The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
A Trip To the End Of the Earth

Our last full day in the Algarve dawned overcast and ... dare I say it? ... cool! The heat wave has finally broken and if anything, we were even a bit chilly at times -- much more to our liking!

Sagres and Cape San Vincent were once, literally, the end of the earth. As the western-most point in Europe, this was the end of the known world. I can imagine people staring at the endless expanse of Atlantic Ocean wondering what lay out there ... if anything lay out there. It all seems rather silly to us today, of course, but how much different is it really than staring up at the stars and wondering ...

The most advanced navigation school in the world was once located here. Founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, all the great Portuguese explorers of the day (Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, even Christopher Columbus), came here to learn how to find their way across the unknown and reported their findings on their return. It was rather like Mission Control for the Age of Discovery. Now it is a more of a place for tourists to buy sturdy fisherman's sweaters for 25 euros and get a bite to eat.

On our way back toward home, we stopped in the seaside town of Salema for a salad and a frosty beverage. Salema has its beach, of course, and is known for octopus. Families have their undersea "turf" and drop small terra cotta pots to the bottom. Octopi find these irresistable, crawl inside to settle down and get a one-way trip to someone's dinner table for their efforts. No octopus on the lunch menu, though -- it isn't the season. I did get a colorful mixed salad with fresh local greens. Nothing special about what was in the salad itself, but the color pop, presentation and freshness of the ingredients were a WOW for me.

For our last supper in Portugal, we took Roy and Carol to dinner at the Restaurante Rei Das Praias on Caneiros Beach. They said it had the best fish, the best service and the best wine list in the area. I can't speak to the local competition but they certainly delivered the goods for us. OK, so all the staff knew Roy and that never hurts.

We were seated at what appeared to be the best table in the place, on an outside corner with a perfect view of the beach. Our table was in a section of the restaurant open to the sky and I was impressed to see they had fleece shawls embroidered with the restaurant's logo hanging on the back of the chairs just in case the ladies were chilly after sunset. We talked, joked, drank some very good Portugese wine and feasted on seriously fresh local seafood that had never seen a freezer. Life is indeed good in the Algarve!

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