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Published: August 7th 2007
Chillin' in Albuferia
Is this the definition of cool or what?
Located in the middle of the southern coast of Portugal, in the area known as the Algarve, is the little beach town of Albuferia. While this town often gets a bad rap in the various travel guides, we find the old town to be delightful. With the official greeter, shown in the first photo, who couldn't be ready to relax and adopt his laid back attitude. Albuferia is especially nice if you plan a trip for any month other than July or August when it is totally over flowing with sun seeking tourists.
The golden sandstone cliffs with tunnels leading to the golden sand beach are stunning at any time of the day. Sitting atop these beach side cliffs are the whitewashed walls and the red tiled roofs of the Albuferia village. The town square is the ever active heart of the old town with numerous restaurants, a variety of live bands, living statues, and everyone strolling the square and enjoying the show.
The variety of live music is most interesting. There is a Peruivan band that also likes to pretend that they are native Americans complete with the dancing. There is the bongo player that basically plays
a CD while he plays his drums. The Brasilian bands are excellent and the jazz sax player is very good. The various rock bands range from good to bad. Best of all there is lots of variety and individuality.
The name Albuferia means "fortress in front of the sea" and the village arrangement and town square attest to this description. Over the years the town has grown considerably with massive condo development and renovations to the square. They have moved out the street vendors which makes the square seem larger and more open. I like the changes, Ron doesn't.
The new Marina has displaced the old Fisherman's Beach where we were once able to watch the fisherman bring in their catch and mend their nets. We miss this bit of nostalgia. Even with these updates, the Praia Albuferia and the trail side cliffs are pretty much the same and are great places to walk.
Most of our time is spent in Albuferia enjoying the beach, but we did schedule 3 day trips to nearby villages or historic places. The first trip was to the old Moorish capital of Silves and the Monchique Mountains with a stop at
Foia, the highest point in the Algarve. Silves had the remains of the Moorish castle, the old fortress walls, and a large 13th century cathredral. The trip to the mountain top gave us a somewhat hazy view of the entire southern coast of Portugal. This is the 100 mile coast known as the Algarve, a Moorish name which means "the sunset coast".
Our next trip took us to Lagos, a larger beach town, and Sagres, the "end of the world". Lagos has a nice walled old city, a pretty harbor, and a good surfing beach. Sagres was the site of Prince Henry's Navigation School. It was established in 1408 and during the next 200 years had such students as Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gamma, and Christopher Columbus. It was located on the Cape of St. Vincent which is a sheer cliff several hundred feet high and was considered to be literally "the end of the world".
Yesterday, we visited 3 typical interior villages of the Algarve. Most of these villages are nearly abandoned. Many residents have moved to the coastal areas to find jobs and earn more money. The countryside is filled with cork trees, which is still
the major industry in Portugal. Agriculture has really declined over the years and very little farming is done in this area. It was a nice, but rainy drive. The villages are quaint, but display a rather depressing standard of living for the locals.
We are about finished with our 2 week stay here and we leave for Sevilla on Mon. morning. From there we will fly to Barcelona and then start making our way to Paris. By July 1 we will be in Interlaken, Switzerland and plan to spend the month there hiking and eating fondue!!
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