A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about beaches

Bem-vindo ao Algarve!

Our European odyssey finishes in the south of Portugal

sunny 28 °C

With less than 3 weeks to go before our European departure, we were keen to make the most of the fading continental summer. Greece, Turkey, and Malta were all ruled out on account of expense (the normally miserly [on price] budget airlines were failing to live up to the holiday spirit for these destinations).

We elected instead to head to the Algarve in southern Portugal - a sun-kissed region renowned for great beaches and golf resorts. Aware that the kids were starting to show a few signs of travel fatigue (the impending return to Oz accelerating the mood), we planned an unambitious two weeks of mainly beach and poolside relaxation.

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As it transpired we had a lovely time. Our base was a small fishing village called Olhos d'Agua - jammed between ritzy Vilamoura and busy, but unappealing Albufeira - and we were pleasantly surprised to find that most holidaymakers were Portuguese, along with the usual smattering of northern Europeans, English and the Irish.

Chicken piri-piri ... the national dish

Chicken piri-piri ... the national dish

Highlights included the laidback locals; delicious food (chicken piri-piri, steak on the stone, grilled sardines, morning pastries); lovely weather; gorgeous Algarve coastline which was as craggy as it was spectacular; a day trip we made to Sagres (via rental car); and seeing the girls slowly get the hang of boogie boarding!

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However the top of the list for all concerned was a dolphin spotting trip we caught from nearby Albufeira marina. We headed 5 miles off shore in a zodiac (at around 34 bumpy mph), and were very fortunate to come across a big school (pod) of around 80 short-beaked common dolphins. They were incredibly playful - zipping under our boat, slicing through the water, then performing little pirouette breaches - and we were awestruck.

Olhos d'Agua, cliff top view down to our local beach, the busy Praia d'Agua

Olhos d'Agua, cliff top view down to our local beach, the busy Praia d'Agua

Olhos d'Agua, girls stretching out on Praia d'Agua

Olhos d'Agua, girls stretching out on Praia d'Agua

Olhos d'Agua, Nat attacks the clams from 'O Caixote'

Olhos d'Agua, Nat attacks the clams from 'O Caixote'

Olhos d'Agua, pool in our apartment complex

Olhos d'Agua, pool in our apartment complex

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, view along the beach to a deep cave

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, view along the beach to a deep cave

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, Happell family in said cave!

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, Happell family in said cave!

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, camera and seagulls looking west

Albufeira, Praia da Coelha, camera and seagulls looking west

Sagres, Praia da Mareta, surf was definitely up on the day of our visit

Sagres, Praia da Mareta, surf was definitely up on the day of our visit

Sagres, often windy and in centuries gone by often thought to be the end of the world

Sagres, often windy and in centuries gone by often thought to be the end of the world

Sagres, view back from the 16th century fortress (of Henry the Navigator fame)

Sagres, view back from the 16th century fortress (of Henry the Navigator fame)

Vila Do Bispo, Praia do Castelejo, west facing so good protection from the wind this day

Vila Do Bispo, Praia do Castelejo, west facing so good protection from the wind this day

Albufeira, dolphin trip, unpromising name but a fantastic experience for all

Albufeira, dolphin trip, unpromising name but a fantastic experience for all

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Vilamoura, Praia da Falesia, also a popular walking strip at low tide

Vilamoura, Praia da Falesia, also a popular walking strip at low tide

Vilamoura, Praia da Falesia, an example of the famous red cliffs

Vilamoura, Praia da Falesia, an example of the famous red cliffs

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Posted by happellfamily12 05:50 Archived in Portugal Tagged beaches algarve sagres albufeira olhos_d'agua chicken_piri_piri Comments (0)

8 things we loved about Otranto

A blissful two weeks in Puglia

sunny 30 °C

  • Even though it is essentially a seaside tourist town, it retains many fascinating characteristics of its colourful past, including a beautiful old town centre (centro storico).

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  • The only language you will hear in the streets and alleyways is Italian. Nary a whisper of German, French, English, and American!
  • The locals are very friendly, and lack that rapacious edge so common in resort towns. Fare una passeggiata (the evening stroll) was an especially pleasant time to see all generations out and about, enjoying the balmy climate and the bella vista.

our landlord Pino, one of many friendly locals

our landlord Pino, one of many friendly locals

  • There is a beach for every day of the month ... perhaps a slight exaggeration, but within an 8 minute walk of the apartment we could reach sandy, rocky, breezy, protected, busy and quiet beaches.
  • The rocky beaches allowed the opportunity for the inner-child to briefly emerge (for the adults), and for the real kids to strut their stuff!

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  • Situated on the northern promontory, our apartment was quite close to the piccolo lighthouse, allowing the sailors' warning light to flash across our terrazzo as the evening light slowly faded away, and Lisa started to disassemble me at backgammon.

siesta time for the boss

siesta time for the boss

  • Puglia is the food basket of Italy. Olives, tomatoes, cherries, and of course pesce (fish) of the highest quality was plentiful and cheap.

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  • Otranto is the obvious starting point for a very scenic drive south right down to the tip of Italy's heel - Capo Santa Maria Di Leuca. Despite the somewhat erratic driving from the newbie (Papa), we had a great day on the road, with the highlight being a swim at the spectacular Grotta Zinzulusa.

looking out from Grotta Zinzulusa

looking out from Grotta Zinzulusa

Posted by happellfamily12 09:42 Archived in Italy Tagged beaches locals driving foods puglia otranto Comments (0)

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