Tori pointing to something in the water below, with Dave behind her.

A Taste of the Rota Vicentina (Fisherman’s Route) in Portugal

“Finished planning Portugal trip,” wrote my dear friend Tori. “September 24 to October 12. You are welcome to join me at any point. I can send you my itinerary.”

Andrea and I were already planning to travel through the United States during the entire month of September. But we were returning to Spain on October 2, which left open the possibility of joining my friend at the tail end of her trip.

Tori, it turned out, was hiking 225 km of the Rota Vicentina (Fisherman’s Trail) in the Algarve region of southern Portugal with her friend Dave. Having good memories of hiking the last couple of days with Tori on the Camino de Santiago, I was looking forward to joining her on a trail again.

Galicia–the Spanish autonomous community that I live in–and Portugal are on the west side of the Iberian peninsula. So I thought the distance between my town of Pontevedra and the Algarve region was not too far apart.

In fact, I could take mass transit to the Algarve region without hopping on a plane. But it would involve five trains, one bus, some hiking, and around 20 hours of travel time if you include layovers.

I ended up leaving Pontevedra on Friday afternoon. I ate a late but fantastic Indian dinner a couple of blocks from the Porto-Campanha train station. Then I mostly slept on the subsequent trains.

At noon the next day, I was in Lagos. I took a city bus west and walked a couple of miles to Salema after getting off. Then I picked up some groceries for the trek–a bit time-consuming since I had to wait for one of the only two markets to open after traditional siesta time. Finally, I went to look for my friends on the trail.

On a trail through a forest west of Salema, looking for my friends.

About half an hour after a leisurely up-and-down stroll through a forest on singletrack by the coast, I spotted a tall, thin, white-haired man ambling up a short climb.

“Dave?” I asked. I hadn’t met him before.

“Felix?” he replied. We had found each other.
Tori arrived another minute later.

Fifteen minutes later, I found Dave and Tori hiking up a trail leading up from a beach west of Salema.
Fifteen minutes later, I found Dave and Tori hiking up a trail leading up from a beach west of Salema.

It turned out that the hiking they had done that day was the most strenuous leg of the route, with steep hills and sweat-in heat despite moderate temperatures in the high 70s (Fahrenheit). While I missed most of that, I did change into shorts behind a tree only five minutes before encountering Dave.

In contrast, the next couple of days were easy walking. The photos below show the views from the trail. The highlight was watching dolphins jumping in the water near surfers along the beach in Burgau.

A close second was the Indian food we had in Luz for dinner.
We reached the end of the hike in Lagos. My friends finished traversing roughly 140 miles in just over two weeks, including a couple of rest days.

After two weeks of hiking, Tori and Dave arrived at the official end of the Rota Vicentina (Fisherman's Route).
After two weeks of hiking, Tori and Dave arrived at the official end of the Rota Vicentina (Fisherman's Route).

We had our final dinner later that night at a restaurant called Peperino. The instant I sat down, I received a phone notification for a comment from my friend Josh. He later explained that he had opened up the Strava app for the first time in several days and saw that I had just done a hike in Lagos.

“Yo Felix,” he wrote. “I am staying in Lagos for the next couple of days. Hit me up if you want to run.”

I couldn’t believe it. A few days ago, I had not even heard of this town of 31 thousand people. Now yet another friend from Fort Collins was here! What are the odds?

I immediately replied that I’d be leaving Lagos early in the morning but that he should have dinner with us. So an hour-and-a-half later, Josh and his wife Adrienne stopped by.

Josh explained why they were in town. After working for a company in Fort Collins for 20 years, he earned a four-week sabbatical. Adrienne and Josh wanted to go to Portugal, and our friend Ruth (who also lives in Fort Collins but is originally from Manchester, England) recommended the Algarve region. She even had an uncle (I think) who had a home there.

So Josh and Adrienne flew to Portugal, rented a car, and here we all were. Wild.

Right after we sat down, I got a message on Strava from my friend Josh, who I know from Fort Collins, Colorado. By complete coincidence, he and his wife Adrienne were in Lagos too! I invited them to come out for dinner.
Right after we sat down, I got a message on Strava from my friend Josh, who I know from Fort Collins, Colorado. By complete coincidence, he and his wife Adrienne were in Lagos too! I invited them to come out for dinner.

Initially, I thought I was coming to visit with two friends from Colorado. It was a happy surprise to end up seeing four.

Dave and Tori at Restaurante O Lourenco. I ate diced potatoes, squid, and rice for dinner.
Dave and Tori at Restaurante O Lourenco. I ate diced potatoes, squid, and rice for dinner.
A cat sleeping on cobblestones a foot in front of a red Ferrari California T.
A cat sleeping on cobblestones a foot in front of a red Ferrari California T.
The Roca do Rio beach east of Salema.
The Roca do Rio beach east of Salema.
Tori pointing to something in the water below, with Dave behind her.
Tori pointing to something in the water below, with Dave behind her.
Robolos Beach.
Robolos Beach.
Eating delicious Indian food at restaurant Saffron in Luz.
Eating delicious Indian food at restaurant Saffron in Luz.
The view from my room at Hotel Belavista da Luz included that of a couple of swimming pools, the town of Luz, and the ocean in the distance.
The view from my room at Hotel Belavista da Luz included that of a couple of swimming pools, the town of Luz, and the ocean in the distance.
Tori and Dave hiking out of Luz on a paved trail by palm trees and a beach.
Tori and Dave hiking out of Luz on a paved trail by palm trees and a beach.
Dave looks towards the trail that climbs up to an obelisk.
Dave looks towards the trail that climbs up to an obelisk.
The view of Luz and Luz Beach from the Fisherman's Trail.
The view of Luz and Luz Beach from the Fisherman's Trail.
Trees in orderly rows with their lower branches cut off.
Trees in orderly rows with their lower branches cut off.
The view of the rocky cliffs east of the Miradouro Ponta Du Piedade.
The view of the rocky cliffs east of the Miradouro Ponta Du Piedade.
Dona Ana beach/
Dona Ana beach/
Felix in front of the statue of S. Gongalo de Lagos.
Felix in front of the statue of S. Gongalo de Lagos.
An old ship at the harbor in Lagos, Portugal.
An old ship at the harbor in Lagos, Portugal.
Diega, a hiker from Latvia that Dave and Tori met several times on the Rota Vicentina, came down to Lagos to join us for dinner at Peperino's in Lagos.
Diega, a hiker from Latvia that Dave and Tori met several times on the Rota Vicentina, came down to Lagos to join us for dinner at Peperino's in Lagos.
Unfortunately, the next morning I missed my train by ten seconds. I corrected my mistake by getting an Uber to my next train in Tunes.
Unfortunately, the next morning I missed my train by ten seconds. I corrected my mistake by getting an Uber to my next train in Tunes.