The southwestern tip of Portugal is a distant paradise composed of water and rocks–lots of them–rising so starkly from the blue-green sea that your head swims if you dare to peek over the edge.
Standing on these dramatic cliffs, the belief of explorers like Christopher Columbus, an Italian who sailed from Portugal to America, that the world was flat is easy to understand– as is the German sign on the hot dog truck that now marks the spot where the world was supposed to have ended.
This part of Portugal has a pleasing roughness to it–the beach towns of The Algarve far enough away that the high-rise hotels and apartments haven’t ruined them yet. And the juxtaposition of bougainvillea-strewn villas next to ramshackle fishing huts lends a lovely authenticity.
And the food? An abundance of beach restaurants means you can choose between Portuguese Cataplanas (rich soups traditionally served in copper bowls), grilled prawns, or whole sea bass yanked fresh from the sea and eat with your bare feet nestled in the sand.
Despite the fact that The Algarve is sardine-packed in high summer (Ryan Air flies here), I think both Cristobal Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese adventurer who disproved the flat earth theory by organizing the first successful voyage to circumnavigate the globe, would be pleased with the way Portugal has turned out.