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The Algarve and Portugal’s North Coast

The Algarve and Portugal’s North Coast

Finally, after months of planning our trip to Portugal we arrived at Lisbon Airport. Well… our first target wasn´t as planned, small Algarve’s coast village ‘Albufeira’, but instead, we ended up at the baggage ‘lost and found’ unit of Lisbon Airport. We tried not to lose our mind (in addition to the luggage) right from the start and hoped for quick help. It felt like hundreds of people were waiting to document their loss at the same time. After two hours we were clear to leave the airport, of course without baggage. We tried not to spoil our first day and went straight to the Goldcar Car Rental to pick up our reserved car. Fortunately, everything worked perfectly fast and competent, so our trip to Albufeira could start. After about 3 hours car ride, we arrived at our apartment the Golden Cliff House. Helena, our lovely host, already awaited us and showed in a very welcoming way around the apartment. Best part was clearly the roof terrace overlooking the sea. This view exceeded even our expectations; a peaceful place right at the cliff – as the name of the apartment already says – and the view let immediately forget the troubles we had at the airport. Vacation should start. Helen even deposited some wine and snacks in the apartment – what a nice jump into our holidays.

Following my research, I was afraid Albufeira could be a bit too touristic for our taste. One of the reasons why I chose an apartment a bit out of old town, still with the option for some party nearby. At the first days we were absolutely happy spending our time around the cliff house’s roof top and the underneath Praia dos Alemães beach. To reach the beach we had to pass a sandy path down the cliff, overgrown by agave cactus and other nice Mediterranean plants – always the crystal clear sea ahead. I was surprised that the beach wasn’t totally overcrowded by tourists; truly a place to relax and having some drinks at the beach bar, what we certainly did first. The sea, or better to say swimming in the sea, was an adventure; first steps inside it felt a bit chilly. Clearly it’s the Atlantic Ocean. I also got hit several times by large breaking waves, although it was fun too.

After few days beach of experience and washing our clothes by hand our baggage came after us – what a relief. Now I felt ready to explore old town Albufeira. Stefan wasn’t really sure to try, and he should be right about that. As supposed the old town of Albufeira wasn’t a beauty – certainly, in our eyes and judgement: Irish Pubs in every corner, cheap drinks grubbily presented, blinking lights everywhere, and worst thing, a huge escalator transporting tourists to old town… sorry to say, not my taste at all, but maybe I’m too old fashioned for that kind of fun. What’s really sad, the surrounded landscape and beaches as well as the alleys in old town were so beautiful natively. It’s just too much 90’s style trash tourism hiding it for my taste. After a short walk through old town we decided to walk back to our lovely ‘off the crowd’ cliff house to enjoy the sunset and natural beauty of Albufeira.

We were keen on seeing more form Algarve coast so we decided to make a trip to another beach, the Praia de São Rafael. Arrived we were again amazed by Portugal’s beautiful beaches and nature. A stunning shore surrounded by sharp cliffs, caves and of course crystal clear water. Unfortunately, for us, again too many tourists and according beach life and preparation. Hence, we decided heading to the north, where we expected lonely beaches aaand… camping :-), what I was a bit afraid of. Not that it was the first time camping, no; in our young days there was nothing else than camping for us, each summer, which, at that time, I really enjoyed. Not only because we couldn’t afford another accommodation. But you know… by the time you get used to such amenities like hot water, a toilet nearby, no insects etc. ha ha ha.

Four hours ride to the north later we arrived in Mira, a small Portuguese town with a phenomenal beach: Praia de Mira. It wasn’t check in time at the camping place yet, so we decided to park the car and explore the small town by feet. First stop was a beach bar for some food and cold drink as well as a first stunning view towards the sea, but let me worship that later…

Finally at the Mira Lodge Park Camping place we got our Bivouac – cute, little wooden house with a mattress and sleeping bags in it… definitely (a little) more comfortable than a tent ;-). The camping area was also very nice place with huge pine-trees and a small snack bar – where our obsession with Pastéis de Nata (a traditional Portuguese pastry filled with custard) started. By the way, at the moment I have my first homemade Natas in the oven – so excited how they will turn out. If yummy, you will surely find the recipe later here.

The days in the north where planned to relax and just doing nothing else than enjoying nature… and so we did. The rough Atlantic Ocean and Praia da Mira’s endless long white sand shore with almost no people around were for me like paradise. Corny sunsets, while drinking local wine and eating Natas, long walks at the beach, the noise of the sea and perfect weather…fantastic and just what I had in mind.

When doing nothing, of course food becomes even more important. Stefan was all about seafood and according to his statement he ate in Mira the best grilled calamari ever – unfortunately, I forgot the name of the small restaurant nearby the lake, but I remember it had those beautiful blue tiles at the house wall. Also located at the small lake and nearby our camping place another bar – the Nautic Bar. One of the more modern places around Mira. The bar offered a delicious house wine for decent price as well as fresh and organic snacks – nice house cat too ,)

Before we left Praia de Mira I tried to store all these pictures in mind to retrieve those endless beaches, sunset … whenever next wanderlust comes up.

For the coming days we were about to spent at Portugal’s countryside, which includes a stay at a vineyard and a medieval town. If you like, follow my upcoming article.

Cheers with sunbeams.

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