Portugal – The Algarve

May 6, 2014 at 4:59 am Leave a comment

I was so very lucky to have the opportunity to join my friend Donna on her trip to Portugal this August.  She showed me such a wonderful time, taking me to all the most wonderful places!  I’m going to post this trip in three separate blogs because there was just so much we saw I couldn’t possible get it all into one.

The first area we visited was the Algarve, the southernmost coastal area of Portugal.  On our drive from the airport in Lisbon to Albufeira, we stopped at Evora.  Evora is the kind of place a sightseers’ dreams are made of.  It is almost entirely surrounded by medieval 14th century walls and it’s narrow meandering cobblestone streets are lined with shops and cafe’s.  If you can believe it, we actually DROVE through these streets!

Narrow streets of Evora

Narrow streets of Evora

Giraldo Square is where locals and visitors gather to chat, have drinks and watch the world go by.  A lovely place now with a beautiful fountain in the center, it was once used as an execution ground during the times of the Spanish Inquisition.

Giraldo Square

Giraldo Square

The main attractions of the city are the 16th Century Church of dos Loios, famous for its hand-painted blue-and-white tiles of Portugal.  Adjacent to the church, and next to the ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple dedicated to Diana, is a former 15th-century baronial mansion that is now a hotel and restaurant.  After wandering the streets for hours we didn’t get a chance to explore these wonderful sights.  But we did get a glimpse of them!

Ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple of Diana.

Ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple of Diana.

We still had several hours to drive to get to our destination so off we went, finally arriving at the beautiful Aura View Beach Club in Albufeira.  What a view awaited us!

Night view of Aura View Beach Club

Night view of Aura View Beach Club

The next day we were greeted by a beautiful sunny day and a gorgeous view!

Looking out from our room

Looking out from our room

Then we drove to Alcantarilha, a small village just a short drive west of Albufeira.  Here we saw a church built in 1586 during the reign of Filipe 1 of Portugal,

One of many churches in the little towns in Portugal.  This on was built in 1586

One of many churches in the little towns in Portugal. This one was built in 1586!

Wonderful examples of the old and new architecture sitting side by side.  I was amazed how often I witnessed this.

Lovely old tiled home in Alcantarilha

Lovely old tiled home in Alcantarilha

And a nice glimpse of a couple of locals enjoying the afternoon.

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And of course I couldn’t forget the Chapel of Bones.  The interior of this small chapel is lined with skulls and is pretty typical around Portugal.  The message being that this life is only temporary.

Chapel of Bones

Chapel of Bones

Yes, they're really skulls lining this chapel

Yes, they’re really skulls lining this chapel

Returning to Albufeira, we went to Donaldo’s, a local restaurant where I had my first authentic Portuguese meal.  The food was marvelous, the service was outstanding, and the host was too much for words.  We absolutely loved it!

If you go to The Algarve, you MUST have fried sardines!

If you go to the Algarve, you MUST have fried sardines!

The cataplana, or fish stew, which is cooked in a copper clamshell was to die for!

The cataplana, or fish stew, which is cooked in a copper clamshell was to die for!

On Monday we had a morning walk and breakfast on the cobblestone walkway lined with cafe’s and overlooking the beach.  It was just down the path from our room.  Another beautiful day!

DSC01716

Breakfast overlooking the ocean.  Great way to start the day!

Breakfast overlooking the ocean. Great way to start the day!

Then off to shop for some of Portugal’s lovely pottery.

One of the many pottery shops we stopped at

One of the many pottery shops we stopped at

On Tuesday we drove along the coast to view the Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse with its 200 ft. cliffs.  The lighthouse is the southwestern most point of Europe.  The lighthouse was built over a 16th century convent in 1846.

St. Vincent Lighthouse

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse

St. Vincent Lighthouse looking from Sagres Point

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse looking from Sagres Point

Donna overlooking the cliffs

Donna overlooking the cliffs

We also took a glimpse at the Beliche fort and toured the Sagres fortress.

Beliche fort - Used to guard the coastline in the 17th century

Beliche fort – Used to guard the coastline in the 17th century

Looking out on the cliffs from Beliche Fort

Looking out on the cliffs from Beliche Fort

Sagres Point castle (photo taken from Wikipedia)

Sagres Point castle
(photo taken from Wikipedia)

141 ft. diameter wind rose with 40 spokes marked out with stones was unearthed in 1921

141 ft. diameter wind rose with 40 spokes marked out with stones was unearthed in 1921

We got to spend a day exploring “Old Town” Albufeira.  Narrow streets, steep hills, quaint restaurants and shops, striking white buildings and a beautiful beach describes this part of the city.

One of many quaint little restaurants in "Old Town" Albuferia

One of many quaint little restaurants in “Old Town” Albufeira

Sand art on the beach

Sand art on the beach

A view of the buildings towering above the beautiful beach

A view of the pure white buildings towering above the beautiful beach

Hiking up one of the steep paths in Old Town Albuferia

Hiking up one of the steep paths in Old Town Albuferia

This walkway is coming out of a tunnel from the beach to town

This walkway is coming out of a tunnel from the beach to town

The town of Faro is famous for its stork’s nests, so off we went to see them.  The white storks generally migrate from Portugal to Africa but because of the abundance of food that the landfills supply around Faro, more and more stay here year around.  We saw lots of stork nests as we were traveling from Lisbon to the Algarve, also.  Quite a sight, I must say.  I have NEVER seen a stork before, and to see them nesting was pretty awesome for me!

We were so lucky to see a stork standing on top of the roof!

We were lucky enough to see a stork standing on top of the roof!

Three stork nests on top of the main entrance to the Old Town area of Faro

Three stork nests on top of the main entrance to the Old Town area of Faro

Mamma stork tending to her nest

Mamma stork tending to her nest

Can you see the stork chick peeking out of his nest?

Can you see the chick peeking out of his nest?

The perfect ending to our time in The Algarve.  The next post will be our adventures in Seville, Spain!

 

 

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Officially babysitting Seville, Spain

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