Good afternoon to you lovely folk, hoping today is a good one for you, whatever you’re up to.
Thought I’d share our recent day trip to Fuseta with you. Such a delightful little town, so very pleased we didn’t sack it after our planned cycle ride there from St. Luzia failed due to a puncture. I would like to come and stay here next trip. I can highly recommended a visit if you get the chance.
We spotted a train station in the new town of Vila Nova de Cacela when we came to the Gypsy Market a couple of weeks ago. We thought it might be nice to take a train ride at some point for a change of scenery. You can travel on this line between Vila Real de Santa António, which is right on the Spanish Border, and Faro quite easily, no ticket required you just pay on the train. Tavira and Olhão both have markets on a Saturday, Olhão being the bigger and better one. Fuseta was just a short hop away and cost €11 return for both of us. Get off at Fuseta A not the other station which is on the outskirts.
It took us a good 25 minutes to walk up to the Cacela station at the top of town from Manta Rota. It would have been far easier to take our bikes or jump in a taxi. You can take bikes on the train. We struggled with a very early start after a heavy night out with Team Hennessy. Not easy! Thank goodness for make up and large sunglasses!! The journey didn’t take long, we got off the train and walked downhill towards the water. There’s a decent looking campsite right on the waterfront, it’s very busy with Motorhomers. Fuseta is still an active working fishing port. It’s very quaint and has a nice feel to it. The fishermen go about their daily routine in lines of colourful boats, oblivious to the Tourists clicking away at them with their cameras.
I really like it here. The pretty lagoon and estuary beach on the edge of the town are sheltered by the Ilha da Armona, another white sandy strip of an island just off the Algarve coast. The beaches on the other side are easily reached by a short ferry ride or water taxi. We didn’t venture over but from a distance it looked beautiful. The quirky looking lifeboat station stands on stilts in the lagoon. The clam fisherman are out there doing their thing. For once though it’s not about the beach for us. Too much to fit into a few hours before we need to get back for the dog (pooches are not allowed on public transport here).
We decided to have a quick coffee and then find the market as I needed fruit and veg and some decent, fresh Tuna. I was still feeling a little fragile. Couldn’t believe it when himself ordered a large Cognac with his morning coffee! That is proper hair of the dog! He’s hardcore that one.
It was only a tiny market hall right at the side of the river but the produce was great as always and it was all very characterful. Markets are like a social event in Portugal, they bring everyone out. The smell and sight of raw fish did me no good whatsoever even though I was feeling much better after eating cake for breakfast! I bought my slab of tuna and made a hasty retreat.
Running back from the riverfront, all the narrow, cobbled side streets lead up to a palm tree lined central square. It’s absolutely buzzing here. Full of life and noise. Lots of families are out with their children, music is drifting out from every doorway and the various restaurants are setting up their tables for lunch. There are a few interesting shops. I try a few bits on in a quirky little boutique but resist the urge to purchase (Mark says I must be really ill!).
We are recommended a place to eat back down near the river by a nice lady in one of the shops. Casa a Corvo. When we get there, it’s obviously the most popular spot in town. It’s heaving at 1pm with a queue of punters waiting to be seated. Wish we’d arrived earlier. It’s crazy busy. We are prepared to wait though as the fish looks magnificent! It’s a family run place. The staff work non stop, always with a smile, my mouth is watering at the luscious plates full they are delivering up. Everything is cooked outside on a huge charcoal grill. The temperature is well into the 20s, it’s hot work for the poor chef!
We are finally seated and deliberate over the menu. I am torn between the massive prawns and the grilled Choco (cuttlefish). It all looks delicious. I order the prawns in the end and Mark has the Dourada. Before I have chance to decline alcohol, a bottle of chilled white miraculously appears and we are away again. My poor liver! What a fabulous lunch though. The best all round dining experience I’ve had actually whilst we’ve been in Portugal. I especially love the dressing they drizzle over the fish. It’s olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and coriander. It works really well instead of the conventional parsley. It’s a real atmospheric spot. A great find. I can’t big it up enough. There’s a constant queue of customers. A guy is playing lively sax music over the road. It’s just brilliant. When lunch is sadly over we enjoy a steady stroll along the river and then sit watching the world go by over the estuary.
It’s time to have a wander up to the station for the return journey back to base. It’s been a truly enjoyable day. A great start to my birthday week!
Back in Manta then it’s party time. We kick off with a yummy roast dinner on Sunday at Mar’s Bar. Marianne, Johnnie and Avi are wonderful hosts and the food here is very good. The meat comes from the excellent Butchers in Manta Rota. It’s more like a farm shop, I believe the family produce most of their own meat. Nice people to deal with and great produce. The staff are so cheerful and helpful. Monday is a wet day, the first for a very long time. We decide to have a rest day and snuggle up to watch DVDs. It actually makes a nice change. I manage a short walk on the beach with the dog. It’s still very warm and the sea is still beautiful against the heavy purple sky. On Tuesday I cook and Tony and Marion come around for supper. We all get very silly and it’s gone midnight before we finish the wine and daft games. Wednesday it’s back to Mar’s for Burgers and ribs. Another raucous one with the gang. Such great fun, it’s good to have a few laughs. Thursday we go Birthday gift shopping. A super little boutique has opened up on the Main Street. I have a lovely browse and choose some goodies, we go for coffee and cake. I have a smashing day. Friday is my actual birthday. I am reduced to tears several times by messages and videos from our family and friends back home, a phone call from my very poorly little Sister who’s in Hospital back in Sheffield and then a visit from our great friends, Marion and Tony, bearing cards, flowers and gifts. I am so so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. We go back to A Proa for lunch. It’s a gorgeous day with good company, wine and food to match. We eat the seafood rice. Delicious! Best birthday ever.
We finish the celebrations with a bonfire on the beach. It’s the most beautiful, golden sunset, a very fitting end to our month at Manta Rota. We had the tragic news from home today that my sister’s condition had worsened very quickly and she had sadly passed away this morning. It’s a shock. Nobody, least of all the medical team, had realised how poorly she was. Poor girl. 47 is no age. The decision to move on has been taken out of our hands and with heavy hearts we cut our trip short by a month, pack up camp and make a break for the border. We’ll miss this place, Portugal in general and our friends. It’s the right decision though. Bye bye and thank you Portugal you amazing little Country with a big heart. Hope it won’t be too long before we’re back this way.
I’ll sign off there folks. We’ve had a wonderful time here. We’ve been blessed with the weather. How lucky we are to be able to escape the British Winter! We now have almost 3 weeks before we hit Calais and the tunnel back to UK so we’ll try and share a few places with you en route. Cheerio for now though. Just remember, live for today. It might be all you have ❤️