Algarve · Portugal

Portugal Wanderlust: the Algarve!

Dear K,

Now that I’m in Portugal, I’ve decided to take a break and travel a little bit before I embrace a new professional challenge. I’ve pretty much been all over the country this summer, exploring and enjoying its beauty and secrets. Also, my friend JP came from the US for a visit, so I planned a 18-day trip from the border with Spain in the South all the way up to the National Park Peneda-Gerês where you can cross the border again. So get ready for the delicious food and breathtaking sights!

We started the trip in Monte Gordo, 10 minutes way from Ayamonte, the first city in Spain after crossing the border. It has an amazing location, really cool beach, perfect to get away from the chaotic city life. In fact, everyone goes on vacation to the south during this time of the year, the cities get quite empty. It’s my favorite time of the year! First thing I did when I got to the beach house was run to the balcony so that I could feel the salty breeze on my face and enjoy that priceless view. I can never get enough of it and I had missed it last summer for the first time in my life.

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The beach is still peaceful and quiet as I remembered and the sea water was warmer than ever. I spent some very pleasant days.

For dinner, I took JP to a few different places I like. We went to Ayamonte for some tapas. There are a lot of small family-owned restaurants in the main plazas and connecting streets downtown where you can enjoy a nice meal. Just find a seat and you won’t be disappointed. Calamares, jamón, gambas, chocos, puntillitas are some of the classics you can’t miss! ;)

We also went to Tasquinha da Muralha, in Vila Real de Santo António. This place is literally a dump, but people come from everywhere to try Vítor’s super fresh grilled fish. It is absolutely the best you’ll ever have. We ordered a corvinata that fed 4 people. JP didn’t believe me at first, but he immediately said it was the best fish he has ever tried in his life and he has been all over the world, so I guess he’s a trustworthy source ahaha!

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Another place we did try was Sushi Pearl in downtown Faro. I had never been there, but I was craving some sushi and a few people recommended this sushi place as the best in the south. For lunch they have a buffet, but for dinner it works à la carte, so we went one evening and tried it out. It was indeed delicious and the best part is how fresh the fish is. I loved sushi in the US, but it was always disguised in layers of texture, sauces, etc. because the fish wasn’t like this… EVER. Here it is more about the flavors and you do want to taste the freshness of the fish in your mouth. The three rolls (tiger roll, Russian roulette, and Sushi Pearl roll) were delicious and the Russian roulette roll was super fun. Only one of the pieces is spicy, so we were kind of scared. And the winner had to drink a shot of sake. I was the lucky one of course ahahah. It wasn’t too spicy though. Actually, it had the perfect amount of spicy and I thought it made the roll even better. And I convinced JP to drink the shot, so it was all good!

We only ordered three rolls and a plate of sashimi, as we had already had some appetizers earlier at Aperitivo bar nearby.

After these amazing meals we used to go for drinks in Praia Verde. There’s a bar called Guarita Terrace where you can enjoy a light meal and watch the most gorgeous sunset, or just go after dinner for a coffee or a drink. The venue is amazing, it’s just the place to be! Me and my friends would meet up there every single night. During the peak of summer it can get hard to find a table, but it’s totally worth it! Super friendly staff and the cocktails are superb.

Nevertheless, the best part about Praia Verde is that the club is next to the bar, so we would just move from one to the other whenever we would feel like it. It is my absolute favorite spot to go out in Portugal. It only opens for a few summer nights, so I make sure I don’t miss it. All the songs you like to dance, cool people, great vibe and the best venue you’ll ever find. It’s located on top of a cliff in front of the beach, and it has an infinity pool. I don’t think I need to say much more. Just look at the pictures… I know you’re more of a sunset girl, but the sunrise at Clube Praia Verde is mesmerizing!

These first days were spent at the beach and at night the secret was the delicious food and dancing until the sunrise. It was great, but soon it was time to hit the road and explore the next destinations!

– C

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