Portugal – the Jewel of Iberia

Continuing my blog from Andalucia, Spain.

We spent the next five days in Portugal. This turned out to be the biggest surprise of our trip. We had no idea that we would all fall in love with Portugal and the Portuguese people.

DAY 12 – Albufeira, Algarve Coast

We left Seville, Spain by car in the early morning and the closer we came to Portugal, the less traffic we saw. We entered Portugal  with virtually no traffic, no border crossing and no petrol!! We immediately noticed that the price of gas (and food, drinks, coffee) was a lot less expensive than in Spain. By mid afternoon, we arrived in a small beach town along the Algarve Coast called Ohlos d’Agua (translation: Eyes of the Water) which is just outside of Albufeira.

Our Hotel Velamar was rated #1 on Trip Advisor. The room was way too small for three people; but the staff at the hotel were friendly and accommodating. We were able to upgrade to a suite for only $20 more per night. This 3 star hotel is a great deal (about $50 US per night), it’s an easy 10 minute walk to one of the best beaches on the Algarve Coast, Maria Luisa Praia. The hotel has a decent pool and a fantastic bar. The staff at the hotel were the nicest we met on the whole trip. Everyone was friendly, helpful and gave us excellent recommendations for dinners and sightseeing.



 Once we were checked in and situated, we headed into the town of Albufeira (15-20 minutes by car). The weather was perfect. We had lunch along the coast, wandered in and out of the shops,  and explored nearby beaches. Back at the hotel we jumped into the pool and sipped Green Wine. Vino Verde is found only in Portugal, is very refreshing and tastes a bit like champagne.  This evening we went to a local restaurant for grilled sardines (the local dish) which were delicious. Back at the hotel, we tried a variety of after dinner drinks that the hotel bartenders recommended.
Needless to say, once again, we didn’t get to bed til late – very, very late.



Day 13 – A Day at the Beach

Finally, an uneventful, kick back day!!! We needed it after 12 days on the road. We headed to Maria Luisa beach where we swam, slept and sunbathed the entire day. This time of year the weather was perfect (end of May), around 80 degrees and the water temperature was in the high 70’s, very nice.

Maria Luisa Beach

Maria Luisa Beach

In the evening we headed into Albufeira town and had a wonderful shell fish (including lobster) stew .

Day 14 – Around the Algarve Coast

We could have spent another day laying around the beach, but we had places to go and things to see. We stopped first in the small town of Lagos which got it’s name from Lagos in Africa because this was once a stop for sailors to deliver slaves. In fact, there is a slave museum in the center of town. At the harbor we were approached by a toothless old man who wanted to take us along the coastline for a tour in his boat. Since he only wanted 10 Euro, we hopped on and spent the next hour wandering up and down the coast.

The coast was breathtaking. Craggy rock formations appeared all around us. There were inlets of beautiful beaches, accessible only by boat. At the end of our trip, we all thought this was one of the best things we did as it really gave us a great look at the Algarve coastline which you cannot see any other way except by boat.

the Algarve Coastline

the Algarve coastline

After visiting Lagos, we came to the sleepy, picturesque town of Salema where we had a delicious swordfish lunch (5 euro) at the Atlantico restaurant right on the beach.

We finished our tour at the “End of the World”. Literally, in the day, Europeans thought that this point furthest West in Europe, Cape Sagres, was the end of the world. If you ventured out past the horizon, you might fall off!! Of course, Columbus and other explorers proved that theory incorrect. But Cape Sagres is worth the stop with it’s tiny museum and a fort.

On our way back to our hotel, we passed an artist shop where we met the artist and Mary Kay bought a couple of paintings. We also passed some fantastic pottery shops where we bought a few things to bring home with us. The deals are great and you could furnish your entire kitchen with this beautiful stuff, but, alas, there is only so much room in the suitcase.

At night, it was back to Albufeira. It is a fun place, especially at night with all the bars, discos, cafes and restaurants. There are a lot of Brazilians that live and work here, not surprising since they speak Portuguese. After dancing the night away and buying last minute trinkets, we headed back to our hotel to pack.

I highly recommend Portugal to anyone traveling to or through Europe. You do need time to get here and then to see it, but it is well worth making that time and once you are here you will not be disappointed.
Make sure to check out the rest of my Portugal trip in my Lisbon blog.

You can see more photos I took of Portugal here on our Carefree Vacations facebook page.

You can also view my video on you tube

Browse Trips of Portugal here and if you have questions about traveling to this area, contact one of our Portugal Travel Specialists or email me at nkivlen@sdtg.com

by Nancy Kivlen


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