The only real joy to be found in an overly popular tourist attraction lies in squeezing something unexpected from the experience. I’d been several times to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe, in Portugal, with visiting friends and family, and lines of Spanish-plated tour busses carrying Chinese tourists groups. More Mandarin than Portuguese fills the air on any given day of the year.
But December does feel calmer, as the days draw short (you simply can’t see the lighthouse and the view when it’s dark), and the cold winds truly rock the cape. As someone who honors the changing of seasons, I felt right about witnessing the passing of the winter solstice at the edge of the western land mass, as the last observers to the setting sun on the shortest day.
We bought grossly overpriced Super Bocks (€3 each) from the vendor by the parking lot—next time we’ll bring a picnic of our own—and sought the trail down the cliff that most visitors miss. A short rope length down, and we hit solid ground, a perch looking out over the waves with our most appropriate toast in hand.
Meet me at the edge of the world…