Wow, it’s hard to believe but our 3 month sabbatical in Portugal’s Algarve is over. I am currently sitting in the Faro airport waiting for our flight and as I look at the weather forecast back in Saskatoon, I think we will be in for a rude awakening after 3 months of Mediterranean weather.
This last week has been a great end to our trip and our friends Randy, Cathy, Joy and Henry shared in many adventures and new experiences. We’ve decided that one of the things we love doing best is to explore new beaches and hiking trails, so most our time this week was to ferret out new locations that we haven’t been to. The first of these was Praia de Sao Rafael and you can see from the pictures, it is picture perfect. In fact, many of the tourist brochures use this beach as their “poster” scene…it’s clear to see why. There is also have a very nice restaurant on the beach beside it called Praia dos Arrifes where we dined on some exquisite sea bass…a bit pricey but excellent food.
We decided to do another boat cruise but this time from Portimao. If you have read our previous blogs, this was a favourite activity of ours and we hoped the new itinerary would be just as spectacular. We met our other friends Pat and Sheila in Portimao for lunch at the Naval Club before our sightseeing cruise. The tour company was called Manguito and they had 3 parrots on board with us. While the day started out quite nice, shortly into our cruise, the wind picked up, the seas got quite rough and it cooled down significantly. In fact at one point, I think everyone wanted to turn back. Fortunately we did not and we were rewarded with exceptional views of various beaches and rock formations along the coast near Lagos…many places where we visited from the land perspective. PLUS we were able to see Ponta da Piedade. The captain of the boat was very experienced and nosed his boat in as far as he dares in many of the caves and grottos around that area. Truly the cold and wet from the waves crashing over the bow of the boat, were well worth the views we got to see!
While our company made a day trip to Sagres (we had been there a few times), we decided to try yet another golf course called Vale da Pinta, part of the Pesana group. Had a very nice day and the golf course was very nice. We were paired up with a German couple that were very nice. We were on a twilight rate of 122 Euro for both of us and a cart but we did have to hurry to get all 18 holes in. We have booked a few rounds now with a company called Algarve Golf Smiles and the owner, Pat, seems to get some reasonable twilight rates plus he can get the twilight rate up to an hour earlier than anyone else. In case you need it, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the evening, we all met up for a dinner at a restaurant that had a hot stone feature if you ordered steak. A couple of our group enjoyed cooking their steak on the hot stone…apparently it was delicious, as was the grilled lamb’s leg that I had.
We spent a day touring around to some of the smaller villages with Randy and Cathy, while Henry and Joy went off to do some exploring on their own. However, since this was Randy and Cathy’s last day before jetting off to Paris, we cooked them a traditional Cataplana meal complete with clams, prawns and Monkfish that we bought at the local market.
We said a sad farewell to Randy and Cathy…their 4 day stay was way too short, but we were very please they made the considerable effort to come visit us. After dropping Randy and Cathy off at the Faro airport, we met Joy and Henry in Faro for a bit of a tour of the old town and the Chapel of Bones.
We have blogged about this previously but Henry and Joy seemed very interested in the construction using various human bones and skulls. A quick trip to the car rental station to drop off their car and then off to visit the Quinta Dos Vales winery to do a tasting and pick up a couple of bottles of wine for gifts to our landlady and the property manager. The winery itself has a large display of sculptures and a very nicely landscaped area.
We quite enjoyed the wines tasted and we ended up buying a couple more bottles for us to bring home…yikes, how am I ever going to pack all this stuff?!? A simple homemade supper and then early evening to allow them to finish their packing.
Our second trip to the Faro airport in as many days, this time to bid goodbye to Henry and Joy. We have had a marvellous time with them and they are the last of our company to leave. We were sorry to see them go! However, it will soon be our turn to pack up and end our time in the Algarve but not before we squeeze in a few more sites. We decided to take a hike into the hills around Loule called Fonte Benemola and had a wonderful walk except that half way through the hike we were supposed to cross a stream and one of the stepping stones had fallen over and we were unable to cross.
When we were done that, we went to a small white church on the cliffs by Praia da Senhora da Rocha and Praia Nova beaches. We had seen it from one of the boat cruises we took and wanted to see the reverse view…beautiful!
The weather was holding so we opted for another cliff walk and again were not disappointed! There are so many trails and wonderful walks along the cliff tops that we wish we could do more. PLUS so many beaches! I know we have focused a lot on the variety of beaches we have seen but they are so darn impressive!
Our second last night we decided to go to a restaurant whose specialty is roasted suckling pig. I know it sounds kind of gross, but it’s a pretty big thing and we have tried so many other crazy foods this trip, so why not. It was very tasty!
OK…one more round of golf before we go…this time at Sir Henry Cotton Championship course at Penina resorts. The rain more or less held off for our round although our rain jackets were brought out a couple of times.
Since we had an early morning tee time, we were finished by noon and that allowed us to visit…yes, a couple of last beaches we hadn’t gotten to. Our farewell supper was at a beautiful beach restaurant we had been to before for lunch called Evaristo…great Sangria, grilled squid and chicken piri piri…nice sunset to end a wonderful vacation!
Last morning before our flight out…guess what? We stopped at a couple more beaches on the way…yes, it’s true we haven’t seen them all but each one was fantastic and something we will always remember!
Thank you all who have been interested in our adventures, enjoyed our pictures and have followed along with us. We have had a fantastic 3 months and we are now ready to get back to normal day to day living. We would not have changed anything! We have appreciated our company, enjoyed the food, loved the wines and everything that the Algarve, Portugal has to offer.
In the end, TravelRent, the car company we used was fantastic to deal with…would recommend them for car rental in Faro. We have the contact information for all of the accommodation we used and have lots of great recommendations for restaurants, sightseeing and general information if you want it. Please don’t hesitate to visit the Algarve and to contact us for any help.
Thanks for following…SAUDE!!!