The Algarve, runs along the bottom of Portugal, east to west. It is the Riviera of Portugal, though this is the Atlantic Ocean, not the Mediterranean. The Algarve has a complete range of beaches, from lovely, wide sandy beaches, to waves that are rough enough to be a surfer’s paradise, and everything in between. But, it has so much more….The Algarve area sees many, many tourists, particularly in July and August. This is one of the most visited areas of Europe. This area, like much of the Iberian peninsula, was inhabited by everyone from the Celts, to the Phoenicians, to the Romans, to the Visigoths. There were others in that mix, but there are too many for me to remember. Early in the 14th century the Portuguese, under Alfonso III (Alfonso Henrique), the first King of Portugal, and his boys threw out the Moors, and Portugal, became Portugal. There was a brief period of time when the Spanish king controlled Portugal (I think it was by marriage, but I could be wrong). Just as an aside, the 1755 earthquake damaged the area heavily, but the tsunami that followed did far more damage, virtually completely destroying many of the villages. This is also an agricultural area. It was orange and tangerine season, and The Goddess loves to purchase from roadside stands. If you look closely, the stands proprietor was taking a little nap in the sun…Hey, it was undoubtedly a long day. They oranges were good, but the tangerines were sweet and delicious. Notice that past tense there. Now, on to Albufeira. This would be our home, away from home, for the next week, and it would be our “base”. We made day trips, exploring the surrounding area, but that’s another post…. We drove, from Lisbon, crossing the Ponte 25 de Avril (the April 25th Bridge) with its Cristo do Rei (Christ the King) statue, on our way to the Algarve. Along the way, we saw a condominium of nesting storks, which you see in many parts of the Algarve.
We only saw storks in the Algarve and they are in some pretty surprising places…they are rather wonderful, aren’t they?
Part of Albufeira is quite modern, particularly juxtaposed against Lisbon and some of the other towns in the region. It’s quite built-up, with an abundance of condos and more fast food places, than you might expect, including both Mickey D’s and Burger King. There is an “Old” part of Albufeira, too, which is both quaint, touristy and quite lovely, very much like other small towns in the Algarve.
The beaches are truly lovely and as you can see, quite diverse. Wander along the cliffs, as the view is quite incredible. Then, when you’re ready to go down to sea level,
take the escalator. Yes, there is an escalator that takes you from the cliffs to the beach. Clever and civilized, huh? And yet again, as we wander the streets and alleyways of Old Albufeira, it seems like we’re always walking uphill, sometimes both ways!
Then, we went off for our afternoon “snack” and a coffee.
After roaming around Old Albufeira, we stopped at Pastelaria Riviera (Rua do Município ES, 8200-161 Albufeira) for our afternoon coffee, a galão, which is more or less a hot milk with some coffee. Pastelaria Riviera is open daily from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., so you should be able to find a moment to go. We feasted on Risoles de Camarão (Shrimp Fritters) and a tarta amendoa (almond tart)…and they were delicious pastries, maybe some of the best we ate in Portugal. Later that evening, we fixed a soup and ate in. It was just the perfect ending to a long, but lovely day.