Tag Archives: coast of Portugal

Cruises – take in a whole lot of the world in a short trip

cruise ship costa atlantica
MANY independent travellers take a dim view of cruises as a way of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures. You are following a pure tourist trail, the argument goes. You are not mingling with the locals and experiencing their culture at a meaningful level.

Backpackers in particular often view cruises as travel for older people, with more money, who only want to stop in a place for a few days at a time.

I don’t go along with that view. It seems to me a seven or ten-day cruise offers a fabulous chance, if you can afford it, to sample different countries and decide which you would like to see more of.

For instance, a Mediterranean cruise might offer the chance to visit Italy, Sicily, Malta, the Greek islands, and Turkey, all in the same trip.

On a Caribbean cruise you can take in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as well as Jamaica and various islands in the sun.
h2Cruise extras/h2
You aren’t obliged to use the tours sold on board the cruise ship. It’s often more fun finding your own way around. For example, a port stop at Naples in Italy offers the chance to visit Pompeii, possibly the greatest Roman site of all…… and you can do it by catching a local train.

In some cases it may be better to opt for the organised tour from the ship. A visit to Bethlehem or Cairo’s famous Egyptian Museum can be a bit intimidating without a chaperone who knows the area.

Follow globewanderer for a forthcoming series of articles about cruising. The next one will set out the options for people considering a cruise for the first time.

Choosing the right ship for you is possibly the most important thing of all so watch our for some helpful tips and advice. We will offer as much lowdown as possible an cruise ships and destinations around the world.

Portimao – a small city big on what matters most

portimao portugal

 

Portimao offers a quiet unspoilt corner of southern Europe

 

ONE of the joys of travelling is finding a place that offers everything you could want and which hasn’t been flooded by hordes of other tourists in search of the same thing.

That place for me is Portimao, on the Algarve, Portugal, which I have had the pleasure of getting to know now at all times of the year and have never found disappointing.

Portimao is such a low profile place that tourist guides can’t decide whether it’s a town or a city. I lost count of the number of guides and websites that referred to it as a town when I read about its history.

In fact it was made a city in 1924 by the then President of the Republic, the famous Portuguese writer and politician Manuel Teixeira Gomes, who made a point of honouring the town where he was born during his brief two-year stint as seventh President of Portugal.

With a population of around 50,000, it’s a small city and that is part of its charm. You can wander around its centre and see all its key sites in an hour. It is unspoilt by the omnipresent brand names that plague other cities and has just small shops selling lace, shoes, jewellery, ceramics and wicker goods.

There is still a Moorish charm about the city centre and then there’s the nearby riverfront, where a series of squares – Largo do Dique, Praça Manuel Teixeira Gomes and Praça Visconde de Bivar – are filled with outdoor cafés overlooking the wonderful Arade river and its bridges.

The tourists who flock to this part of the world all year around for its superb climate tend to be farmed Doing so increases the performance of deleted data recovery lookup. out along the coast surrounding the city allowing it to retain its quiet dignity. It’s a wonderful place to stroll around and have a drink or a meal in friendly, relaxed establishments.

The area was once ruled by Romans and then Moors but modern Portimão came into being in the reign of King Afonso V in the fifteenth century.It was ideally placed to enjoy the fruits of the boom in international trade stimulated by the great Portuguese voyages of discovery and prospered as a haven for ships plying the African coast.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. The earthquake of 1755 which decimated Lisbon also destroyed much of Portimao starting its economic decline. Its most historic building, the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Conceição – Church of Our Lady of Conception –  had to be rebuilt after the earthquake but still boasts a Manueline door from the original fourteenth-century structure

portimao portugal Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Conceição - Church of Our Lady of Conception

Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Conceição – Church of Our Lady of Conception

Things got better towards the end of the 19th century with the return of trade, exports of dried fruit, milling, fishing and the fish-canning industry, activities which would continue into the 20th century.

Now the tourist industry dominates. The old fish canning plant is a museum and once mighty industrial chimneys no longer belch smoke. But they have been conserved to make life easier for the huge storks who take them over once dormant – and now provide photo opportunities galore for tourists.

portimao portugal riverside

Portimao riverside

portimao portugal museum

Portimao museum

Algarve, Portugal – inexpensive land of endless summer

Algarve

NOW is the time to visit Portugal’s beautiful south facing Algarve coastline which stretches for just around 100 miles from Sagres, the most westerly point of Europe, to Vila Real de Santo António at the border with Spain.

Within that distance lie some of the most beautiful beaches and coves in the world – at a rate of almost one a mile – blessed by possibly the best climate in Europe.

The tourist industry in this part of the world is having a rough time with the effects of the recession and the controversial introduction of electronic tolls on autoroutes.

This is reducing the usual influx of Spanish visitors and Germans and other European tourists. Bars and restaurants are cutting prices to win trade and it’s not too difficult for a couple to dine out for 20 to 30 euros all in.

So there has probably never been a better time for visitors to take their traditional route to the Algarve via its gateway of Faro airport.

Travel west or east from here and you are spoilt or choice with pleasant towns like Alvor, Carvoeiro, Monchique,  Portimão, Quarteira, Sagres, Silves, Tavira, Vilamoura, and Vila Real de Santo António all waiting to welcome you.

The Algarve boasts possibly the most unpolluted climate in the European continent and its sea temperature can be often be surprisingly warm even in some of the winter months.

It is an easy destination for Brits to feel at home as English is taught from an early age in schools, maybe something to do with the fact that Portugal is England’s oldest ally – an international friendship which goes back to the Treaty of Windsor, signed in 1386..

Everyone on the way to your hotel room – the taxi driver, the train station staff, the hotel workers – seem to be able to speak English. The clocks go back and forward seasonally at the same time in both countries.

Forget all the gloomy things you read and hear about Portugal and its debt problems. It may not be the wealthiest country you will visit but its people are fun-loving, have a great way of life, and know how to have a good time.

From Faro you can head east or west for fun in the sun and, outside of peak season, you can easily find decent hotels on the internet from around 40 euros a night per room.

If you hire a car and head east you can also visit Spain. A small ferryboat runs between Vila Real de Santo António and Ayamonte on the Spanish side.

Head west from Faro and you are likely to meet more Brits, Albufeira being the hotspot for nightlife and stag and hen parties. Maybe not the best spot for families.

Go further for classy venues like Alvor where you can sit out under the stars and wine and dine very inexpensively.

So get browsing the budget flights and head for the Algarve.

www.visitportugal.com

algarve private rentals

Have car will travel – touring from Newcastle to the Algarve

h2/h2
a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg”img class=”size-full wp-image-61″ title=”Have car will travel – road trip from Newcastle to the Algarve” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg” alt=”Touring – road trip from England to Algarve, Portugal” width=”478″ height=”640″ //a Touring by car gives a whole new dimension to the joy of travel

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;
h2/h2
h2Touring by car offers freedom of the road/h2
nbsp;

Taking the open road to the sun can be a little bit pricey these days but the further south you go in Europe the cheaper it gets. And touring by car offers so much more freedom that maybe price comparisons with other holidays miss the point. Getting overnight accommodation in France, Spain and Portugal is so easy you can decide your stopping points as you go along – for example, will the first stop in Europe be Paris for the nightlife or Rouen for its medieval history?

To help balance the budget a bit, we have been taking a look at the sort of costs motorists will face this year if they tour in Europe.

First of all, don’t expect fuel to be much cheaper. You’ll pay over E1.70 a litre for 95 octane gasoline on roads in France and  in Portugal. Spain proved the cheapest with E1.50 a litre.

Then there are the tolls on the best routes to take. In France in particular these are becoming excessive and forcing many cars back on to the Route National which is slow going and can be badly congested in areas.

For less than an hour on the A28 from Rouen to Alencon, we were expected to pay E29.40. The circumstances were exceptional as we were diverted off it on to the RN because of a tanker crash but it still smacked of highway robbery.

If you’ve plenty of time to explore,  the RN roads can be fun, weaving their way, for instance, through the towns and villages of the Loire Valley.

If you are in a hurry to get to the  Spanish or Portuguese coast then it has to be the toll roads.

The bill for our car through France was 60 euros for tolls but it got cheaper in Spain and Portugal.
h2Electronic tolls/h2
In Portugal a href=”http://www.victoryag.org/”pokies online you/a encounter electronic tolls and, if you don’t want to risk falling foul of the authorities, you have to buy a card from a post office or service station.

You pay a refundable deposit of more than 20 euros for the card and it is advisable not to pay cash but to pay by debit or credit card.

Toll road fees are taken automatically from your card as you travel and when you hand your card in at the end of your trip you get your deposit back. Time-consuming and shrouded in controversy, but that’s the Portuguese way now.

Most things get cheaper the further south you go, particularly  the price of food and accommodation and wine.

We paid  96 euros for a room only in an Ibis hotel in Bordeaux while in Valladolid in northern Spain a Novotel room plus a meal for two and parking came to 101 euros.

In the Portuguese city of Castelo Branco an overnight stay in a Best Western hotel cost 93 euros but this included dinner for two, breakfast the following day and parking and a room with a balcony.

Getting accommodation is easy with a laptop if you travel outside of peak holidays and can be arranged the night before as you travel or even on the day.

You can often be given a room with just a shower so if you like a good soak at the end of a journey it’s worth asking if you can have a room with a bath or indicating on the web your preference.

The Channel Tunnel may be the quickest route across the English Channel but its also the most boring, twiddling your thumbs in a train carriage as it nips through the subterranean passage.

A one-way hour and a half ferry crossing with DFDS at £45 was almost half the price and probably more relaxing.

But don’t get too bogged down in the practicalities as this mode of travel gives you so much freedom to pick and choose what you want to see and do.

Our five-day trip to the Algarve gave us the opportunity to visit the historic medieval town of Rouen, the brandy lovers’ mecca of Coignac,  the sophisticated city of Bordeaux, the typical northern Spanish town of Valladolid, the historic  Portuguese city of Castelo Branco and then the Algarve where we could spend an enjoyable couple of weeks.

The trip fom Newcastle to the south coast took little over six hours and was broken up with a stay at Brighton. The route in France avoided the excitement of the Boulevard Périphérique ring road and headed via Rouen and Bordeaux to the south.
h2The bills/h2
The total fuel bill from Calais to Praia da Rocha, on the Algarve, was 280 euros.

Toll road bills in France were 60euros, in Portugal 50 and in Spain just 10. Total toll road bill was E120.

Mileage clocked from Newcastle to Praia da Rocha was 1988 miles

a href=”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp” rel=”nofollow”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp/a