After the summer we've had in Scotland it was lovely to have 2 weeks to escape to some warmth and sunshine and lovely friends to visit and share it with. First stop was Mariana's home in Seville for 8 days, with a short interlude to visit the Algarve region of Portugal - and to add a new country to my list.
I decided to start with my blog-based tour with Portugal. Mariana had sought advice from one of her colleague's Ines, who comes from the Algarve and we received great advice about places to stay and places to visit. Thank you Ines.
Mari and I in Tavira, Portugal
After collecting the hire car we headed for the Spanish-Portuguese border and continued along the quietest motorway I've ever been on towards the far west coast of Portugal and the town of Lagos. We were staying in Quinta dos Caracois just outside Lagos which was beautiful and fantastic value and with onl about 16 apartments was quiet and relaxed. We rented a one-bedroom apartment for 2 nights and had access to a lovely pool.
Quinta dos Caracois, Lagos
Our first stop was the supermarket which was due to close at 10pm so we rushed around to grab a few things for breakfast and headed back to the apartment - then realising that there was an hours time difference between Spain and Portugal and that the supermarket hadn't been closing in 15 minutes but in 1 hour and 15 mins. I had wondered why no-one else seemed rushed.
Saturday morning we went into Lagos which whilst touristy also retained a sense of being a Portuguese town (unlike some of the smaller resorts nearby). We found the fish market, lots of great shops and some lovely buildings.
The Science Centre in Lagos
We drove to Sagres, the farthest west point on the Algarve on the Altlantic coast and to the lighthouse at Cabo de Sao Vicente, isolated and barren.
We founds some lovely beaches in the area and had a lovely time swimming at Praia Castelejo at Villa do Bispo, at the end of a narrow and twisting road...a surfers paradise.
The following morning we went early, in the fog to Praia Camilo where we almost had the beach to ourselves and it was eerie and mysterious.
We then headed towards Tavira, close to the Spanish border, stopping in a number of towns en route...including Estoi
Close to Tavira we were staying in one of the earliest holiday villages, Pedras del Rei, which I think was built in the 70s.....it certainly looked like it. But it was close to the most amazing beach, Praia Barril....18km long island separated from the mainland by the salt marshes and a short train ride away....
We had dinner in Tavira, at the lovely Bistro O Porto, with a French chef and most of the food being local and organic. We had the best chocolate parfait ever......worth the trip to Portugal just for that.
After our short sojourn in Portugal (a first for both Mariana and I) we headed back to Seville. More on that soon....