Your guide to the Algarve, Portugal

Disappearing Donkeys

‘In recent years the numbers of donkeys in the Algarve and over all of Portugal, have reduced dramatically.

img_7319

As they are seldom used in farming and the gypsies have replaced most of their donkeys with vans it is important to see this part of Algarve life does not disappear entirely.
On a back road to the Autodrome there is a quiet Donkey ‘Santuary’ with approximately 30 donkeys and many baby donkeys.
They are a part of a larger complex that rents apartments to tourists.
The state in its efforts to save the donkeys offers a symbolic subsidy of €40 per year to go toward their upkeep.
Although this is not enough to house and feed the donkeys, it is enough to help a bit, especially for extra feed in the very dry Summer.

img_7328

They are always willing to show you around the complex and explain how you can interact with the donkeys or plan a holiday with your children here in the very peaceful countryside.
Because of the scarcity of fresh green food in the dry summer, the donkeys will come right up to the fence and take any green grass you have for them of apples, carrots etc. They are docile and welcome the extra nourishment you bring to them. Great photo opportunities for the little ones with the donkeys.

Donkey Holiday

Leave a comment

Award winning Marinha Beach

Since its designation as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches of Europe, and one of the top 100 beaches of the world by the Michelin guide, Marina beach is no longer a secret. Flanked by magnificent cliffs and having a very high quality of clean ocean water, it has become a mecca for travellers.

However if you go any time ‘off season’ (October to April) and ‘off the school holidays’, you can still experience its tranquil beauty with few other visitors.

img_7502

There are picnic tables along the top and wonderful trails that lead off in either direction parallel to the coast, giving magnificent views along the east coast to Armação de Pêra & Albufeira, and to Carvoeiro along to the west. You will also encounter sink holes, that have been carefully fenced off and are amazing phenomenon created by a combination of wind and water erosion through the porous limestone rocks. Photos of Marinha beach have been used in many publicity shots for promotion of Portugal around the world.

img_7483

This is a ‘must visit’ beach for its stunning beauty.

How to get there: Located in Caramujeira, Lagoa: Directly after (west) of the International School on the EN125 you come to a set of lights. Turn south towards the ocean, and continue following the small signs to Marina.

img_7238 img_7254

There is a gravel parking lot. Please do not leave anything valuable inside you car not even in the trunk.

Leave a comment

THE OCTOBER SPRING

With the coming of mid October we expect a change in the weather. But still the temperature is 25 to 30 degrees with a cloudless blue sky.
Suddenly, with little warning, a massive cloud front roles in from the north, bringing refreshing rain and an end to the long dry season and a dormant earth.

img_7358

The magnificent clouds with accompanying thunder and lightening decorate the sky with rain and renew the plants, trees and flowers. One night of torrential rain and the next day we already see tiny shoots of green. The magic of a second spring is upon us in October.

img_7365
The farmers can start to plant a second crop with knowledge that further rains will nourish and develop the fruits of the fall season.

img_7364

IMG_1315 IMG_1314 IMG_1310 11251676_10205616282502954_992765742_n

field of wild lupins west coast 2009

oranges2
Three days after the rain we once again have Algarve’s clear blue sky with  25 to  30 degrees Celsius temperatures (75 to 85 Fahrenheit) and people are frolicking on the beach and basking in a warm s’western (Swest) wind that makes the water temperatures as warm as in peak summer.

Queteira Sunset over beach

Queteira Sunset over beach

Armao de Pera, beach at sunset

Carvoeiro Town Beach

Leave a comment

Mmmm Roast Chestnuts and the Portugal Tradition

On November 11th, if you’re in Portugal, settle yourself in for a real treat. It’s the day of the first tasting of the new wine, and also the roasting and eating of delicious chestnuts and the celebration of the harvest.

The chestnuts are roasted over a brassier in the street and sold in rolled cones Piping hot. There is nothing better than cracking open a hot chestnuts and eating them as you stroll down the street. Many restaurants will also hold special dinners on this night with tasting of the new wine with hot chestnuts at the end of the meal.
St Martin was a Roman soldier who shared his clothes with a starving naked beggar, upon this act the sun came out and Jesus said, ‘here is a truly good man who has clothed me.’

Leave a comment

So Many beaches, so little time

img_7976

img_7666
Starting with a cup of aromatic Portuguese coffee and a very fresh pastry in the morning in Aljezur at coffe shop Colmeia, we take the road heading west to the coast line.
The first beach we encounter is in the tiny fishing village of Monte Clerigo. Its been a bit of a drive and we could do with something to eat.
There is no better place to stop for lunch than at O Zé Restaurante where we had hake fillets, smoked salmon salad, melted goat cheese on crunchy country bread, that all made a delicious meal, washed down with some local green wine. All so very reasonable we marked it down to return another day.

Now on to examine the surfers paradise of the west coast.
Amado, with its surf classes looks like something out of a sixties hippy magazine, VW vans and campers lined up facing the sun,
with the occupants young travellers sitting on folding sun chairs catching the rays.
“How is it that the surfers are all so good looking?” one of our party proclaimed, watching the parade of young men and women carrying their boards down to the surf.
There is ‘Coffee Shop Amado’ with a mixed crowd of surfers and a few tourists, just in case you need another coffee.

Further along there are spectacular views from Carrapateira, which was originally a Moorish fishing settlement with the remains of their tiny rock houses perched on the cliffs.

img_7649

img_7640

img_7630

img_7618

img_7574

img_7573

img_7704

Leave a comment

Christmas Fair in Armação de Pêra

A really fun christmas Party was held, November 11th by Fiona and a group of artisans and vendors of all things Christmas. The nice thing about this fair is that the ‘sellers’ were mostly friends of Fiona, and also many were friends of the clients. This made for a very congenial atmosphere all during the day. As well the day gave Fiona a chance to show off her wonderful line of garmets for the fall and winter.
Hans, Fionas husband was at a small table just outside the door offering up delicious hot swedish mulled wine to everyone free of charge.It was delicious! Donations were made for the Bombeiros.
img_8002

img_7982

img_7981

Just upon entering the door was Sweet Marilyn selling her scrumptious squares of chocolate brownies, coconut crunch, mince squares, Christmas Puddings, Gingermen cookies and offering samples too! Its always impossible not to buy something from Sweet Marilyn.

Throughout the room were sellers of Christmas cards, Xmas crackers, new calanders, home made approved magnesium tablets and other vitamins & beauty products.
img_7979

img_8029

There was a group of 8 artisans from Caldas de Monchique selling items they normally only have in their shop ART@SPA including gorgeous glass beaded necklaces, hand blown fish, beautiful fine Ceramics, hand painted gift cards etc. You can also visit them in their unique shop in Caldas de Monchique, open February to end of November.

The fair was a great success, and we can look forward to many more in the coming years.

Leave a comment

Naval Club & Café Lunch

img_8054

A short stroll down the walkway along the Arade River in Portimão brings you to a perfect spot for lunch. Look for the blue building shaped like a sail. Go upstairs to the restaurant. The Naval Club has a huge terrace overlooking the river, the yachts, and to Ferragudo and is open to the public.

While watching the boats coming and going from the Portimão Harbour and Marina, have a choice of their fabulous chateaubriand for two, the huge meat kebabs, or try a daily special such as goat stew with delicious tiny potatoes cooked in the stew and toast.

If you’re only hungry for a small bite, go into cafe on the ground floor facing the river and order one of their “tosta mistas” they are absolutely wonderful and one should do for two, with some left over for breakfast! But absolutely delish.

img_8043 img_8042 img_8057

Leave a comment

Algarve Book Cellar – Carvoeiro

A Book Lovers Haven
Raymond started over a decade ago as a small shop that has now grown to two large shops with over 300,000 titles.
There is plenty of murder, mystery, science, romance, adventure, cookbooks, history, military, children’s books etc.
all at reasonable prices. Books in English, German & Dutch. Refunds on Returns.
They also stock audio books, CD’s DVD’s and cards. Raymond can point you in the right direction for a particular genre and is always happy to tell you about the latest Murder Mystery he is reading.

img_7259
He can be reached at Raymond.Compton@gmail.com
Tel 282 354 310.
Open Tue.- Fri. 9:30-5pm. Sat. 9:30-2pm.

Leave a comment

Trip to Burgau

img_7833

No better reason to take a drive down the coast than to stop 14 kilometers west of Lagos.
Have an afternoon in the sun on the deck of Beach Bar Burgau and include a delicious lunch or dinner. The decor is rustic and atmosphere casual, and the food is excellent. The grilled lamb chops, came in abundant portions with the meat falling off the bone. The house made salad dressing Is really special. Their starter of melted goat cheese salad is a must.
Run by the sons of one of the original owners and their mother helping in the kitchen. This is an excellent way to spend an afternoon of evening.

img_7835

img_7839

img_7841

img_7845

img_7846

img_7848-copy

img_7849-copy

Leave a comment