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May 2001

We were off to Portugal for May half term. Ben and I for some tennis coaching, Robyn was going to sketch and swim and Dan was still developing software with the help of his lap top so as usual, his would be another working holiday.
However, something told me that Ben and I would also be working! 

We had booked the holiday through Destination Portugal, a web based company.
I had done some searching before hand and decided that the Luz Bay area looked interesting as it was very close to the old fishing town of Lagos. As luck would have it I also found out that there was a Jonathan Markson Tennis Centre there so Ben and I could get some coaching as well as sampling the delights of this lovely area of Portugal.

On arrival at Faro airport we found the rental car and drove down to Praia de Luz. We found this part of Portugal to be similar to Southern Spain but much less crowded. 
We were to stay at The Luz Ocean Club and we were not disappointed. The accommodation was in block G5 apartment O and was fabulous with corner views across the hills behind and the bay in front. We could not have asked for a better location or a better apartment really. 

Here you can just see the apartment which is top right of the picture.
They also had a great pool area which we overlooked so we were well catered for. The whole complex was stunning and well worth the money.

The tennis centre was situated about five minutes from our apartment but there was a lot of building work going on so it wasn't always a comfortable walk as there were potholes in the roads. I think the Jonathan Markson guests stayed all over the complex which had about three different areas. One was down by the beach, one was where we were in the Garden Waterside Complex and the other was up by the tennis courts. I think we had the best of it being in the middle as both the beach and the tennis centre were within walking distance. These two courts were just across from our apartment and could also be used by guests of the whole complex.

This was one view from the apartment looking across the bay. Dan walked along the beach and climbed the hill which is furthest away to get some more shots. He must have been bored staying in the apartment all the time so all diversions were good. These are some of the pictures he took which shows the dramatic scenery of Luz Bay.
Often we would sit out on the balcony at night and stare out watching the small fishing vessels coming home. Sometimes the sea was so calm it looked more like a lake than an ocean.

Jagged rocks like 
Needles Point on the I.O.W.

Higher view of the bay 
showing coastal erosion.

The view looking back towards the town.

He saw lots of these giant thistles on the hillside.

We were lucky to have a supermarket very close to our apartment so supplies were easy to find, especially this type of bread called 'Bimbo' which was white of course. We laughed at that one!
We ate out a lot as everything is so cheap but it was good to know that if the twins wanted snacks the shop was close-by!

Ben and I had some great lessons and he managed to play every day which was great considering the heat! I sustained a knee injury which put me out for a couple of days but I managed the last day and really enjoyed the coaching. The Tennis Manager, Vasco Portas was a great coach and we really learnt a lot from him. They took video shots of us at the beginning of the week so that we could look back on how we played and see how we had progressed!
Robyn had a nice time too, swimming and relaxing but I think she may have been a bit bored at times as she did not have a friend along and had to rely on her own company while we were playing tennis. She loved the pool area and this big plastic float was great for relaxing on top of the water.

We went into the town of Lagos one afternoon for an early supper and some sightseeing. It is a great place to wander around but we did not really have enough time for that. We did see the harbour and the market square area before eating in a great restaurant.

Fishing boat.

Harbour wall.

Market stall.


The small town of Luz was discovered by an elite of English and American voyagers who were investigating the rich archaeological sites from Megalithic to Greco-Roman. They built the Luz Bay settlement. Then the Dutch and Germans followed to make their homes in this lovely part of Portugal. Luz also has just about the right amount of restaurants and we ate out most nights. 
One of these was called Fortaleza Da Luz. The building dates back to the 16th century when it was part of a fortress overlooking Luz bay. The menu was excellent with lots of Portuguese dishes and a fish selection which was always 'market fresh'. You actually sit in an area which is like an old fashioned baronial hall. The service was excellent as was the food.

Robyn and Ben found a game of 'Jenga' in the apartment which amused them for hours. We also tried to teach Dan some card games but he knows different rules to us!

Robyn plays the game

Ben reads the rules

Robyn smiles

Then they arm wrestle!

I'm keeping well out of this one. Is anyone ready to eat yet?

 Another place we visited was Sagres. It was in Sagres, the place that 'land ends and sea begins', that Henry the Navigator, son of King Joao I, dreamt of opening up new routes around the world. Five hundred years ago, the first caravels set off from the port of Lagos on voyages of discovery and exploration which would bring Europeans to lands and peoples they had only imagined. Henry chose Sagres as the site for his new school for mariners. Although the buildings were razed to the ground in 1587 by Sir Francis Drake who was on his way to a corsair attack on Lagos, the spirit and magic of the place has remained intact, guarded by the fortress formed by the bastions of Saint Anthony and Saint Barbara, dating from the 14th century. Not even the great earthquake of 1755 disturbed this brooding mass of rock and although the buildings have now changed radically with time, there still remains the 'batteries' or cannon which guarded the bays of Tonel and Mareta. There is now a maritime museum there and a restaurant for the weary traveller. It was a lot of fun and we took lots of pictures. 

At the entrance to the Fort of Sagres.

The Mariners compass

One of the old 'batteries'.

The view down below.

Inside the domed chapel.

The domed chapel.

Climbing the battlements.

The Wind Rose which guided the course of the first caravels.

Robyn on the battlements.

Ben before the climb.

While up on the battlements you can look across the bay to Cabo de Sao Vincent. Here, according to Christian legend, the body of Saint Vincent was washed ashore beside the cape which bears his name, after his martyrdom in the 4th century. Apparently, it remained there, guarded by crows, until 1173 when it was taken to Lisbon! 
This cape was also sacred to the Romans and possibly the site of a temple dedicated by the Greeks and Phoenicians to the gods Chronos and Melqart thousands of years ago. The cape has a long association with divinity and worship.
This particular cape has also been the venue for a number of naval battles including a battle in 1780 where the ships led by Britain's Admiral Rodney's destroyed a Spanish fleet which happened to be in the same waters. Nowadays, a lighthouse stands on the cape to guide ships to safety.

We tried to pack in as much as we could on this holiday but it was still really relaxing and we all had a good time. We all went for a walk one evening down to the beach area and Robyn found a wall displaying a universal sign. She was so taken with it that she purchased shoulder bag displaying the same sign. Might need to watch out for the police me-thinks!
Portugal is a lovely place and when we return it will be to the area around Lisbon and Sintra of which we have heard so much about.
Until then we will leave you with a look at the staple diet found in these parts.




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This document maintained by jacquetta@holle.demon.co.uk
Material Copyright © 2001 Dan & Jacquetta Holle