After sleeping soundly for almost ten hours, making up for yesterday’s lack of sleep we felt refreshed and looked forward to the day ahead. Just after 8.00 am we enjoyed a hearty breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. It’s decorated in typical Portuguese style with dark wood furniture, a terracotta tiled floor and traditional artefacts displayed on the walls. Some guests were enjoying breakfast out on the terrace but it was in the shade so we chose to eat indoors. There was the usual selection of fresh fruit, yoghurt, pastries, bread and cooked dishes so we were quite happy with what was on offer. Sadly no ‘show cooking’ where omelettes, etc. are prepared to order but that didn’t matter too much.
The restaurant is spacious and there was no difficulty securing a window table for this morning at least. Chatting to one of the local waiters, he told us that the hotel was quite full which seemed high for October. It’s a popular location for golf enthusiasts, many of whom stay at the Tivoli, a room being set aside for their golf bags and spiked shoes and as we were passing the entrance a little later we noticed several minibuses on hand to take them to their chosen courses. Before we set off out ourselves (not to play golf let me add!) the receptionist contacted us to let us know we were entitled to a daily English newspaper from a selection of four – sadly all tabloids though so it appears that our week won’t be literary challenged!
Our plan this morning was to take a boat trip along the coast as yesterday we noticed a couple of companies by the marina offering them. Managing to book a 10.30 a.m. tour in a small boat (€15 each) we strolled around the harbour until it was time to depart. The small boats can take up to 12 passengers on three rows but this morning there were only 6 of us on board enabling us to take photos with ease.
After donning life jackets we set off, leaving the harbour to admire the sandstone rock formations along the coast. Our skipper was very informative, pointing out rock formations, small coves and beaches along the way. The boat paused for us to admire Praia de Dona Ana, a picture perfect beach wedged between cliffs in a small, sheltered cove. The guide mentioned that the bay is often thought of as resembling a Roman amphitheatre with stalagmite shaped towers of russet coloured sandstone rising out of the sea creating an impression of Roman columns. Being on board such a small vessel the boat was able to pass through some of the sandstone arches and actually enter the caves beyond. From the sea, we were able to view how, over the years, the waves and wind had eroded the cliffs resulting in some amazing rock formations for us to admire. Passing the dramatic headland of Ponta da Piedale northwest of Lagos, the cliffs resembled a huge slice of ginger cake and as our little boat neared the crumbling sandstone outcrops a warren of small caves opened up for us to explore. A lighthouse is perched on the promontory to warn boats of the rocky coastline.
Not only were small boats like ours exploring the caves, we came across numerous kayaking groups who were enjoying paddling between the rocks under close supervision of their leaders. These trips take kayak enthusiasts to the rock formations by large boat where they transfer to kayaks to explore the small grottoes and cave structures. Our helmsman, who was highly skilled at navigating the small boat in and out of the caves and between the narrow rock formations, entertained us by providing a nickname for the larger rock formations relating to their shape and appearance.
Returning to the marina after such an enjoyable 75 minute excursion we headed back to our room for awhile, our balcony being bathed in sun just then. Considering how to spend the afternoon, we decided to take the hotel’s free shuttle bus to the beach, the bus service running at 30 minute intervals throughout the day.
There were only a few guests on board and within 10 minutes we had arrived at the Dunas Beach Club owned by the hotel. Walking along wooden boardwalks along the beach we found an attractive beach bar serving snacks, light lunches and drinks. Tables overlooked a circular swimming pool with some comfortable loungers along the other side which were unoccupied. On closer inspection we noticed there was a charge of €10 per sun bed to use them, even for hotel guests so no wonder they were all vacant at that price!
Surprisingly, it was only a 20 minute brisk walk as we were able to cross the river by the footbridge, the bus needing to take the longer route round. After making ourselves mugs of tea we took our Kindles down to the hotel’s pool for an hour to relax on the sun beds which was blissful.
Later, our evening stroll took us past an inviting Pizzeria so we settled on that for dinner. We will be back later in the week as our Romana pizzas were delicious and the atmosphere great too.
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