June 17, 2024

The area around Sintra is blessed with great public transportation – thankfully, since I don’t drive.  From the center of town I was able to catch a bus out to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of both mainland Portugal and continental Europe. There’s not much here, save a lighthouse, a cafe, and a gift shop that sells official looking diplomas certifying your visit to what 16th century Portuguese poet Luis de Camões described as the point “where the land ends and the sea begins.” (Yes, thank you – I bought one.) And of course, there’s the ocean:  in every direction and as far as the eye can see.  Staring out at the water it’s quite easy to imagine how people once believed the world was flat.  Or that there couldn’t possibly be anything out beyond the great expanse of water.  During the great age of Portuguese discoveries the Cape was known as the Rock of Lisbon – the sheer rock face rises dramatically out of the Atlantic Ocean – and served as a landmark for Vasco de Gama returning from India, and Ferdinand Magellan after circumnavigating the globe. As luck would have it, I arrived just in time to catch the last of the daylight  – after half an hour the sky turned a flurry of pink and lavender as the sun set over the ocean.

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