Olhão and its Islands

Well, we escaped from Faro Beach without issue, me as wingman on cop watch with the Binos making sure old smokie wasn’t hiding on the other side of the restricted bridge. Don’t try this at home kids, it’s a big fine if they spot you. We only risked it as we were desperate for water and the services are over the wrong side of the chuffing bridge, course they are!!

Next stop, some 12 miles east of Faro, is the small coastal City of Olhão. Not sure why it has City status, it doesn’t seem big enough. It has a nice campsite if you want it, about 1.5 km out of town, a good 20 minute walk. We stayed there briefly before Christmas. This time though we are parked by the Marina on the Aire dedicated to Motorhomes. NB. No Motorhomes on the front part of the Carpark! Olhão can’t really be described as ‘pretty’. It’s a working town rather than a resort, defined by its two red brick market buildings which stand at the side of the harbour. That said, it’s still an appealing place to visit with its vibrant Saturday market, atmospheric back streets, quirky little shops and impressive church. It also has a museum if that’s your thing. There are some great street cafes and bars and plenty of good quality, reasonably priced, restaurants. It’s all about the seafood here and plenty of it. Especially popular is Octopus and also the huge sea snails which I’ve never seen before! We ate yesterday at a typical Portuguese Restaurant which we picked out of the Guide Book, Vai-e-Volte. It’s tucked away in a cobbled corner. It only serves fish which is cooked over coals as you watch. You basically get whatever the boat brings in that morning. It’s 10 Euros per head for all you can eat. We had sardines, salmon, mackerel, seabass, swordfish, golden bream, gilthead bream, scabbard fish and pandora. It comes with two kinds of potato and loads of salad, olives and freshly baked bread straight from the oven. We had to tell the waiter to stop bringing food we were so stuffed! Highly recommended.

The buildings here are quite different with their flat roofs and tiled fronts. It has a slight tinge of Morocco, probably due to its historic trading links with North Africa. Parts of the town are rundown but you need to see past that and concentrate on the beautiful statues and amazing street art. Watch out for the Storks too! Their massive nests are everywhere. They are very endearing and peer down at you from the rooftops and bell towers clacking their beaks!

Its worth visiting this place just for its Saturday market. The two red buildings are packed, one is just for fish and the other fruit, vegetables, meat and bread/pastries. All along the waterfront are stalls selling good quality trinkets, flowers, clothing, birds, etc.,etc. you name it! It’s fantastic, I loved it. The Piripiri oil is scrummy as is their homemade fig jam and black honey. Be prepared to barter on the outdoor stalls!

Olhão is situated on the Ria Formosa. There are several small sand bank islands off the coast accessible only by boat. Trips run regularly from the little harbour. The small taxi ferries are a couple of Euros or you can take a sightseeing tourist boat which is more expensive. The islands are where the lovely sandy beaches are. Armona is a charming little holiday resort with beach houses and cafes. Colatra has dunes and lagoons and is like a step back in time. It is a working fishermen’s village where the men still sit mending their nets beside the little fishing boats. It’s very quaint. Quintra da Marim is a bit neglected with its scrubland and mudflats but is a haven for bird watchers.

There are some great little spots to sit and watch the world go by in Olhão, particularly along the sea front. We favoured Paris Bar for sundowners and tonight we are going to the jazz cafe as there is live music.

Check out the brilliant street art! They cover the walls of many buildings.

On a not so good note, poor old Dylan had to visit the Vet this morning. He has a bit of an ear infection. Thought it was another dratted grass seed but she says not. Hopefully the antibiotic drops will sort him out. That’s tonight’s eating out budget spent so looks like I’m cooking. Going to try Lady Brocklehurst’s kofta curry with saag aloo. We have some wild spinach from the market. It’s on and smelling mighty fine as I type!!

Hope you’re all tucked up and toasty warm enjoying your Sunday roasts back home in Inglaterra. It’s phone the family day so we’ve heard that Derbyshire is snowbound. In fact our Brother in Law has had to abandon his car over the moors and walk home. Hard to imagine when I am sitting here in shorts and vest looking over a millpond sea. Stay safe my lovelies. Until next time, Adios xxx

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