Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Algarve Interlude

Like a previous trip I have been extremely remiss in not staying current on these posts.  However I did use that wonder App called Track My Tour (please tell Chris that I sent you if you check it out) which did a much better job.  Here is the link to this part of the trip -- Click here.


Viv's brother and family moved to the eastern Algarve from Abu Dhabi last September and loved being there.  The children went to an international school close by whilst Anton and Catherine enjoyed the life of lotus eaters.  We were intrigued and had never been so in the week between the Italian Open and the French Open thought why not?

The Algarve is pretty much the furthest south east you can go in Europe (not counting the islands off the coast of Africa which really shouldn't count) and where they live is not more than 20 kms west of Cape St Vincent, the south easterliest part of all. That's where we spent our week and it was lovely.

Very south easterly as you can see!
History wise, the area is both fascinating and downright dull.  The Romans were there of course but quite why and what they did is a bit of a mystery as there was/is nothing anywhere nearby as most of the land these days is national park so cannot be built upon.

But before the new roads funded of course by cheap EU loans, there were few roads here and more to the point no real reason to come here.

Cape St. Vincent

Of course Henry the Navigator being both enthusiastic and progressive built a fort at Sagres right next to Cape St Vincent from which all the many great voyages of discovery were launched.  After him however there seems to be a 500 year gap until the British tourist arrived on the many huge sandy beaches here and then little by little towns grew up again and more Portuguese moved back into the area.

Cape St Vincent from Fort Sagres

We tend to forget that like their large neighbour Spain, Portugal was ruled by a dictator for just as long.  Salazar finally popped off  in 1970 with his dicatorship lasting only 4 years more (2 years before Franco died coincidentally).  This is what Wikipedia says about him:

After the 28 May 1926 coup d'état, with President Óscar Carmona's support, Salazar entered public life, initially as finance minister and later as prime minister. His Estado Novo would come to allow him vast power over Portugal. Opposed to democracycommunismsocialismanarchism and liberalism, the ideology of Portugal was conservative and nationalist in nature under his rule. Salazar also favored and advocated for Catholicism, but argued the role of the Church was social, not political, and enabled the Concordat of 1940.
Salazar used heavy-handed censorship and an ubiquitous secret police to quell opposition, especially that related to the Communist movement. He supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and like Franco kept his nation neutral during World War II
As a result of this, Portugal has been largely held back and remains an intensely conservative country.  Still lovely nonetheless.
I was pleasantly surprised by the beaches.  I'd thought to never see a more beautiful beach than Horseshoe Bay but here there are dozens, maybe hundreds even.  Stunning scenery, beautiful walks.

One of dozens, maybe hundreds of beautiful beaches
The population here swells in the summer months when tourists flock through nearby Faro Airport to resorts such as Lagos (pronounced a whole lot different to that city in Nigeria -- more LARGOSH) so Anton had rented a place for only the 9 off peak months to play tennis, golf, walk and eat lotus before considering the next step.

And why not?  This is a helluva nice place to be.

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