Tuesday 11 June 2019

Eastern Algarve: Whistle stop tour of old haunts and new places

We have holidayed in this area many times but not in the last six years and this is the first time we have visited in May, rather than in school holidays.  We found the weather to be sunny and hot and the parking easy.
Monte Gordo, a seaside town with a casino and popular with Portuguese and Spanish families, was our base.  
 A wooden walkway runs the length of the beach
 Walkway over dunes to beautiful, quiet beach

Nearby Castro Marim has a medieval castle strategically sited on a hilltop overlooking the Guadiana River which marks the boundary between Portugal and Spain. 

There is a nature reserve with salt works where we saw ducks, herons and storks and their untidy, high nests

Another place of interest is the town of Tavira, where we  wandered around admiring the architecture, flowers, bridges over the Rivers Gilao and Sequa and saw turtles swimming in a pond in the park.
We took the tourist train, which was quite uncomfortable over the often cobbles streets, to the sand marshes and up to church St Ana where there is a camera obscura, gardens and a wonderful view.


On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the small resort of Cabanas where a public transport boat takes you to the main beach for 1.5 Euros.  

The picturesque village of Cacela Velha with its remains of an 18th century fort, restaurant and church is delightful.   


The town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio is sited on the Rio Guadiana. 

 Formerly an important centre for canning tuna and sardines, the pedestrianised town centre boasts some fabulous architecture. Founded after the 1755 earthquake to defend the region from Spain, it operates a busy ferry route to the spanish town of Ayamonte.

  The whole town, including customs house, town hall, barracks and church was built all at the same time on a grid system after the earthqualke  of 1755.

 From Ayamonte, we took the bus to Isla Canela, had lunch at the beach bar (chiringuito) Playa Alta and walked a few miles along the extremely long promenade

The last day came far too soon.  First stop was Olhao, famed for its  fish market and weekly mixed market then left the madding crowds for Faro beach, a tranquil area with bars and restaurants. 



 And last but certainly not least, the Palacio de Estoi.  We first came across this fabulous 19th century building many years ago, but only had access to the charming but overgrown garden with its fountains and statues.   It has been restored as a Pousada and now an opulent hotel with Spa but anyone can stroll in enjoy the garden and have a drink in a wonderful setting.  The garden has lost some of its grandeur but is still an attractive area. 


We hope to return to the area and continue our explorations.

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