Algarve Journals

The Algarve - Atlantic and Mediterranean

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A July 2000 trip to Algarve by Amanda

Cathedral Photo, Algarve, Portugal More Photos
Quote: The Algarve is, at its best, a haven of sunshine, clean Atlantic beaches, relaxed life, and golf. At its worst, it is noisy, beer-stained, and contaminated with cheap concrete. Pick the right area (inland, essentially) and this will be a great holiday.

The Algarve - Atlantic and Mediterranean

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Overview

Cape St. Vincent Photo, Algarve, Portugal
Quote:
Cape St. Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Europe, is a windswept spectacle. It rises out of the Atlantic, high and forbidding, and dares the traveller to abandon Europe for the New World. The Algarve is surrounded on two sides by glorious beaches, with tides, clean sand, and warm water. Much like the Devon and Cornwall coasts, but without the same degree of fortitude being called for in the swimmer! Quick Tips: I have taken photos, and will upload once they are developed.Best Way To Get Around: Public transport is not the Algarve's most impressive feature, to be honest. If you are on a package holiday, orgainsed from start to finish, you'll either be staying put...Read More

Casa Da Fazenda

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Hotel

Quote:
We rented a villa through The Villa Agency, The Lanes, Brighton (rentals@thevillaagency.demon.co.uk, phone no +44, 1273 747811.) They have quite a few places available in Portugal, mostly towards the more expensive end of the market. I stayed there with my parents, younger brother, and a friend of my brother. The place was called Casa da Fazenda, and was near the hamlet of Riberia de Alte, about 20 miles from Silves and the same from the coastal town of Albufeira. The villa was great - a single-story house; it was furnished and equipped well. There was a large living room, a dining area and kitchen, 3 large double rooms, 2 en-suite bathrooms and another shower-room. The grounds were fairly large, ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Casa Da Fazenda
Riberia de Alte
Algarve, Portugal

Restaurant Hotel d'Alte

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Restaurant

Quote:
We ate here by chance - we were just driving around, looking for somewhere to eat, and found this restaurant. The view is good, and the setting, outside and under vines, is great. The menu, however, is pretty limited. We were offered the choice of Chicken Piri, hamburgers, or that day's fresh fish. If you like fish, this was fine, but if not, there was little else. The fish was baked in a tomato and garlic sauce, and served with potatoes and green beans. The food was good, but the service was very disorganised, and it took 2 hours for us to arrive, order, and eat. The other problem we had was that the price of that day's fish wasn't on the menu, and the meal for 5 of us ended up being quite a lot m...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Restaurant Hotel d'Alte

Algarve, Portugal

Restaurant Mato a Vista

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Restaurant

Quote:
This restaurant serves great, traditional Portuguese food. A lot of Portuguese families were eating there when we went, which is always a good sign! The service was efficient and reliable, and the food was great. Tasty vegetable soup, with a carefully balanced ham stock base made a great starter for all of us. We ate three different dishes between us as a main course - I had grilled salmon, my parents has a local dish called cataplana - it's cooked in a kind of small wok, and is made from a fish, and shellfish, wrapped up in ham. The version my parents had was mostly made from monkfish, plus whelks, shrimps, and prawns. My brother and his friend had wild pig, roasted in large lumps, with an olive-oil ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Restaurant Mato a Vista
Estrada Do Foral, Cabanita, Paderne
Albufeira, Portugal
(289) 367-161

Paraiso do Algarve Restaurant

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Restaurant

Quote:
This is a good place for a family night out. It's a lively place, full of large cheerful groups, mainly Portuguese families. There weren't any rowdy drunken lads-nights-out here, which can be a problem on the coast, in some restaurants. The vegetable soup - served in every Algarve restaurant we visited - was again very good. There is a large selection of fish, all of it very fresh and well-cooked. The day we went, the choice included red mullet, eel, sardines, and hake. These species were identified by us - the waiter spoke pretty good English but not good enough to distinguish between different types of fish. Salted cod, a local speciality, is barbecued here and tastes great. Before it is cooked, i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Paraiso do Algarve Restaurant

Algarve, Portugal

Castelo

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Attraction

Quote:
This castle is imposing - built of red sandstone and solidly placed. As castles go, this one isn't particularly large; it is instead squat and lasting. We entered the building - the cost is 200$00, or about £0.72, and climbed to the top of the battlements. The view over Silves town is impressive, and the surrounding countryside is laid out before your eyes. The castle is built on an ancient site, and a pre-Roman edifice is thought to have been built on the same hill. At the moment, there are thorough digs going on throughout the castle grounds to establish both the pre-Roman and the Roman forts that were built here. Inside the castle there isn't actually much to see - the digs aren't open to the publi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Castelo
set on the hill, in Silves
Algarve, Portugal

Cathedral

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Attraction

Cathedral Photo, Algarve, Portugal
Quote:
This is another ancient building - it dates from 1189 but has been extensively rebuilt and renovated since then. The guidebook we had described it as fairly dull, but I think this is an injustice. The eastern end of the church, behind the alter, is supposed to be gothic, but appeared to me to be a cross between gothic and Norman architecture. If you have seen any norman churches - all those I've seen are in England - you will notice the similarity. Like the White Chapel in the Tower of London, the area behind the alter in Silves is curved, but then rises in gothic arches above. It's a very interesting combination, and I enjoyed looking at it. The whole church is much less decorated than many Catholic ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Cathedral
just below the castle, Silves
Algarve, Portugal

Cape St. Vincent

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Attraction

Cape St. Vincent Photo, Algarve, Portugal
Quote:
This promontory sticks out alone into the forbidding Atlantic ocean - it's the most south-westerly point of Europe. My mother and I got up astonishingly early and drove for an hour and a half to get there just after sunrise, at about 7:30am. We were almost alone there, apart from a few local and mad fishermen, hanging off the cliffs. I like fish, but I don't think it's worth dying for! The scenery is quite different as you near the cape. Unlike the gently undulating land of the Algarve, which is decorated with olive and aloe vera, the land becomes bleaker. Trees start to become lopsided, then stop, and the land becomes rockier and flatter. The cape itself is high, flat, and stony. The s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2000

Cape St. Vincent
South-west Algarve
Algarve, Portugal

Driving - Algarve

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Attraction | "Getting about by car in the Algarve"

Quote:
This is a tricky one. If you are staying inland, you will need to hire a car. Portuguese roads aren't just dangerous, they are lethal! The accident and death rates are the highest in Europe, and you'll only have to be here hours before you know the reason why. It pays to be very careful, especially if, like my family, you are driving on the 'wrong' side of the road! Groping in the door when trying to change gear is not a pleasant experience. If you are used to driving on the right anyway, all you have to watch out for is maniac drivers - ie Portuguese ones! We hired our car - a Renault Megane Estate - through the agency that also rented us the villa we stayed in, and we picked up and dropped off the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2001

Driving - Algarve

Algarve, Portugal

Money in Portugal

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Costs are generally lower than in the rest of the EU, and it's a good value European holiday. (Especially so at the moment - summer 2000 - as the Euro is so weak against both the dollar and the pound.) Many prices are quoted in both local currency and the ever-depreciating Euro - take your pick. One important thing to bear in mind is that credit cards are not especially useful here. Several fairly expensive restaurants didn't take any kind of plastic, and American Express is less accepted than Visa or MasterCard. I didn't see a single Diner's Club 'accepted here' sticker - not that this card is much use in Europe as a whole anyway. The big international petrol station chains take plastic, but the loc...Read More