had to get ready for the Captain’s Farwell Cocktail Party. And, as was a common practice on board the Prince Albert II, most of the crew came on stage – at least from every department and section someone came to say goodbye to our guests.

Tonight I had the honor to join our Hotel Director Martin at his dinner table. A final wonderful meal (meaning both the quality of the food, and the company at our table) brought that evening and our voyage to an end.