Al­garve, Por­tu­gal

The Packet (Clarenville) - - EDITORIAL - BY CRAIG WELSH SPE­CIAL TO THE PACKET Craig Welsh is a for­mer as­so­ciate ed­i­tor of The Packet who now lives in Iqaluit, but trav­els when­ever he can.

This week is the next in­stall­ment of a travel se­ries by Craig Welsh.

Welsh, a for­mer re­porter with The Packet, will have more in­stall­ments from his lat­est trav­els over the next few weeks.

Go­ing to Por­tu­gal in Au­gust … log­i­cally you know you’re go­ing to be deal­ing with hot weather. But when you chat with peo­ple in Lis­bon and they cau­tion that your next des­ti­na­tion, the Al­garve Re­gion, is “woo, very hot”, it does give you some pause.

They weren’t kid­ding. Get­ting off the train in Faro was very much like pay­ing to step into an oven. But hey, for nine months of the year my wife and I live in a deep freeze. Some heat is what we were look­ing for.

The Al­garve, lo­cated along Por­tu­gal’s south coast is their prime tourist spot. It’s best known for its stun­ning beaches and stag­ger­ing num­ber of re­tired Bri­tish ex-pats open­ing pubs. Se­ri­ously, I would have a harder time get­ting a pint of Guin­ness in down­town Dublin than in parts of the Al­garve.

Faro is the cen­tre of the re­gion, but most peo­ple tend to land there and flee. Other than the air­port and train sta­tion, it has few charms. It has a very…. hol­low, feel to it, es­pe­cially when you’re wan­der­ing around the old part of town.

Most head west to­wards La­gos, where most of the ex­pats seem to have set up shop. It also has most of the tourist at­trac­tions. So if you want sail­ing ex­cur­sions, or wa­ter parks, La­gos is your spot.

Be­ing con­trary, my wife and I ended up head­ing east, and used Tavira as our base of op­er­a­tions. Tavira has a lot of charms. For one thing, while there are still tourists, it’s a much qui­eter place. You can ac­tu­ally walk around with­out fight­ing the hordes. Sec­ond, it’s a short drive to the Span­ish boarder, so if you want to do a day trip, it an easy thing to do.

But Tavira’s main draw are its beaches. They’re long and pretty spec­tac­u­lar. Aside from week­ends, when it can get in­sane, it’s easy enough to find a spot and plunk down with not too many peo­ple around. Praia do Bar­ril quickly be­came our favourite.

First, you have to take a train out to the beach, which is fun. Then, when you en­ter the beach area there’s a ceme­tery made of an­chors, rem­nants of the old tuna fleet that used to op­er­ate in the waters be­fore the fish­ery col­lapsed.

If noth­ing else, it’s oc­ca­sion­ally nice to get some his­tory with your beach time …

There’s no short­age of pubs and other com­forts of Eng­land in La­gos.

The western coast of the Al­garve tends to be more rugged. Near La­gos

An­chors on the Praia do Bar­ril beach.

Church and the ru­ined court­yard of an old cas­tle in Tavira.

The train tak­ing strag­glers to the beach at sun­set, while the more weary head home.

A view of Tavira and the river that splits the com­mu­nity in two.

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