By Antonio Malara
Cabo da Roca was the third destination I visited in Portugal during the trip made together with my travel partner in October 2018. This of Cabo da Roca was the "half" visit in a day when I visited Sintra la morning and which at the end of the day took me to Cascais. Cabo da Roca was famous for being the westernmost place in Europe, the tip of the continent on the Atlantic Ocean. Personally, beyond this geographical detail which was a relative concept, what I had seen of the place and its location was its naturalistic beauty in itself; a partially arid strip of land overlooking the sea, with a desert yellow color with a unique charm.
The journey from Sintra to Cabo da Roca lasted about an hour, starting from mountainous scenery and winding through small villages until we arrived at the ocean. The bus dropped us off at the tourist information point, a large white structure with a lighthouse on one side. The place was full of people, there were those who had arrived by bus just before us, or those who were waiting for the bus to go back to Sintra or Cascais. Although there were so many people, it was not perceived because the area was very large and this was a positive thing. There was a long fence that separated the part that was overhanging the sea, from the rest of the area where the path led to the symbolic point where there was a dedicated monument. It was very windy that day but this detail didn't bother us that much, on the contrary it made us laugh especially when we posed to take pictures. We reached the monolith with the cross at the top, it was the monument-symbol that indicated the westernmost place in Europe, it was made of large irregular blocks of stone. The area was very crowded and honestly I didn't find it particularly interesting. The need to create an identifying symbol of a place whose nature already offered unique beauties was, in my opinion, superfluous and too popular. In fact, most of the tourists were all there, waiting in line for their turn to take a photo under the monolith. It's a mystery to me how people need symbols, matter that highlights something to make it real. Moreover, this demonstrated blind trust in authority and experts; the monolith stood in what must have been the real westernmost point while even a kid could understand that it was not like that but they had simply erected the monument in the most suitable place. Clearly I didn't queue up for the photo but rather moved to the steepest part of the hill in order to enjoy the naturalistic panorama.
Flanking the wooden fence we retraced the path towards the lighthouse, it was a unique panorama not only for the view of the infinite ocean but also of glimpses where the mountain reached the sea perpendicularly. We saw that there were people who were really overhanging and this was because they jumped the fence and in doing so they could be taken up to the edge of the hill. Without hesitation we did the same, we went beyond the fences and followed one of the unofficial dirt paths that led to the various viewpoints. It was an electrifying, dangerous experience and made even more exciting by the wind that gave us the impression of flying over the ocean. The path took us to the northernmost point, where there was a view of small islets and large rocks that were right on the sea. It was a very crowded place but where people moved with caution because it didn't take much to finish down. Right there we found a perfect spot to take truly unique photos, which in my opinion symbolized the place in a more concrete way than the stone monolith. Clearly that place wasn't for everyone and it was definitely dangerous, it was enough to lose your balance and fall. Although it was the most original point, on the way back we stopped on another small area which was lower down, it was a sort of platform over the sea, a square of flat land which, when standing, gave the impression of floating above the sea. Although apparently less dangerous, it showed its pitfalls when we left it. In fact, climbing the difference in rock height with that wind was a demanding thing, even in that case a small loss of balance and that was the end.
We stood at the edge of the mountain for about fifty minutes, after which we returned to the tourist center where we waited for our bus. Cabo da Roca had been a short experience but lived to the limit, certainly taking advantage of an unofficial passage thus discovering the most beautiful but also the most dangerous part. However, I have the impression that in the near future that area will be closed in a better way and then everything will be safer but decidedly sadder and not natural. Even at the bus stop, the wind continued to torture us but then our bus to Cascais arrived and we set off towards the new destination which I will tell about in the next post.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Camera: Fujifilm XT-20