Friday, January 18, 2019

One week in Portugal: Faro

Last year, I made a decision to try and spend some of the worst of the winter in a warmer place than the Netherlands. The original idea was to be away for two months. Well, what with one thing and another, two months shrivelled and shrank down to one week (yes, I know), but what a week it's been.

I persuaded Koos to accompany me, much against his natural inclination (he loves to go east, not west, and absolutely not south), so I was very pleased that he embraced southern Portugal so fully, and in fact, he really enjoyed it.

We arrived in Faro last Thursday courtesy of Ryan(desp)air, and found our way quite late at night (11pm because the flight was late. Thank you, Ryan(rep)air) to our hostel, which was cheerful, clean and as accommodating as we wished our accommodation to be. It was a bit cold, though. Although the temperatures at night beat what ours are in Holland during the day, there's no heating, so where we are used to around a comfortably warm 16c inside overnight, in Portugal it's the same inside as out. At around 7c, we nicked the duvet off the other bed in the hostel and slept with our socks on. 

A workman repairing the paving

 The next morning, Faro greeted us with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine. We had breakfast on a terrace and a walk around town, fascinated by what was under our feet as well as above them. The paving in the Algarve is almost like mosaic. All these tiny stones are beautifully laid to form patterns and shapes, but like all footpaths, they often need repair, a process that is totally manual. The workmen have no machines to help them and the repairs are done with a claw hammer; the claw to pull up the stones, and the hammer to tap them back neatly. Given that all the paving and even some of the roads are surfaced this way, I imagine much patience is needed.

A forgotten boat complete with its outboard should anyone
be interested. At high tide, it is no longer visible

We then walked down to the harbour to look at the boats (as we do) and also to see the swampy ‘sandflats’ that are part of the shallow areas of the Ria Formosa, a natural delta area that in Holland we call verdronken or drowned land. It is also a protected nature reserve. During high tide, most of these areas of land are covered in sea water, but much of the time, they are sandy mud flats and the small boats sit at their moorings waiting to be refloated when the tide comes in again. Sometimes, they are left waiting too long as the picture above shows. I love the Ria Formosa; it has a natural, organic wildness that I find very appealing. Two years ago, I did a trip round the protected areas of the reserve with a friend. I described it (albeit briefly) in this blog post, so I won't go into it all again here.

Inside the old city...shame about the cars

We then took a walk to the old city enclosed by ancient walls. As before, it was peaceful and beautiful although cars are still permitted and somehow look out of place – very much the gaudy 21st century gadgets in this gracious old city. By mid afternoon, it was time to go and check-in at our accommodation for the week in Olhao (there's supposed to be a squiggly accent on that 'a' but I can't find it on my keyboard), so we picked up our bags and headed for the train.

I think that's enough for now, allemaal, so more tomorrow...or maybe the day after :)
Here are some more Faro photos.

A delightful kiosk

A back street in Faro

The Church of Bones (I think), which was sadly closed

Our breakfast Terras

A bench in the old city

Peace and tranquillity inside this enclosure


  1. It's snowing ridiculous amounts here today. Thank you for warming me up with the photos. <3

  2. I'm glad they helped, Anne-Marie. We're back in NL now and it's freezing here too, so I shall be feasting my eyes on these images as well. Keep warm, dear!

  3. How exciting to go to Portugal Val, and Faro looks very attractive. I love the little pink kiosk and the Church of Bones. How brave to go by Ryan - they seem very scary from what I hear :)

    1. Thanks, Patricia. It was a real tonic. Ryan Air aren't so bad really, but it always feels a bit hit and miss. I wish we'd been able to go into the Church of Bones, but it was closed while we were there. Next time, hopefully!

  4. What struck me first is the fact that those stone repair workers must also be artists!
    It looks like a lovely and warm place to spend a week and I’m glad Koos was able to accompany you, too! Now I’m on to read your next instalment xx

    1. Oh goodness! I missed this comment. Thank you, Dale! And yes, I think the street repairers are artists too!

  5. Oh for some warmth and sunshine - thanks for pictures of them, anyway!

    1. Jo, I'm sorry I missed your comment. I don't know how I overlooked it. Thank you! I hope the weather's warming up for you there now too!

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