Orange Trees

You may have noticed that the output of Randomwire has been a bit low this year to date. I have a huge backlog of interesting things and places to write about but, without wanting to make excuses, have been too stressed and busy to put pen to paper (more on this in the next couple of weeks).

Farmhouse

The classic cure for writer’s block is to head for a shack in the wilderness to “find yourself”. In my case the shack was a nice farmhouse and the wilderness was a remote spot in The Algarve region of Portugal. Compared to Hong Kong I may as well have been on Mars!

Roaming Freely

The house came equipped with no less than five dogs whose primary role seemed to be eating food, running around and barking at the daily procession of sheep up and down the valley. I’m not a dog person but this lot were mostly harmless.

Remote

Pilots have been said to tell people to turn their clocks back by 25 years when landing here. You can’t blame anyone for standing idle when you wake up to views like this though.

Orange Trees

The landscape is dotted by small white cottages, vineyards and orchards, growing among other things luscious oranges which I had a chance to pick and hand-juice for breakfast. Plus of course an abundance of good cheese and real bread which is hard to come by in my usual neck of the woods.

Monchique Mountains

The reason for my visit was sadly not (all) relaxation and rejuvenation but actually a small digital project for a local company here. While I wouldn’t normally be travelling half way around the world for a short project it was a good opportunity for a change of scene and a chance to see a part of Europe I hadn’t been before.

Cliff side Road

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal with hundreds of pristine beaches lining its cost, making it a popular destination for tourists from Britain, Germany, Holland and Ireland, with many owning their own property here.

Ancient Castle

The region relies on tourism and its supporting industries to drive the local economy so have been hit hard by the recession in recent years. The small cities and towns are dotted with incomplete construction projects which ran out of financing.

West Coast Algarve

On a more positive note, the natural beauty of the region is outstanding, especially the sweeping west coast which I was lucky enough to be driven along one weekend. I also had the chance to learn to drive on the right side of the road which was a bit nerve-wracking at first.

Cliff top Ruins

Near the edge of the perilously steep cliffs I came across the ruined foundations of some early settlements which must have taken a huge battering from the elements in their day. The residents must have been extremely hardy to survive there.

West Coast Beach

During the winter many business are closed and the beaches empty, but in the summer they are packed with surfers.

In-Between

Temperatures reach up to 40 °C at the height of summer.

Secluded Beach

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Shadow

Coming from Hong Kong it was eerie wandering through a town and only seeing so few people on the streets.

Green House in Lagos

The ancient port of Lagos has over 2000 years of history and is famous for being centre of the European slave trade among other less unsavoury things.

Lagos Market Seller

The fruit, vegetable, and fish markets carry on much as they have done for decades. This chap looked a bit tired of it all.

Onions

But he did have some nice bunches of onions!

Garlic

Oranges

A younger customer samples the local produce. Food was definitely a highlight.

Alvor

On the southern coast Alvor is another popular town with tourists and expats.

Man's Best Friend

Church in Alvor

The Church of the Divine Saviour, is a Manueline and Rococo era paroquial church constructed in the 16th century – typical of many in the region.

Boathouse

Portimão Boat

Being on the South coast of Portugal, Portimão is well-known for being an ideal location for sailing on the Atlantic Ocean, boasting much calmer seas and weather conditions than the Western coastline.

Alvor Sunset

Even though I was visiting out of season and working most of the time I managed to get a good flavour of The Algarve and would love to get a chance to go further north to Lisbon next time. Heading back to the metropolis is going to be hard after this.

Comments

  1. SungEmpress says:

    Hi David. I was wondering why you were lying low on Twitter. :)

    I envy you for going to such a beautiful place like this! And you’re right, it’s worlds, nay, galaxies away from Hong Kong. Now, whenever I’m looking for a vacation destination, I find myself gravitating to rural areas, the country side and all that. Most often, my requirement would be, no tall buildings or skyscrapers please.

    With all those pastoral landscapes, and that gorgeous ocean view, that would be paradise for one’s soul and mind. :) I hope you’re having fun!

    • David says:

      Thanks Sung – I’m heading back to Hong Kong this weekend but only for 1 week, then the adventure continues!

  2. Marc says:

    Hello David…Lagos was the first time we took our daughter Rachel on holiday , at the age of 4 months, ( I woke one night, and on checking her crib…couldn’t see her….I started running up and down the hotel corridor…before my wife told me she was “small” and just hidden in the fold of the sheets!). Now 25 years later, to the month, she has joined me in Shenzhen to start teaching English!

    Hope all goes well for you on your next move.

    All the best from Marc & Lin Rui

  3. David says:

    Hi Marc – amazing story (although slightly scary considering the British child that went missing in Portugal a few years ago).

    Hope the teaching is going well in Shenzhen!

  4. So happy to see you enjoyed Portugal. Next time you come by, make sure to visit Évora, Lisboa and Porto — I’ll even be your guide!

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