In our Ask The Concierge this week we meet Patricia Marques, the Front Office Manager at Memmo Baleeira Hotel in Sagres, Portugal, that is part of the Design Hotels group. Patricia hails from a city called Almada, across the river from the capital of Lisbon. She moved to the south of Portugal, and to Sagres, 20 years ago. “I still remember the first time I heard about Sagres and a friend of mine mentioned that it was a small town in the Algarve. By that time I was 20 years old, and was only familiar with the more touristic areas of the Algarve and was not very optimistic about it. Nevertheless, I visited this small town for the first time in 1996 and was completely drawn into it. This corner of the country is very special,” Patricia says. How special is it to be treated to a guided tour of the region by someone who loved it so much she moved here! Thank you, Patricia…
Favourite locale when enjoying a day off
This coast of the country is part of a National Park. It is protected from being built upon, to preserve the environmental sustainability, and that’s why it’s still so special. For me, this coast – Costa Vicentina – is the most beautiful coast in Portugal: pure wild nature, the smell of the ocean every morning… it helps me to release any stress. It’s so nice to take a deep breath of this air… I love it! Even on windy days, it feels so good to breath this pure and fresh air. It helps me to connect to life and to what really matters; almost like a ‘reset’ button that helps me to focus on what is important in life. Of course, I also have to mention the nice beaches. My favourite one is Castelejo Beach. Even during winter, it feels good to take a walk along the beach and continue along the sand to the next beaches of Cordoama Beach and Barriga Beach.
Where she takes her own guests when they visit
I always talk about all the places that they must visit on the coast. I also find very special the beaches more to the coast, where you can find the ocean and small rivers on the same beach like Bordeira Beach, Amoreira Beach and Odeceixe Beach.
It’s a rainy day but we want to explore, what we should do
I would say Monchique. It’s the closest mountain we have (a small one), but it’s very nice to take a walk around there and, during the winter, you can also visit and bathe in the boiling springs. The small town of Monchique is very beautiful in terms of traditional architecture, with some small palaces, and it transmits a lot of peace. For the ones that are not afraid of the rain, it’s also nice to walk around Sagres Fortaleza (not far from our hotel). To see the stormy ocean on a rainy day in that location is truly an amazing experience. The same happens near the lighthouse – Cabo de São Vicente – as the ocean can be so strong that you can see the big waves hitting the cape rocks. You can really feel the power of Nature on days like that.
Recommendations for night-time entertainment
For dinner, and if you are into fish and seafood, I would recommend the best restaurant in town – Mar à Vista. They have the best seafood of the area, from the most famous ones to the most special and those particular to this area such as (and be prepared for Portuguese names) Perceves, Navalheiras, Bruxas, etc.. It’s like you are tasting the fresh ocean… And don’t get me started on the fresh grilled fish and the oysters. Sagres also has a very lively night life, specially during summer, when we have more people visiting and you can feel a relaxed beach and surf vibe. There are three bars next to each other on the Main Street, so it’s perfect for visit one of them for a drink and then just move to the next one or hang out outside or dance a little bit. The names of the bars are: Dromedário, Água Salgada and Pau de Pita and they are located on the Main Street of Sagres (five minutes walk from our hotel).
Key phrase phrases visitors should learn
That’s a very funny question, but I would say something very local from Sagres that is related to the windy days (we have a few) and they say “Está cá uma bezaranha” which means that there is a crazy strong wind today, but only the locals understand it (as it’s not used anywhere else). It’s also funny to ask for a “Dedal” in a local bar, as they will give you a small glass of a local spirit made from a local fruit – Medronho. It’s very strong though, so I recommend you take just a little bit to try first or as a shot (if you are brave!).
The best shopping and souvenirs to buy
From the Algarve in general, the best well known products are sweets made with almond, figs and carob (alfarroba). From these products, you can find many regional and local sweets that together with the Medronho (the local spirit I mentioned above) make a wonderful combination and a very special souvenir.
A child-friendly thing to do or place to go
There are a lot of options, so it will depend on the age. However, the boat trip to see dolphins and whales is a favourites as it is guaranteed that children will see the dolphins almost all year round. It’s also fun to try some surf lessons or stand up paddle boarding with our local surf school. It’s easy and so fun for them as we are surrounded by the ocean and there’s always a quiet beach for beginners and children.
Her best kept secret or favourite hidden treasure
Well, if that’s a secret I should not reveal too much. I suggest you visit us and you will easily find so many deserted, unspoiled and special places on your own. In such a special area like this one, it’s that simple.
The best way to get to the airport
The easiest way to reach it is by transfer or with a rented car. The airport is approximately 130 kms away. You will find a highway (A22) and then, when you enter the national park, there’s a smaller road (N125) and the full trip will take you around one hour and 30 minutes but it’s totally worth it! We also recommend you rent a car as public transport will never cover the most interesting and unspoiled places you will find when you have a car to yourself.
Best time of the year to visit
The best time to visit is during Spring or Autumn as the temperatures are still warm and the wind is not so strong (and usually the ocean is warmer, too). We have more visitors during summer, but they don’t know what they’re missing during the rest of the year.
Anything else we should know when visiting
Not to miss the sunrise and the sunset. As Sagres is in a corner, you can see the sun rising from the ocean and setting on the ocean as well (but on the other coast). It feels like you are on an island sometimes. Those times are the most special ones to meditate and be thankful for the wonderful Nature that surrounds us. I would also recommend that you bring a car so you can visit the surroundings, you can drive to Aljezur, Odeceixe, and better get to know the coast (Costa Vicentina) and all the different beaches on the way to the nearest city, Lagos, which are also worth visiting for their history and lively atmosphere with restaurants and bars. Also, as a recommendation, the temperatures can be a little bit lower here than in the rest of the Algarve due to our location. During the day is usually warm but the evenings are a little bit more chilly. I usually say it’s the perfect place for those who love pure and wild Nature, and the weather also transmits that. If you are the kind of traveller that enjoys these kind of places you will love it! You can see now that I do!
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All images: Design Hotels™.