Algarve, Portugal

Portugal Portugal

I am lucky enough to have a friend with a villa in a village called Carvoiero in the beautiful south coast region of Portugal known as the Algarve. I first visited in 2000 and fell in love with the place, so have tried to get back there every year since.

In 2007 as well as staying at our friend's villa, my friend Frank and I spent a few nights at COAA, The Centre for Astronomy in the Algarve. This is another excellent place to spend some time anyway, but especially if you are in to astronomy and astrophotography. Check out the link at the bottom of this page for more info on COAA.

In 2008 we decided to explore the interior - known as the Alentejo region. The place that we stayed, called the Quinta do Barranco da Estrada, is absolutely gorgeous. If you want a wonderful holiday in a peaceful and rural location, you won't find better than this. It is run by a really lovely family, and the owner, Frank, is an expert birdwatcher - so of course we went out with him for a day and got loads of new ticks and some great photos - thanks Frank! Check out the Quinta's web site via the link at the bottom of this page. I can't wait until I have a chance to go back.

Much of the Algarve is still unspoiled enough (thanks to stringent development restrictions) that you can sit atop the wilderness of the yellow-sandstone cliffs that constrast so dramatically with the usually vivid blue skies and let your thoughts drift as you gaze out across the azure sea. If you are in the mood, there are a host of photographic opportunities around you: apart from the fabulous scenery; birds, insects and unusual geology abound.

If you happen also to like good food - especially seafood - and wine, then the Algarve is for you. The people are warm and friendly and there are almost as many ex-pat-run restaurants and bars as there are those owned by the locals! There are some fabulous cliff-top walks in the area - and of course the beaches are gorgeous. What more could you want! I would certainly be up for retiring there if I got the chance!

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