Sunday, May 21, 2017

Better late than never : Four days in Faro

Lat weekend I didn't get round to writing a post, but I think I can be forgiven as I was in lovely Faro in the south of Portugal. I went with a very good friend of mine, Marion. We have known each other for as long as I have been here in the Netherlands but this is the first time we have been away together.

Back streets of Faro

A cosy corner in the old city

We had a lot of fun exploring and walking the city and then taking trips out of town. On one day, we headed east to Olhao and Tavira. Olhao wasn't all that exciting (for that read disappointing), but Tavira was gorgeous with a wide river running through it, a castle on the hill and plenty of white-painted charm. I loved it and had to lurk round the river of course.

Tavira

The church on the hill in Tavira. I was standing on the remains
of the castle walls

City walls and urban homes are indelibly welded together
Looking across the Gilao River


Looking downstream on the Gilao River
We had two more days after this on one of which we went to Estoi, a village just inland from Faro, where we found this lovely old palace which has now been converted into a hotel. The rest of the village was rather clearly shut except for one café occupied by a group of English people having lunch. They told us they lived in Estoi and could thankfully tell us how to reach the palace as there didn't seem to be any clues left for Joe Public. Even the bus stops were a learning experience as the bus companies only have a sign on one side of the road. You have to know that you need to stand opposite it on the other side and we were ticked off by the driver for waiting a few metres too far from the spot.

The Palace of Estoi

Palace grounds and buildings
The following day, we took the bus to the beach and walked to a point beyond which there were no tourists or sunbathers at all (always a good goal). We both paddled in the sea, pleased to know we were treading the waters of the Atlantic - I can't even remember the last time I had my toes in such western waters. It was a glorious day; hot with a brisk breeze and much to my shock, my feet and legs caught the sun. I had a rather uncomfortable night coping with sunburn on my shins, toes and ankles. I can hear you saying 'that'll learn you," can't I?


On our last day, we did a boat trip around the islands off the coast. Faro is bounded by an area of natural beauty with a lagoon, mudflats and sandbanks. The boat toured the islands and the skipper, Claudio, pointed out which birds, waders and crabs it was home to. It was great to see all the birdlife, and I must say that Claudio was pretty easy on the eye too, so we didn't mind looking at him either...haha. One island is completely uninhabited with the exception of an old man (in his eighties) and his dog (said by Claudio to be about two hundred years old), the only humans and animals permitted to live there. There was also a lighthouse island where we stopped for a look around. The whole tour was a lovely end to our trip and a very welcome dose of sunshine despite my fried toes.

Old huts on Desert Island

The one and only lighthouse

Faro castle seen from the water

Our charming and rather dashing skipper,
Claudio



23 comments:

  1. Oh for some sunshine and warmth, I am sooo jealous! It looks beautiful, you have some lovely pictures here. I hope your toes are well enough to put shoes on or are you having to stick to sandals? Xxxx

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    1. Bless you, Fran. They have recovered enough for me to wear shoes now, but they're still a bit swollen. I just didn't think! It was worth it for the sunshine...that was really good, I will confess xxx

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  2. What a lovely post and beautiful photos, very interesting too, glad you got some sunshine at last!! Thanks for sharing Val xx

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    1. It was fabulous, Angela. I thoroughly enjoyed it! xx

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  3. Looks lovely Val! I've always wanted to go to Portugal but never quite made it.

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    1. Anne, do go! It's a lovely, gentle place and pace. The Portuguese people in Faro are just lovely...so kind, and although not rich there, it's beautiful.

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  4. These are lovely, Val. So glad you had such a good time.

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    1. Thanks Jo. It was a short, sharp boost, but much needed :) What was even more special was the kindness and friendliness of the people...

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  5. Looks like you had a very enjoyable few days away Val.

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    1. Mel, thank you! I really needed the break and it was the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed few days. The people there made it such a pleasure!

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  6. What a lovely place, Val! I know very little about Portugal, but I do know I could do with their sunshine!

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    1. Roger, it's very affordable and as I've said to others, the people are a delight. If you need some sunshine, it's got that and so much more. We stayed in a sort of boarding house. We just had a room and that was it. There were no other services, but it was fine. Eating out was really so reasonable and the coffee is wonderful! :)

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  7. What a pretty place Val. I would love to visit Portugal, especially as HB has ancestry there. Love the pink palace of Estoi - just my kind of palace :) It sounds like you had an excellent time.

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    1. It is lovely and I had a great time...thank you, Patricia!

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  8. I’ve been to Portugal several times but never Faro. It looks like a great place to visit. Lovely photos :-)

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    1. Cathy, I liked it because it wasn't too touristy and it's not so big either. It had a lovely calmness to it and the people were so friendly and helpful. I can highly recommend it

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  9. Looks lovely Val. The pink palace looks interesting. Have never been to Portugal but one day?? Thanks for sharing! Julie

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    1. How lovely to see you, Julie! This was my first visit to Portugal too, and I really enjoyed it. The people are lovely and the sunshine was so welcome! I loved the old style architecture and white-painted houses too. Well worth a visit!

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  10. Ouch! Hope your poor toes and feet have recovered, but what a marvelous trip! Your photos are fantastic. How wonderful it would be to be the only one living on an island...as long as you had a good dog!

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    1. They are a lot better now, Steph! Thank you! Yes, your own desert island would be amazing, especiallyas you could always join people if and when you wanted!

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  11. What a charming place. I love the pink palace. Sympathies for your feet! I hope they are better now.

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    1. Thank you, Jenny! Yes, Faro is really oozing charm, but in a lovely relaxed way. It is delightfully unpretentious!

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  12. Hi Val - you seemed to have slipped from my blogging radar - aka Feedly ... now you're in again! Faro looks amazing and sounds like you had a lovely time ... I've only been to Porto - one day I'd like to go south ... lovely photos and thanks for your write up ... cheers Hilary

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