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Cabo de Sao Vicente (Portugal)

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Cabo de Sao Vicente / Algarve / Portugal

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      01.12.2009 23:19
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      most south-westerly point of Europe

      Cabo de Sao Vincente (Cape St Vincent) is the southwesternmost point in Portugal and as close to the very end of the continental landmass of Eurasia as you get (though technically,

      The cliffs rise nearly vertically from the Atlantic to a height of 75 meters and are a major landmark for ships travelling into the Mediterranean. The cape is thus topped by a lighthouse, marking one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The lighthouse is among the most powerful in Europe and its light can be seen from over 50 km away.

      The headland was treated as a mystical and mythical land by the Romans and they believed that the huge sun sank hissing into the waters beyond it; even before that, ancient inhabitants felt the vibe of the place and left menhirs behind.

      The current name of the cape connects it to St Vincent, martyred in 304. A ship carrying his body apparently came ashore here, accompanied by two ravens. The body was later removed to Lisbon, but the name remains. St Vincent is, appropriately, a patron saint of seafarers.

      Nowadays it's a windswept, slightly eerie place and apparently a site of a great wealth of wildlife, from marine animals to birds and unique flora.

      People come to the Cape to stand on the edge of Europe, though the lighthouse is, sadly, closed to the public, and fenced off - you can't really touch the very edge of the world, though you can get near. The cliffs slightly further down, facing west to the Atlantic, provide wonderful vantage point and fantastic views: you can see America if you look hard enough, but even without straining, you can see rocky faces of the western coast of Portugal.

      The tourist infrastructure isn't particularly developed at the cape - and a good thing it is, too. No visitor's centre and no professionally made, serious-looking souvenirs. Instead there are stalls selling Portuguese (and not only) products: woollens, leather cowboy hats, fig cake, nuts and other local foodstuffs.

      There is also a couple of food concessions, amongst them, uniquely, a German Bratwurst stall in a portacabin. The portacabin is adorned with an anthropomorphic bratwurst (it winks!!) and a headline: Letze Bartwurst vor Amerika (The Last Bratwurst before America). It's all rather surreal, but because of this it doesn't grate like a McDonalds would. Plus, the sausages, served in a roll, are very good (apparently won several German awards) - the ones spiced with caraway are particularly recommended.

      With the Bratwurst comes a colourful certificate, stating (in three languages) that the recipient visited the most south-westerly point of Europe.

      To get to the Cape, take a coastal road from Sagres (it's a nice extension of a trip to Sagres fortress, especially as you can see Sao Vincente from the Sagres promontory).

      All in all, seemingly one of those places to tick on the agenda, but a memorable one and worth visiting. If you are to pick Sao Vincente or Sagres promontory, go to Sagres which is better, but both can be visited as part of one day trip.

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        14.08.2009 22:00
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        The Last Bratwurst before America.

        The Cabo de São Vicente is the most south-western point of the European mainland. Already the Celts worshipped this place as menhirs in the vicinity prove. The ancient Greeks called it Ophiussa (Land of Serpents), they dedicated a temple to Heracles here. The Romans consecrated it to Saturn and the Christians to Saint Vincent whose corpse is said to have been washed ashore in the area about 300 BC. They built a cloister which was destroyed by Sir Francis Drake, the remains disappeared in the great earthquake in 1755. In the 19th century the site was rebuilt and since then has belonged to the navy.

        The most powerful lighthouse of Europe and the second most powerful one worldwide stands here, its two 1000-watt lamps can be seen as far as 60 kilometres away. All shipping routes to Africa, America and the Mediterranean Sea pass the spot, so there's a lot of traffic below the Cape.

        On the Cape there's traffic, too, tourists come who want to see 'the end of the world', the barren tundra like landscape, the high cliffs (up to 75 m), bird watchers who look out for herons, falcons and even eagles, and those who merely want to feel the power of the wind. The Cape is approximately six kilometres away from the village of Sagres, public buses from the EVA bus company go there from Portimao via Lagos.

        A street market sells woollen articles, pullovers and caps, and Portuguese knickknack to the tourists coming for an hour or so on a day out from their holiday destinations in the Algarve. When they're hungry, they can go to a unique institution, the German Bratwurst stall that has been standing there since the mid 1990s. A German couple and their team sell original bratwursts from Thuringia and the town of Nuremberg, the two most famous varieties in Germany. The stall is a caravan, open on one side with a counter in it, with an enormous bratwurst on top winking at the customers and the words "The Last Bratwurst before America" (see piccie at the top of the site.

        The bratwursts are served in a roll with as much mustard (or ketchup or mayonnaise) as you like. You may know German bratwursts from German Christmas markets in GB, they're crispy, juicy and a bit spicy, I don't think that lovers of fried sausages can find better ones anywhere else in the world. The clients are handed a certificate stating that they've visited the "most south-westerly" point of Europe on this special day.

        In the beginning 95% of the clients were Germans, now the German contingent has dwindled to 30%, the Spaniards follow with 25%, the Portuguese with 10%, 5% come from GB, the rest from the rest of the world. Reading the homepage www.letztebratwurst.com I get the impression that the owner has become a bit bitter over the years because of the many silly questions he's been asked. Many are listed together with his ironic replies. For example: "Why don't you sell Portuguese food in Portugal?" He counters if the client also asks a likewise question in Germany when they eat pizza or drink a cappuccino in an Italian restaurant. Another favourite is, "Do you live here?" which gets the answer, "Of course, otherwise I'd be in the churchyard."

        The Bratwurst people are still dreaming of a house as it's often very, very windy in their stall, maybe someone can go and have a look next year if they've got it?

        I've been to the Cabo de São Vicente twice, once when the sun was shining and I enjoyed the strong wind and fresh air in my face and once when the sky was a bit overcast. The atmosphere was a bit eerie then but it remains in my memory nevertheless as something special.


        P.S.
        I suggested the category with the title 'Cabo de São Vicente - Bratwurst Stall'. Dooyoo decided to split this and took only the first part for the title but combined it with a picture of the Bratwurst Stall. As you've noticed, my rev deals with both.

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        The Cape is the most south-western point of the European mainland. Aside from the lighthouse one can purchase Portugese knick-knacks and enjoy a bratwurst from the German Bratwurst stall.