Travel
Comments 19

Portuguese lemonade: exploring the countryside

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You know what they say: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And that’s what we did in our recent trip to Algarve. We flight to the South of Portugal looking for a sunny, lazy holiday but we found terrible thunderstorms and cold temperatures. Upset at first, we decided to look for alternative plans and ended up exploring the absolutely breathtaking Portuguese countryside.  

Our first stop was the city of Silves, the former capital of the Algarve region. After a surprisingly beautiful ride aross fields of orange, almond and fig trees we spotted this magnificent town. Silves is located on a hill above the Arade River, so the first impression of the city, with its cathedrall and castle uphill was quite impressive.

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_5We started our visit in the local market, which sadly was closed (lemons again…) However we were amazed by the little restaurants that surround the market. They all had grills outside where the cooks were preparing amazing Piri-piri chicken and the most lip-smacking sea food. At that moment we regretted the hearty breakfast we had had that morning, but the faces of the locals enjoying their meals were revealing: that was the best food in town for sure.

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_7Silves_Monchique_Portugal_13Silves_Monchique_Portugal_12We made our way up to the top of the hill and were surprised by the lovely architecture. No wonder Silves was one of the most important towns in Portugal, even in the times it belonged to Al-Andalus. Decadent buildings, steep cobbled streets and huge stork nests have witnessed so many changes…

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_9Silves_Monchique_Portugal_8Silves_Monchique_Portugal_26Silves_Monchique_Portugal_2After a quick stop at the Town Hall square, with its lovely pink trees and its tiny cafe full of old men playing cards, we went through Porta de Loulé, part of the preserved Almohad town wall, and continued along the steep streets to the cathedral, which used to be the great mosque but now is a modest but charming church with a unique Manueline portico.

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_4Silves_Monchique_Portugal_3Silves_Monchique_Portugal_11Silves_Monchique_Portugal_15Finally and almost out of breath we arrived to the castle, where the views were absolutely breathtaking. Silves is a city of a big historical importance and the Muslim heritage, together with the typical portuguese tiles and Manueline style, makes it unique.

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_6Silves_Monchique_Portugal_14Silves_Monchique_Portugal_10We took all in, breathing the orange scented air, and hit the road again to visit Caldas de Monchique, a tiny, tiny, tiny village perched in the mountains. Silves_Monchique_Portugal_16The romantic setting, the luscious vegetation and the nineteenth-century buildings with Morish touches made us fall in love immediately. A  bar serving the utterly delicious Pao com chouriço in the oven located in the pocket-size main square, a small shop selling almond and fig sweets and the renovated thermal spa is all you will find in Caldas de Monchique. However, this remote village exudes charm, peace and serenity.

Silves_Monchique_Portugal_17Silves_Monchique_Portugal_18Silves_Monchique_Portugal_19Silves_Monchique_Portugal_21A gem for everyone interested in photography, flowers and off the beaten track locations, Caldas de Monchique was one of the highlights of our trip. We realized that hadn’t been for the bad weather we would have never discovered this little village that surprised us so much. So, again, lemons and lemonade!

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19 Comments

    • Well, to be honest we did find a wonderful little restaurant by the beach that was fantastic. But the oranges, almonds and figs of this region were amazing. I have to admit that I didn’t know that Portuguese oranges were so good!

  1. Beautiful Pictures! Portugal features hugely on my bucketlist. I think we will try to go there next year. It’s such a pretty country. And the food is supposed to be excellent

    • The food is amazing, the architecture is stunning (those tiles!) and people are the nicest! This is our second time in Algarve and we will be back. I also loved Lisbon (I’ve been there a few times but I always want to come back) but I still have to visit Porto, which is supposed to be wonderful as well!

    • Portugal is full of wonderful buildings decorated with tiles but I didn’t expect to find such beautiful examples in these little towns too!

  2. Great pictures! I hope to have the opportunity to visit Portugal soon. It has a beautiful architecture and I can barely wait to prove the portuguese food!

    • I really don’t know why Portugal isn’t more popular because it’s really lovely. However, this helps to keep its charm too! The food is amazing: lots of fresh fish and vegetables and amazing sweet treats :) I hope you can make it!

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