Maybe it's not technically winter anymore, but it's all relative. A few months ago (right about the time we ran out of firewood) we decided to head to warmer lands for an Easter beach vacation. After considering Greece and Morocco, we settled on Portugal. A small town called Tavira on the far east edge of the Algarve region. I think we found a real gem actually. Not built up like the rest of the Algarve... laid-back, cheap, natural, peaceful. When our 6 days were up, we didn't want to leave.
We found a gorgeous apartment, the duplex apartment at Casa Beleza Do Sul, and paid about $60 a night. A nice bottle of wine was about $6. And our most expensive meal was something like $25 for 2. That included drinks and dessert.
Contrary to what Lewis believes, I can give a trip report without going into agonizing details. So rather than do a play-by-play account like he did, I've created a top 10 list of the highlights and a photo album with lots of pics and captions.
1. Sagres ("The end of the world")
Sometimes getting lost is exactly what you were trying to find. Lewis made a wrong turn, and when we went to make a u-turn we found Praia do Tonal – a breathtaking, quiet beach in the middle of rocky cliffs. The area is also home to the southwesternmost point in Europe, and where people used to look out and think the sun was sinking into the sea.
2. Beer for 65¢
Even the word makes me happy.
4. Fields and fields and fields of daisies
I'm not exaggerating when I say they went on forever.
5. Casa do Polvo in Santa Luzia
A full lunch, including a pitcher of sangria and dessert, was 18 euros.
6. Celebrating Easter on the side of the highway with Portuguese families
We saw lots of cars outside JJ's and thought what the heck. We were the only tourists in the place, and I had an amazing shrimp kebab.
7. The smell of orange blossoms
The air around Tavira is filled with the sweet smell of Jasmin.
8. The local market
The first day we were in Tavira we discovered a big community fish/produce market. I bought a kilo of strawberries for like $2. And an assortment of local olives. I want to really live like this someday. In a place that has a vibrant market where you can get tons of fresh food. (And I don't mean Whole Foods, even though it rocks!)
9. Rooftop terraces
Lewis said it best when we were hanging out on the rooftop terrace at sunset: "Whoever came up with the idea of a rooftop terrace was a genius." It's a great place to take in the smells and sounds of the city. And in this case the smells were good.
10. Espresso culture
I love any culture that revolves around the bean. Everywhere we went, no matter how divey it looked, had great espresso. Saturday morning we sat outside at a cafe, where I sipped a latte and ate a flan-type pastry.
11. OK, I'm going to sneak one more in... Having no agenda
We've been gravitating toward these vacations where we don't have anything to buy or anything in particular to see. Just wake up and do whatever. Maybe that's why my highlights are sort of general. I was really all about just taking in what I saw, smelled, tasted, felt, etc., as the days went by. The smell of the orange blossoms and the sight of the daisies is probably what will stick with me most. And what I will miss the most.