Hey hey! We are right in Music Festival season here in Portugal and, even though this year I’m not going to any (go figure that I have to save money to go to Norway), last year I went to two. This, and the next travel post, will be about these festivals, because you get to travel a bit during daytime and then watch the concerts at night. So this post was made possible by going to Festival Músicas do Mundo (World Music Festival), which happens in the Southwestern city of Sines and the neighboring village of Porto Covo every year in the end of July (this year’s edition just ended) and it features artists from many diverse countries. I think this festival is unique to know great music that you wouldn’t otherwise see at a more mainstream festival, and also seeing the concerts inside the castle is awesome! For instance, I got addicted to Toumani Diabaté and other kora musicians from Mali after his concert there (he did the concert with his son Sidiki who is also a kora player) and I use this soothing music to read all the time before bed, it was my favorite concert by far back then. And I also really liked Italian folk band Canzionere Grecanico Salentino. As I write this, I just found out that in August and September these artists, and others that gave concerts already at FMM, are coming to Lisbon for concerts at Ciclo Mundos. I might go watch them again or other bands, if you’re around Lisbon here’s the tip! But now let’s focus and talk about the places I went to during the weekend I was at the festival so that you can visit them any time, especially during summer of course 😉
This city has the largest Portuguese port and also a oil refinery. It is also known historically for being the birthplace of our famous navigator of the 15th century, Vasco da Gama, who was the captain that discovered the maritime route from Portugal to India in 1498. Walking around the city center close to the castle, with its narrow streets and the Castle, and also in the promenade close to the beach (Praia Vasco da Gama) is quite cozy. As soon as I arrived to Sines for the festival I went to take a dip. While the water is super calm, it’s also quite cold but that’s ok. I went to visit the Castle on a Sunday, when the concerts had already finished. It was built in the 15th century as well and I like how well kept it is, with its walls white in between the stones, which is not common here. Inside the tower there is also a small Natural History Museum with some findings from the occupation of Sines area from the Pre-History to our days. In terms of monuments, I also visited the Centro de Artes, also in the center but contemporary and with a small contemporary art exhibition inside. About food, there are plenty of fresh seafood options (unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we went to) and you should also try “Vasquinhos”, the “queijada” (cheesecake) from Sines. It’s nothing very different from other queijadas you can find in other Portuguese cities, but it’s very soft.
Even though we didn’t have a car, I made a point that we should go to Porto Covo. Of course going by taxi and then returning in an express bus to Sines was expensive, but it was worth it. Why? Because I spent here several summer vacations with my family and I really loved this village, it’s so cozy and filled with beautiful beaches and white and blue houses! The first stop was Praia da Samoqueira, a beach a bit north of the village that used to be the favorite beach of our family. The rocks divide the beach into several small bays, making for very beautiful sceneries. However we didn’t come on a good day. The sea was quite wavy and the weather was windy but still the beach is so beautiful. We walked to the village for lunch and to have an awesome icecream at Prime as I used to when I was a pre-teen and then went to the smaller Praia dos Buzinhos, where it was much warmer. If you are with a car or have time and energy for a 3Km hike, make sure to go to Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro, right in front of an island with the same name. This island has a fortress in ruins that was being built in the 16th century and was never finished. I never did this but you can go to the island by boat.
Are you convinced to go to Southwest Alentejo? If you have already been, what are your favorite beaches and villages?
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