It was a beautiful, balmy day. Blue skies, gorgeous clouds, splendid sunshine.
We sat outdoors, right beside the marina. We ordered our beer and then planned our day. First agenda was deciding on lunch.
Not particularly known as a tourist destination with little to boast in terms of tourist attractions.
The gateway to Portugal from Southern Spain is a quiet town in the Algarve region. Quiet relative to all the places we’ve visited on this trip. Tourists more like pass through Faro on their way to a beach resort or a fairway nearby. But I love it for the quietness.
If you look beyond the graffiti walls, Faro is charming. Small enough to cover by foot and without an agenda, we went with the flow, stopping for beer or sweets when tired or just felt like it.
The journey by bus from Seville took about 2 hours. We arrived mid-morning and it took about 10 minutes from the bus station to our cozy B&B, comfortable enough for one night (read: tiny room).
“What can we do for the day?” we asked the young lady in charge. “Here?” she thought for a second. “Nothing much” she replied. We could go to Lagos for the day if we wish. Her advice.
We didn’t. Into our third week of traveling, we felt like doing nothing. We needed to recharge so we stayed put. Never mind that we didn’t get see the fort up in Lagos. So after a few beers at the marina, we followed the map to Adega Nova along Rua Francisco Barreto.
Beautiful lunch and a superb dessert—a place I highly recommend when in the area.
Then we walked towards Cidade Velha (the old town) through shops and cafes along the city’s pedestrianised shopping center.
We entered the old town through Vila Adentro and was magically transported to another world.
Streets cobbled and lined with whitewashed houses maintaining the Portuguese character,
a large section of this old walled city is still surrounded by walls built by the Muslim conquerors.
This medieval walled city survived two earthquakes, they say.
The Palacio Belmarco
The hodgepodge of Baroque, Gothic, and Moorish architecture provides a fascinating insight into its past.
Linked by medieval gates or arches, the Arco do Repouso is the most impressive section of the walled city,
and the Arco do Porta Nova or the Portes do Mar (doors of the sea) near the water, is usually where many would end their walk, us included.
Walking at the water’s edge heading back to Jardim Manuel Bivar near the marina, many offered us a trip to Ria Formosa Natural Park, a marshland supposedly teeming with birdlife.
We declined. Instead, we headed to Clube Naval.
We read that this harbor-side bar offers good views of the park and the city from the top floor,
but they were closed for the day so we settled for a cafe nearby, spending the rest of the day admiring the harbor and the city until we were ready for dinner.
Where one take the trip to Ria Formosa.
Contrary to the lady’s (from the B&B) enlightenment or lack thereof, Faro is a delightful destination in its own right. The charming old town had impressed and makes for a wonderful, unforgettable break. I wonder why she thought otherwise? Perhaps we need to start seeing beyond our ordinary. I too am guilty of that in many ways. We tend to take for granted the (what we think are) ordinary things.
Here are more photos of our wonderfully surprising day well-spent.
Capuchin Convent close to the guesthouse
At the Largo do Don Afonso III, named after the 13th century king whose statue dominates the square.
Igreja de Sao Pedro
The Municipal Museum, Faro’s cultural highlight, is in a former convent built around a Renaissance cloister containing exhibits related to the city’s Roman and Islāmic heritage.
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