My first visit to Portugal was many years ago, when my husband and I first met and when we treat ourselves to a little city break and visited Porto in search of the perfect port! This time around the four of us visited the Algarve. I had heard so many good things about the Eastern part of Portugal; the quiet fishing villages, the long stretches of beaches, the little islands to explore and of course the traditional markets and their abundance of produce.
We took a short flight to Faro and hired a car travelling to Taviro. From there we explored daily the winding beach roads East towards the border of Spain. This road and it's idyllic charming villages absolutely stole our hearts. The colours of life here with the turquoise landscapes, olive trees, weathered old buildings, and tumbled over fishing boats are a sign of such beauty.
We only stayed a week but it was enough for us to breath in the true spirit of Portugal. A Portugal for sure we will visit again.
DO: We took a short trip into Albuferia Old Town and through to Loule for the Saturday market. Loule was a busy place but the vibe on every square was wonderful. There were traditional Maderia dancers which we stood and marvelled at for the afternoon. Their costumes were breath-taking and the dances so well rehearsed.
The market is set out into two different sections. The first is for the fruits and vegetables and all the amazing local products. Every single item for sale looks like the sun has shone so happily over it! The indoor market is for the fish. And oh how it shines! The produce very much reminded me of our days in Angola when we used to eat Bacalao, a delicious mix of dried salted cod and rice. An absolute delicacy.
The market is full of life and soul. It was hard to leave! I did manage to pick up a gorgeous bag of dried oregano to take home with me and it's still proudly placed in it's glass vase in the kitchen. It's made a perfect addition to a summery tomatoe tart. Also pop a box of local fleur de sel in your bag. And bracelets! Goodness how many bracelets can the girls choose? For themselves and for gifts for their friends. So sweet though.
For some fresh sea air and to see the tranquil blue waters, we then headed to Cabanas and took a water taxi from over to the Praia of Taviro. These are such fun and run on a regular basis.
The beach at Cabanas de Tavira is gorgeous and there is a fun Club House serving lunches and drinks. There are also showers so you don't need to worry about the sand coming home with you!
You can also travel to Fuzeta and take a taxi boat to Praia do Homem. However, we did notice that beach was so much busier there and the queue to get back over to the mainland was intense.
Travelling from Cabanas to Tavira is stunning and the historic town itself is so pretty filled with white washed buildings.
EAT: Restaurante Noelia in Cabanas serves the simple yet modern, fresh platters of seafood and fish. Overlooking the Ria Formosa this busy vibrant restaurant is the hub of Cabanas. The locals meet for lunch here and the friendly atmosphere is so welcoming you'll want to stay for the day. It's really worth booking in advance as this place is always super busy!
PLACES TO STAY: Hotel Vila Monte nearer to Fuzeta is a place we shall most certainly stay on our next visit to Portugal. It's been recommended to me by a few people and it looks utterly divine! The Farm House can organise excursions to the market together with the chef and a trip to the Castro Marim Salt Pond is also available. They will even pack up a picnic for you to take away on your day trip!
Since returning home we have rather had a slight obsession with the Portuguese entradas. Our lunch at Restaurante Noelia began with a basket of fresh bread, olives, diced herby carrots and sardine paté. It was all divine! We have since made a super simple recipe for sardine paté at home and whenever we need a little sunlight in our lives we make this paté to remind us of our long lunch in Cabanas!
- 1 tin of sardines
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp soft butter
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- pinch of salt
- In a bowl empty the sardines and pour in the lemon juice. Mix in the softened butter and chopped parsley. Using a fork blend the mixture together until it's smooth. Season the pate and refridgerate until ready to serve. It's really as simple as that and filled with goodness with Omega 3.
PS: Helena and Florence are both wearing outfits from Fish and Kids. A brand which is new to me and we're loving. Florence wears the Midi Dress and Helena the Jellyfish T. Check out their collections online. We're also loving their swimsuits too (not pictured). Helena's all-in-one jumpsuit is from Bobo Choses.