A brief recap: Our resident blogger David Lugg thought he had seen the best of Praia da Luz over the past nine months, but the Spring has showcased the Algarve’s true colours.
Every morning at Ocean Villas Luz, my first task of the day is to draw back the curtains and take in those wonderful sea views. It is something I can never tire of. But lately, my view has been dominated not by the beguiling blue sea, but by a gathering of impatient looking birds waiting for me to feed them their breakfast. Just this morning, a blackbird cocked his head to one side as if to question why I didn’t get up at dawn to feed him.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to have time to relax and drink my coffee on the terrace before being politely interrupted by the gentle flutter of wings or an inquisitive chirp. But their increasing confidence to my presence has changed the dynamic and, although I am now on first name terms with many of them, I feel that it is the birds who are beginning to rule to the roost (as it were).
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised as they say that the early bird catches the worm. Indeed, now that the Portuguese government has opened its doors to international tourism, the month of May has certainly offered some uncanny parallels. The first tourists to step off the plane have been greeted to the Algarve at its finest. The spring wildflowers have been spectacular and the much-needed winter rain has left the grass with a healthy verdant sheen. Though the region offers year-round attraction, it is the spring that fills the heart with optimism.
Wishing to make the most of the season, I have been embarking on a series of weekend trips to explore some of the more remote areas of this extraordinary region. It has been a revelation and a welcome reminder that there is far more to the Algarve than golden sandy beaches. Undoubtedly, two of the highlights have been visiting the splendid 9th century Moorish city of Silves and taking in the panoramic views from Foia, at the top of the Serra de Monchique mountain range.
However, my stand-out spring venture has been a trip to the far north east of the region, near the border of our Spanish neighbours. As is often the case, the journey itself was as rewarding as the destination, as the undulating hills were blanketed with wildflowers such as the fragrant White Lavender, engaging Gum Rockrose, and the eye-catchingly yellow Coronilla Valentina. The air was filled with the fresh scent of orange blossom and the only sounds were of crickets and the arbitrary call of a distant cockerel.
Upon reaching the River Guadiana that separates the two nations, I headed north before arriving at the handsome and historic town of Alcoutim. The view from the 14th century castle was worth the journey alone. In one direction, your eyes are treated to a kaleidoscopic display of florid colour. From the other, sit the pretty, red roofed houses of Alcoutim, a once busy river port that oozes charm from every crooked street.
On the Spanish side of the river sits the equally alluring town of Sanlúcar de Guadiana. For a small fee, tiny boats can shuttle you across to a land where the obrigado gives way to the gracias. Due to the one-hour time difference, the early birds are even earlier, but reassuringly, the pace is just as slow. Like its Portuguese twin neighbour, tourists are few and far between.
The Algarve is truly favouring the early bird. If your situation allows it, join us at Ocean Villas Luz whilst it’s still relatively quiet. If you’re lucky, I’ll introduce you to Claude the Blackbird as he impatiently taps a wing on his imaginary watch while he waits for his morning meal. Like me, I’m sure you will look forward to seeing Claude just as much as the crash of the waves or the sight of the distant sailboats on the cobalt blue sea.
More news next month.
Digital (ish) Nomad