Day 12 |
May 06, 2012

Portimao, Portugal

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 37°07´N, 08°31´W
Weather: sunny
Air Temperature: 17°C

On a beautiful Sunday morning, the Silver Explorer entered the port of Portimao, the busy little town on the coast of the Algarve in Portugal. After the rainy day in Cadiz, our guests welcomed the southern European sun with great pleasure.

Two excursions were on offer today. The first excursion went out to the western part of the Algarve, focusing on the scenic highlights there. The other tour encompassed the historical aspect of this region, going out to the Moorish City of Silves and the Monastery of Nossa Senhora do Desterro in Monchique.

Today I joined the first excursion together with 37 guests and my colleague Imogen. On the way to our first stop, we drove through slightly undulating hills with the Monchique Mountains foothills in the background. After a 45-minute drive we reached the Cape St. Vincent, the furthest south-western point of Europe. A nice lighthouse marked the point and a beautiful view out onto the ocean and along the dramatic cliffs was the first highlight of the day.

But as I am a botanist, this stop made my heart beat more rapidly as the flowers around the cape were in bloom! I was able to describe the most important characteristics and species of this vegetation type to some of our guests.

Our next stop was just 10 minutes drive away from the Cape St. Vincent: the Sagres Fort, famous for it was the residence of Henry the Navigator and for its Rosa dos Ventos, a giant compass laid out in stones. A short explanation from our local guide was elaborated in more detail by my colleague Imogen. She gave a brief overview about the life of the explorer in that time.

Around the castle, as by the cape, the whole vegetation was in flower. It was a wonderful mixture of red, purple, blue, yellow and white colors.

From there on we drove along the coast, passing by some small picturesque villages, until we reached the Ponta da Piedad. A viewpoint from where our guests could admire the wide expanse of Lagos Bay and its spectacular rock formations.

The last stop on this tour was in Lagos itself, where we visited the Chapel of San Antonio (also known as the Golden Chapel), the statue of Henry the Navigator and the first slave market house, on continental Europe, which is today a museum.

At 3:30 pm the Silver Explorer left the port of Portimao, but first turned around and went alongside the sister ship Silver Whisper, which was also today in the port. After an extensive photo shoot from the guests of both vessels and the blowing of the ship’s horn, the Silver Explorer resumed course to the next destination and final port of this voyage: Lisbon.
In the evening, our onboard photographer Ray presented his video of the voyage, followed by the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party and a delicious dinner in The Restaurant.