Next Adventure: Building in Lagoa de Albufeira

When in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we used to have a place to the north of the city, situated next to the beach, where we could go on weekends with the kids to enjoy the ocean. As everyone in the family loved the water, we all enjoyed surfing, waterskiing, paddle boarding and swimming.

Since we’ve moved to Portugal we’ve missed that as the ocean is at least 40 minutes away. For a couple of years we’ve been going to the beach of Lagoa de Albufeira, a saltwater estuary to the south of Lisbon that looks very much like a lake, but it situated right next to the ocean. Because it is shallow and somewhat protected from winds, the water is quite a bit warmer than the ocean. Last year we decided to start looking for a lot on which we could build a small lake house, to give us something like we had back in Mexico. We found one, bought it and then started working with an architect to develop a plan that we thought would work best for us. This past week we submitted our plans for final approval with the municipality and hopefully in a couple of months we’ll have that, and if we can find a contractor, we can start building.

The estuary/lake meets up with a long, wide sandy beach that stretches for 35 km from Caparica at one end to where the beach narrows, steep rocky cliffs protrude until you reach the point of Caba Espichel. Only a narrow strip of beach separates the estuary from the ocean.

Cabo Espichel

Most of the area is not developed, except as you get close to Caparica. Fortunately the government has allowed little development so you can walk for miles on the beach and see no signs of civilization except far in the distance. There are access roads leading down to the beach where there’ll be rustic beach restaurants and surf schools, but that’s about it.

Lighthouse at the end of Cabo Espichel
Nossa Senhora Sanctuary at Cabo Espichel, which once provided housing for pilgrims

Lagoa de Albufeira is situated at the far end of this beach, just as the land begins to climb and the terrain turns from sand to rock cliffs.

Looking from Lagoa de Albufeira towards Cabo Espichel
Lagoa sand cliffs with Caparica, and the end of the beach, in the far distance.

Our property is not alongside the lake as no building is allowed, as is the case for much of the lakes, rivers and oceanfront in Portugal. It is all protected, and the only property that you’ll find there has been there a long time and grandfathered in, but often with stipulations that they can’t modify or increase the size of the structure, just renovate it. But we are only located a block up from the lake and a couple blocks from the ocean. Running alongside the ocean and separating our subdivision from the beach is a protected pine forest park.

The estuary/lake is very popular with kite surfers and wing foilers because the sandbar that separates it from the sea protects the water from winds that usually originate in this direction, providing relatively flat water but still strong winds for the kite. Plus, the water is rather shallow, making it easier for beginners to learn and to walk their kite back if they have problems.

We hope to start building this year and it should take about a year to build.

The Dao Region of Portugal – Biking & Boarding

In the north of Portugal, just above Coimbra but below Porto and a little east towards the Spanish border, lies a region known as the Dao. Through it the river Dao and alongside it were once tracks for a train that ran between the towns of Santa Comba Dao and Viseu from the 1890s to the 1980s. It is about 50 kilometers in length and back then it provided transportation for locals and delivered them supplies. When it was discontinued a “Rails-to-Trails” was put in its place. This is the process of converting abandoned rail lines (“Rails”) into bike paths (“Trails”), and it has become very common in both Europe and North America. In Portugal these bike paths are known as “Ecopistas.”

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Madeira, Portugal

We’d been wanting to visit Madeira ever since our first visit Portugal some five years ago and learned that the island group was also part of Portugal (along with the Azores). Covid caused us to cancel our planned trip last year, but in March we decided to try again as Madeira was open to Portuguese residents only as long as you’d recently had a Covid test done. Our flight from Lisbon was just a little over two hours and we arrived to wonderful weather, about 20º (the average temperature throughout the year) with bright, clear blue skies. Madeira’s weather is similar to parts of thew Med with a mild and moderate subtropical climate. It varies dramatically, however from north to south and east to west creating small microclimates. The northwest is much wetter whereas the southwest is arid and dry. 

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Exploring Northern Portugal

Our trip into northern Portugal took us to the very top of the country, to a region that has the Spanish border both to the north (which follows the Minho River) and to the east (marked by the Peneda-Geres National Park). To the west is the Atlantic ocean while the Lima River forms this region’s southern border. Through the middle flows the Vez River from the north until it empties into the Lima River. 

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A visit to the Arabida Peninsula

Well, after a few delays caused by a couple of dreaded the “C” diseases (Cancer and Covid), we have finally been able to venture out of our apartment and do a little exploring once again. It seems that our travels for awhile will be limited to Portugal as the borders in Europe are not all open yet and flying anywhere right now is not only a little risky but downright complicated. So we’re happy to just take this time to get to know Portugal a little better.

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Exploring Obidos, Portugal

We were in need of a weekend getaway so we decided to head north and visit the town of Obidos that we’d been hearing so much about. And we weren’t let down! Obidos is a captivating medieval walled town an hour or so north of Lisbon, surrounded by rolling hills covered with orchards and vineyards. It’s set on a hillside, along a narrow ridge, allowing just a couple of streets barely wide enough for a car to run its length, and which are connected by a number of steep alleys and staircases.

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Biking Portugal

Anyone considering biking in Portugal, there’s an essential tool you must have and that’s the National Cycling Network guidebook, which maps out nearly 5,000 km of routes and includes GPS tracks in KML and GPX file formats, so you can follow the routes on your smartphone. As well, the guide has great photography and descriptions, so you have a really good idea of what your trip will entail before you begin.

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