20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Algarve: Praia da Rocha & Alvor

Last year we fell in love with the Algarve region and were determined to spend at least part of this winter there. Rather than return to familiar territory (Albufeira and Lagos) we opted to stay at Praia da Rocha. We doubt there is a more beautiful beach in all of Portugal.

Our two-bedroom condo via VRBO is in the Clube Praia Mar hotel. The large balcony provided great views of the pool and sunsets.

Carlos, our resident pet gull, (and no, I did NOT feed him!) dropped by to say hello almost every day of our five week stay. Some mornings he would peck at the window just to make sure I didn't ignore him.

A boardwalk runs along the cliffs all the way from the marina on the east of Praia da Rocha to the western edge of town. It's a great place to stroll and admire the view above the numerous beaches.

The main beach (Praia da Rocha) stretches for what seems forever. 

Along the lower wooden boardwalk that is right on the beach there are numerous cafes and restaurants that provide just the right excuse to take a break from the sand and surf to sit, drink, eat and watch the world go by.

The other nearby beaches offer spectacular views and never ending photographic opportunities (depending on the tides).

With so many restaurants to choose from we did not get to sample as many as we would have liked during our stay, but one of our favourites was the Casa da Rocha. Perched high above the beach, the views are lovely.

This was the view from our table.

Leg of lamb
There were three or four separate rooms in the restaurant, suitable for any weather. This room with the fireplace would be lovely on a cold, windy day.

Another restaurant closer to the marina, Nosolo Italia, is known for its Italian food and gelato ice-cream. One lovely Sunday afternoon we shared a thin crust seafood pizza (baked in a stone fired oven) and ice cream crepe. Dee-lish!

We'd agreed prior to our arrival in the Algarve that our time there was strictly for rest and relaxation with little or no travelling and as such we really didn't venture far. Toward the end of March, however, we jumped on the local bus and went to the small village of Alvor that's situated about 6km west of Praia da Rocha. Alvor is everything we love about the Algarve - a small fishing village that's evolved into a tourist destination with charm and character to spare. 

From the boardwalk tourists can watch what ever's taking place on the water.

It's also a perfect place to take a selfie...

The pedestrian only streets are a big plus in our humble opinion. The lack of noise and frenzy of automobiles zipping past is an added bonus.

One thing we missed in Praia da Rocha which is modern and very much like any beach destination around the world was the lack of traditional Portuguese homes and especially those decorated with tiles. In Alvor they were plentiful.

I stopped to take a photo of the brown tiled building (below) and soon realized the lady on the right side of the street was stationary.

When I got a few yards away from her I overheard her talking to a woman inside this home. I could see that second lady was seated by the open window and clearly enjoyed the social call. How quaint and convenient. Or as John said, "Two old hens gabbing!"

Restaurants are plentiful in tiny Alvor and each do their best to entice you to stop for a meal - either via decor, the menu or both.

One look at the colourful Ze Morgadinho Restaurant, however, and my mind was made up! John didn't have a say in the matter.

We chose a table at the side of the restaurant (nearest the ocean).

The chefs cooked and grilled the food within a few yards of our table.

Meanwhile, this talented man serenaded us during our meal.

The wine and appetizers arrived and if John had had any doubts as to my decision they vanished when he took one look at the fried sardines, black-eyed peas with tuna and onion, and selection of olives and pickled carrots.

Then the main course arrived: peasant salad, grilled red green and boiled new potatoes. 

We could not have asked for a more enjoyable six weeks in Portugal.

Next stop? Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

* * *