Algarve — the coast of sailors, romantics and lovers. The infinity of sandy beaches, fiery red yawns of fancy grottoes, sun-bleached houses, remembering the times when Arabian bliss and luxury reigned here.
“Vacation” is not only a wonderful word, but also a quick matter. If really tuned to it.
And now we are in the Algarve, the most famous Portuguese resort. Here, wherever you stop — in the bustling Albufeira, in the snobbish Villamoura, in the «gingerbread» Lagos, surrounded by the port exotic of Portimão or in any other place on the coast — you can have a ride everywhere in a week. And everywhere there will be restaurants enticing local delicacies. In those that are on the shore, it is impossible to refuse freshly caught fish, and in those that are higher, you should not miss the cataplana — three varieties of fish, shellfish, special herbs, seasonings and vegetables. Or letoja — a milk pig with a crispy crust cooked in an oven on eucalyptus coals. Enough of what you can drink these delicacies. The well-known symbol of Portugal is Porto. The drink, of course, is delicious, but in the heat it’s only good in the evening. But in the Algarve there is wine that is not found anywhere else — vino verde, green wine. It is not transportable, so you can try it only on the spot. There is another exotic drink — vodka from strawberry tree. But what are we all about food and drinking ?! It’s a shame to go to places with such a rich history to spend all the time in restaurants or on the beaches! Therefore, we will go around the neighborhood.
If the Lisbon earthquake did not happen in 1755, it would hardly have been possible for another country to compete in beauty with Portugal. Then everything was destroyed, except perhaps the town of Lagos in the southwest and some examples of Portuguese architecture. Today, Lagos is the most elegant on the coast, and tourists, like a bee swarm, buzz in all its shops and restaurants. As elsewhere in this country, houses in the Algarve are white with red tiled roofs, decorated with ceramic paintings, vignettes and tablets. And about Portuguese ceramics there is a special conversation, because, of course, there are a lot of ceramics in the world, but the local one is inexplicably more beautiful than all. Perhaps because there are a lot of it, and it is so bright, motley, diverse against the background of three plain surfaces: white walls, beige sand and the blue sea.
After the formation of the kingdom, Lagos was the capital of Portugal. And how else? After all, it was here that all-all sea routes passed. Therefore, the king’s son, Henry the Navigator, settled in Lagos. And never having been at sea, but having done a lot for its development, he equips one expedition after another. Vasco da Gama, Fernand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci — this is not an exhaustive list of Portuguese explorers-discoverers.
Not far from Lagos is Sagres, where the most famous school of navigation was located, from which there was only a giant circle drawn on the ground — “Wind Rose”. And immediately after Sagres, Cape San Vincenti is the «end of the world», which he was considered to be until October 12, 1492, the official discovery of America.
Here, in open spaces to all the winds, along with souvenirs, woolen sweaters, quilted jackets, rugs and hot drinks are sold from trays. And around a wedge tapering piece of land — an endless, terrible ocean. And standing on the edge of this watery abyss, you simply do not believe that somewhere far, far away, there is the same land. “So no one believed!” — the spirits of pioneers soaring here vyingly respond.
But we will leave this place with its winds and spirits. Moving away from the «end of the world», we find ourselves in Silves. Once it was the largest city in Portugal, more than Lisbon. It was the capital of the Algarve, an outpost of the Moors, who from Seville ruled the provinces of the Roman Empire, which were gradually inhabited by a new nation — the Portuguese. After all, once the Algarve and Portugal were not a single state, but both fought with the Moors — fought, fought and fought. Portugal managed to throw off the Arab yoke earlier than others, because it got the laurels of the Western superpower of those times.
Streets of Silves are not wide, and their steepness is similar to rocks. From the highest place you can see the sacred monument for the Portuguese — the Portuguese cross, erected at the end of the XV century. Moving further to the mainland, you can quickly get to Lisbon — the current capital of Portugal, a sunny city, like the whole country. And in Fatima — a sacred place for Catholics around the world. But these are completely different stories that require more time. Therefore, we will return home, and say goodbye, “Obrigado!” Thank you, Portugal! And everyone will invest in this “thank you” something that is only known to him.