We visited many more rural villages in the Algarve and they did begin to merge into each other in my memory. Pale cobbled streets, hills, an old castle, remains of ancient walls and small museums. Each village had all or most of these things. Loule was nice, Alte was particularly beautiful (and hilly), Faro had mosaic pavements but only the villages of Querenca and Tavira stood out.
Querenca is a hilltop hamlet famous for its smoked sausage festival in January and its edible snail festival in June. We missed both of these but we did manage a coffee in the immaculate village centre and a walk round the pretty church. This place is so immaculate it doesn’t really look real. Even the telephone mast is concealed in a fake tree.
Although this place is undoubtedly beautiful, of all the villages we visited I liked it least. it didn’t seem like a real place, more somewhere for a movie set or just somewhere to impress tourists.
Tavira felt much more like a real place. It is an ancient Moorish town on the Gilao river. There is, of course, a roman bridge. Although this time it has been reconstructed several times. Also yet another castle on a hill. This was actually my favourite castle. There is very little of it left but there are steps up the towers with a fabulous view over the town. Between the towers is a charming little garden. A nice place to sit complete with a solitary busker while we were there. The tourist train waits outside to take you round the town once an hour but somehow with our usual flair we managed to miss it.
For a complete change of style and pace from rural villages we visited Vilamoura.
A modern purpose built resort developed round the harbour. It has a huge marina accommodating over one thousand boats. There are five golf courses and facilities for jet- skiing and parascending.
It has pricey (for Portugal) restaurants alongside the marina and up market shops. Nice to walk past the boats for a little while but an hour and an expensive coffee is enough.
Except for the sardine shop which was amusing but bizarre!