Impressions of Portugal, Rota Vicentina (1)

4 IMG_0663When we get a chance to travel, we try to split our stay between city and country time. With the latter, we place a premium on walking. In Portugal’s Rota Vicentina, we hit the jackpot beyond our wildest dreams. I recognize I’m spouting cliché after cliché, but in this case, beyond a few bits of information about the area, the photographs, I hope, will tell the tale.

The Rota Vicentina is comprised of two long distance paths. One, the 100km Fisherman’s Trail, runs along Portugal’s spectacular coastline in southwest Alentejo and the Vicentina Coast Natural Park. The other, the 230 km Historical Way, runs inland through Alentejo and Algarve towns and villages and is “comprised mainly of rural trails.” [Guidebook] The excellent website for the Rota Vicentina, including information on accommodations, is here.

We did not, as many do, hike the Fisherman’s Trail from end to end, but rather had a base from which we chose a starting point each day. We also tried bits of the Historical Way. We weren’t clever enough to figure out the signage, but we did happen upon the appealing town of Aljezur. We recommend ordering the Rota Vicentina map and guidebook in the language of your choice ahead of time, else you might find yourself, as we did for the first few days, trying to decipher directions and bird names in Portuguese or French.

Our base was the peaceful, pretty Herdado do Touril, where we sat out evenings with a glass of wine, watched the pair of donkeys who were in residence, and heard cowbells clanging in nearby fields. An amazing breakfast buffet was part of the deal; for the rest we went shopping in the local markets and cooked in our quarters. From where we stayed, it was possible to walk to the coastal path without getting in a car—though we did, by car, extend our reach to explore other parts of the path.

There are too many photographs to load in a single post, so I’ve split them between two posts. A link to the second post is here. (Among the photos, you’ll see a few of white storks (cegonha branca) nesting precariously on the cliffs. They were also quite fond of nesting in transmission towers.)

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The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.

8 thoughts on “Impressions of Portugal, Rota Vicentina (1)

  1. hilarymb

    Hi Susan – what an amazing part of the world .. and totally uninhabited – well almost! Love your photos and the fact you based yourself and then star-burst your days out … stunning and definitely now on my radar … cheers Hilary

  2. David N

    We fell in love with the Arrabida National Park near Setubal, but I’d heard that the Alentejo was special and it certainly looks it. Great to know about long-distance coastal paths, too. And, well I never, storks on cliffs – I didn’t realise they could live by the sea. Beautiful.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: I’m sorry we didn’t get to the Arrabida, which looks like a fantastic place. The Alentejo was truly a special place, and not (as yet) overrun, like the Algarve. Those storks were quite the thing; I wondered they didn’t get blown off the cliffs in a big wind.

  3. shoreacres

    What stunning views. I could happily spend time there just as you did: walking, relaxing, enjoying the beauty. The tree with the little yellow pom-pom type blooms in this photo set looks remarkably like our huisache: a species of acacia. It seems that Acacia longifolia (along with other species) are present in Portugal. A. longifolia was introduced as a means of dune control, and now is considered an invasive species.

    Transmission towers do make wonderful homes for birds. Our monk parakeets build huge, communal nests in them. Every year after the babies have fledged, the power company tears them all down. Then the birds, perhaps out of sheer cussedness, rebuild. it’s been going on for years.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Having looked it up now, I’m pretty certain huisache is what that is. I also seem to recall that acacia was introduced in Portugal and is invasive, thus crowding out native plants. I wonder what the Portuguese do in re the storks nests in transmission towers.

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        If we’re talking about the same image, 0777, I don’t think it could be huisache, Acacia farnesiana. Its leaves are compound, each one made up of many small leaflets:

        The little flower globes of huisache are so fragrant that someone planted a bunch of the trees in Hawaii with the idea of making perfume from the flowers. Unfortunately the seeds spread and huisache became an invasive nuisance in Hawaii.

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