I’ve finally completed my write-up about our Spring Break!
As you know, my family and I went to, not only Spain, but Portugal too!
In fact, we went to the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto!
And in the following weeks, I’ll be letting you know all about it!
I’m not too shy to remind you about our journey to Spain, so just in case you’ve been out-of-town, here it is!
- Surprise! I’m travelling to England, Spain & Portugal. Olé!
- Oh what fun! Tapas, Sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!
- 72 hours in Madrid – 72 things to do! Oh God!
- Oranges & Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement’s. Say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!
- Spanish food & how to eat it! Spanish plonk & how to drink it!
I’m very excited to be writing about Portugal as it’s been nine (9) years since I was last there!
I usually prefer to travel solo, with a bunch of like-minded friends, or with my family, but at that time, I travelled with a German girlfriend of mine.
She was marvellous!
She’s about ten (10) years older than me, and I wasn’t sure if it would work out as it was a last-minute I-have-an-extra-flight-ticket-who-wants-to-come-with-me-appeal, on Facebook!
However, in a nutshell, everything went swimmingly well!
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
What do we know about Portugal?
Portugal, officially known as the Portuguese Republic, is a country on the Iberian Peninsula, in the South West of Europe. The republic also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.
Portugal is indeed the most western point country in the whole of mainland Europe, and I have a certificate to prove it!
Portugal is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain and the Portugal–Spain border – 1,214 km or 754 miles – is considered to be the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union!
Portugal has a population of almost 10.5 million people!
Portugal is one of the first global empire countries and had great influence across the world in the 15th and 16th century but sadly, after the independence of Brazil in 1822, and the end of the longest-lived European colonial empire, the return of Goa back to an independent India, and the handing over of Macau back to China in 1999, hardly anybody speaks Portuguese anymore, and most tourists are reluctant to visit. Preferring instead, it’s neighbour and colonial rival – Spain!
There are over 250 million people who speak Portuguese world-wide, it has left a most profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe, has an advanced economy, and a higher living standard than France, Spain and Italy!
It’s time to change it’s image!
The Algarve is in the southernmost region of continental Portugal.
It has an area of 4,997 square kilometres, 450,000 people living in the coastal town, and is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal!
The Algarve has several cities, towns and villages with the region’s capital being the city of Faro!
It’s main source of income is tourism related, and the production of seafood, fruit, and a variety of nuts!
During “the season” almost 10 million people visit on an annual basis, with the Algarve being the third richest region in Portugal, after Lisbon and Madeira!
I’m not really a beach person as I prefer mountains and rivers or beach destinations that have more than their waters to recommend them! However, we wanted to be by the sea and booked a really nice studio-villa apartment in the coastal town of Lagos. Our villa was called Canavial I & II Apartamentos with British / Portuguese ownership.
I was utterly surprised as we paid just €44.00 per day!
If I had known it would be that nice, I would have planned to stay longer than the two (2) days that we had booked!
For a family with a young teenager, it was just perfect!
Our villa was at the top of a walkable hill, had a fully equipped kitchenette, a surrounding garden, air conditioning, tiled floors, a kettle (thank goodness!) en-suite bathroom, a private balcony and free WiFi!
We were on the ground floor and so we had perfect access to the small private swimming pool, complete with private deckchairs!
There was another German family in the building too.
WHAT IS LAGOS ALL ABOUT?
Lagos (not to be confused with Lagos in Nigeria!) is in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal.
It is an ancient maritime town with more than 2,000 years of history!
The name Lagos comes from a Celtic settlement, derived from the Latin word Lacobriga, the name of the settlement established at the time.
It became an early settlement of the Carthaginians, who recruited Celtic tribesmen in their war against the Romans.
Owing to it’s already important harbour, it was colonized by the Romans and integrated into the Roman province of Lusitania.
With the fall of Rome, the town of Lagos was occupied in the 6th century by the Visigoths and later by the Byzantines. The Moors arrived in the 8th century from North Africa, renaming the settlement Zawaia (meaning lago, or lake).
The town became part of the much larger coastal region of al-Gharb, which eventually became known as the Algarve!
Lagos has a population of 31,000 people with almost 22,000 people living in the main town of Lagos itself!
While the majority of the population live along the coast and work in tourism and services, the inland region is sparsely inhabited, with the majority of people working in agriculture and forestry.
Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, the in-the-season summer nightlife, and rock formations!
However, Lagos is also the historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, the frequent home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyards and, at one time sadly, the centre of European slave trade!
Although I’ve been to Portugal before, I’ve never been to the Algarve.
I was pleasantly surprised as Lagos was awfully quiet!
Perhaps too quiet!
And even though we had arrived during the Easter break, it was still relatively low season and similar to the experience that we had when we went to the Polish Baltic Sea, Easter 2014!
So just in case you find yourself on the beach with nothing to do, read this!
12 UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN THE ALGARVE
- Need I even say it at all: Go to the beach of which there are many to choose from and some of the best in Portugal! Praias is the Portuguese word for beach thus beaches such as the sandy bay of Praia Porto de Mõs, which was a mere three (3) minute walk from our villa! The 7 km Meia Praia beach stretch, the charming Praia do Pinhão, the remote Praia de Beliche, the Praia Batata near the town centre, the small, sheltered Praia do Camilo, and the Praia Dona Ana Beach. Indeed, we spent our first evening running around on the Praia Dona Ana, and trying to climb it’s spectacular rock formations nestling beneath the cliffs!
- Take a walk along the cliffs: The Algarve view is so quiet and serene and surrounded by an intense network of paths so that you can literally walk from clifftop to clifftop. And we spent a merry few hours just doing that!
- Look for the Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse: This Lighthouse is located at the most westerly point of Sagresand is one of the largest lighthouses in Europe since 1846! It’s a most famous attraction and even includes a small museum!
- Take a boat trip and sail among the Algarve Grottos: I love water and I found the little caves and grottos of Ponta da Piedade pretty amazing, and the view of the the coastline stunning. It can get pretty crowded though, but everyone was really lovely, and the price (if I remember), was only about €10.00 a pop!
- Do water activities: Go canoeing, parasailing, windsurfing, kayaking, waterskiing, “ordinary” sailing, StandUp Paddleboarding, or dolphin-watching!
- There are also horses: Ride away on the coastal beach!
- Make your way to the Portuguese Navy museums and nautical homes: Drop in on the Maritime Museum in Faro.
- Stuff yourself with Portugal most famous and utterly delicious snack: The very enticing Pastel de nata, otherwise known as a Portuguese egg tart!
- Go look for the many aristocratic remains of Portugal’s historic past: There be castles such as the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira which is a 17th century fort, the Castelo de Paderne which are the remains of a Moorish castle, or the Loulé Castle which used to be a part of the medieval city wall! Failing that, the remains of the Torre do Relógio otherwise known as the clock tower!
- Learn about the history of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which destroyed great parts of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Southern England and Ireland. In fact, Portugal is still known as having one of the deadliest earthquakes in history!
- Go fishing at “Fishermans beach” otherwise known as Praia dos Pescadores!
- And while you’re at it, go ahead and have as much seafood as you dare!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the lovely coastal walk and impressive seafood, are my very own!
In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!
I’ll be interviewing someone quite important. Find out who, next week!
From May 18th – May 22nd, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Award ceremony.
From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.
From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.
Save the Date!
May & June are going to be glorious!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in May, whyever not?!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to the Algarve? Have you ever been to Portugal? Mountains or the sea?
See you in Berlin.