boats at night in the Lagos marina

This is about days 7-8 of my Portu-Spain Adventure travel blog series through southern Spain and Portugal as I share my travel experiences. We left Seville Spain to cross into Portugal for Lagos stopping along the way to visit the charming coastal town of Tavira. From there we ended up in Lagos where we spent a day and a half exploring the city, taking in the local culture, and experiencing the wonderful seafood. You can learn more about days 5-6 here or start from the beginning of our trip in Madrid.

Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Blog Day 7, Welcome To Portugal

On day 7 of our trip we had a great breakfast with coffee before checking out of the hotel and boarding the bus in the rain. I was happy that the rain had cooled the temperatures down but was hoping that it would be clear for our travels into Portugal. On the drive, the typical Spanish white-washed buildings were now covered with colorful tiles of mostly blue and white on many of the homes. Fields of green olive trees and cork trees lined the sides of the highway that you could see for miles in the distance.

Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world and their National Cork Trees are so important cutting them down is prohibited by law. The southern part of Portugal is referred to as the Algarve, the Arabic name given by the Muslims of Iberia. Portugal’s rich history can be traced back to 400,000 years ago flaunting Roman conquests, Islamic invasions, and historical empires by kings and queens of the past.

Tavira: Cobblestone Streets, Castle Gardens, and Michelin-Rated Cuisine

We rode for two hours to a charming little town near the Portugal Algarve coast called Tavira, which straddles the Gilão River. Founded in 400 BC, the town was an essential trading post between Europe and North Africa. The cobblestone streets and pretty homes made me feel as if I had stepped back in time. The cool breeze blowing up from the river made exploring pleasurable and peaceful under the warm summer sky. 

Tavira Portugal, The River Gilão

Dazzling red and purple bougainvillea flowers added bright colors to contrast the white and blue tiled homes along the quaint little streets. We first walked down to the central square by the Tavira Roman Bridge to visit the Tavira Castle gardens. There an array of shrubs, bougainvillea, aloe vera, hibiscus, roses, privet, geraniums, oleander plum, and rubber trees offered a wonderful area to sit and relax. 

The ramparts of the Tavira garden and 10th century Moorish constructed castle, once protected the city and the harbor, exhibiting a grand view of the town along the river. The 13th-century Church of Santa Maria with a bell and clock tower sits on the back side of the garden offering a beautiful backdrop.

Tavira Portugal, Church of Santa Maria clock and bell tower

My girlfriends and I headed over the bridge to have lunch at A Mesa, a 2023 Michelin-rated restaurant tucked at the end of a street filled with restaurants and shops. The wait staff was polite and spoke English. They did a full presentation of the food we ordered and the tables on the outside patio filled up quickly. We were lucky we got there early without a reservation.

Tavira Portugal, A Mesa Restaurant, croaker with coriander risotto and lemon
Tavira Portugal, home with bougainvillea flowers

After lunch, we all went on our own and I spent the next hour or so walking the streets shooting photos, and exploring this beautiful small town. I met up with Jose and had some ice cream before we all got back on the bus for the remaining hour’s drive to Lagos, Portugal. The drive showcased cork tree and olive tree farms and occasionally white wind turbines could be seen on the hills in the distance.

The bus pulled into the 4* Lagos Avenida Hotel where we checked into our rooms and freshened up before meeting downstairs in the cool sitting area for a drink. We had a quick tour of the city and then found a fabulous place to eat called Mar Restaurant & Bar. The quaint restaurant sits high above the water offering both indoor and outdoor seating with the best view of the ocean. The food was fabulous!

Lagos Portugal, Mar Restaurant, Risotto seafood with shrimp, clams and mussels

Lagos was my favorite destination so far. I love being near water and having grown up in Florida, I am drawn to the salty air of a beach town. Lagos is located in southern Portugal’s Algarve region and sits on the Bensafrim River and the Atlantic Ocean. After dinner, we went back to the hotel to turn in and get some sleep. It was a wonderful day and as I lay in bed that night I found myself really excited about the photos I had taken so far on the trip.

Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Blog Day 8 In Lagos Portugal

Day 8 of our travels was again another opportunity to slow down and relax a bit. We would be staying in Lagos for two nights so it was nice to start the day with a slower pace. Like every other day, we started with a great breakfast spread and wonderful coffee. We all took the day to go out on our own and explore the town. I walked for a while with a friend taking photos and exploring the cobblestone streets of the city. The local mom-and-pop shops and restaurants were vibrant with patrons and the tiled homes and buildings were beautiful. 

Praca Luis de Camoes, Lagos Portugal

We shared some nachos and had drinks at a small Mexican restaurant called Quanabana. The people in Lagos seemed more laid back and dressed in casual beach attire. Surfing was a draw to town, there were a lot of young earthy surfer types roaming the streets. I loved the art and graffiti I discovered along some of the streets.  The sunshine on my skin felt wonderful as I walked along the picturesque waterfront where I took in the charm of the historical landmarks, beaches, boats, and marinas.

I joined a few friends and we walked along the boardwalk to the closest beach area where there were large rock formations surrounded by sand and seaweed. We stopped in a small cafe for some red sangria on the second-floor terrace to relax and enjoy the cool breeze from the ocean. My friends wanted to walk down to the beach so I headed back to the hotel on my own. 

I felt so free and comfortable walking along the water with so many people around. Soon a tall, nice-looking man from Nigeria struck up a conversation as I tried to brush him off. For the next 10 minutes, he questioned me about why I was in Lagos and if I was single. I politely shared that I was on my way to meet my friends without sharing any details of where I was staying. He asked for my phone number or Facebook page, explaining that he had a story that would break my heart about people in need.

Trying to be nice I was becoming frustrated with my walk back to the hotel. I offered the Nigerian man a fake FB profile name, surprisingly he pulled a page up and I nodded that it was the correct one as he pressed the friend button. I told him I had to go and rushed off in the direction of a group of people ending what I felt was a scam to request money later. I never felt I was in danger but I was frustrated that my peaceful walk had been interrupted.

Later that evening we met for drinks downstairs before heading out to find something to eat. Jose led a few of us to a quaint restaurant off the beaten path called Navegador which features Mediterranean and Portuguese cuisine. We were greeted by a warm, friendly staff and served in a small room on the second floor with a beautiful terrace overlooking the water. I shared a dinner for two with a friend called Cataplana De Bacalhau Com Grão, a delicious dish of fish and mixed seafood in a tomato base. This popular stew is served in a domed dish, that keeps the seafood warm as you dip out what you want onto your plate.

As I lay in bed I felt a little sad that we were nearing the end of our travels. I was happy that the wonderful people I was traveling on this trip with would become a big part of my memories for years to come. The town of Tavira and the city of Lagos are both places I would love to visit again someday. I drifted off to sleep happy and content thinking about the past 8 days of our travels.

The Creative Push Vlog on YouTube

You can watch the Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Vlog Days 7-8 in this video.

The Creative Push Podcast

You can listen to the Portu-Spain Adventure Travel Blog Day’s 7-8 here or on The Creative Push Podcast!

Thank you for reading, if you liked this story please share it with others and stay tuned for the remaining 8 days ahead. If you are interested in booking this southern Spain and Portugal trip feel free to check out my friend Jose Aznar’s site Worlds of Spain!

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To read artists’ interview stories visit The Creative Push blog!

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To see my photography visit Sheri Oneal Photography!

There are more stories on the way!!

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