Faro and the Algarve
The romantic coast of southern Portugal borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. We had an Airbnb with a view of the Mediterranean. However, the closest beach was 30 minutes away!
The End of the World
On our first day, we went to the end of the world, Cape Sagres. Prior to Columbus, Europeans believed that there was nothing beyond that rocky point. . In the fifteenth century, it was the home of the sailing school of Henry the Navigator. Ships departed to sail the African coast in search of goods to trade and a route to the east. It was a fun drive, but we shared a hot dog in the car from the End of the Earth Hot Dog Stand.
Exploring Faro on our way to a boat tour, we encountered the cathedral and dropped in on a wedding. Faro is a walled city that felt like it was in a recession, with numerous closed businesses. We found an interesting place for lunch, near the wall, with a simple kitchen and one waiter. The waiter told us that we were required to order food, if we wanted to enjoy a drink. When we asked about items on the menu, the chef/cook came out and provided some explanations. She told our waiter that she would only come out once, so we better get our questions answered and he better not call her again. The restaurant sound system was playing Portuguese fado music and our waiter evidently thought he should have been on “The Voice,” rather than waiting tables as he was definitely more interested and showing off his voice. It was a great experience. After lunch, we took a boat tour of the nature preserve. I captured a stork in flight and a man doing illegal crabbing! They catch the crab, remove the claw, and let it go. A new one grows back in 3-5 years. The claws provide great feasting the Faro, Olhao region.
To get to the Mediterranean beaches, you must take a ferry from Faro, or drive for about an hour. On our first trip to the beach, we drove to Lagos. The beach was crowded, with little shade. We had brought a picnic and ducked behind a big rock for shade and to eat our lunch. People crowd on with their beach umbrellas, coolers, towels, toys and a spirit of excitement. We went to the beach with the lighthouse, of course. Although we were there in high season, the beach wasn’t overly crowded. Chair rental was reasonable and we settled in. WARNING! The water is cold, so cold that I only put my feet in. Paul did some frolicking, but was out in record time. The lighthouse was cool, but I chose to relax and watch while he climbed.
By far our favorite day in the Algarve, was the day we went sailing with Passeios Ria Formosa. When we arrived at the marina, we did not see our boat. We were a little unnerved and decided to go for a coffee. Check the picture of me and the neighborhood gang enjoying coffee! It turned out to be a great sail through the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a lagoon rich in marine life. Our captain was delightful and allowed Paul to sail much of the day. Our companions from Germany and Portugal were easy going and we enjoyed our final, full day of Portuguese relaxation.
And then it was over, three adventure-filled months on the Iberian peninsula. We packed to overnight in Lisbon and then catch our flight back to the states. One last phone calamity remained. When we left the apartment in Faro, my phone remained behind. Fortunately, I figured it out before we left the parking lot and our kind host returned to allow me to retrieve it. Once on our way, we tangled with our GPS trying to return our car. But obviously, we returned it. Then it was our last meal at Jamie’s (Oliver) Italian in Lisbon. Yummy! And then we were flying home to the land of the free and home of the brave to see family, friends and doctors. Hope to catch up when we are stateside.