Day 35 Road Trip with Kids: Birthplace of an Explorer? Colonizer? Or a Nutjob? A Day in Sines, Portugal in Pictures

Day 35 of our family camping road trip this year. We are almost home. Last stop: Sines, the first port of Portugal. Why Sines? During my childhood school days, I was fascinated with the great explorers who went out into the great unknown when everyone else said, “Are you nuts?”, or something to that effect. Here’s our day at the birthplace of Vasco Da Gama, Sines in pictures, paying homage to one of the great nutjobs of their times.

Why Sines? It’s because of this dude who was born here 551 years ago. You know him? As an explorer, he’s up there with Columbus, Vespucci and Magellan. I know, I know, there’s a lot of stuff happening lately around the world about anti-colonialism. But history is history.

Driving the no-toll coastal road of Portugal to Porto from the border with Spain was NOT the scenic route that we were hoping for. Instead it added at least 2 hours of difficult driving on 2-lane country roads (one of which incoming traffic), sharing it with trucks and local cars that drove twice the speed limit (or so it felt like), criss-crossing highways, several honked their horns at this slow-go family travelers who tended to stick to the speed limit.

Unlike Columbus who landed in America but thought that it was Asia, Vasco de Gama was actually the first European to “discover” Asia, India in this case. by sailing around the south of Africa.

So, from Porto to Sines, the last leg of our road trip before heading home to Jerez de la Frontera, we happily got on pay-toll roads, bypassing Lisbon–the first European city we visited when we decided to quit the job, clear out the house, move to another country and change a family lifestyle 3.5 years ago.

Old artillery canons aimed over the first port of Portugal at Sines.

Here’s for you planners out there who are planning to drive in these parts of Portugal. There are 2 PAY TOLLs on the highway from Porto to Sines. It would cost you €30.15 for 329 kilometers, or about that. Here’s a breakdown. 1st toll from Portagem Grijo A-1 to exit #6 in Cortelo = €18.25 for 225 kilometers. 2nd toll from Praca de Portagem de Almeirim = €11.90 for 104 kilometers. Ouch, eh!? Lessons learned.

Overlooking the small but sufficient beach of Praia Vasco da Gama from the defensive walls of the Castle of Sines.
Battlement canons at the lower part of the defensive walls of the Castle of Sines.
A walk around the well-kept castle walls; port for recreational boats just below and big-ship terminals far background.
“Pirates!,” yelled out Kaj …and the “smoke” in the distance added effects to their game. “Ready. Aim. Fire!,” Karol ordered.
Local architecture in the old quarter of Sines, Portugal.
Snacking on castle grounds, Castle of Sines, Portugal.
Mists rolling in over Sines beach; cargo ship terminal in the background.
The Castle of Sines that was once the residence of Da Gama family… There’s no castle, really; just the tower. Apparently the white houses are private properties but the wide open castle grounds and the walls are open to the public for FREE.
Always finding time to swim in the Atlantic ocean: the cold, wild and windswept beaches of the north, the small but clean and sufficiently fun beach of Vasco Da Gama was a welcome surprise–surprise because it did not even look like a “proper” beach on GMAP.
Coming down the Castle of Sines into the warm embrace of the beach of Vasco Da Gama.
The warm and surprisingly clear water of this protected beach looked like shimmering with gold flakes. The breakwaters in the background with the lighthouses on either provides for a calm harbor/beach.
Mist began rolling in before sunset. The boat in the middle (from Norway) prepared to leave before was caught up in it.
Then, the mist moved inland quickly. Time to go!

Next stop: Home, por FIN! We’re late for school. But, Hey! They went to school onthe road. THANKS for stopping by! Remember, SUBSCRIBE! 😊

A beach in the mist, Praia Vasco Da Gama, Sines, Portugal.
“I am not afraid of the darkness. Real death is preferable to a life without living.” ~ Vasco Da Gama

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