Today we planned to join one of the two-hour cruises by small open boats to the grottoes along the coast by Lagos here on the western Algarve. We thought we’d arranged it but when we arrived at the designated time, the woman who’d assured us this was the best boat, the best time, the best value, well, she wasn’t so sure the boat would go. She called the captain and then said, “I am going to book you on the trip. I am just waiting for 7 people who will come any minute.” We waited. They didn’t arrive. Then the woman thought it might be too windy. But she was going to book us on the trip. Eventually we understood the code: there would be no cruise out to see the grottoes.
So we jumped on a bus for Sagres, a small village out towards the very western point of Portugal. The bus rattled its way through villages and wild areas, through hills yellow with mimosa, past signs pointing up narrow roads to megalithic sites (and of course I wished the bus would abandon its usual route and schedule and take us there…), to pretty Sagres on its headland above the Atlantic:
We walked out along a track and I realized there was a kind of wild leek growing all around, between the mallow and gorse. I think it’s Allium ampeloprasum, pungent and broad-leaved. And there were also little clusters of iris — I’ve no idea which one bot when I get home, I’m going to check my bulb guide (Martyn Rix).
Sometimes the best days are the ones you don’t plan. You get on a bus, you see heart-stoppingly beautiful moments from the window — a church in sunlight, a small farm against the side of a hill — and you sit at a table under a red umbrella, drinking your glass of wine, watching four old men on a bench against a stone wall, shaded by oleander, solving the problems of the world.