If you ever have the chance to go to Portugal, I cannot recommend the town of Salema enough. I loved this place so much that I told my dad he had to move there when he retired. It’s perfect for him (as a person who doesn’t travel much) because they all speak English and there’s a golf course just 5 minutes away. But that’s not why I loved it.

Salema is a quiet, isolated town on the Algarve Coast in southern Portugal. This sleepy little village is historically a fishing community, but as the rest of the Algarve coast gets overloaded with tourists, some have found their way here. Now you can find sunbathers sharing the beach with fishermen unloading their day’s catch. It’s only accessible by car, but you can take the bus that goes out to Cape Sagres, get dropped off a kilometer or two up the road from town and walk in. Guess which option I took.

The walk was hot and my pack was heavy, but the views as I came around the corner were spectacular. A white washed town nestled into the hills, pushed up against the Atlantic. Fishing boats trolling out in the sea. This was definitely going to be my vacation inside a vacation.

Ok, there are no boats in this picture, but they were there!

I checked in to Pension Mare and found I was the only guest. My room was lovely, with a balcony looking out over the town and sea.

I couldn’t wait to see the town. But first things first! Ocean!

After floating in the water for awhile and lazing about on the beach, I ate a late lunch at a nearby cafe before heading back to my room. When I got there, another couple had arrived. They were around my parents age, and turns out, they were from Portland, OR! It’s always so interesting to me, meeting people from home so far away. We decided to have dinner together later than night, and they ended up being some of the loveliest people I have ever met while traveling.

We went to a cafe on the waterfront a short distance from the pension and ate amazing seafood while watching the Barcelona v Real Madrid match. They told me that traveling was something they had done together since college. Even once they had kids, they always tried to get away for a few weeks, and now that the kids had moved out, they were able to spend months backpacking. I hope that 30 years from now, I can say the same.

The next day I went out to Cape Sagres aka The End Of The World. Back in the days before Columbus discovered America, when everyone thought the world was flat, this was considered the ends of the earth. And it’s easy to see why.

You may notice I have a lot of pictures of my feet. When you travel alone, sometimes this is the only way you can prove you were there!

Cape Sagres is neat, and the remnants of the old navigational school is interesting, but my favorite part was sitting out on the edge of the cliffs, watching the locals fish. Scary!


When I got back to Salema, I jumped in the water again and relaxed on the beach, where I met up with the couple from Portland again. That night we went out for dinner to a different cafe. While we were waiting to order, the catch of the day was delivered. Nothing like knowing your dinner is fresh!
For an appetizer, we ordered calamari. Nothing unusual about that. Until it was delivered…
Needless to say, we did not expect the whole squid. However, it would have been rude to not eat it and we made sure to clear our plates, sand and all. And honestly, sand aside, it wasn’t so bad. After all, it’s basically the same thing you eat in the US, just not fried. Or sliced. Or gutted. But good, none the less. 
We ate our delicious seafood dinner as we watched the sun set over the water, exchanging travel stories from years past before heading back to the pension for a quiet night of reading. I was headed to Lisbon the next morning and the couple from Portland were off to Spain so we called it an early night.

As I was leaving at dawn, a storm was moving in. Perfect time to be moving on.

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2 thoughts on “Making friends in Salema

  1. I'm so incredibly jealous. I hope Keith knows that I'm starting to plan a whole bunch of trips for us off of this blog 😉

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