Cabo da Roca and a little bit of heaven*

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The first thought I had after coming to Cabo da Roca was how amazing mother nature can be. And the second – how the hell will I be able to walk around here? 

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Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe, which was believed to be the end of the world once – “where the land ends and the sea begins”. The views here are breathtaking – cliffs, hills, the Atlantic ocean… and the wind is so strong that after climbing off the bus I just stood there holding on to a pole so it wouldn’t sweep me away. When I finally decided to let go and start walking, I looked like a drunk person – going to all directions at once. But I got adjusted after a while and then the adventure started.

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At first we just walked along the trail with other tourists sinking in the beauty of our surroundings and breathing in fresh ocean air. My crazy boyfriend even got down to one cliff, which seemed like a terrible idea for me at the time, considering how strong the wind was.

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When we got back to the bus stop, I got a glimpse of a narrow path leading trough the lighthouse to the hills. Naturally, we just had to go there. After reaching the top, we sat down to have some snacks and admire the views while at it. Soon we saw a group coming our way,  it appeared to be a French club of hikers. We talked for a while and found out that the trail we were on was leading to one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal – Praia da Ursa. And so we were left to make a decision – go to Cascais as planned or follow the trail. My guess, you already know what we chose.

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The trail was not one of the easiest, there were some dangerous parts and many times we had to hold on to the grass, stones or bushes, so the wind wouldn’t sweep us down the cliffs or slopes. At times there were no paths at all – just slopes of small stones, which were slippery and difficult to climb down through. It would have been really helpful if we had walking sticks with us but trekking was not in our plans for the trip so we didn’t come prepared.

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When we reached Praia da Ursa, which is not actually one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, it is one of the most beautiful in the whole world, to my mind, we met the French guys again and found out that there were two ways to move forward from the beach – one was to climb back the stony slope and the other was to choose a path on the left side of the beach, which, like the guide of the group said, “was a little bit steep”. We waited until they were gone so we would have the whole place to ourselves – it was amazing to be surrounded by rocky hills, cliffs and the ocean, knowing that the nature there was completely wild and untouched.

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Finally, when we decided it was time to leave the magical beach, we started to look for that path the guide was talking about. Soon we realized, he wasn’t talking about a path – he was talking about actual rock climbing. And it wasn’t “a little bit” steep, it was just steep. We had our heavy backpacks with all the stuff we brought for a two week trip, no climbing equipment, not even a panacord which would have been extremely helpful for our backpacks, and no prior climbing experience. It might have been a recipe for disaster (and I thought my boyfriend was crazy to get down that cliff in Cabo da Roca…) but we were lucky and managed to climb up without any injuries. Not without some stress, of course, as there were two times I felt stuck – I didn’t know were to put my foot so I wouldn’t fall down and climbing down was not an option anymore. After finally reaching the top I just sat down for ten minutes with my legs shaking and couldn’t move. We had an agreement that I would give a sign to my boyfriend as soon as I safely reached the top but I couldn’t even shout. However, after such a shock another stage of adrenaline rush kicked in – I was so excited about what I’d just done and all the surrounding views were so wonderful, I felt an utter euphoria. That was my little bit of heaven in there.

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The rest of the hike was relatively easy and uneventful, very beautiful though. I’m looking forward to getting back there and hike the full trail, which goes on for 16 miles. With some equipment this time. 🙂

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P.S. As always, the most memorable experience was the one we didn’t plan in advance.

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