For years we read about travel destinations that appealed to us. The places we ignored were often overrun with tourists. For that reason, the Algarve region of Portugal ended up in our reject pile. How many times had we read that the scenic Southern coast was filled (to overflowing) with Brits, Irish, French and German tourists?
However, we had read many glowing reports over the years about other destinations in Portugal so we started our visits – first to Madeira, then to Porto, now Cascais. After this we agreed: Portugal is a great travel destination! It was time to test out the Algarve.
In the western Algarve, Lagos was our base. The bastions are about all that is left of the castle in Lagos. Still, it was enough for us to use our imaginations to fill in the rest.
Anita and Dick, our Lagos blogging friends, drove us out to Sagres, the place that was the “end of the known world.” The southwestern tip of Portugal marked the point furthest west for southern Europe exploration.
We passed a ceramics store on that trip and had to stop. We stood in front of the store, looked up, and snapped a photo of their impressive plates and bowls affixed all the way up to the roof on the front of the store.
Lagos seemed to have an abundant supply of fish wherever and whenever we looked.
Anita and Dick said we wouldn’t want to miss the Hippie Market in a nearby town which takes place on the 4th Sunday of the month. The highlight for us was the vegetable pakoras, fried before us and served piping hot. Anita might have said her highlight was the sundress she bought for 1 euro.
We had a little time in nearby Alvor before catching a bus, so we headed for what turned out to be one of the most stunning churches we’ve ever seen. It was built in the 1520’s and is decorated in tile and Manueline (Gothic)-style architecture.
We think the photos do acknowledge that, despite what we thought, the Algarve is a lovely vacation destination. What about all those tourists? We mostly side-stepped them. They reclined on the beach; we walked in the surf. They dined in the restaurants while we cooked our own meals. Somehow, it worked.
Our favorite destinations in Portugal remain Porto and Cascais, but the Algarve is worthy of consideration. Next stop: the eastern Algarve town of Tavira. How will that compare?